Anything But Empty

"Let your words be anything but empty."

Love and Roots

roots

“When you talked earlier about after a few years how a couple would begin to hate each other by anticipating their reactions or getting tired of their mannerisms-I think it would be the opposite for me. I think I can really fall in love when I know everything about someone-the way he’s going to part his hair, which shirt he’s going to wear that day, knowing the exact story he’d tell in a given situation. I’m sure that’s when I know I’m really in love.” Before Sunset, Celine

Boredom happens, we get restless, we start looking over our shoulder at the fork in the road and question the direction we went. Our attention is lost, the excitement is gone, the freshness has passed. When we experience this in relationships, we find ourselves struggling for ways to “bring back the newness”, to go back to that place of surprise and excitement, where we didn’t know what was coming next. We do it with our moments, our churches, our friendships, we get bored and move from place to place and feeling to feeling.

I’ve seen people walk away from church because they exist in it without being part of it, they never experience the intimacy and familiarity and then wonder why they don’t feel like it is their home, when often it’s because they aren’t taking a seat at the table. They hop from church to church for years, without ever putting down roots. But it’s not entirely their fault either, because often the church simply responds to this trend by participating in it. They immediately respond with change, they try something “new” and “big” and exciting and flashy and shiny, trying to be the younger, hotter version of what it was in the hope of wooing back who was lost.

All the while never stopping to pray and decide if this was coming out of a sincere desire to follow Jesus or out of a desperate desire to be relevant to the people they are losing.

All the while forgetting that, on a very basic level, we are craving something other then what the world is offering us, not just the same thing dressed in sacred symbols and Christian rhetoric.

All the while not realizing that often times those people that are skipping around from place to place, sampling the food at the table, but never pulling up a chair to be a part of the meal, they are simultaneously afraid of, and seeking out, that intimacy , that stability, that familiarity. But if we keep changing the food before anyone has had a chance to taste it, when we keep shaking things up just do it, when we keep getting up and switching seats, and moving the table, how are we ever supposed to get to know the person sitting next to us.

Stanley Hauerwas said:

“I think evangelicalism is destined to die of its own success and it will go the way of mainstream Protestantism because there’s just—it depends far too much on charismatic pastors, and charisma will only take you so far. Evangelicalism is constantly under the burden of re-inventing the wheel and you just get tired. For example, I’m a big advocate of Morning Prayer. I love Morning Prayer. We do the same thing every morning. We don’t have to make it up. We know we’re going to say these prayers. We know we’re going to join in reading of the psalm. We’re going to have these Scripture readings. I mean, there’s much to be said for Christianity as repetition and I think evangelicalism doesn’t have enough repetition in a way that will form Christians to survive in a world that constantly tempts us to always think we have to do something new.”

The world is constantly moving, changing, and rushing to keep up with itself. Trends, and hashtags, and social medias, they come and they go. And they aren’t bad, they aren’t evil, and it’s not evil to buy the new iPhone when it comes out if you want it. This isn’t an indictment of trying new things, or new experiences, or shaking things up when they made need to be, but rather looking at what we are hearing when “making moments” becomes our battle cry, and we are so eager making them, we are never in once place long enough to enjoy them.

Why, in our own way, do we romanticize not being able to count on something? When we depend on the rush, the charisma, the excitement to keep us in one place, we will always be disappointed.

Sometimes we are so busy pursuing the next moment, the next trend, the next photo-op; we completely miss the beauty of what we have in our hands, and right before our eyes. We wonder if this is actually what we want, and instead of sitting in the uncomfortable uncertainty of sticking around to find out, we flee to the next moment, the next place, or the next person.

We are so very afraid of the ordinary, the mundane, and the day-to-day. Because there’s intimacy there, there’s emotional nakedness, there’s the ugly and worst parts of ourselves that we don’t sit with when we are constantly on the move. No one shows the worst and hardest and darkest moments to a person they’ve known for a day, and even if they do, it’s safe because they’ll be gone soon.

The irony is that commitment makes afraid that we are going to get stuck, there’s no movement, but the alternative that many of chosen is not to “move forward” but to stand still in 100 different places, with 100 different people.

Yes, we need find out who we are, where we belong, what our passions are, and sometimes that takes moving on to different places, different people, different jobs, but this is different from fearing the place your in because your roots will get too deep.

There’s something to be said for rootedness. To be a person who doesn’t have to chase the next moment just to chase it, but can let it pass knowing that what you have and where you are, while not perfect and not even done growing, is enough.

And there is excitement there too.

Perhaps the thing that surprises and excites us the most, even when you know every motion, every story, every song, whose going to sit in what pew, whose going to ask you your name even though you’ve introduced yourself 700 times, is that every time you wake up next to that person, every time you walk through the door of your Church, every time you see that name in the caller ID, you are overwhelmed with how deeply you love them. Maybe it’s that you can hear words of welcome and love, and even though you’ve heard them many times before, they still heal, breathe life and give rest.

Because that is our heart. Here are our roots. And this is our home.

 

 

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