My brother just left. He's been traveling with me this entire week from Tempe, AZ, where I've lived for twenty-eight years, to my new home here in Maplewood, NJ. It's been a long trip - geographically and emotionally - but until today James has been with me and it's felt more like a road trip than a complete reorientation of my life.
Now, I get that most people deal with this at one point or another. How many folks go off to school, or the military, or just move out at eighteen, and never look back? Honestly, I don't know, but I recognize that's the story we tell ourselves. It's hard for me to even admit that I'm homesick because of the stories I tell myself about being an adult, or a man, or whatever else shames me into hiding the fact that I'm scared of being away from my mommy.
But I am. It's hard, and pretending as though it's easy doesn't make it easy. So now I'm rewriting my story about what makes me a whole person. I think it'll have something to do with admitting that things are hard, and then doing them anyway. I'll run that one past my editor and get back to you when I know for sure but the point is, I need to be able to acknowledge my struggle and still be okay.
As I start seminary, I realize that I'm doing similar rewrites with my faith. I'm walking the same path that many people have walked before me, searching for God, through Jesus, with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Except, as I go, I sometimes encounter questions that my faith stories don't seem to address. And so, instead of assuming that my questions and subsequent lack of answers somehow make me less faithful, I am rewriting my stories. I want to recognize my struggles with faith and the world around me, recognize that the spaces where I encounter God are not always where my heroes of faith have encountered God, and most importantly, come to grips with the fact that I may never have easy answers to the difficult questions I'm encountering. And then, I want to believe that by living in those struggles and neither quitting, nor settling for the path of least resistance, I am made more, not less, faithful.
But I can't do it alone. And that's why I am thankful for good friends and good community. There are many people like us who struggle everyday, and choose that struggle openly. If you'd like to walk with us, we here at OnFire always have room for another companion. Welcome!