Posts Tagged ‘ God ’

Seeking Meaning

I’ve been thinking a lot about God lately. What I believe, what’s real, what’s true, etc.

So therefore I’ve been thinking a lot about Christianity and the Christian Church.

Recently, Rick Warren’s son committed suicide. For those of you who don’t know, Rick Warren is a megachurch pastor.

It’s tragic. It’s sad. Suicide is never something that should be taken lightly.

But it’s led me to think about this habit Christians have about assigning meaning to apparently meaningless events.

His suicide certainly had a cause– chronic depression. But was there meaning in his death? Maybe. Maybe not.

We can’t know.

Last summer, I almost died. Two weeks ago, my brother almost died. He was within a millimeter of instant death. (I hyperbolize a lot over here, but that is not hyperbole; I’m being literal.)

Was there meaning in his accident? My friend asked me. He wanted to know that if God is a loving God, why did he let my brother fall off that ladder?

I don’t know.

I don’t know why I almost died last summer. I don’t know what the physical cause was, and I don’t know if there was a metaphysical purpose. I DO know that I’m a better person because of it. There’s something about a near-death experience that puts the entire rest of your life in perspective.

When I die, I’ll probably greet death like an old friend. After facing death, nothing is really scary anymore, except the prospect of losing people you love.

After my brother almost died but didn’t in a crazy inexplicable miracle, I feel like nothing can depress or stress me out anymore, because my life could almost have been so much worse.

Maybe that means that there was meaning. But was there meaning to the bombing at the Boston Marathon today? I don’t know. All I know about that is it’s a tragedy, like so many other tragedies that seem to be piling up lately.

Christians are so afraid to admit that they don’t have the answers to some things, and that is a massive problem with American Christian Culture.

Is it inconceivable to think that maybe, just maybe, God is too big, omnipotent, omnipresent, multi- and pan-dimensional for your little human brain to explain? Is it inconceivable that you cannot possibly look at an event and answer the question, why? Is it so impossible to accept that you cannot know, simply because of the biological limitations to the human mind?

Maybe there is meaning in apparently meaningless events. But due to my extreme lack of pandimensional perspective, I hesitate to assign it.

Sometimes stuff happens and there’s nothing you can do about it but deal with the consequences.

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Why Christians should Tip

As anyone in the service industry can assure you, Christians are very stingy.

Every barista dreads the days when women’s bible studies come into coffee shops, because even though they all (usually) order demanding drinks, all that you get in the tip jar is a whole lot of nothing (or maybe a gospel tract if your shirt is a little lower cut than someone thinks is okay.)

Okay, yeah, I sound a little bitter. But I feel like I have a right to be, because I’m a Jesus follower and no barista or waiter would ever guess it. Why? Because I tip really well.

Wait what.

Why is this the case? Why does this happen? Why, oh why, are women’s bible studies so annoying?

Jesus said to love others more than you love yourself. I understand being a good steward of your money and all, but a really good way to demonstrate love and appreciation to baristas and waitstaff is to tip well, especially if the service was good.

Having a condescending attitude and asking us if we know Jesus after looking pointedly down our shirts is not a good way to demonstrate love.

Let’s face it, Christians– ya’ll (we) have a pretty crappy reputation in this society, and honestly, if you (we) can’t even tip a barista when there’s a whole bunch of you ordering your drinks at once, I can’t exactly say you (we) don’t deserve it.

Repairing the crappy reputation will be a long difficult process because I’m inclined to believe it’s because our priorities are screwed up (image is more important than Jesus) but I’m not going to go into that today.

All I’m saying is that you can start a trend by tipping your baristas and waitstaff.

How about we start by letting people know that Christians are generous?

And I promise you, no one cares about how many sponsor children you have.

Start at home.

Christians, tip your baristas.

Some Spiritual Blips

Every experience is one more step toward trading one’s youth for wisdom.

That was an epiphany I had while pondering some of Donald Miller’s thoughts.

I’m glad I didn’t start reading Miller’s books when people first started telling me to. If I had read Blue Like Jazz when I was 15 when I first heard about it, I wouldn’t have taken anything away from it. “Oh yay, goody,” I would have thought, but I wouldn’t really have been needled by his thoughts like I am now.

Needled in a good way.

The sequence in which I’ve been reading books about Jesus or Christianity or Church has been really beneficial. Each book I pick up, I’m glad that I read the other books before it.

I read unChristian  when I was finally coming to terms with my struggles with traditional, denominational church. I can’t do denominational, formulaic church– it severely handicaps my relationship with Jesus. Then God brought me to the Ragamuffin Gospel, which helped me recognize that my struggles are indeed with church, not Jesus. This one kept me from giving up on Jesus based on how poorly his followers represent him.

Then Summer gave me a copy of Sense and Sensibility, which helped me make sense of my relationships with my sisters, both of whom are more important than any church.

Just as I was reaching the low apex of my relationship with God– frustrated with myself and my lack of understanding and wisdom, discouraged about my relationship with God, and lacking social connections– God brought me Through Painted Deserts.

I put off reading it for like a week. “I need to finish The Shack,” I said, but finally I gave up and gave in. I admit I partially started reading it out of guilt– it was a gift from my dear friends Pat and Mandy, and I wanted to read it so I could talk with them about it.

Also, I think I knew in the back of my heart that it would challenge me and needle me.

Which it did.

At first I was like “Donald Miller’s writing style is so much like mine,” but then it switched to “Why didn’t I think of this first?” because one of my biggest fears (as a Hargrove) is unoriginality.

Then, finally, I just finished Blue Like Jazz yesterday morning. Miller’s candor and honesty are so, so refreshing. Most Jesus followers that I’ve met would not be able to air their doubts, share their journey, and chronicle their conclusions like Miller did/does, much less publish them.

However,  I can admit that I agree with Miller without having thought of these things first, because I’m realizing that learning from from people who are wiser than me doesn’t make me unoriginal– it helps make me wise.

And that’s when I imagined trading all my youth for wisdom in one shot, and that’s how I came to the conclusion that life is one long string of experiences which ultimately cause us to trade our youth for wisdom.

I never want to be so drunk on youth that I don’t consider the wisdom of people who know better than me, though.

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