Sunday, January 25, 2009

Confessions: #1

This is an excerpt from my seventh "Contemplation in Theology," posted on Facebook on January 25, 2009. In that Contemplation, I hoped to explore the nature of the "Mercurial" temper. I identify strongly with this personality type, so I decided to write in a more personal epistolary mode that, I hoped, would shed more light on the personality than a more abstract contemplation. It seems appropriate to break this up into a personal "Confession" and a separate "Contemplation." I will probably follow this template with future notes with substantial personal content. Enjoy!
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An open letter to a girl from my church:

From my youth I have trained myself in the art of articulation, that I might do justice to words and ideas in expressing them. How strange for me, that at the time when I have the most to say, I have the least assurance that I will acquit myself.

I am your age. Emotionally, I deal with the same issues as you and all my age mates. But the simple fact is that I think faster than my peers. I can more quickly connect ideas, identify solutions, articulate my thoughts. Intellectually, I found a home with my elders--graduate students, professors, people who could engage me on issues and ideas I cared for.

When we spoke, I was both pleased and ashamed when you described me as thoroughly confident. I was pleased that my attempts to exude an aura of self-assurance had been successful; I was ashamed that these vanities so little reflected who I was inside. How can you begin to understand my insecurity? My heart was in one sphere; my mind in another. Up until quite recently, I never felt that I belonged to any of the clubs, cliques, or social circles around me. I still deal with it today, this sometimes despairing hope to feel peace, this desire to "belong."

You were the exception. When I was younger I could only find a handful of people who could even approach the rapidity of my mind. You were one of them, and--miracle of miracles--you were my age.

Whenever I lost hope of ever 'belonging,' whenever I was driven to despair, you were the strongest beacon of light. You gave me hope that, just perhaps, there were people 'out there' who might be able to relate to me. When everyone else was a stick, you were the carrot. And when others were the carrot--when I was getting along fine with others, when I felt I could finally connect--you were the stick. You personified that nagging doubt that, just perhaps, there were more and better things waiting somewhere 'out there.'

Do you begin to understand why I treated you differently from all the girls at our church? Naturally, it didn't help that I was an immature teenage boy, or that you are an exceptionally beautiful lady. You did not deserve any of what you endured because of me; forgive me for it.

But there is more than merely contrition I wish to express. I feel such gratitude, as you may scarcely comprehend. You have contributed more to my spiritual development than you can possibly imagine. You were a constant reminder of that foundational confession of St. Augustine: "O Lord, Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee."

You were my nagging doubt. You were a persistence reminder of hope and despair. You were the constant thorn in my flesh, and God be praised for it. I could never be complacent in my faith, while you were present, as God paraded tantalizing glimpses of More in front of me.

You did not mean to show me this Truth. You gave not by intention, nor even by your actions, but by the simple fact of your existence. God speaks to others through our actions, to be sure, but often He is reflected most in the mere fact of our being. You were simply reflecting the glory of your King. But I will not soon forget my debt to you, nor easily abandon my appreciation of you. You were reflecting and serving God, and may God honor you for it!

Go in peace,
~Your brother in Christ

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An open letter to a lady from my college:

It would be an overstatement to call our acquaintance brief. I have hardly seen or spoken to you this quarter. But our fleeting interactions at the end of last quarter affected me profoundly, in ways I'm not sure you can understand. I began this series of notes largely because of you, due to the waves of thought that your presence inspired. You were the immediate cause of my spiritual rejuvenation over break; may God bless you in equal measure to how greatly you have blessed me!

From the previous letter you should have some idea of my insecurity and restlessness. I am a child of Mercury, the messenger god, fleet of foot and thought. My mind is constantly active. This is a blessing and a curse. As I have said, I think more quickly than most of my peers; unfortunately, I also over-analyze just about everything, including my friendships.

So when I invited you to a informal 'date' with others on my floor, I had certain expectations. I knew I would over-analyze everything you said or did; I was fairly sure I would worry about whether you were enjoying yourself, and whether you enjoyed my company; and I was dead certain that I would leave that evening more entrenched in my insecurity than before.

How wrong I was! Your smile evaporated my anxiety; your joy lifted my spirits; your openness gave me freedom from my over-analyzing mind. In short, I felt the full and unmitigated peace of God descend on me that evening. Perhaps it was not the first time I had felt peace, but it was certainly the first time I'd consciously recognized it as such. And that realization blew me away.

I am a child of Mercury, but the desire of my nature is for Jupiter, the persona reflecting the Kingship of God. I wish to be the delight of His eye; I desire to rest within the peace of His Majesty. This is the basis of my capacity for Joy--which I'd previously defined as "an obscured glimpse of God finding Joy in me."

From that moment on, my entire being had a new center. My thoughts had been reoriented. The desire of my heart was nothing less than to revel in, and reflect, the glory and peace which I had found in Jupiter. I shall expand on that in my next note, but I assure you, this realization ended in a comprehensive re-examination of my spiritual life, and a re-dedication of my soul to God. You had showed me what I'd been looking for, what I had been seeking my entire life.

You did not mean to display this aspect of God, but He spoke to me through your very nature, and showed me precisely what I needed to see.

To the church at Corinth, Paul wrote: "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth" (1 Cor. 3:6). He exhorted the Corinthians to give the glory to God. Be that as it may, the Corinthians did not soon forget Paul or Apollos, nor shall I soon forget you.

God bless you,
~Your brother in Christ

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