The last couple of weeks were busy – with work deadlines and kids’ commitments colliding in big ways! Looking back, I’m fairly certain I failed absolutely everyone in my life at some point. Those moments when you realize you can’t make everyone happy are discouraging. My family has encountered these weeks before and we’ll do so again, but each time we make it through and I feel called to reflect on my own actions and inaction.
Last week, I made the decision to stay home from church on Sunday morning. I did not go to faith formation or worship with my family. Instead, I was home by myself. In the rare peace and quiet, I worked on homework for my online seminary class while attacking the mounds of laundry that needed to be done. I felt justified in this decision. I would not be worshiping in community that morning, but I would spend time in reflection, reading scripture and talking to God. I had real stress ahead of me that week! When I am stressed I go inward – I prefer solitude. And that is OK, right?
So I sit on my couch in pajamas with a hot cup of coffee and open up Chapter 3 of The Cross in our Context Engaging the World (Author: Douglas John Hall). On the very first page I read that there is something in all of us which resists vocation.
“We are inclined to create for ourselves spaces apart, havens of withdrawal; for we know all too well that unprotected exposure to the world – to our here and now – is never painless, even at the best times.”
Oh, come on God! Really? I pondered on Luther’s claim that every task and role in a Christian’s life was an opportunity to proclaim the gospel. I had justified that morning that it was okay to escape the world, but here was God reminding me to proclaim the good news in the world! It was what I needed to hear – at the beginning of a busy week, I knew how easy it would be to put blinders on and miss opportunities to proclaim the gospel.
The week is done, and I am certain I ignored critical moments to share this good news because I was too focused on my own schedule. But yet the author (Hall) continued to write on the balance between nurture and mission. Hall commended the liberal Christian focus on justice and equality, fairness and inclusivity. These are good! But Hall recognized that living out love in this manner is not sustainable if we do not study and reflect upon the theological truth which calls us to this behavior. So while nurturing our own faith and extending this faith to others exist separately and we still experience salvation and redemption through God’s gift of grace, both are enriched when they occur simultaneously!
I continue to grapple with what I “should” do. Which of my “shoulds” are what others expect of me and how does that compare to what I am called to do in the world as child of God? Reality remains – sometimes I have to work a lot to meet a deadline; sometimes the schedule is very busy. The trick is to face this reality with awareness of my Christian calling. This time I reflect not with a sense of guilt, but with awareness that continuing to feed the faith empowers me to better extend the faith in my world.