This is a short reflection I shared at FMCSF on October 9, 2016.
What does it mean to you, in your daily life, that you identify as an anabaptist christian?
I am invited to love God and neighbor, and to me that includes everything. This loving is that field with the treasure that Jesus talked about. To me, being an anabaptist means I know in the deepest way I can know things that it is worth selling everything to buy that field. It means I’ve tasted a freedom so sweet that I’ll let parts of myself be burned up to get to it. This is not a one-time thing, but a moment to moment dialogue, a never ending dance. In every moment I am invited to step into the fire.
This invitation takes many forms for me. It may be to let go of some thing my mind or body wants like physical luxury or praise from other people. Or to give money rather than holding on to it. Or to let my mind quiet down rather than feeding it with more excitement. Or to practice appreciating the things that would annoy me, rather than being annoyed. One of the scarier invitations for me is to live honestly with myself and with others. I don’t just mean by avoiding technical lies, but by living undisguised, bringing my struggles and failures into the light.
While we don't have the inquisition burning us at the stake for not conforming, in our culture it is very easy to build up a safe and comfortable and independent life behind a lot of masks, simply by default. Breaking out of that cocoon is painful. It’s painful for me to acknowledge my struggles and fears, my daily mistakes, the really embarrassing conniving that my mind is always up to. Or the lesser invitations that I respond to.
But I’ve found joy and freedom beyond that pain. It’s like dying to be born again as Christ taught. Into a life where justification is not sought or needed. Where I let go of judging others and myself. Where I lay it all out on the table and sit with it, appreciate it for what it is, and laugh over it. From that place, I think I can take anything and my heart will keep on singing.
So. :D I’m gonna dip my toes in this fire just a little bit by sharing some of my embarrassing escapes, addictions, and struggles.
Often I’ll have decided the next right thing for me to do, and instead of doing it I’ll find myself getting out my computer and spending hours browsing the internet. Or I’ll find myself eating when I know I have something better to be doing. Or when I’m feeling down I’ll reassure myself by identifying with my accomplishments, or things I’ve created, or respect from other people for things I’ve done, rather than facing myself and remembering who I am.
And when I do fumble into the fire, there are questions I wrestle with. What should I do with my time? Is my job really the best thing for me to be doing? Even at a company that makes its profit off consumerism and, by extension, exploitation of the earth? What should I do with the money and power I’m given? Should I live more simply than I do now? Should I give up my comfortable living situation and try to find cheaper housing?
I’m not sure my answers to these questions are the best. And I don’t want to defend my choices so far, or be justified. I want to hold these things loosely, and live in the light. I do not have it figured out. I cry out: Help me. Show me.