It’s All on the Line. Like, EVERYTHING.

I’ve been hidey again these past two weeks. Partly because my burrito baby felt like the truest and best thing I had to offer the world in the wake of a haunting election, so why mess it up with more? Partly because I’ve been working hard at listening to All the People, especially the Afraid People and the Hurting People, but also to the People Who Think Very Differently Than Me because listening is a sacrament and holy. And partly because I’d convinced myself, as usual, that I have nothing to say because my thoughts are too many, and too loud, too complicated and jumbled to make sense. By now, of course, we know that last thing is my modus operandi; my M.O.; my area of expertise; my spiritual gift. And who am I to squander my talents? The Bible says whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability, and I am SUPER GREAT at self-doubt and silencing myself, so WOOHOO — look at me, rocking the heck out of that!

I have, of course, been responding to the rampant uncertainty and unkindness in all the usual ways. Panic, deep breathing, remaining calm, and panicking again in rapid succession, which is a form of prayer. Also, french fries. Also-also, a ferocity of conviction to DO MORE THINGS to help marginalized people. And binge watching the Gilmore Girls revival all in one sitting and ’til 2:00am because that’s a wise use of my time and emotional energy. (It totally is.)

I don’t know, friends; I just feel more and more like it’s all on the line again. “It,” you know? Everything. All the Things. Whatever defines me, and defines my family, and defines faith, and defines our country and communities; it’s all in need of review and unpacking and simplifying and purging and paring down to the barest essentials so we can Love Each Other Better, which is the Main Goal and the Biggest Thing and the most Of-God we get to be in the world.

I wrote once about unpacking my God box to find a truer truth.

And so it was that becoming a mother stripped me down to nothing and left me bare, exposed to my fears and my not-enoughness and my God. It was there, in that empty space, that I slowly began to unpack my Lunchables box, trying to discover whether any pieces of my God-meal matched a more significant, infinite, loving God who could sustain me… whether I could somehow mesh my easy, compartmentalized answers with my difficult, messy questions…. and whether, perhaps, I might find myself in the process.

My box was loaded with things that were striking to me in the way they didn’t fit with my understanding of a loving God. Things I was surprised I’d carried for years and in secret because I thought I would be shunned by the Church if I discarded them. Things that I thought were core to being a follower of Jesus, but which I found out… weren’t. Things like:

  • a Letter of the Law fundamentalism that’s married to mob-mentality politics,
  • “the Lord helps those who help themselves” and “love the sinner and hate the sin” and other trendy sayings that embrace a cringe-worthy sense of entitlement or judgment and, strikingly, aren’t in the Bible,
  • and the pressure to deliver the Horror of Hell story with enough conviction to scare people toward a merciful God and into Heaven

These and a thousand thousand other things stuck in my throat and became increasingly difficult to swallow. They clogged my faith and made it hard for me to breathe. And so, with the cacophony of “but you must believe these things to raise righteous children” and a great deal of uncertainty ringing in my ears, I let them go.

I let them go for the risky pursuit of an authentic faith.

You can read the whole thing here, but the crux of my current conviction is this: we’re here again, except this time collectively, and we’re flailing a little bit together. To find Love. To find Truth. To find Each Other. To find the things to hang our lives on, and to discard the things that keep us from what matters.

I’ll be writing more about this in days to come, but I’m going to have to let it leak out slowly. Incrementally. As I figure out which pieces of the boxes to unpack. Again.

Here we go, friends.

Here we go. Except I’m really glad we’re going there together.

With love as always,

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P.S. This was my face at 1:00am watching Gilmore Girls’ Fall, as messaged to my friend, Laney, lest I feel all the feels all alone.

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I just wanted to share it with you because I’m so pretty, and the point of the internet is to share pretty pics. Heh heh heh. Also, WE NEED EACH OTHER, friends.

P.P.S. Ferocity is totally a measurement of conviction. Do not even try to tell me otherwise, or I will have to tell you stories of about my mother that involve chainsaws and trees and a wireless phone and threats to call the police. Ferocity of conviction, I tell you. It’s a thing.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
9 comments
  1. […] is a strange season we’re in. A season full of weird politics. A season of questioning where we belong, what we’ll cling to, and what we’ll discard. A season of joy. A season of taking rocks […]

  2. I missed you while you were hiding out. I have had the feeling of “we are all going to Hell in a hardcart” ever since just over half of my country voted to leave the (sometimes messy) security of the European Union. Your election was the next blow and now we are watching to see what will happen to the rest of Europe at the same time as feeling (more than ever) like our politicians don’t have a clue what they are doing. A little escapism TV and reading is a good thing just maybe not at the expense of sleep 🙂 Says the girl who was reading just a couple of chapters at 3am…

  3. I have shared your posts many times in the past, but certainly more in the past few weeks. Shared with my church circle (as a devotion twice) and a reminder at least once, with my EfM group (Education for Ministry – I am so not going into the ministry, but wanted a way to find a solid base for my faith) and my sisters.

    At my age, 71, it is such a gift to have a young person who actually ‘sees’ and ‘hears’ and whom I consider my cross-country friend. What a treat it would be to have you and Ann Lamont at my dinner table one night and listen to what it means to be.

    Thank you,
    Harriet

  4. Once again, you’ve helped coalesce what’s percolating in my own heart, and right now I needed that help because my emotional and spiritual energy is at an all time ebb, with “real life” problems crowding in and stealing all my focus (like needing the last bit of money to cover my delinquent house taxes- if I don’t come up with it by December 31, my home of 20 years is forfeit to the county.) If that doesn’t stir up stress and fear, nothing will… (full disclosure- provided nothing else goes wrong this month, I believe we can cover the deficit, just. We’re not ok yet, but we’re going to be.)

    Add in an injured family member, a recent car accident (unrelated) and various other ongoing challenges, and yeah. I’m out of energy for the election and for listening and for helping and for everything. I’m trying… I am, but there are times we just need to rest in God, and watch Gilmore Girls and go easy on ourselves and let Him do the heavy lifting in His strength.

    Sorry for the ramble. Obviously my thoughts are disjointed at the moment… But what I mean to say is God is good, always, and Beth, you are beautiful. You have a beautiful heart and I love the picture that shares that heart. <3 Be well, friend. God bless.

  5. Beth, loved this post and I love that you are trying to see both sides and walk in LOVE not just yell at others to do it.

  6. Where is the faith, and why is there so much FEAR? I get it, these are questionable times, scary times, but God is still here! He holds us in the palm of His hands, He loves us with a fatherly love that can’t be matched by anyone on this planet. He hasn’t forgotten us. We may not know what will happen in the coming days, months, years, BUT GOD! HE’S GOT THIS!

    FAITH, that’s it.

    1. I guess i just don’t understand how believing God is gonna walk thru every storm with us negates horrible feelings. As a mom I can handle my own things but to watch my kids and other young people around me go thru crap not so easy to handle. I used to believe faith should be enough, the full answer to every problem. Not so easy anymore, this broken world sometimes puts my kids thru horrible things and its scary when the world around you says this evil is good or says you are the bad guy cause you can’t “forgive and forget” (which really means sweep it under a rug acting like it doesn’t matter)

      Faith, Hope, and Love but the greatest of these is LOVE. Sometimes it’s tough figuring how to do that love thing, sometimes there is weeping and groaning as we move forward.

    2. Faith doesn’t cancel out fear. It makes it bearable, absolutely, but it doesn’t go away just because we have faith. If it did, I, like Beth, would not suffer from panic attacks. Or depression. Or the side effects of PTSD.

      We live in a fallen world. A big, wild, scary world. And sometimes we’re afraid. That doesn’t mean our faith is weak. It just means that we recognize the magnitude of the challenges… And faith means we recognize the magnitude of our God’s ability to handle them, even if life gets scary sometimes.

  7. Gilmore Girls always makes things better. Binged it myself. I know some people didn’t like it, but for me it was like hanging out with old friends, and I needed that right now! I may have watched it twice……..

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