It should surprise exactly no one who knows me that my theology and faith are influenced by the time I spent in charismatic churches. It should be equally unsurprising to you to hear that I have a rather strong sensitivity to the spiritual realm.
Here’s what I always forget about that sensitivity – it’s strong. And more than that, I have this tendency to forget that when I push into something good, when I’m leaning into new places that Jesus is leading me, when I make a strong statement about things I believe to be true about life with Christ, when I’m pushing into places of growth in my faith, life has this tendency to suddenly become very hard.
I’ve been thinking about how I always forget that this week, while considering the context of the tattoos I talked about in my last post. Those tattoos are mocking me in the weeks since I came home from Colorado and re-entered everyday life. I sort of forgot that if you make a statement of faith, if you, for instance say to God and everyone, “I believe that the Father is in control and that all things truly will be well, and that hope and joy are so deeply important that they’re worth stubbornly fighting for, and I believe these things so much and they’re so central to my life that I’m going to have them permanently inked into my skin,” that you’re kind of asking for trouble.
And that’s what I’ve found. There have been other things going on that have added to the sense of spiritual battle I’ve been facing lately, but I do have to say that my tattoos are mocking me. It seems that in inking those beliefs into my skin, I was opening myself up to a myriad of situations that seemed the direct opposite of those truths marked on my arms.
Stubborn hope and joy. All shall be well. Can we just talk for a minute about how broken the world is right now? Can we talk about the heaviness I’ve experienced in my life? Can we talk about how at work some days I’m pretty convinced that nothing on the planet will ever be well? Can we talk about how I work in the “happiest area of nursing” and yet I also see some truly heartbreaking things on a daily basis? And can we talk about how my sensitivity to all the brokenness has seemed to grow in direct proportion to my statement that I believe that even in those most broken of moments, it is important to stubbornly choose to have hope, to stubbornly choose to be joyful, to believe that all really shall be well some day?
It’s a weird tension to live in, and most days I feel like the tattoos are as much a mocking reminder of my failure to believe, my failure to live these things I claim to believe, as they are a truth to aspire to. And yet, they’re a truth to aspire to.
As I write this I’m reminded of the father of the demon-possessed boy who encounters Jesus. The father who cries out, “Lord I believe! Help my unbelief!” It seems the most human and holy of prayers, that. I believe, and yet, help my unbelief. It’s a prayer I’m echoing tonight, one I’m clinging to as I wade through this season of heaviness.
I believe. Help my unbelief.