Living Bravely

You know those times in life that you read over your journal and wish you could be brave enough to share what you’ve written? Or better yet, that you would have the courage to live out the lessons you share in your diary. I’m having one of those moments.

I started an anonymous blog last year (this one) and after reading over my thoughts, I can honestly say it’s some of my better work; unfiltered, barely edited, and following a straight line of thought.

But while we’re on the subject of honesty, let me say that it’s that kind of writing I doubt I’ll ever have the gumption to share.

Precarious Ideas

It’s a pretty normal occurrence for me to ponder subjects like morality. This may be caused by a natural proclivity toward questioning the state of human logic and faith, or perhaps is an underlining development of cynicism. Regardless of the reason, it’s becoming more common for me to find fucked up questions arising in various day-to-day activities.

For instance, today I was walking through a grocery store – watching law abiding citizens carefully placing their grocery selections in a basket and carefully proceeding to the line to pay for their overpriced items (I say overpriced because it’s Hawaii). But here was my thought: if the island faced a strike from Matson (our supply shipment company) or endured some natural disaster that left people scrambling for food, humanity would look much different than it does in this moment. 

Humanity’s truest resemblance is best defined by a turn of events leading us to the kind of anarchy madness seen in Lord of the Flies, is it not?

Then there was Africa…

This thought made me think of the time I spent in Uganda. While visiting the prisoners there, you heard story after story of the morally gray (and not so gray) “crimes” that were committed to confine futures to a filthy, four-walled cemented hell-hole with a half-intact roof, and no promise of freedom. Someone stealing bread for their family- domestic issues- the list goes on. I remember thinking, “how can people live in a country like this?” Then I remembered; my country is one where citizens are protected and relatively safe, if only control is maintained by the government.

Obviously, the proverbial “stealing of bread” then takes place not in the lives of the citizens (for the most part), but in the high society we task to enforce the laws that seemingly protect us.

This perspective shift – tied into all of the philosophy, psyche, and religious text I’ve ingested – amounted to a simple realization: the line between living with honesty and boldness is some form of fear (or lack thereof.)

*Of course this statement begs for a discussion on political environments, but let’s skip to internal fear*

Some fear is a good thing. Fear keeps (most of us) from doing really stupid things. But there’s irrational fear – fear that’s engrained in us like a bad tattoo we gave ourselves in the 7th grade.

Have you ever questioned your fears?

This is a really, really hard one for most of us.

I’m currently reading a book that’s reshaping the way I thought a “good Christian” should act. The fear of not being “Christian enough” or “too preachy” is one that has sadly molded much of my restraint in loving people with lifestyles I don’t understand, telling my hurting friends about the comfort of the Holy Spirit’s presence, or standing up against religious folk acting like self-righteous ass-hats.

But..from the life of Nadia Bolz-Weber – a fierce, foul-mouthed, Lutheran Pastor – I’m learning that radical faith can look very different than I suspected.

In her book “Accidental Saints,” I’m reveling in every F-bomb dropped within her love-drenched, grace-filled, stories. Her book is radically reshaping the way I’ve understood faith. Better still, discussions of her book have spared on some pretty fantastic conversations of “who’s the biggest asshole” in my group of Jesus loving friends. It’s actually making me giggle thinking about it.

If you read about the life of Jesus, it couldn’t be more obvious that He spent his life surrounded by and loving the most broken people. He chose some of the weirdest group of misfits to preach the gospel, chose a women to tell of his resurrection (which was pretty risky business in this culture and framework of history), spent meal after meal with the most hated members of society (the protitutes, tax collectors, ect.) and rebuked the high maka-maka (self-rightous folk) who questioned his faithful acts that displayed what they only spoke in regards to practicing faith.

Despite knowing this about Jesus…

I never knew that it was okay to be a friggin’ walking-paradox. Jesus made a point to show that those who are “least deserving” are still capable of incredible things with God’s strength and grace. I still don’t know if I’m a “good person who does bad things” or a “bad person who does good things,” but what’s comforting is that I don’t have to know.

Through Nadia’s confession of loving God in an imperfect way, and loving people the best she can through God’s grace, brings freedom to my life that invalidates the arguments against myself. We are all inevitably part ass, and part holy.

At this point in time, I’m aware of my deepest flaws, and simultaneously aware of how ridiculously loved I am by God (and less awesomely, but still meaningfully, loved by my friends and family.)

And for my underlying cynicism; I’m working at finding the light in humanity when I only sense the moment of anarchy on the horizon. Courage and fear come with their ebb and flow, but I’m…

Thriving in the purity of honest confession.

James writes “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” -James 5:16 ESV. I’m finding this to be true – not only as to why we should live honestly for ourselves, but for the healing of the lives around us -evidence is my healing though Nadia’s confessions.

Maybe to discover our fears, we have to be confronted by people living their most honest confessions. Perhaps seeing that everyone may experience some version of Lord of the Flies playing within themselves is the freedom we need to live our bravest life.

What kind of life do you need to witness to live your bravest?

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