wonder.

wonder

“all who heard the shepherds story were astonished.”  – luke 2:18

blogging is a very weird thing. i wrote friday’s post in about 30 minutes, just a quick ramble of some of my raw sentiments. like so many other things i have written here over the years, sometimes i cringe when i read it later. i think of ways i could have been nicer or take the edge off or been a better bridge builder. but the truth is writing like this is a good lesson in practicing just showing up as present as possible, knowing i can’t always edit my way into the perfect response and cover every base. i also think it’s totally bizarre, that post had by far the largest number of hits i have ever had in a day in almost 6 years of blogging. that’s just weird.

and telling.

it tells something about the stirring that is in people’s souls related to christianity.  the yearnings are diverse. for some, the ability to share specific beliefs, to see someone live a life of faith and family in a culture that is extremely short on that feels so important.  while at the same time, many others are passionate about a different interpretation of the gospel.  the tension is obviously mounting.

while so many are walking away from “church’ in its typical forms, so many more are still hungry for Jesus. not the Jesus that’s been portrayed to us through domesticated systems, but the wild and counter-cultural Jesus that topples power & engages in flesh & blood connection with people & systems & ways-of-living-life.  

so many of us are experiencing, or  have experienced, some kind of faith shift that makes us extra sensitive to stuff like the duck dynasty craziness because it represents a deeper story about where we’ve been and why we changed and what we don’t want to be a part of.  once we’ve shifted in our faith, it’s almost like we wear a different kind of glasses that we see everything through now. that causes some of us to be more cynical and annoyed and sensitive.  i don’t think that’s a bad thing; it’s all part of the process.  i think that we begin to see things from a more honest place, and raw honesty is always a little freaky for those of us who are used to conforming.

at the same time, i was reminded how even though we leave behind certainty in a faith shift, sometimes part of the process is finding a new certainty, too.  a certainty of all of the things we don’t believe, don’t want to be affiliated with, don’t want to go back to, don’t want to be part of, don’t want to do.

this is so me.  i notice in some interactions how strong my reactions are to not be affiliated with certain aspects of my former faith.  but i don’t want to be consumed by my reactions, either.

and so what does all that mean in the midst of advent & the celebration of the birth of Jesus? how do we honor and celebrate that from a good place that feels free and honest and not confined by the mistakes of the past? 

today is christmas eve, and i want to swing away from the charged and sounding-a-little-too-certain thoughts from friday’s post and center on a word and action and thought i want more of in the next chapter of my faith journey–wonder.  

this is not a word i use very often.

wonder.

some other words for it are:  awe, astonishment, curiosity, doubt, fascination, fear, reverence, shock, uncertainty, marveling.

when i think of the christmas story, i see some sliver of “wonder”  in almost every character of the story. joseph, mary, the shepherds, the magi, even herod.

in my faith shift, i have lost a lot of “wonder” over the years.  my heart’s not as soft, my glasses fog my vision, and even though i abhor certainty, i have become more certain than i wished.  certain that i won’t ever feel what i felt again, certain that i can’t quite trust inspiration, certain that i need to be so careful, certain that i don’t believe certain things that i used to be so certain about.

wonder.

being open.

asking questions.

becoming curious.

letting myself be drawn in.

not having it all have to make sense.

the more i think about it, this is the christmas story!

it’s a story of wonder. of openness. of humility.

of “awe, curiosity, doubt, fascination, fear, reverence, shock, uncertainty, marveling.”

i often realize how rarely i live from this place when it comes to faith these days–except for maybe the doubt & fear & uncertainty ones! .

it makes me think of a post i wrote earlier this year called whatever you do, don’t let them take your faith. so often, the systems are what we are trying to break free of but our faith gets so tangled up in them, that we often lose it in the process.  i think an important variation might be, “whatever you do, don’t lose your sense of wonder.”

i’ve lost a lot of it over the years.

this christmas and in the year ahead, i want some wonder back. i want to ask better questions, let myself be awed by God, to be curious, to be shocked, to be astonished, to marvel, to let go of certainty-about-not-being-certain, to be open, to taste and experience and consider Jesus in new ways that cause my life to come more alive.  

to wonder.

i don’t know what wonder might look like for you this year, but if you struggle with it like i do, i hope some makes its way back in.

a little wonder goes a long way.

merry christmas eve. peace, kathy

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

8 Comments

  • ‘while so many are walking away from “church’ in its typical forms, so many more are still hungry for Jesus. not the Jesus that’s been portrayed to us through domesticated systems, but the wild and counter-cultural Jesus that topples power & engages in flesh & blood connection with people & systems & ways-of-living-life.”
    I loved that. every part of it. the way you worded it was literally perfect and spoke to and of me. thanyou for writing with rawness. there are so many blogs out there, but Kathy, yours has a way of pulling me in and making me stay. and yes. many of us are very hungry for Jesus.
    thankyou

    Reply
  • Thanks Kathy – for me there often is a common theme coming through when I read what you write. I guess it stated with reading “Down we Go” in that I am not alone in my journey knowing there is common ground with what you express of your experiences and what has been true and not dissimilar for myself.

    I wonder how many people are sitting in congregations on a Sunday feeling alone and not able to speak out knowing that if they did they would be met with rejection? Although for me what has been working more recently ironically have been a move towards more traditional expression of faith and away from communities lead by one charismatic leader. I’ve heard what Rachel Held Evans has said about millennials with senseitive BS meters and the move to more traditional forms of worship for many. So it seems I am not alone in this either.

    Perhaps different things are working for different people? I have heard is said that for some of us, our Christian walk has necessitated leaving church altogether?

    When I read what you say about wonder curiosity etc, I’m hearing the child – likeness coming through or the desire to be such. Didn’t Jesus talk about needing to be like that to see the kingdom? Always a balance is it not between that and what Paul said about putting away childish tings. Child likeness but not childishness. Always a risk to be so as it inevitably comes with vulnerability. As time goes on I realise few dare to tread this path and those that do inevitably face rejection, and all manner of painful things just as Jesus did. It is life.

    Reply
    • thanks adam, yes, i love the difference between child-likeness and childishness. as we “grow up” and become more secure and free people, may we never lose child-like wonder and the openness and humility that is embodied in children.

      Reply
  • A fan of that word, too, haha. I distinctly remember a time in my journey where “wonder” would have sounded that evangelometer as an alarm before. Like, ummm, straying too far from the white picket fence has the potential for unsafe interactions. Oh how the definition of safe has changed. 🙂 I am actually experimenting with different ways to think about God. Lately I have been wondering about the picture painted of God in The Shack- and picturing a big lap to crawl into. Long are the days when I worry about “accuracy”. Just want something, and that is better than feeling so lonely.
    I am just so hungry for a deeper faith, and looking forward to sitting down at the table again and again, without a preconceived notion about what’s for dinner. 🙂 #metaphorsaresuperfun

    Reply
  • Awe

    I want your wonder.
    I want your not knowing.
    I want the awe you had as a child.

    My beloved, where have you put those childhood eyes
    The ones as big as baseballs?
    Have you tossed them in with your other toys
    That you are now too old to play with?

    Go! Lift them from the toy box.
    Put them back on.
    Peer through them,
    Through the door of unknowing
    And into My Presence
    Wrapped in My Comfort.

    For you need baseball-sized eyes
    And an unknowing heart
    To feel the height
    And breadth
    And depth
    Of My Love for you
    Which has no end.

    Reply

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