I have pondered for a while now about the one thing that I could possibly tell you as your grandparent that would have the most abiding and valuable effect on your life.
Here it is: question everything!
Listen up … I am not promoting the intentional rejection of authority or rebelliousness just for the sake of it! Rather I am encouraging you to use your God-given curiosity to explore, examine and analyze your own intellectual, spiritual, and emotional growth.
Question why you believe what you believe about politics, about religion, about spirituality, about God, about authority, about institutions—and do not let anyone make you feel bad about doing so!
Jesus said it this way: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye. shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
In other words, it is perfectly acceptable for life and beliefs about life to be messy. This messiness is not a reflection of who you are or to whom you belong; therefore, lean into the mess.
Better yet, let the mess pass through you. This way of being often feels unsettling at first—that’s to be expected in your metamorphosis. As you deconstruct and evolve, you will eventually grow accustomed to the process and it will become second nature to you.
Somewhere along the way, though, someone is bound to tell you to simply have faith or “you’ll just have to take it–whatever ‘it’ is–in faith.” I am not certain that is true at all, mostly because it makes faith sound so passive.
I have been walking with Jesus for 50+ years as of this writing, and I am still asking questions.
For example, what does “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” really mean? Is it simply an “escape plan” or could it be something more? And if so, what?
I am still making choices; fine tuning my beliefs. I am still letting the mess pass through me. Surprisingly, the more I learn, the less I know. Sound ridiculous? Yes, but THAT is what faith is—a paradox–to know without “knowing,” to be without doing. Paradox is anything but passive.
As we learn to question our own beliefs, we also begin to realize it is possible to CHOOSE what we believe even when we are uncertain.
Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Just prior to saying this, one of the twelve apostles, Thomas—often called Doubting Thomas—said, “unless I see the holes in his (Jesus) hands and feet, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe (that Jesus had risen from the dead).”
I can just hear Jesus telling Thomas, “Right on, man! As soon as you are sure about something, question it some more because faith is admitting that you do not know and therein lies the path of Freedom and Oneness.”
The Christian faith calls that freedom and oneness atonement or at-one-ment; as Richard Rohr says our “union with God and all things.”
Some folks may tell you that your grandmother is wrong, that she is off her rocker.
All I can tell you from my own experience is that in ‘not knowing,’ I experience God’s presence more deeply and more genuinely, than at any time in the past when I was absolutely certain about what I ‘knew’ to be my beliefs.
Certainty can breed contempt. Dualistic thinking is seemingly fixed and therefore cannot lead one into transformation. Paul in the book of Romans says “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Ask questions, be your own person with your own ideas and do not let anyone–especially “religious” people–make you feel guilty about it!!
It is in the Not Knowing or Unknowing that you will know Love and Peace and Forgiveness and Truth and Beauty, because that is who you are—as Christ is, so are you!
There is much more that could be expressed here, fine tuning to what I have written that could be done but I think it best if I leave you wondering.
I love you all so very much and I hope that I am alive when you read this so we can talk about it in person. If not, I will still be around.