My sister hates it when I write pseudo-intellectual gibberish, but there is too much in my mind right now, and I can only hope that by writing it all out I can find some sort of meaning...
Tonight I went to hear some very gifted artists play. One of them commented that he thinks that if the Bible were not the Bible that Christian bookstores would not sell it, because there is too much real life in it. He put so concisely an idea I have been struggling with for so long I can't remember a time when it was not somehow part of my consciousness. I have wandered through the entire path of Christian experience, from perfect Sunday school student to functional atheist to wanna-be Catholic and back again. I've pondered the great writers of the faith, and the not so great, and the outright bad and emotionally manipulative. I went to Christian college, and sat through innumerable hours of services upon services, sung along with the worship leader, all the time wondering how on earth he thought those blond highlights were a good idea, and taken so many sermon notes that I look back with shame upon the forest destruction I alone must have caused. And more often than not, it all felt like wasted and empty effort, a pursuit of something always just beyond my reach.
Jesus was all about real life. He was homeless. He lived in a desert country and probably didn't smell great most of the time. He said stuff that made the people around him mad, and he hung out with the scum -- the whores, the cutters, crack addicts, the AIDS victims and their orphaned children. Jesus knew all about real life. He knew all about little girls who were violated by fathers or uncles or older brothers, about men who beat their wives and women selling themselves for a hot meal. Jesus understood violence, and it broke his heart.
Christians seem to have forgotten about real life. We are so concerned with keeping everything sanitary, presenting a smiling face and never making anyone uncomfortable that real life has no place in our churches. We are slaves to expectation, and even when the truth has made us free we fall again into the chains of our own minds, or those our brothers and sisters lay upon us.
I usually enjoy irony, but this one stings. I stand indicted.
I feel trapped by expectations. I know I don't meet them most of the time. When I am with people I love, I always feel it a little bit -- the disappointment, the tiny current of "if only". I carry the current in me, because I know not only how often I have failed, but how often I have bowed to expectations. Only I know what lies inside me, and how much of that is never allowed to surface because of fear of what other people will think. There is nothing quite as cruel as the might have been.