One of my most frustrating qualities is that I have a tendency to quit. When I wasn’t the best at soccer or ballet, I wanted to quit. When a job gets difficult, I want to quit. When my marriage is hard, I want to give up. I mean just look back through this blog and you’ll see. How many times have I committed to some blogging theme and given up just a few weeks in? Before I even give something my best effort, if I feel like I’m not going to be the best or not live up to my expectations, I want to quit before I prove to myself that I’m not good enough or quit before I can fail. Every time I start typing a blog post, I over-analyze and quite often end up scrapping the whole thing. I wouldn’t even call myself a perfectionist, just spent. Worn out. Tired of putting in the energy. Avoiding having to deal with deeper issues, working through difficult realities, confronting other less than desirable qualities.
And quite often, this manifests itself in how I commune and abide with God. I think I speak for many when I say that the current culture, Christian or otherwise, lends itself to a lot of introspection and dismantling of what before we might have considered pillars in the lives we live. How frequently are we pulled back and forth to different sides of arguments revolving around the same idea- the faith we claim? Read the Bible this way. No wait, this way. But understand this first, but don’t listen to that guy about it. That lady is wrong too. You’re being led down a dangerous path. No you’re not, you’re being held back by antiquated ideas. Listen to me. No listen to me. Read with this context, but don’t rely on it too heavily.
I mean, really. My head fogs up every time I start trying to untangle the knot that the Bible looks like sometimes. And being true to myself, I just. want. to quit. I just want to rest my eyes and my brain and think about pretty things that don’t hurt or confuse me. I want to ask questions that have answers, not more questions. Because sometimes, that untangling causes unravelling. And that unravelling causes panic. And that panic, chaos.
For as long as I can remember, my mom was a woman of the Bible. Hers was never neatly tucked away in a corner, but always within arm’s reach. Well-worn, well-notated, well-loved. How easy, I thought, it must be to read and understand. How simple and full of answers it all must be. She drew so much confidence from that book. She studied it, taught from it, revered it. She greeted every day with it and a cup of coffee. I have never been very good at self-discipline, so this was, and is even more so now, amazing to me.
But then she died. Her Bible sat, pen sticking out one end, on her chair in the living room for awhile, then got tucked away in a cabinet. I began to resent it, the institution of it. The reverence for it. It took me awhile to pick mine back up again. I didn’t quit believing, but I quit studying. Maybe I did quit believing some of it. That could take a lifetime to unpack.
But when you lose someone you love and admire, you start wanting to take on their characteristics. You want to wear their clothes, their jewelry, to feel the closeness again, to think of them and not forget them. You want them to see you, to see him or herself in you, and smile. The most precious words someone could say over you become “they would be so proud of you.”
So eventually I picked up my Bible again. I started making notes and asking questions. I started writing my doubts on its pages. I started finding hope. I also found despair. I found healing. I found more broken parts of me. I found my mom. I found Jesus again. I learned how to find the Spirit again in those pages and in me.
This past year I’ve been attending a weekly Bible study like my mom always did while I was growing up. Every week I felt like I was making her proud. Studying, discussing, learning, loving, crying, questioning. I think I finally started to find what she found in those pages.
Since she died, a lot of people have told me about how she led them back to faith. And now, even though she’s not here, I can tell you how she helped me unquit the Bible. How she led me back too.