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dissonance |ˈdisənəns|: a tension or clash resulting from the combination of two disharmonious or unsuitable elements.That's it really. It's what I do. I create it on purpose as a clinician--a counselor. It is what makes people wake to reality and see how they contribute to their own chaos. It becomes a cathartic and challenging experience well suited for change. I create it accidentally as a husband, friend, son, brother, and believer. I AM: 32 years old; a counselor; a husband to a beautiful woman; a believer in The Way; and most of the time clueless to my own dissonance that I create.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Denial

I’ve taken on the habit of getting home and turning on the tube (or idiot box as my Dad refers to it) after work these days. Between getting home after dark all winter, being snowed in, and just pure emotional exhaustion from work, it’s all I want to do. The results are a jealous (for time) wife, an extra 15 lbs, and a general disengagement from life. I guess its how I turn it all off, the pain I confront daily. I will admit that it’s a poor coping skill, but I guess it feels better than the alternative—carrying it with me. Nevertheless, I have decided that this, my security blanket of isolation, must be carried to the altar; and Lent has offered me this opportunity.

Much like most seasons of the church calendar, I was not acquainted with Lent before being turned on to the liturgical helps of our faith. It seems a practice that wades against the tides of the outside world. Lent truly stands in opposition to what the world espouses, nature begins to quietly reveal, and our self-gratifying selves might crave. As winter begins to recede and spring encroaches on us, we clothe the altar in black and fast. Alleluia is hidden in the somberness of the reality of our brokenness and sin. We enter into a season of reflection and confession. We are not worthy of our salvation is the only conclusion we must come to in our hearts. This is the point. The world rejoices in the hope of spring, yet we pause to remember and sit in the scarlet squalor that was our pride.

It should not be a false humility nor a self-abasing chastisement, but rather a denial of the common practice of ignoring the reality of our fallen state. “The World goes not well” is this sobering reality. So we fast. We pray. We make confession. We deny ourselves our comforting disengagements to face the world, though the tide ebbs against us. We reacquaint ourselves with the purposes of God: truth, grace, and repentance.

So, I come home and face the brokenness. I fill my time without the anesthetic. Its dull sting reminds me to petition God again for salvation for my family, my friends, my clients, the world, and myself. Yet, I do so not in despair, but rather in light of Easter’s nearing. So let me simply confess that “the world goes not well, BUT the kingdom comes."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Freedom in the Form

I remember going to First Love Ministries for the first time. I was really uncomfortable. The charismatic tone of the worship was off putting for the likes of me—a traditional Southern Baptist. I did find something there that I had not really had before; a feeling of being wanted and accepted. A man named Charlie quite literally reached out to me and grabbed my arm. He told me that he loved me. I wept hard that night.

So I went back and regained my faith in that little house tucked away in Perry, Ga. Yet, the truth is that it was a forced fit. I loved the people. I met God weekly in the faces of that community; however, worship was strained for me. I wanted to force God to show himself to me as I watched those around me experience the fullness of the Spirit. I was a dry well. It’s not that I didn’t believe that Holy Spirit was moving in their life; on the contrary, I could see them living it out in their love for people. I am just a cynic. If it was going to happen to me it was going to have to be real. So dry.

Throughout this seminary experience Charley and I stuck with the familiar. We attended a wonderful little Baptist church in town. However, when we felt the need to move on from that community we decided to stop and rethink our understanding of church. I have always felt drawn to form. I was the goof who loved the rituals of my fraternity more than the parties. In my faith, this also holds true. My Baptist background gave me a love for the Word, but left me wanting for worship; my time at First Love gave me worship, but left me wanting for direction; and my time in seminary humbled my dogma, but left me wanting for a practical faith.

For me, a lot happens in my head. I am drawn to compelling exegesis, worship that speaks to my experience, and the bigger picture of my faith—the community of believers, past and present. I love feeling the connection with my faith in the tangibles too. After a few months sabbatical from church, Charley and I visited higher liturgical confessions. Through prayer, trial visits, meetings with trusted advisors, and ultimately, our comfort, we settled in at St. Aiden’s Anglican church. I no longer feel like a dry well. Instead, my prayer life has taken off. I reflect on God throughout my day. I meet God in worship with my entirety—the physical and spiritual. I feel a level of comfort in approaching God that I have never known before. Don’t get me wrong it’s not an infallible practice, but I have discovered a freedom in this form, this holy work.