“Listen to me, Derek. It’s not what it seems! It’s not what it seems…”
This line came to mind (without the Derek bit) as I scanned Facebook tonight and at first (because I lack the lightening-quick movie quote identification mental directory that my sisters have) I thought it might be from some really profound source. You know, C. S. Lewis or something. But no, this line is from a children’s animated film called The Swan Princess. Go figure.
This is the line that came to mind, though, as I was sort of trying to process some of the Big News Items of the day via status posts and vehement comment interchanges in the context of my earlier conversation with my brother-in-law and all the other thinking I’ve done on the pertinent topics without any real conclusions.
This line, “It’s not what it seems!” stands out because it’s partly why I’m hesitant (read: terrified) to take a stance. I just feel like I don’t know enough. And I’m strict about who I’ll mentally allow to take a stance. Everyone else, I’m happy to just be mad at. Myself included, really. I don’t know what I think and I’m mad about that. It’s laughable, really. But the thing is, what I’m trying to get to is, it’s not what it seems. I am certain that I don’t see the big picture here and I’m even missing a lot of the nuance and detail. And I’m also painfully certain that the Supreme Court (along with a good deal of other people, both strangers and friends who I love and respect) are missing aspects of the big picture and details here too. I suppose that selective blindness might just be part of being human.
But what if the pieces that we’re missing may lead to a society in 50 years in which speaking out against certain practices or relationships could be considered hate speech and could result in an organization losing tax exempt status or being shut down or worse? What if by trying to affirm the “rights” of all we are diminishing our future constitutional freedoms, like that of religion?
Or what if my starting point in understanding a Biblical perspective is too fresh, too recent? What if Sola Scriptura is, in fact, not really enough to fully understand this faith that I long for and adhere to? How am I to love my neighbor in truth, in total compassion, and yet in total integrity and faithfulness to a God who never changes even when I’m surrounded by a culture that never stops changing?
Or what if I really don’t even get what marriage is about, even when I am in the middle of trying to live it out? Should I be concerned with other marriages that form the fabric of my society? For a long, long time, I think, we’ve heard this cry of “be what you want to be! do what you want to do!” But that way of living can go on for only so long before my being/doing will be at odds with yours. Can we weave our societal fabric together? Or will we quietly tear ourselves apart?
The other thing is that Facebook is a simply terrible place for these kinds of conversations. (I would be happy to buy a friend coffee and have a real conversation about anything, truly. But I absolutely do not like to enter into Facebook debates.) Which is why I came here to blurt out all my unfiltered angst and scrape together shards of my big unmanageable questions, just so they are outside of me and maybe I’ll begin to understand better.
On the one hand, I am anxious because I just don’t know how to live the right way in this crazy, upside-down world.
And on the other hand, I am tremendously hopeful. I mean, did you see my niece smile earlier this evening? God knows, she could save the world with that smile. And I am a little less blind than I used to be because I know that it isn’t about living the right way, but about living like, in, with, filled by Jesus. And He is expansive and broad and endless. Which is a very, very hopeful thing to remember.
But I still want to understand. I still want to know what I think or what I perhaps ought to think, if there is an ought.
So besides that thing about Jesus that I wrote a couple sentences ago, I’m sure of one other thing right now: It’s not what it seems.