Today, I share a post about life: unmasked, a blog meme started by my sensational friend, Joy.
When I was diagnosed with chronic insomnia earlier this year, I had envisioned a magic moment of transition in which I would begin to take prescribed sleeping pills and suddenly have eight hours of rest a night. I would be this wonderful person who slept, showered, read The New York Times on my iPad, and always had time to make a French press.
Things turned out differently.
The Ambien I take only lasts four hours and wakes me up around hour six because I have to go to the bathroom. Instead of sleeping more, I sleep the same amount as I did before, I just now do it sooner and wake up in groggy alarm feeling like I'm the kid who drinks two liters of Coke on the mission trip right as the bus stops in the line for Border Control on the Mexican-US border.
This semester, I'm taking a weight training class that meets early in the morning. Under normal circumstances, I'm able to exercise well in the afternoons. But lack of sleep and stress exhaustion combined, when I try to lift weights in the morning, my body responds by promptly having me reject the exertion on biceps by doing something infinitely more productive--vomiting.
I've tried everything: light breakfast, no breakfast, water, no water, wake up early, sleep in, nothing has helped.
My weight instructor is kind. She recognizes that I have a problem. I've reported the sleeping disorder and gone through the medical motions. Every day she sees me, she asks how I am. (As a guy, this is one of the worst questions that can be asked. I already feel emasculated since I can barely keep up, asking how I am is only one more layer of awkward pride stoning.)
But yesterday was different. She asked how I was, then over the course of conversation it became relevant for me to share that I was going to St. Andrews next autumn for graduate school.
"Oh," she said with some surprise, "That's a really good school."
And like a tidal wave, emotion swept over me. I suddenly realized that she only knew me in the context of the class. I was the kid who was unable to keep up, who got sick, who had something as undetectable by observable evidence like a sleeping disorder and could be making the whole thing up.
Where was my tshirt that let her know I was super intelligent? Where was my sign that told her, "I'm really good as what I do."?
I was sitting in biology last week when our professor asked us to share our opinions on evolution after she had presented her own. A few people spoke here and there, then I went, all prepared words and phrasings, calling myself a medievalist and high church, trying to explain a belief in evolution that does not adhere to a common ancestor, spilling out rabbinic readings and Aquinas. At one point, she turned a phrase just so and I reacted at the most inopportune time. She hurried past and kept talking and I realized, suddenly, that I had given her the impression that I believed that man was made in the physical image of God. My mouth hung open, I wanted to scream, to clarify. But it was too late.
Last December, when I got in a bit of hot water for criticizing the Live31 Movement, I received a lot of spiteful emails and blog comments that often pointed out I was trying to ride their success as a means to boost my own platform. I could not, as much as I wanted to, write emails back that said, "I have a book contract. I don't care about their numbers. That's not why I'm doing this." Instead, I wrote massively long emails about grace and prayer and faithfulness, which were just as much about over-explaining than standing on the book would have been.
I do this all the time.
My theology is so fluid, my opinions so diverse, my wonderings so likely to change, I feel the need to constantly overshare my way into a person's heart to make them like me. I fear being misunderstood because I fear that people will dislike me if they don't get me. Me, ontological, wonderful me. I fear that if something is left not clarified, my very important life won't be understood well and rightly.
This is completely ridiculous. And dare I even mention the egoism involved here?
Biologists refer to the argument God of the gaps as a weak, illogical approach to science in which something that science has yet to explain outright proves God without question. (The obvious problem being that as soon as science does provide an answer, God is, by this logic, disproved.)
I am learning to argue God of the gaps differently: God fills in the spaces where I haven't given the itemized list of my theological perspective or brain space or graciousness. God fills in the spaces where I haven't showered that day or had time to make a French press or couldn't tell you what the cover of the Times was to save my life. God fills in all the gaps.
I hate trite, pithy sayings, but sometimes you have to bite your tongue, accept that you are misunderstood, trust the Holy Ghost and say, "Let go and let God."
It's a radical kind of trust. A trust that not all of you needs explaining all the time. A trust that He's qualified you just enough for the moment you're in. A trust that even if people misread you, don't get you, don't see, that that's enough for the present. He holds it all.
Just like now, as I look at this post, and I realize it came out all different than I had planned. I had thought of smooth words, warm lighting, and gracious prose, like last week. Instead, you got too much information on when I have to use the bathroom in the morning.
I trust, without as much cheek in it as it may read, that God can fill in this gap too.
It is my joy, with Joy, to share here words that expose life honestly, openly, and messily. Some days my posts for this meme are about this chaos of being, other days I manage a bit more gentle words.Would you join us in sharing the vulnerable times, the unordered times, the unkempt rooms?