Thursday, May 15, 2008

Color Outside the Lines

I have a very clear, distinct memory of being taught to color inside the lines. When I say "clear," I don't mean in the sense of the details-- for instance, I don't remember how old I was or whether it was my mom or my dad (I think it was my dad). But the feeling of enlightenment, empowerment, and freedom I felt has amazing clarity. I know that most kids feel restricted and their artistic expression is short-circuited when they are told to color inside the lines. For me, however, the instruction to color inside the lines gave meaning and purpose to what I was doing. All of a sudden, I was able to see the picture and the whole process of coloring made sense.

Now, however, I feel an urge to go grab a coloring book and scribble everywhere but inside the lines (my artistic growth seems to lag significantly behind the average 5-year old). Once you know the rules and respect the rules, you can break them appropriately.

I've experienced the same thing with spiritual formation. There were general rules for spiritual formation that were good during certain phases of my spiritual growth- I followed the rules for prayer, the rules for quiet time, the rules for sharing my faith. Those rules brought growth and understanding. Now, however, I feel like some of those rules need to be broken in appropriate ways. We never stop praying or reading or confessing, or evangelizing. But maybe those "rules" for the right way of doing it that brought such tremendous formation in the early days of my Christ-following adventures will not allow the full expression of my faith and who God created me to become to come forward.

Now, this is making me think about classical physics and quantum (or "modern) physics. Classical physics is incomplete, but it's still taught because it enriches our understanding of quantum physics. Okay, that has the potential to make my brain hurt. Where can I find a coloring book?


At 1:49 PM, Blogger Elaine said...

I chose Regent in part because it was conservative, and I wanted to start my pastoral ministry on solidly conservative ground. Why? Because of what you just posted about.
It makes me think about the Bible. Only after living with the rule that the Bible is always true and always correct can a person really begin to question and wrestle with the Bible in meaningful ways.

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Elaine said...

ps, I posted more of a response on my blog:

At 7:44 PM, Blogger Pat said...

What you said really resonated with me. For months, now, I have been feeling discontentment with practicing the spiritual disciplines, but haven't been able to put a why to it. Whenever I get to this place, I just shut down...I haven't figured out how to create anything new.

Today, I was wondering if I was even still in the faith. The very thing that used to bring me such fulfillment, such joy, so closely intimate with my Father, is seemingly difficult for me to find.

I know that I've never liked status quo...thatis being the same as everyone else, doing the same thing the same way. I just haven't figured out how to practice the disciplines out of my imagination instead of memory!



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