Fresh Air and Tears

The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say,'O God, forgive me,' or 'Help me.' Billy Graham

About six years ago, I first began blogging. Within a few months, I stopped and never returned. There would be awkward moments when I'd be reminded that I had started a blog on a particular platform, but that was no motivation to begin writing again. I began blogging because I had complaints and questions about my faith. I was having trouble reconciling my politics, my faith, and my past. I found it difficult to be comfortable in a faith tradition that disparaged knowledge and reason. I was having a hard time dealing with God.

I gave up blogging. It was beginning to give me more headaches than actually helping me to process and heal. I had no voice and I was sure that I had no readership. I was struggling to define myself as more than another teenage guy dealing with his hormones and unfulfilling relationship with his parents. One year, I'm a conservative, Evangelical Christian and the next, I'm an existentialist. It was a time of real self-discovery, but none of my questions went away.

About three years ago, I was searching for answers to my questions. Being a true product of my generation, I began this search with prayer and Google's "I'm Feeling Lucky" button. I did a search for the stories of Christians struggling with their faith and I finally found some relief.

I write about Pastor Jonathan Martin quite a bit, but if that Google search hadn't lead me to Rachel Held Evans, I'd have never known of Pastor Jonathan. I'll remember the post for as long as I live: Blessed are the Uncool. 

It was a breath of fresh air to find a community that welcomed your questions and didn't attempt to answer them for you; rather, they shared stories.

I wantonly breathed in this air, but the experience was overwhelming. Having always been one wary of releasing control of my life, finally asking the hard questions made me all the more unsure of everything. As I educated myself and spent time seeking God, I was confronted with a torrent of tears. I felt shame for myself, for the Church, for my past, and everything else that didn't seem right. It became difficult for me to look at God in the same way. I'd never thought of Him to be a tyrant, but I was now angry with Him because of the realities of the world and faith.

I read Rachel's story of her journey and it brought me back to something I'd run away from: blogging.

I still had no clue what I was doing, but I felt a call to write and to breathe. Having a high level of confidence can often lead to self-centered misinterpretations of a call from God. I was so sure that I was going to write in order to help myself and others. Nope. Not the case. God was calling me into a community. He was calling me into a safe place where He could reach me, teach me, and fill me.

The healing continues and the questions are slowly being replaced with stories of God's undying love for me and for us all. Stories of God's revelation of His innate jealousy for my affections; of His unrelenting grace; and that He gave part of Himself to prove His love for me.

I can now take a breath of His holy presence--in prayer, in worship, or even at His Eucharist--and know that He's with me, inspiring new tears. Tears that will flow when I think of His goodness. When I reflect upon His grace. When I receive Him at the Eucharist. Tears that will be fresh air for someone else's journey.

About the Author: My name is Ken. I'm that guy that goes to art school, uses Apple products, wears Banana Republic, sings opera, and preaches in a Pentecostal church. A native of North Carolina, I'm an impassioned Wake Forest fan, lover of Cheerwine, partial to Pepsi, lover of biscuits, and I will eat Bojangles’ ANY day of the week. More than anything, I'm a lover of Jesus Christ and blogs about that love and everyday life right here at Sub Renovationis. I'm partial to running as his expression of the “shout” and is often seen “cutting a step” in public places. No shame. I loves liturgy and all of the bells, chants, smells, hymns, and reflections that come with it. I'm a student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, pursuing a degree in Vocal Performance. You can find me on the web at http://kennethapettigrew.wordpress.com