Conversation: Are You an Ender or a Starter? Part 4
If you missed them, read part 1, part 2, and part 3 first.
More than Presbyterian
When I met my husband, I had already graduated from seminary. During one of our early conversations about our faith journeys, he asked me if I was still Presbyterian. I thought about it for a moment, and then I said, “Yes, but I’m more than Presbyterian now.” He thought my answer was funny, and he still kids me about it, but I was serious.
My roots will never stop being Presbyterian. I will never forget where I came from, and I keep the best of my Presbyterian upbringing with me now. But I am also a little Charismatic, a little Episcopalian, a little Vineyard, a little Emerging, a little Non-denominational, a little Buddhist, a little Mystic, a little Catholic, and a little I-don’t-know-what.
I’m in the garden now. My roots are growing down deeper. My leaves are spreading wider. My buds are blooming. I’m adding my rich and unique beauty to the variety of the garden. I am learning to live in harmony with the different plants surrounding me. We are all growing together, and it is only together that we can call ourselves a garden.
Remember when Rachel Held Evans called the Bible a conversation-starter? I think she was right. What kind of garden would we be if we get rid of all the variety and uniqueness and try to make the whole garden look like us? We’d be a garden overtaken by weeds. Weeds put a strangle-hold on their fellow plants and force them to submit to only one expression of plant life. Good gardeners uproot the weeds to allow more space for all the plants to grow freely and fully as they were meant to.
Let’s stop using the Bible to end conversations. Let’s stop using our swords to wound and instill fear. Let’s be conversation-starters. Let’s allow the different voices of scripture, of history, and of today to shape and inform the conversation. One of my seminary professors once defined theology as God-talk. Let’s allow our theology to be a work-in-progress, a work toward discovering together the truth about God and the truth about ourselves because of God.
Boundaries and the space between
I read about a study once where a community member drove by her child’s elementary school and noticed all the kids hanging on the fence at the edges of the playground. Concerned that the fence was holding her child back, she had the school remove it. Immediately, the children’s behavior changed. They began to congregate in the middle of the playground, fearing the insecurity of the edges they once safely explored because the boundaries were gone.
I’m not advocating that we abolish boundaries and play with an anything-goes mentality. We all need boundaries to feel safe and to bravely explore the fullness of the space we have been given. Without any boundaries at all, we would be like the children gathered in the middle, afraid to explore and play in the in-between.
But we won’t know where the boundaries are if we don’t spread ourselves out and grow into the space we’ve been given. Through conversation, we can explore and experience that space together and learn what it really means to be the body of Christ.
I used to be a conversation-ender, but I’m a conversation-starter now. Which one are you? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.