“Jesus was totally unpredictable.” A friend said that to me last week and it has been stuck in my head.
Jesus was totally unpredictable and I CAN NOT figure him out. I’ve read the Bible a lot. After all, it was my major in college: Biblical Interpretation. Yet, I could never have predicted his next move, or response to various people.
Somehow, I find it freeing because all my efforts to find the pattern he used or, the lifestyle he choose or, the perfect words at the perfect moment, the perfect balance in life is just too much.
I think the problem is, I am trying to figure out Jesus in order to figure out myself.
Most of my life is an effort to figure out what “type” of person I am or should be for optimal quality of life. I find myself wanting to turn the conversation to myself whenever I get a chance, longing to get to a deeper level of friendship with people so that I can know what they really think of me. (Wow, that is a little uncomfortably honest).
Am I more introverted or extraverted? Am I an academic or an athlete (ok don’t laugh, I still aspire to be athletic or at least athletically minded). Am I liberal or conservative? Am I a happy person or a depressed one?
The answer really depends on the day and on the circumstances.
I have always felt like this was a bad thing, that I should be so rock solid in my faith and my identity that nothing could phase me. But I know deep down that I am totally confused about who I am at all.
So, I utilize what I call “The Essay Approach to Life.” (Based on the three best ways to organize an informative essay.)
- I try and define myself. I get on this quest to find the correct definition of me. I ask friends and family. I ask my kids. Sometimes, I am so desperate to figure myself out that I ask strangers, “What kind of person do I seem like to you?” (The answer to that is almost always... “a crazy one”)
- I try and compare and contrast myself. This one is a recipe for disaster. I compare myself to people I wish I was more like and I contrast myself to people I dislike. I feel bad even saying that I dislike some people but it’s true...probably not you because you are reading this... but I do this compare and contrast thing and it’s exhausting and totally based on my perceptions of other people which are almost always wrong.
- I try to figure out the cause and effect of who I am...what made me like this. I delve into the past. I dig up old memories and rehash old arguments. I nurse old wounds and savor old victories. I write the story of my life based on events and cataclysmic moments.
This week I realized that applying ELA methodology to the nature of my existence is not really very helpful.
So, how do I move past this obsession so I can get on with living?
But honestly, (and I mean like super duper honestly...embarrassingly honestly...) I’ve heard that so much I’m not sure what that even means.
Which scares me because then I’m like, if I were a real Christian I would “get it.”
Here are some things that I don’t get about Jesus:
- Sometimes he seems really harsh (...but then, can you respect someone who doesn’t even have the capacity for hard truths.) I guess I can respect it but I definitely don’t get it.
- He tells us to be alert and self controlled because he is coming back “like a thief in the night.” (what does that mean and how can we not worry and still be alert?)
- He says that he didn’t come to abolish the law and yet Christians don’t follow the laws.
Here are some things I love about Jesus:
- -He had compassion on the weak, the poor and the sick.
- -He healed people!
- -He tells us not to worry.
Maybe I need to stop trying to “get it.” Maybe Jesus doesn’t want us to figure it all out...to figure him out. And maybe it is not that important for me to be able to characterize myself succinctly (you know just to make it easier for the many biographers who, I am sure, will want to immortalize me after my death). Once I let that go, I can stop trying to perfect my image. I can actually talk to people and not just try to analyze how I am talking to people. I can live and breathe and love. It may be a little or even a lot unpredictable but then again, unpredictable doesn't seem so bad any more.