Faithfully v.I: What is Happening?

Listen: If you’re here because you read my poems somewhere, I can’t even tell you how glad I am that you’ve clicked on the link to my blog. Seriously. So I hope you won’t freak out when you realize that  what you’re about to read is a part of a series I’m calling “Faithfully” in which I explore some ideas I’ve had about Christianity. I’m not asking you to agree with these ideas. I promise. I’m just asking you to tolerate me as I think it through. 

So let me just say it:

Here’s a weird thing you may or may not know about me: I’m a Christian.

I know.

But please just hear me out.

We were friends before this, after all – so give me the chance to prove I won’t go nuts.

When I was 21 and about to graduate from the small, liberal arts, Christian college where I had decided to pursue my higher education for all the wrong reasons, I thought the same thing you’re thinking.

During my senior project class, I told my teacher, W., “I’m not leaving this college a Christian.”

To which he said, “Then maybe you never were” — which, of course, completely pissed me off.

He was supposed to have asked, “Why do you say that?”

He was supposed to have said, “Oh no, Sarah, what happened?”

He was supposed to have engaged me so I could talk about my frustration, my very logical claims against conservative theology, my righteous rage about every little thing.

But he didn’t.

And he was right.

I wasn’t a Christian. Not then.

Not yet.

It took a really long time to dig beneath the stereotypes, the misconceptions, the misinterpretations, the sociological constructs that make being a Christian in America an embarrassing thing for a liberal (like me) to be.

But it turns out that Jesus (most likely) was not the person conservatives make him out to be – which means that being a Christian is not as crazy as it seems like it is — and that even though I have to share the title with sisters and brothers (this language makes you want to puke, right?) who probably have this Jesus thing entirely wrong (I mean, we can’t actually prove anything at this point, despite those who say they can), it’s all probably going to be OK.

At the church where I work, we recently welcomed a new rector (that’s an Episcopalian word for lead pastor–also, I’m not an Episcopalian, and it’s really important to me that you not think that I am), and he ends all of his emails with the word “faithfully.”

The minute he was hired (literally, the down-to-the-second minute) the other staff at the church started ending their emails with “faithfully,” as well.

At first I thought this was a sign of ridiculous transparency and suck-up-itude.

“This is insane,” I thought each time I had to answer someone who had concluded with the word.

But when you think about it, it’s not really that crazy.

They were just hungry for someone to give them something to strive for.

Some people want that, and some people don’t.

So even though I use the word “faithfully” a little sarcastically here as a sign of the desperation that leads to a certain kind of life, I also use it genuinely, as in “I’m doing my best to be faithful even when I suck at it.”

So please don’t judge me yet.

I’ll keep writing as I continue to work this out.

I hope you’ll keep reading.

Thanks.

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