Monday, March 25, 2013


4 a: to exert influence on : constrain

A little over a month ago, I read a fiction book that got me asking deep theological questions.  In the world of this book, there are three gods.   When the gods go to war, one god wins by imprisoning the other two.  (Question #1: What happens to our own faith when one part of the trinity is minimized or emphasized over the other two parts?  This one's for another post.)  The main character, Yeine, meets one of the imprisoned gods and comes to know him as more than the god of chaos, he's also the god of creativity - and don't those two nearly always go hand in hand.  Yeine has been brought to the capital to be used as a sacrificial lamb and she's talking with the imprisoned god about how she can't change her reality.  He tells her:

You are what your creators and experiences have made you, like every other being in this universe.  Accept that and be done... The future, however, is yours to make - even now.  Tell me what you want.  [As for me,] when I am free, I will choose who shapes me.
Question #2: If I get to choose what shapes me, what am I choosing?  What am I pressing in to?

Last week as I was walking one morning, I pondered this question.  In my mind, I saw myself pressing in to my enneagram nine ways of living.  For me this means withdrawing (primarily emotionally) and sitting back in the reality that this world is broken and shattered.  And it means feeling incapable of changing the inherent brokenness that I sense.  The alternative felt like a choice to press into the Holy Spirit - that whirling softness that brings comfort, yes, but also growth and uncertainty about what lies ahead.  I ended my walk that morning determined to choose growth over stasis.

Then I went on a silent retreat - those lovely weekend interludes away with God that fill up my emotional tank and recenter me.  On this retreat, I imagined myself in the cleft of a rock.  There I saw the choice of what I press in to is not so clean cut as I initially thought.  I thought I faced a simple choice between doing things my way or doing things God's way.  Instead, I think my choices are more intricate, more compelling, more fluid.

I need both the quiet darkness of my nine space and the light and space of growth.  Like a seed that needs time in the dark recesses to prepare for growth, so my soul can't be constantly exposed to the light and sun without withering.  It's hard to remember that God made me the way I am and I don't need to change myself to conform to some idea I have of what growth looks like.  Growth for me will look different than for anyone else because we are all made differently.

I'm not saying my growth will happen naturally, without me doing anything to encourage it.  My job is to press in, both to the sheltering dark and the swirling hopefulness of the unknown.

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