As I was heading out of town for my annual new year’s monastery trip, I had breakfast with a dear friend. I love sitting down to a conversation over a meal, it is one of the more central things to my faith. My respect and love for this friend is on a different level than most…our connection is much more like that of a sister, despite our age and life differences, and I value her opinion and approach to life immensely.
She, along with others, are concerned with some of the things I write here. You might be one of those people reading right now, or maybe you have no idea why someone would be worried about the things I write, or maybe, even, you are going through a similar theological shift that causes people to be concerned for you and you get why I write the things I do.
We left the conversation in a good, peaceful place and I admire her coming to me, especially the way in which she approached the conversation. I am open to conversations about this, in fact I love discussions about faith, God, and religion…but I will not have a debate. I’ve really come to value questions over answers, and if someone approaches me with a list of answers without asking me questions, I know that it will not be a positive experience.
Let’s talk about Hell, just get it on the table…because that’s the end game and the deal breaker when it comes to religious differences. I’ve been on both sides of the Hell issue. I know how it feels to be really concerned for someone you love and where they will spend eternity…and I also know how it feels to have the people you love think you will be tormented eternally by God/the Devil. I know that it is painful to be concerned with someone’s life choices, but trust me, the latter is the much more painful situation. I know how much courage it takes to bring up the issue when you think it might fissure the relationship that you desperately want to keep.
To take an honest moment, I was bummed after this conversation, even though we left it in a good place…but I feel deeply and it caught me by surprise. (Luckily, I was headed to a monastery and had a lot of quiet time to think it through.) I value that conversation, though, because I realized three things.
First, some religious wounds that I thought were healed weren’t quite done healing yet.
Second, it’s really important for people to take into consideration what they know about me when it comes to issues like this. I do not do things shallowly, and I would not make a moral choice because it’s easier. I have wrestled with these things like I wrestle with everything, and it’s important to me to feel that people realize how much time and effort I’ve put into my opinions.
Third, I realized that the really strong, important relationships will make it through a theological difference. Which, perhaps, is the best thing I’m walking away with. I REALLY like to please and protect people from hurt feelings, but I don’t need to do this if I want healthy relationships.
Feel free to give me feedback via your preferred digital method, because good or bad, I can make it through and so will our relationship. I’d love to have a conversation and hear your perspective too.