Monday, August 9, 2010

Confession




We don't have confession booths in the Presbyterian Church, so I'll have to use this blog instead. Because I have something important I need to proclaim to the quasi-anonymous confessional booth that is the world-wide web :

I'm not that Jesus-y.

I know, I know. You'll all say, "Of course you are! You're a minister for Christ's sake." (By the way, this is not swearing, I am a minister, literally, for Christ's sake.)

But I'm really not that Jesus-y.

What I mean by that is (and here is the confession part) that Jesus is not the A Number One Top Thing on my mind all the time. If this is shocking to you, please stop reading now. In fact, if I were really honest, there are not that many moments in which Jesus IS the A Number One Top Thing on my mind. Were I to go through my day and somehow prioritize and record the list of things that were on my mind, there would be times in which one might have to search pretty far down that list to find Jesus, probably somewhere after: the phone ringing, that I forgot to respond to someone's email, how ugly the girl's skirt is in the bank, what time it is, what I'm going to eat for lunch, wondering if we remembered to feed the dog this morning, figuring out what I'm going to do with my life, realizing the light has turned green, reminding myself that I need to stop by the store on the way home, Jesus, I wonder what color we should paint the hallway, etc.

Now, my non-Jesus-y-ness is not something that I notice that often, much the way one might not take note breathing in and out all the time or what their face looks like all day. But sometimes, when all of the sudden I experience my level of Jesus-y-ness in comparison to someone else, I realize how much I fall short.

For instance, I was recently in the middle of a conversation with another minister in which we were discussing some innocuous non-church-related life happenings and I said something along the lines of "I guess sometimes you just need a different perspective." To which she responded, "Well, that's what Jesus did, isn't it? He took the lessons and teachings from the Torah and reinterpreted them so people could see them in a new light." (This is a verbatim conversation, I am not exaggerating.) I have to admit that in that moment I was dumbfounded. Because I hadn't been thinking about Jesus at all. I had been thinking about the ACTUAL thing we were talking about....not that thing as a functional metaphor for the miraculous and transformative power of Jesus in our lives. And I honestly did not know how to respond other than to say, "Yeah," sheepishly, as if I had had some opportunity to express my piety which I had utterly missed....much like those times when I start chowing down in the restaurant as soon as my food comes and then look up to see the other person looking at me curiously and then asking, condescendingly, "Should we pray?" which I usually end up doing with one french fry hanging out of my mouth.

Anyhow, all this got me thinking, am I ever thinking about Jesus that way? And if not, should I be? And who are the people that are thinking that way? How do they do it? Are they ever just talking about the thing we are talking about? Or are they always looking beyond it? How do I get there? I seriously think I could use some major help in this area. Because I'm worried someone's going to find out soon. And then there could be major trouble.

For now 20 hail marys and I'm off to bed.

p.s. Even though I'm a minister, I still find praying in restaurants before eating to be TOTALLY awkward. What is wrong with me? Was it Harvard Divinity School?

3 comments:

  1. Okay, I'm coming out of the closet and posting. I really identify with this. I have this problem with prayer. I teach and preach and talk about prayer, and I hardly ever do it. In fact - confession - I never do, except at church on Sundays and before Bible studies and anything else I do at church, and before I eat with people from my church. I know that's a lot of prayers during the week, but it's because it's my job!

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  2. That minister sounds like a little bit of a Hermione Granger...

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  3. Love-it-or-leav-ittAugust 27, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    To Michael: I know! That's the crazy thing, isn't it? I think people would be shocked to know how infrequently their spiritual leaders avail themselves of the spiritual practices they teach. It's kind of a paradox. If you're looking for a good read on this, I just finished "Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity" by Eugene Peterson. It really changed my perspective on all this.

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