Back when all this started last July, I set a reminder for myself in Google Calendar. In late July, when the Christ year would be drawing to a close, the reminder was supposed to pop up with a singular pivotal question.
What have you learned about Christ this year?
I promptly forgot about the question, until yesterday when I as scrolling ahead in G-calendar, making summer plans. I saw the blue spot on the day, saying there was a reminder. Clicked. Questioned.
I’ve been asking and re-asking myself the question ever since.
What have I learned about Christ this year? This Christ year, the year I am 33, the year I have attained the age that Christ did when He went to the cross. This year of continuous Gospel reading and (what was supposed to be) intensive reflection.
I almost said nothing, but that would be a defeat I couldn’t bring myself to admit. But I’ve had to frantically manipulate my thoughts to make my first instinct untrue.
Why haven’t I learned more about Christ this year?
I could blame being too busy, which I do for most other things, but that isn’t the answer here.
I have not learned more about Christ because I made this year all about me.
The Google reminder was so jarring because the question was so SO far removed from what my mentality has become. This year that began as a pursuit of knowing Christ became pursuit of hearing from God which then became pursuit of what I should do with my life which quickly devolved into reflecting on my own desires and interests so that I could pursue what I wanted to do. Then there was the self-inflicted pressure to be profound and quippy, of course with the thought of writing and blogging about everything. I was dead set on coming out of this year as the super-spiritual, mystic, enlightened one, the Sage before whom everyone would line up to hear great wisdom. One could say with fairness that I fell into the trap of colonizing the Gospel for my own means.
No wonder the Gospel reading has come to feel like a chore and Christ has felt distant for most of this time.
I forgot to look for Christ and instead focused on learning about myself. I suppose I could have hoped to at least see what treasures and strengths were in me, and to what special visions I was called.
Nope. Not even that. This whole year, I’ve been running into how undisciplined I am. How quickly my resolve wavers. The limits of my abilities and resources. How frightfully ordinary I am. And when I am angry or lusty, or anxious or despairing in the throes of depression, I’ve been seeing how broken I still am.
I thought I was better than this. In a way, I hoped for the Christ year to be a demonstration of this. In fact, I have seen the opposite. I am worse than I thought.
I was supposed to focus on learning about Christ. Instead I focused on learning about myself and what I saw was ugly.
So what have I learned about Christ this year?
Mostly, I have learned that He will take second to no one. Not even me in my own heart. As long as there are other loves and passions, my ability to experience Him will be compromised. Perhaps that is why He so frequently emphasizes the laying down of one’s life. Not to make us miserable, but so He could give the best things, which are the things of Himself.
I have learned, yet again, that He is patient and compassionate. My impudence has not been met with hostile rejection, but rather a gentle chastisement with an invitation to seek Him again. I’m thankful that I peeked ahead in my calendar to run into the Question. I still have a few months of this year to re-focus my energy and learning.
The book I want to write is about foundations. What things, concepts, practices and believes do we make the central substance of our lives? Jesus says that He and His words are a foundation that can withstand the storms of life(read-trauma and stress) while all other foundations will fail in some way. After 33 years, I have gotten quite good at pointing out faulty foundations, or how people have misapplied the Scripture to create an unstable foundation. I want to write about how Christ Himself and His teaching and His Kingdom are an immovable foundation, but I realize that here is where I still have much to learn. I know some Bible verses and theology concepts, but I still have yet to learn how to integrate the truth of Christ into a real life lived among real Human people.
What have I learned about Christ this year?
I know I want to learn the manner in which He is a firm foundation. I suppose in order to see this, I need to shift focus away from myself and away from all the things I want. This sounds painful. However, I believe it will be worthwhile.