I am going through a season in my life when things are changing almost too rapidly for me to identify what is happening. It is like a sort of earthquake taking place where all the small things are crashing down around me and I am standing in the door frame checking to see what will hold up in the shake down. I'm not totally ready to identify all those changes, so lately I've found myself going to Facebook and Pinterest to avoid scrutinizing what's going on in my heart and mind.
It was pinned by not one, not two, but three of my friends from college. Girls I had long talks into the night with. Girls I looked up to. Girls who were there for me when I was falling apart. For the sake of how much I love those girls, I wanted to ignore this post. But I can't. I don't want to pick a fight with those girls.
But I want to pick a fight with these words.
I am fascinated by the idea of happiness. It captures my imagination because it is such a vortex between faith and real life. Happiness is a indicator of what is inside. There is nothing more pathetic than fake happiness. It's the authenticity of happiness that gives it power. I'm not positive, but I can guess that what my friends were resonating with in this pin is the idea that people who are just trying to be happy sometimes makes poor moral choices and that ultimately, if they have their internal values lined up with God's expectations, (ie. "being holy") they actually will counterintuitivly achieve a measure of happiness. But that doesn't make a very cool pin for Pinterest.
Instead, you get this false dichotomy. You have to choose between Holiness and Happiness. For Christians who are in on "the code," this is affirms their life choices and by sharing, cements their place among the holy. I can't imagine what it means to those outside of "the code." I know it does nothing to motivate me.
I'm becoming convinced that the opposite of happiness is not sadness. It's not holiness either. I think that the opposite of happiness is boredom. (For more on this may I suggest the documentary Happy on Netflix? Check out the trailer here.)
When I scroll my Facebook wall and I read the stuff that my Christian friends and family post, it sometimes makes me crazy. It makes me roll my eyes. It makes me cuss. And then it makes me sad. I don't say anything because I know that in the marriage of Robb and Vanessa, Robb is the lover and Vanessa is the fighter. My nickname as a kid was "Spitfire." Just ask my siblings. So I stifle that part of myself because I don't trust it. But in some ways that is just a nice way of saying "I don't care enough about you to really interact with you." And the truth is, I do care. And I'm sad about the way Christianity is expressed on facebook. And to the world. I think it's a hot mess.
I made a treasury on Etsy on Sunday night. The theme was "Sunday Morning Long Ago This Morning." (A treasury is a collection of items available for purchase on Etsy shown together on a single page, and in the best case scenario, on the front page of Etsy.) In the treasury, I collected a lot of familiar expressions of Christianity that most of my Facebook and real-life Christian friends would recognize and relate to. The collection was undeniably sweet and nostalgic. We'll just ignore for the moment that there is no Jesus in it.
their first love.
I feel sad when I read "Christian" posts and pins because I think maybe those people are bored with their faith. They want to engage in something that they find exhilarating, but somehow, never pissing off another Christian has become synonymous with holiness. They ignore how unhappy they are and comfort themselves with the thought that if they are bored, at least they are pursuing holiness. They pursue holiness with more Bible studies. More prayer. More Christian books. More Christian music. More Christian pins to motivate them. More Christian Facebook memes to spur them on to love and good deeds. This is what holiness is?
I'm not pursuing holiness anymore. I'm assuming God has made me holy and I should go ahead and live. I should use the 1 or 5 or 10 talents God gave me to make something happen. I pay attention to when I'm bored and unhappy because those are symptoms that something is not right and maybe something needs to change. Maybe I'm letting fear of other Christians keep me from a life that is more exhilarating and engaging.
Take another look at the treasury. They are all nice things in and of themselves. But try letting some of it go. Try not speaking "Christianese" for a week. Try turning off the Christian radio and listen to NPR. Try putting down your Christian living book and join your local library's book club for a month or two. Try not dressing up for church and see how your church treats people who don't have "Sunday Best." Try NOT GOING to church (just once) and instead go to a coffee shop or someplace else on a Sunday morning. Maybe these things have become a cheap expression of faith that doesn't really cost you anything. Maybe you are using your pursuit of holiness to avoid Jesus.