Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why, thank you...

I have a friend who has asked me a funny rhetorical question twice recently. “Can I give you a really good compliment?” she says. (Which of course I can’t turn down. Who would turn down a compliment?) The first time she asked me this question it led to a compliment about the relationship I have with Melissa and one aspect of our marriage she respects and admires. So, on the second time around, without giving me time to answer, she simply states, “You are completely normal.”

A compliment?!? My mind immediately went to a “glass half empty” mentality. Normal? You think it’s a compliment that you think I’m just average? I know I dress to fit in and don’t have any interesting hobbies and watch 24 and American Idol with the rest of them, but AVERAGE?

Once I got beyond my internal mini-crisis, I calmly asked, “What do you mean by that?”

She began to dive into a story about an experience she had at a small group she is a part of. At that small group she shared a funny spiritual metaphor that she had read out of a book of mine at work that day. The metaphor pokes fun at the “feel-good” nature of modern Christianity. After she shared the metaphor with the group, some thought it was funny, but some thought it was offensive.

So, when she paid me that compliment she was actually meaning for it to be positive. As she saw it, I was “normal” because she perceives me as a person of faith, a follower of Christ, that isn’t weird and socially inept; a person who is able to integrate ALL of life, both the spiritual and the secular. She and I discuss funny, inappropriate movies as well as deep and meaningful topics. We are able to jump from the surface to the deeper issues almost instantly. She sees that I have made an attempt to not compartmentalize my life and she sees that is lacking in the community that she is involved with in that small group, and Christianity on the whole.

The next line she spoke struck me deeply. Deep enough it actually almost hurt. Not just because I felt for her as she said it, but because I felt an entire generation crying out in the words she spoke. She said, “I just feel like a misfit…”

You see, this friend is a person of faith, a person longing to pursue Christ and longing to be a part of community. But this person also enjoys those other parts of life, the parts that don’t just happen in small groups or church. She enjoys hanging out with not-yet-Christians and seeing movies or going on adventures. She, like me, does not want to compartmentalize God into one, or maybe two, days of her week. She desires to pursue God in all that she does, and because others in her community aren’t practicing that as well, she feels abnormal and almost on the verge of giving up at times.

And I think that frustration, that resignation, is the attitude of many people my age. They desire to follow Christ, to be a part of an authentic community, but they desire to do it holistically and with all of who they are. My friend is not the only one that feels that way and she may not even name these frustrations herself, but that is the sense I got that day. She is not a misfit. She is a beloved child pursuing a loving God and she is much more normal than she realizes.

1 comment:

Luke said...

Thanks Michael for writing this ... I'll add her to the number of people who are "normal," and are looking to live for Christ in everything. By the way, this was very well written.