I couldn’t decide which label to use for this psalm, so I applied ALL the labels.
Also, this is me speaking for myself, not ALL millennials, postmodernists, or “nones.”
I am frustrated.
I am frustrated with being seen as a brat kid who wants everything, including Church, to be “my way,” when I challenge how things are done. Perhaps even more frustrating than asking the questions is having them met with scripted, empty answers.
Not only am I frustrated with asking too many questions; I’m frustrated that I seem to be the only one asking them. I can’t be the only one who wonders if there’s an alternative to substitutionary atonement in regards to the meaning of the crucifixion. I can’t be the only one thinking about racism and white privilege, but it often feels that way when I’m greeted with defensiveness when I bring it up.
In the atmosphere that surrounds me, in the articles and books I read for classes, in the words and lack thereof of the people around me, it seems like I’m mostly alone in this.
I feel lonely, even when surrounded by others, like the last person awake at the slumber party wanting to fall asleep so she feels a little less awkward.
So I’ll actually ask something of the Church, and of God. Again.
To the Church, to the schools which educate us, to the families who raised us and the communities who surround us:
Let me and others challenge and doubt without feeling the need to give me an arbirtrary answer to fill in the awkward void.
Let me claim my own voice without assuming I want nothing to do with community. Let the voiceless claim their voices, those who are silenced for their race, ethnicity, sexuality, or religion, or because of the violence done against them. Don’t call us entitled brats when we do so. Instead, listen humbly and welcome us in, and repent of the times you stuck your fingers in your ears and closed your eyes when you could have acknowledged the divine image and voice within us.
Stop slamming individualism for taking people away from community and structure, when it has been responsible for people finally finding real community instead of the shallow unity (or conformity) you think community is.
Be willing to deconstruct and break down what makes your worldview. Be willing to hear the perspective of another who is unlike you in as many ways as possible. Yes, it will be uncomfortable and challenging and scary, but it might deepen your faith and understanding, and it might make you realize how certain ways of living are very damaging to those already marginalized.
Let’s stop focusing on “bad theology” as only bad belief, whatever that even means. Instead, focus on how bad theology is more often than not bad practice.
I’m not only frustrated though. I’m still hopeful.
Oftentimes, I find this hope in the Church. There have been people who have sat with me and my questions. Some have debated with me and challenged me with their own insights without discounting my own. Some have held my fear and pain and helped me work through the tangles. Contrary to popular belief about postmodernists/nones/millennials, I find hope in the Church’s rituals, especially communion, in which we come together as God called us around the Table, where differences aren’t washed away in the name of conformity, but instead are welcomed to the meal.
But I also find a lot of hope outside of the Church, in the places I’m often told aren’t considered “holy enough,” because they aren’t in a church building or aren’t called “Christian” events. I’ve found amazing sacred space in the theater, in the smells of paint and the sounds of reading lines and loud laughter, and especially the time I sat with a group of predominantly LGBTQ people as we shared stories of how we’d been hurt by the people who claimed to love us and love God. I’ve found sacred space in Fort Lauderdale, FL with my Dad, stepmom, and siblings, all of whom are Muslim, as we talked theology, made flavorful Arabic dishes, and (in the case of me and my sisters) fangirled over Sherlock.
I’ve seen the sacred spaces, the holy ground present wherever two or more are gathered in Christ’s name, and in some of those spaces, Christ’s name isn’t even mentioned.
But I believe his name doesn’t need to be invoked for him to be there. I believe the power of our own presence with each other demonstrates God’s constant presence with us.
So while there are days in which I am frustrated, there is an even more stubborn hope deep within me which says it will be worth it. And if it was worth it to those who have struggled before me, who faced silencing and oppression and violence of which I could never dream yet pushed forward and shouted all the more from the mountaintops, then I will keep moving forward.