Saturday, January 22, 2011

'Excuse me, where is it I could order some vitrue?'

When I was actively living out my Christian faith in the traditional evangelical 'she's saved, he's not' way I never felt I had issues surrounding my virtues or spiritual qualities.

By no means do I mean that I thought I had it all together but I at least felt as though I was trying and knew how I could try.

One thing that makes it a little easier is the 'rules'. Now a true at heart Christian would say the faith is not about rules, or it shouldn't be, 'it's about a relationship'. I completely agree that Christianity at it's roots and it's most true intention is about a relationship with a person that should affect in a positive way your relationship to all other persons.

The challenging part is that someone figured out that if you avoided doing this or saying that you indeed would benefit and grow certain virtues out of it. Therefore producing convenient formulas for people to live by.

Of course the Bible itself (the basis of which Christianity was formed or grew) is loaded with helpful hints and even 'commandments' or rules to which one should go about their life and actually prosper from.

When I lived predominantly in a Christian bubble, only thinking along the evangelical Christian way (which to me is just abiding by the given rules and not understanding necessarily why they are there or challenging them a bit), I realize now that I had indeed grown true and great virtues .... in many parts of my life.

But after a handful of years straying feet (perhaps more than a few feet) away from the traditional evangelical way I have realized that there are indeed virtues I never could acquire by just 'following in the rules' as I was taught or had experienced. There were other angles on 'the rules' that seemed to, in some ways, break 'the rules' while at the same time growing virtue that I could never grow had I not broken 'the rules' as they were given to me.

Which make me wonder if 'the rules' are really 'the rules' or if they were put out in the simplest understandable fashion for us so we would be more likely to at least follow the basic premise of whatever it was we were to follow. (Ok I'm getting mixed up myself right now).

For example: After I officially decided to live my life as a Christian I was told swearing was wrong. I read some Scriptures that talked about making sure what came out of your mouth was 'pure' and stuff and then about not swearing in the sense of making a pact (is that spelled right?) or promise. No where did it say 'Thou shalt not say the F word'.

However I didn't challenge my thinking on this and made every effort to not swear (meaning say the F word) this was an easy rule to follow (you know unless I stubbed my toe in the night and eventually I was able to fix that too).

It wasn't until years later, after being offended by every dirty mouthed person I came across, did I learn that the Bible never did say 'Thou shalt not say the F word'. I learned this by becoming good friends with someone who did say the F word several times in each sentence.

At first I noticed every time and I felt a pang in my heart with each one. As time went on I got to know my friend, who was surprisingly not planning on taking a sea voyage any time soon. I learned and saw in her genuine love and care for her family. I saw that she would give her time, energy and life to make sure those she loved were cared for, including me.

It was through her I learned other virtues I didn't have and I realized just because she didn't have the non existent 'Though shalt not say the F word' rule under her belt that I did, she had many others that I didn't. Other virtues that didn't seem to be given to us in one sentence forms.

It was soon after that experience I began thinking 'outside of the box o' rules' and started exploring the heart.

What better way to do this than .... to begin swearing. Once I realized that technically I could say any word I wanted and the meaning was really up to you (yeah this was a bit of a stretch but I felt justified) I had a great time using a great many a words I hadn't been acquainted with before.

It took quite a while for me be at peace with using my new vocabulary but I will admit I felt more in tune with the rest of the world. I seemed to understand it better and it's frustrations. I no longer had to be offended by hearing these words so much (well unless the person saying them was really angry and mean, then I would re write the rules). I honestly came to a place where I did not feel swearing was wrong.

And even now I tend to agree. However I realize it's not always lady like or polite to do so. (Wally HATES it when I swear, though he admittedly has let a few fly upon my new allowances).

It's not been until recently when I have begun to offend my own self with my learned and accepted behaviour. I realized I was using these words more out of frustration than out of pop culture talk. I conveniently chose them to release my impatience rather than other methods I used to use, and as I did so my frustrations an impatience has seemed to increase.

I'm not saying if you swear lots you're like me and lose your patience more (as mine can lead to outbursts of throwing something across the room), but for me that's what has begun to happen. Because though the actual words I am using aren't bad in and of themselves I have learned to associate them with negative feelings of being out of control, thus putting myself or making me feel out of control.

Being out of control is the opposite of a virtue.

Anyhoo, all this to say I miss not swearing when I'm angry, I miss not feeling in control and I miss having the 3 seconds of patience required between the frustrating event and deciding not to hurl something across the room putting my pets lives at risk because of my uncontrollable fit of 'ahhhhhh I can't handle this!'. (By the way I don't not throw things at them, I'm just saying they are often around and I don't generally take the time to see where a good place to throw the rubbermaid container that's in my hand).

Upon the realization of my lost virtue(s) I decided last night to google 'How to be more patient'. I mean how else would I learn this right?

The 'How to be more patient' page popped up with an 11 step process I could use to get to my end goal. Clearly the author had acquired patience but forgot the readers hadn't.

I am now pondering my (in some ways) abandoned faith. I say only in some ways because I am yet to walk away from Christianity and I have no intention of doing so. I have opened myself up to be more challenged by other views that in my past I have not allowed myself to look at as Christianity as I have known it wouldn't allow me to.

I am lucky (or blessed - this whole not being able to use the phrase lucky drives me nuts with super picky evangelicals) to be able to call friends Christians that mentor me in a way that is gentle, understanding and easy. Which makes up for the ones that I have in my life who are hard and fast and would read this thinking I am packing my fire retardant suit for eternity in my bags once I leave earth.

I am so glad for the journey we have on this earth and that the person I call God allows me time to search Him out for real. I am glad for the friends I have that formally call themselves Christ followers and the ones that don't realize they are already in how they live. By straying from the 'norm' in this faith I have met people in ways I would've never known them had I stuck to 'the rules' the way they were handed to me.

I am far far from perfect. And I never assume I will ever get there but I will continue to pursue better things, better virtue. If not to improve my life, to maybe improve yours.

By the way, I'm making up my own rule 'Thou shalt not throw things across the room when you're angry'. There I'm sure that problem is completely solved.