Unhindered

Credit: Eric Kilby, Flickr via Creative Commons

Credit: Eric Kilby, Flickr via Creative Commons

Have you ever had this experience?

You are in a truly significant relationship. The two of you discover that there’s something big, really big, about which you disagree. It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker in the relationship, but after years of arguing and debating and wrestling to see each other’s perspectives you finally have to come to a place of silence. You move forward in the relationship, continue to grow close and share intimate moments and learn each other. But the thing is always there, always between you, like a dark stone digging into your hearts whenever you embrace. The relationship is mostly healthy, mostly thriving. You’ve just given up hope that the thing will ever be resolved.

Have you ever had this experience, but then something changes? One of you comes to understand the other in a way you never have before. Like scales falling from your eyes, or cotton being pulled from the ears, suddenly it all becomes clear. The stone drops away and for the first time you embrace one another with no barrier whatsoever.

When I became a Christian at fifteen years old, I was handed a packet of morality. Most of my opinions on ethical matters had to change from a harsh liberal perspective to a more “biblical” way of thinking. I accepted the teaching at the time, then five years later began the bitter and difficult process of unraveling all the knotted-up thoughts that had developed. I began to shed those “biblical” ways of thinking on a lot of issues, reclaiming truths I had discarded when I realized I could believe the things I believed before Christ while still loving and following Christ. I could still believe in pacifism, women’s equality, environmentalism, birth control, intellectualism, poetry, beauty in the world around me, truth in the experiences of the “secular.” These things are also biblical, and there’s space in the gospel for difference and variation of belief.

Yet there’s always persisted between me and Christ one very harsh, very dark disagreement. It’s been the thing that we’ve had to file away. We move forward, I grow in my understanding of Him and His grace, His love. I strive to follow Him as best I can. I spent years reading, questioning, studying, meeting with spiritual leaders to find reconciliation on this issue. Eventually I gave up. I’ve believed this barrier would exist between us, a place where my conscience and my theology would never agree.

However over the past few years, as dysfunctional thinking on other topics has slowly healed and I’ve seen so many things with new clarity, the road was being prepared for this final issue to be dealt with once and for all. This process has come to a head in the past few months, and last week I was able to articulate to a few close friends the final shift I felt happening. As my theology and my conscience slid together, I was awash with relief. I felt whole, for the very first time in my Christian life.

So this morning, after teaching a class that felt exhausting in the most fulfilling way possible, I stood with my church in worship. I’ve always been able to count on feeling the presence of God surrounded by music and the voices of my faith community. But this time there was no barrier. No black stone between myself and Christ as we drew near. For the first time in my Christian life there was absolutely nothing separating me from Him, no part of my heart that had to be withheld because of a disagreement. As I served communion to every willing person in the room, there was never a moment of hesitation, no question about the rightness of the moment.

I had no idea that the flight of freedom could feel so heavy, that joy could wash over me through the heat of tears. I had no idea that something so seemingly small could do so much violence to my relationship with Christ, or that its removal would be so incredibly beautiful.

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