The dichotomy of two phrases I've come across tonight (one I wrote, the other I read from a friend) have got me thinking, and even though part of me wants to be snuggled in bed finishing my Stephen King book, the rest of me wants to write. (Okay, most of the rest of me wants to write; the rest of me wants to post a blog entry so I can maintain regularity.)
The first is the idea of what I've come to think of as spiritual allergies--things our souls are allergic to. Death tops the list, but any semblance of it counts, too: friends who move away, a relationship that breaks and goes unrepaired, feelings (real or imagined) of abandonment. We were not designed for a world where these things are the norm, and so they slap us in the face every time. Even those of us whose lives have been marked by these allergies don't go numb to the feeling. It hurts anew every time, and this is perhaps, in part, why the idea of heaven is so desirable: a place to breathe freely. Like a clean house to someone with an allergy to dust, or the end of pollen season.
A friend of mine is moving hundreds of miles away, and even in an age where Facetime is an app away, this is still a hurtful, unnatural thing. It feels all wrong: a friendship shouldn't be summarized in a greeting card; one hug can't hold someone over indefinitely. We are allergic to this.
Another friend is in his seventh month of watching a broken relationship stay broken, and he's exhausted. "I know it's stupid, but I am so upset right now," his text message reads. I am immediate in my contradiction, because when did we decide it was stupid to feel hurt, to become emotionally involved in other people? (I'm aware that this is touching into my post from earlier this week, but bear with me.) I'm writing to myself here, because I do this as much as anyone. I allow myself anger or resentment, but in a private corner apart from my faith, and when I come out of it, I leave it behind (or, perhaps more accurately, brush it under the rug). But there is a place within faith for feelings of defeat, of exhaustion, of frustration, of anger. " 'Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing'" (Luke 13:34). If it's good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me.
If I asked you how long it's been since you genuinely, fully reacted to something--I don't mean you punched someone out (though maybe you did), I just mean didn't immediately put half a mask on, or call yourself stupid or naive--would you know how long it's been?
Have you remembered now, a sentence later?
Again, I'm not saying we're supposed to be crazed emotion-driven Neanderthals, crashing through the world because we feel like it. But this whole business of masking and redirecting and pretending isn't working, and it's convincing a world that my faith isn't real. And that's something else I'm allergic to.