The Pilgrim’s Pensieve #10

Changes

I remember in Junior Secondary School being taught the signs of biological life. One of these signs of life is growth. I believe that is true of real life in general. You are not living until you are learning, maturing and changing holistically.

Growth however is often a subtle thing. Most times when it is really happening, especially you are in the situation that is propelling you to mature, you don’t really realise it. It’s like catching up with a friend you haven’t seen in really long time. When you meet the person again what strikes you are the things that are different but also the things that have remarkably stayed the same after so long, like the way they used to smile or their quirky sense of humour. Usually we have to pause and think back, to realise how much we have changed. Who you used to be is like that old friend, someone you simultaneously know and don’t know. However, if in your personal story there has been little character development you must pause and ask, is my narrative going anywhere and what is personally driving me?

Through this series and the rest of my blog I mention and hint at the changes I have seen in myself and the way I view the world. The whole blogging project has become deeply personal in a way I did not anticipate in the beginning. It’s almost autobiographical in a sense. The views I express here are largely not things I have always accepted or believed or even I could have ever anticipated. For one I can tell you what for me what it means to be a real Christian has drastically changed.

I have met people who I thought embodied true authentic Christianity and actually don’t. I have also encountered the people who I initially thought did not make the cut to only find they were every bit as Christian as I personally thought I was. There are things I do today that my younger self would be mortified to see but I am perfectly OK with. In short I have learnt to be more accepting yet more shrewd and discerning also. Life is complicated that way and acknowledging that sort of messiness is what it takes to be a whole person. I believe being a Christian is about being that whole person.

When you declare your allegiance to the Messiah you are bringing all of you, not just some parts, under his authority, the things that make sense that and the things that don’t make sense at all. The process and journey of learning to understand the Bible during my moments of personal crises helped propel this particular direction of growth. There were certain conflicts that were going on within me. It was a relief to discover scripture is no stranger to such things. Moreover seemingly opposite things are found working together, like heaven and earth, life and death, pain and glory. It is full of such beautiful paradoxes no less in the person of Jesus. The Scottish theologian James Stewart captures it perfectly as the “Startling Coalescence of Contrarieties.” Recognizing the inherent subtleties and complexities of scripture helped me to learn how to think in a more nuanced and mature way. Perhaps the simple truth about life is that it is not simple but that’s OK. I guess that’s what makes life so interesting.

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