The Mystery of Love
“We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder.”
― Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way
Overthinking is my spiritual kryptonite. Ruminating can shake my faith like nothing else. I’m like a preschooler incessantly asking Why? Why? Whyyyyyyyy? But no answer ever satisfies me.
I want explanations, resolutions and validations that make me feel safe and justified but what Christ keeps offering me are paradoxes that are purposely confounding and unsettling.
My feeble mind cannot contain God and thus explodes whenever attempting to make sense of divine perplexities meant to burn up the very passions thwarting my access to transcendence and radical Christ-like love for everyone and everything around me.
Indignation, envy, judgment, pride, despair, feed on reason and rationality (the ego). They denote a very reactionary, tumultuous and surface level existence and are, if I’m not careful, my default approach to life.
I’ve slowly come to realize that Christianity is an invitation to go deeper than the ego, deeper than the temporal, and to enter an eternal reality limitless in its mystery and mercy - the ultimate freedom from my false self and inner turmoil.
And here is where things get super otherworldly, because that freedom requires death in a thousand different ways. It is a journey toward complete self-emptying, and ridding my mind, heart and soul of every resistance to Christ’s presence working in and through me.
My own will has to go, as do my assumptions, many opinions, expectations, vices, addictions, biases, slothfulness, and my worries about the future. Not overnight, mind you, perhaps not even in this lifetime, but the desire for such a death must be the context through which I make my day to day decisions.
Stillness and obedience are the two most powerful tools in my toolbox for growing into my true self, my Christ-centered self: authentic, creative, calm and humble. Stillness helps me listen for God and stay put in the present moment. Obedience builds the spiritual muscles of both responsiveness and restraint.
All throughout each day (on the days when I’m still) I hear whispered invitations to:
Stay on task
Call a friend
Show up for Church
Take a walk
Say my prayers
Make eye contact and smile
Offer my assistance
And all throughout each day (the days when I’m obedient) I practice:
Holding my tongue
Saying no to my impulses
Swatting away negative and judgmental thoughts
Avoiding passion-engaging content
Denying my urges to assuage my every curiosity
Surrendering everything and everyone to God
It’s in this quiet inner struggle to get out of my own way and let God take over that I experience transformation, the fruits of which include a peaceful mind, healthy body, productive life and healthier relationships. Striving for my own salvation is just better for everyone around me. My own love is distorted, possessive, conditional but Christ’s love is patient, kind, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs (Cor. 13:4-5).
Overthinking paralyzes me and makes my faith small but love, love alone, exposes my cynical and wounded soul to a Mystery that is astoundingly and irrationally beautiful, resilient, and hopeful.
In just doing the next right obedient thing, life becomes meaningful and sacred. There’s so much I will never understand or make sense of, but I believe with my whole heart in ultimate goodness, light and Resurrection! May my daily choices reflect that conviction and may my love for Christ unite instead of divide and bring a little healing to the hurting.
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