When I was young, my parents used to hide my books from me. I was an avid reader. As soon as I got knee dip into a good book, I was a goner. I had entered an entirely new world, and there was no way I was coming out of it until the story was over.
My parents had a hard time communicating with me when I had a book in my hands. So, they did the only thing they could, they hid them until I got my chores, or my homework done.
It was very motivating.
Needless to say, the written word has always had a special place in my heart. We all learn in different ways, but words have often allowed me to paint pictures within my imagination and fall in love with new characters that I had just met. They’ve allowed me to explore entirely new realms of possibility and new ideas.
As an adult, I read less fiction now. I’ve exchanged those fictional worlds that I used to explore for new realms of ideas and thoughts that open new insights and doors into the world that I exist within.
I am no longer satisfied with escaping from this world. Instead, I want to learn more about it. I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s the only way we can be part of changing it.
Why is the world the way it is? Why are we the way we are? Who is God? What makes us tick? How can we make this world better?
These are all questions that I’m sifting through pages trying to find clues and hints that will reveal new puzzle pieces to fill in the picture.
As a culture, we seem quite obsessed with finding answers. And, once found, it’s hard for us to change our mind that those answers may not capture the fullness of what it means to be human. It’s hard for us to adjust and change our ideas when new information is introduced.
What is it about having an answer or a vision of the world around us that make it so hard for us to let it go?
Is it the sense of security? Is it that it allows us to stop wondering? Is it that there are pieces of our identity that depend on the way things are and it would be too difficult to let them go?
Or, does questioning our current reality feel a lot like it feels when I’ve reached the end of a good book.
There is a sense of loss when the story is over. We were in a world of our own and we don’t want to let it go. It’s safe and it’s engaging and it’s beautiful and we don’t want to come back to the way things are.
Reality is messy. It’s complicated. Our villains and our heroes are often one and the same. There are no easy answers or endings knit cleanly together in a bow that makes our heart sigh.
Maybe we don’t like challenging our ideas of the world because we have to leave the beauty of the worlds we’ve created in our heads. And, it’s safe there. We’ve put people into categories of good and evil. We’ve picked our heroes. We know the villains.
And we think that everything is going to turn out the way we’ve written it.
The cost of not welcoming new perspectives or ideas into our worlds is deep. It’s like insisting on only ever reading one book, when there are so many more out there. So many more stories to explore and characters to meet.
And, with each new perspective, our worlds get bigger and bigger. We learn that we are not really losing anything in letting our original vision go - we are gaining something so much better.
A world that is wide enough for all of us.
I’ve been on a quest of questioning the Christian church as we know it today and the ideas that we serve up on Sundays, and I’ve been discovering doors where I thought there were dead-ends and entirely new lands on the other side of mountains.
An important part of this journey have been some of my greatest companions over the years: books. I’ve been reading a heck of a lot of books and learning new perspectives and ideas. They add new colors to my vision.
I am learning there is so much more to the word of God than I had originally known or believed. It’s not an easy process. There is discomfort in letting go of certain ideas that I had taken at face value and never questioned before.
But this new world is so much bigger and brighter. And, it’s beautiful.