Dear Atticus, on trusting

Yesterday’s thoughts on Atticus’s dedication led me here.

Dear Atticus,

My friend Brandy and I have talked about how we feel compelled to wrap up life’s stories in a nice little bow. My tendency to do this has a lot to do with the inspirational fiction and non-fiction that I read when I was younger. In those books, each story finds its redemption. In 200 pages or less! The answers are things like Turn to Jesus and Find your identity in Christ.

Those, to me, are pretty words. But even though I grew up going to church, I can’t tell you what they mean.

People seem to like those answers, and I am left sitting over in the corner, wondering why I don’t feel the same way. A very wise friend once told me that people like those answers because it makes them feel inspired, because they are not forced to engage with their own spirituality. They can read a nice passage that doesn’t say much and get some warm fuzzies. I am not a warm fuzzy person. I am not sure what they think it means to Turn to Jesus and Find your identity in Christ. From this perspective, it often looks like shutting off your brain and pretending that everything is fine.

I can’t tell you how often I have wished that I could relate to those answers. I wish that turning to Jesus was an answer for me rather than raising more questions: Are you saying I turned away from Jesus? Or did he turn away from me? What does it look like to find my identity in Christ? What are you saying that I am finding my identity in? What does it mean to trust Jesus? Trust him that things will work out? What if they don’t? Are you saying you understand the plan? Are we supposed to? (Is there one?)

Here’s the thing, though, Atticus. As much as I wish that I could relate to those answers, I wish the opposite for you. One day we will read the Harry Potter books with you, and you will meet a wise old wizard named Albus Dumbledore who told his students they would have to choose between what is right and what is easy. That applies across the board, not just when fighting evil wizards. It definitely applies when discussing faith. I hope you have a real and vibrant faith, son. I want you to engage with it and wrestle with what you believe. The last thing I want is for you to take cheap and easy platitudes to make yourself feel better or accepted.

I hope you trust in Jesus, but I think that is part of the process, not an answer. It sounds like something that should lead to a sense of security, but I believe that it is okay for trusting Jesus to lead you to more questions. Relationships evolve as our understanding of one another continues to grow and deepen. Long-term relationships can stay on the surface with shallow answers, but the ones that weather life’s storms are more satisfying. I believe that having a vibrant faith means that you continue to learn, and that means continuing to ask questions rather than being settled in what you already know. Don’t be satisfied with answers that don’t encourage you to evolve.

I admit that sometimes I fall into the trap of being stubborn and questioning just for the sake of being ornery, because I am tired of being told to trust with the implication that I should turn off my brain. God gave you your brain, Atticus, and I hope that using it is part of your story of faith. It is nice to feel inspired. It is better to be engaged, to question, to grow.


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