It's been something of a week. I just can't stop listening to Kanye West. Kanye West? you say. Yep. "Jesus Walks," over and over and over, because I am thinking about faith, and love, and all that other stuff that's so hard to talk about without getting embarrassed. I'm not gonna talk about any of the gods here at the moment, but it's no surprise to anyone who's known me more than five minutes that I am an evangelical believer in the power of families--not the ones that we're born into, although sometimes we get lucky there, but the families that we make. And I am going to babble about that for a while--lucky you.
Lucky me. My mom says that she thinks I'm lucky to have so many good friends, and I think she's not wrong, because I surely don't deserve y'all--I don't deserve your love and loyalty, maybe can't deserve it. I have it by grace.
That sound you're hearing is the sound of my Sunday school teacher spinning in her grave. If you pick my ideas apart they're a crazy-making mishmash of Christian ideology and too many years in therapy talking about being responsible for your actions. I know that. But I persist; the idea of being entitled to someone's love is such a strange economic model, like a heart is a vending machine you can put a behaviour in and get love out of every time. And the idea that you don't have to do anything to be loved seems to me a kind of equal-but-opposite stupidity. Culturally we seem to swing back and forth between these two ideas, but I like my version better, where we all work our asses off for it but we understand that there's something greater going on. The other thing I heard a lot growing up was that my expectations were too high and people were always going to disappoint me. It's true that I was disappointed a lot, but when I look around me now, the people I'm close to are people who also spent a good chunk of time thinking "You're fucking kidding me. This is what I'm supposed to accept? We can do better." My folks weren't entirely wrong--I have had to get used to the idea that people make mistakes, and a bunch of getting banged around has knocked the edges off my self-righteousness. Thank the gods. It's tiring needing to be right all the time. (But, uh, Paul and Adam, this is not me admitting that I am fallible. No no no.)
So can't it be both? We love each other by working hard and also because of miracles. When things in our lives get frightening I trust that we will look at each other's human messiness and try to meet each other with all the generosity we can muster. When I get knocked off the path, all I need is to think about my family and what you all will say to me, and that's how I get back up. Where Kanye says "God, show me the way, because the devil's tryin' to break me down," I think "I gotta call Sarah." That's belief for you; it changes everything.