Sunday, December 9, 2007

Innie or Outie?

I drank mug of coffee #2 staring at the screen waiting on a posting idea to materialize and reflected a bit on my experience thus far as a blogger. I’ve enjoyed the challenge to attempt communicating with others some of my thoughts. I am glad to have a reason to write on a regular basis. As a teacher, facing the rigors of writing and understanding this process better strengthens the instruction of my students as writers. I am thankful for a venue which may be of use encouraging our young-adult children in their faith; they mostly live on their own and we no longer have daily contact. (One lives at home and another is about to move back in for a semester of school, but all are eighteen or over and the pace of our lives limits everyday connecting.) I desire to avoid sounding so much like a teacher. Well, it’s worth a try anyway, eh?

I was pondering a topic, no the topic: the absolute of love. All the meaning of life or lack thereof is woven around those four letters. It is ridiculously simple and unfathomably complex at once. Like a kid in the store, I was imagining the ways and means and varieties of approaches to speak on this topic. I felt incredibly small before the shelves. One thought later, a literal moment of insecurity considering this and an immediate sense of, “Give this up now!” Then I pinpointed in that moment how my mindset to the blogging medium didn’t fully serve my goal. Writing a blog post for me so far is like microwave cooking. I need to write (eat) in a sitting. I get the piece prepped, covered in a dish, into the oven, punch a few buttons and then present immediately for consumption. If I am still hungry (have more to say on the topic), I repeat the process.

Today I did a little prior mapping of a route. The title above is the prologue to an undetermined number of posts—though I have identified several legs of the journey ahead of time. (That's new for me!)

“Are you an ‘Innie’ or an ‘Outie’?” is not a question about five year old anatomies. As the father of five though, it popped in my head as a way of describing a basic divide I see in the way Christians approach love. While love is both inward journey and outward expression, perspectives on which is the important focus for the disciple of Jesus tend to divide as if love was easily polarized. Generally, I observe those who emphasize inward terms and topics that are weighted "spiritually" and outward folks use terms and topics weighted "practically." Love is, of course, both. My goal here is to explore, maybe challenge, how someone might develop a fuller experience of love. Discussion is invited, as I am firmly convinced the Mind of Christ is revealed in the fuller view of many Christians speaking together.

Even if you only read, think and make no comment, I hope you will take the poll to the right. It will be of interest to me what the numbers are in final tally.


postmodern redneck said...

For some reason I'm the first to vote and the first to comment. I think it is like James wrote about faith--the outward expression is what shows that it's there internally. If there is no outward expression....

One thing that shaped my thinking was ten years as part of a church that took as its motto, "Small things done with great love will change the world." It is not just a church sign; it's cast into the concrete of their present building, in letters big enough to read a quarter mile away. But they had been living it for 15 years before they built that building. And they have had an impact on their region.

Craig V. said...

Spiritually speaking, I was raised an Innie. As a young pastor I began to see some problems with this approach. For example, as an Innie I would rely on prayer and Scripture to reveal sin. I experienced some growth in this but noticed that being in a marriage relationship revealed my sin in a much more powerful way. Before being married, I honestly believed that I wasn't a very selfish person. Though it may sound paradoxical, it seems to me that inward growth is much more real in the context of relationships. So I guess that makes me an Outie of sorts, though I still believe we need the inward work of the Spirit to know the growth of those outward relationships.

Great question ded.

ded said...

postmodern redneck and craig v.,
sorry it has taken me a while to respond to your comments.

An outward expression is vital, no doubt. As I look at this again, I realize in hindsight I seem to have suggested we must seek one or the other. I do not believe that.
Writing clearly remains a challenge for me!

postmodern redneck said...

That's why we need each other, and it's better not to be a solitary Christian. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Putting it out for others to see, and getting reactions from them, can help you clean up both your writing and your thinking. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were part of a writers' group called "The Inklings"--that sat around in a pub regularly taking turns reading what they'd recently written, and talking about it together. I suspect their published work was a lot better for it.

ded said...

I'm certain you're right!