I just finished reading Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber. It’s an incredible spiritual memoir that highlights some of the most important and intriguing parts of the author’s story. What really resonated with me is her compulsion to let people know that God loves them, just as they are. That yes, there may be things about them that are broken and unsavory – but God still embraces them and can work with that.
As part of her journey she talks about wanting to find a home in Unitarian Universalism and how it didn’t work for her because there was no reliance on the grace of God. That really resonated with me. Like Nadia Bolz-Weber, I have always believed in God because I have always believed in the mystery. Despite coming from the WASPy Congregational tradition where the word was central – I have always believe in God because it seems like there must be something beyond all of the convenient coincidences of life.
And I really need to know that God will be there for me – even if it doesn’t make sense – in the mystery. It’s too overwhelming to me to think that I have to understand everything that happens to be a logical progression. In fact, for me, it’s a bit crazy making. I have a fair amount of anxiety and I love to feel responsible. OK, I don’t love to feel responsible, but I feel responsible all.the.time. So it is helpful to me to continually come back to the mystery in which God can ground me.
Which brings me to my favorite section of Nadia Bolz-Weber’s book – the part where she reminds people who are newly enamored with her eclectic congregation – we will disappoint you, I will disappoint you. It’s not a question of if, but when. And the beauty of it all, is that if you can hang in there and go through the disappointment, you will have a unique opportunity to experience God’s grace.
I worry so much about disappointing people even though I know it is inevitable. None of us is perfect. And as a pastor working for a local church, I worry about how that disappointment might impact my employment. Will I still have a job? What I love about Nadia’s comments is that they transform disappointment into a gift from God. She urges us to remember that God is with us in all of it – not just the good feelings and the success, but in the yucky stuff and the disappointment as well. And when we allow ourselves to be in it too, we can live through the mystery of God rather than just observing it from afar.