Spirituality in a moment. First: my dating life.
I have never been in a relationship or even been on a single date. I am now mostly at peace with this, but I have been quite frustrated in the past and I still hope that this isn’t the case forever.
Since the end of highschool, I have sporadically given myself self-improvement goals in the hopes of making myself more date-able. “What do girls like?” I’d think. “Girls like guys who exercise.” So I cut back on ground beef and started doing pushups. Then in my first year of university, I thought “Girls like guys who dress nicely.” So I started cultivating a sense of fashion (still in progress). “Girls like guys who cook, who read poetry, who learn languages, who bake deserts…” On goes the list, and on goes the self-improvement goals.
And yet, at every turn, I remain single. Here’s why this is an amazing thing.
I grew to enjoy being in shape, not to win chicks but for my own sake. I feel more comfortable, confident, and capable being in shape. Clothes became a medium of self-respect, not a means to try to market myself. Cooking, languages, and all the rest became things I enjoy for their own sake. Each of these discoveries was originally motivated (in part) by a problem that vexed me: the tedium of singleness. Yet, my efforts to overcome that problem heave lead to fun and encouraging discoveries that now outweigh my original angst.
The presence of the problem has become fuel for a fulfilling life.
And this all reminds me of some of my pet quandaries in following Jesus. There’s the old problem of evil – how God can be both all powerful and all good in a painful world. There’s the story of Abraham going to sacrifice Isaac, permanently problematized for me after reading Kierkegaard. There’s also a more personal theological frustration of my own making – how does resurrection work, and in what way is a resurrected me still “me.” Each question is a worthy adversary for sleep, and each is one that no systematic theology book has settled for me.
Yet each of these unanswered quandaries has lead me to make helpful discoveries. I don’t know why the omnipotent omnibenevolent God doesn’t immediately stamp out all evil, but the question makes me better appreciate his particular and gradual interventions against evil. I don’t know what I’m supposed to take away from the Binding of Isaac, but placing myself in Abraham’s shoes (Or Isaac’s) leads me to probe my own attitudes towards God. I don’t get resurrection, but my lack of understanding has forced me to pray more.
Why does Jesus have to die in order to reconcile us to God? That’s still a head-scratcher for me, but I’m happy to have something to wrestle with. Answers, while important, are not always transformative. The questions – the problems (or ‘puzzles’ more charitably) – demand that I think and act in different ways. That leads to growth.
I’d still like my theological quandaries answered as much as I’d like to be married some day, but if there are enriching discoveries to be made along the way then I am happy to wait.
I really tried to come up with a good title. I got squat. Ya get what ya get.