Thanks to each of you who commented on the "Welcome to Messy Faith" post. This is why I like hanging with folks like yourselves—you can roll with things like mess and not think that mess somehow disqualifies us from being able to say we experience God, even with all the uncertainty.
Has it struck you, as it has me, that a big part of this kind of vibrant, experienced faith is our own continuing ability to find healing from the junk in our lives? I talk to so many people who tell me about the same buttons being pushed again and again in their lives, which leads them to spend so much of their lives reacting rather than acting. Just yesterday I was getting some good time to pray a bit, and the first things that came to mind were endless shortcomings of mine—how basic qualities of my temperament warred against my hopes of being a good friend and parent and husband and pastor. God, staying with me in my complaining, seemed to dial me down, to say that who I was was actually just awesome in each of those areas…so long as I stayed present to my life and my reactions and my choices. When I had my buttons pushed and reacted from that space—or felt a sadness I didn't face with God but tried to distract myself out of—that's when I'd make things worse.
I have a dream for myself—that I'd actually come to have no buttons that can be pushed, that I'd find the face of God at the first hint of gloominess, that distraction would play an ever-diminishing role in my life. It seems to me that the kind of faith that here we've been calling "Stage 4" is dependent on this continuing and deepening self-awareness (as Chris Lowney talks about in Heroic Leadership), that so long as we're unconsciously reacting, we can never get there. This is one of the many reasons that cockiness can never coexist with Stage 4; cockiness, by definition in this view, is not facing ourselves, is revealing that we're not yet a trustworthy spiritual guide. Thoughts?