Ecumenical. It’s my new favorite slash most frustrating word of late. It means “representing a number of different churches,” i.e. nondenominational, universal, latitudinarian, all-embracing, all-inclusive…you get the gist. I had no idea it was even a thing, let alone that there was a word for it, and you know how I feel about words.
Enrolled in the next MATS class entitled Strategies of Evangelism & Christian Mission, my head wants to explode. I sometimes think maybe the reason I can’t stop learning about theology and religion and yes! – even and especially God – is exactly the same reason I refuse to stop running marathons. Each pushes you outside of your comfort zone in a way that is exhilaratingly scary.
Will I get there? Will I make it? Am I cut out for this? Why is that chick better than I am, did you see her? Wait, no! Don’t judge! Keep going! If she can do it, you can do it! You love this! People are cheering for you to not.give.up! They must have either figured it out or maybe kinda sorta want to, so you can’t stop now! They are watching you, waiting anxiously for you to cross, to arrive, to get your medal and…say you’re not sure that was worth it and may never do it again.
Wait, what? You mean that wasn’t worth it?
You’re not sure. You are standing there, among droves of people only you feel alone for some weird reason and literally, you cannot think. You are spent. Every ounce of your being just wants to collapse.
Until you see someone else on the other side of the finish line who catches your eye. They are a mess. They are broken and bruised and hobbling around in circles, having just been made intimately aware of how much pain and turmoil what they just went through truly entailed. They are now, in that moment, living in a new and confusing reality of an unfamiliar emotion. One which clearly has replaced their prior state of naïve, blissful, and unsuspecting.
Yet inexplicably, they are also smiling from ear to ear in a way that makes them seem joyful. They are joyful. They are filled with joy. This makes no sense. But yet you watch this unfamiliarity with profound curiosity. It’s scary. It’s exhilarating. No matter their pain, no matter their struggle, no matter the outcome of their race, you know there is no question they are going to do it again. It’s like those runners are just…different.
This class is also proving itself to be different.
Evangelical vs. Ecumenical. Following Scripture vs. Social Justice/Action. Saying vs. Doing.
Me vs. My Head. My Heart. My Black. My White.
Is the same today as He was yesterday as He will be tomorrow.
And I thank Him for that. Because one of us constantly changing and having growing pains is definitely enough.
(For the record, “verses” help me understand the “versus.” I’ll post more about this class later, but for now, just know that my new favorite color might be gray.)