There was a time, not too long ago, when Christianity was exciting for me.
Not an, “Ooh, honey, we get a refund from the doctor’s office for a slight overpayment” exciting; it was the visceral, adrenaline fueled excitement.
Lights, fog machines, expansive digital screens and whammy bending guitar rifts, that was the propellant for Christian youth rallies in the 1990s. Words like fire, wind, power, and awesome adopted deep theological significance in songs. To sell out was the new American martyrdom. We’d travel halfway across the country to get our spiritual fix (and it had to be the pure, blue stuff). With hands raised and glistening eyes, we’d vow to destroy our “sinful” Nirvana and NWA CDs. We cleaned our closets of the Victoria’s Secret catalogues that we had stolen from the mailbox. Our lives became dedicated to keeping it in our pants, and our noses clean.
And it always lasted a solid three days.
Funny thing, youth is. It was so easy to get caught up in the moment. We lived in the paradox of feeling only the right now, and believing we would live forever. God felt tangible and abstract and onerous and intimate.
It was all very intense.
The more I have survived in this life, the less and less my spiritual journey has felt that way. At this point, it may be the exact opposite. I enjoy the long, quiet stretches without having to make dramatic, earth shattering decisions. There is more in the routine and the mundane than there is in the fantastic. Sea changes are rare, and take years or decades to notice. If someone were to ask me about my faith now, I’d call it a grind, and that would be optimistic.
During a trip to Los Angeles about a year ago, I went to the beach for a short time on my last night there. When I got home, I saw that on the car floor there was sand from my short beach walk. Have you ever tried to get sand out of your car? It’s tedious; it takes time. You will make progress, but it never feels like it. For every grain of sand you vacuum or sweep out, it feels like three more take its place.
That’s what my spiritual journey feels like now. It’s always happening, it’s slow, and there is no end to it.
But that’s what I am trying to appreciate more and more. Where once “transcendent space” was only in produced experiences whose goal it was to evoke an emotional response from me, now I find it everywhere but there.
In listening to someone’s story.
Waiting in line.
Being postponed or delayed.
In what I don’t get.
In picking grains of sand out of my car.
Maybe that’s one of the last true rebellions left in the world. When the story around screams and points to the shock and awe of having success and winning now, a transformational spiritual journey demands we slow down, learning selflessness, generosity, grace, patience, and kindness.
Or, I’m overthinking my dirty car.