Wrestling Truth

I’m on a journey. Sometimes the road is easy. Sometimes it’s not. There are days I’m strolling in the sunshine and there are days I’m crawling through a thunderstorm.

When it’s good, it’s really good. I have joyful companions who know and accept me. When it’s bad, I feel alone and isolated and I’m certain the world hates me.

And every once in a while I have a wrestling match with God.

Pretty basic.

Don’t worry, God isn’t showing up in my room at night to arm wrestle me. (Though these pilates-strong-arms could totes take Him on.) Not that it hasn’t happened before in history — God showed up in the life of Jacob in Genesis 32:24 and wrestled with him, a ”symbol of prayer as a battle of faith and as the triumph of perseverance” (CCC 2573).

The battle of faith. That’s what happening in this journey of mine. It’s not a one-stop-all-inclusive-tropical-vacation once you accept God in your life and choose to live for Him.

And I’m glad it’s not. Walking with Christ means being there for the glory of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday AND walking up the hill to Calvary on Good Friday. There are going to be ups and downs. There are times, like when Jesus says He will make my burdens easy, that I’m all about it! And then there are times, like when Jesus says I have to love my enemies, that I seriously have to sit down and question Him.

However, if I never questioned God my faith would be a lie. He is the way, the truth, and the life, but let’s be real we want Him to be one of the ways, and an optional truth, and I don’t want to give Him my life so He can give me His.

There are plenty of times that for days, months, or even years, I haven’t been able to wrap my mind around a certain teaching of the Church. This doesn’t make me any less Catholic. I believe Jesus Christ is real. I believe He died and rose from the dead for my sins. I believe He instituted the Catholic Church and sent the Holy Spirit to protect and guide us.

But despite those things, I still have a small mind. Everything I hear I filter through the myriad of my emotions and life experience. What is easy to accept for one person, may be difficult for me because of my experiences and feelings. And that is understandable! God gets that. He knows my heart and mind better than I do!

This fickle and subjective way that I see the world is precisely why I have to trust the Church. You know what? I have a degree in Theology but the Holy Spirit is still smarter than I am. This is why I choose to wrestle with truth rather than turn away from the Church. If I didn’t wrestle with it, I wouldn’t be able to really claim it as my own. If I passively accept a teaching on faith or morality, if I allow myself to be simply “indoctrinated” without making it my own, what good will that do me? Instead, if I put in the work to learn, to question, and to wrestle with a truth until I understand it… then that truth is not only something I understand, but something I can share and defend. I realize the beauty and importance of it. I realize it was something my soul needed in order to grow in holiness.

C.S. Lewis talks about this in “The Weight of Glory.” He says,

“If our religion is something objective, then we must never avert our eyes from those elements in it which seem puzzling or repellent; for it will be precisely the puzzling or the repellent which conceals what we do not yet know and need to know.”

What he’s saying is that it’s exactly the teaching — whatever it may be: divorce, gay marriage, the Eucharist, suffering — it’s that which we find the most confusing or even frustrating that our heart needs to understand the most.

That’s a bold claim. That makes me uncomfortable. That challenges me to test it and see if it is true. Is the teaching of the Church that I most disagree with exactly where my heart and intellect are lacking?

I’m sorry if you ever got the impression that the Church is for people who have it all together. We’re actually a just a bunch of broken people who have fallen in love with God so much that we refuse to doubt Him despite any argument our minds conjure up. Despite failing, and stumbling, and questioning, and being broken… we’re not going anywhere. In the presence of God is the only place I want to be while I’m a recovering sinner addicted to my own ideology.

And if that means wrestling with Him… so be it. It’s part of the journey.

“…if the object of one’s desire is a relationship with God, his blessing and love, then the struggle cannot fail but ends in that self-giving to God, in recognition of one’s own weakness, which is overcome only by giving oneself over into God’s merciful hands.” Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience 5/25/11