Learning To Unknow

Sometimes you stumble upon a voice that connects deeply and relevantly to your own soul – and in the midst of your own busy life, it makes you stop and listen. Alexa Mason has been that voice for me and for many during the fight for racial justice. She is a beautiful and prophetic writer, who loves combing beauty and depth that points to Hope.

Alexa also enjoys hiking, deep talks (especially about Jesus) and dancing on tables. She currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and their three children ages 4 and under. It is a blessing to have Alexa at the table with us today.

Guest Blog by Alexa Mason

Floating, feet above the ground, 

in the air gravity not able to pull me. 

Beside myself, I don’t know what to do, 

struggling, heaving, thrusting my body, 

trying to force my way home to the comfort of solid ground. 

Eventually, my efforts to resist fail 

and I give in to my current state. 

I am floating. 

In the air I have to learn a new way of moving. 

In the air I have to learn a new way of interacting. 

This is both freeing and aggravating, 

because in the air I realize I know so little. 

In the air, I lack clarity. I must rely on the simple things I know to be true. 

This is my faith journey right now. 

Floating, not a part from God, but closely knit to Him. 

I am floating, learning how to see God without the cultural extras that infiltrated the purity of scripture.

I am floating, learning how to grapple with anger, fear and sadness when I think about being a Black woman in the Church and the racism I for so long believed was normative behavior. 

I am floating, learning there truly is no manual for parenting and my current diet of grace and offering of “I’m sorry” is truly my daily bread. 

I am floating, learning what it means to survive in a pandemic and resisting the urge to wallow in fear.

I am floating, learning how little depends on me and how much depends on God. 

I am floating, unlearning what it means to walk aided by gravity and learning how to float and trust the unease. 

This is the image of my faith right now. Floating, not away from the Truth, but as an exercise in discovering a deeper faith.

Jenn Giles Kemper, creator of the Sacred Ordinary Days planner asks the reader to respond to the following, “Where am I being invited toward greater faithfulness?” during this season of Ordinary Time. 

My response: I know so very little. And the little I do know, I am learning to “unknow”.

Unknowing. The means by which I will enter greater faithfulness in this season. I am invited to recognize my lack of understanding and I am invited to join the One who holds all understanding. But this invitation isn’t to a feast in which the banquet table is full of all the knowledge I can eat, but rather, it is an invitation to join the Host for dinner, taking what is served and not asking for more but trusting I will receive what is necessary. In western tradition at least, a guest often doesn’t dictate the meal nor the quantity of said meal when arriving at a guest’s home for dinner. Likewise, in my pursuit of understanding I find that I am led to less dictating what will happen and more reliance on Christ to provide what is needed when it is needed in my pursuit of understanding. I am encouraged to focus less on the consumption of knowledge and answers and more on the Person. If the real purpose of inviting one to dinner is to build or nurture a relationship, then perhaps the real reason for gaining understanding is for the sake of relationship, too. For what beauty can be found during a dinner meal among friends with a history and commitment to one another? Likewise, what life can be found in seeking understanding not for selfish gain but motivated by the love of and for Christ?

Releasing the baggage of trying to “know” too much gives me room for more faith. I see my family relationships with new eyes, I’m enabled to continue holding fast to hope and fight for Gospel Truth to be known in the midst of racism rearing its ugly head, I see the goodness of the Great Mystery revealed in the restricted life the pandemic has forced upon us.

This season of floating has also forced me to grapple with what is really going on mentally, spiritually and emotionally. In the stillness, a question has come, one regarding fairness. Racism. Childhood trauma. The pandemic. Life in general. All have left me unscathed and I discovered anger, fueled by the pain I held on to, was burning in my heart. “It isn’t fair!” I internally shouted when my restraints were worn thin, and then I was faced with this question.

What is fairness to the Christian?

Our very belief system is anchored in Christ Jesus, which means it is tied to a reality that from the time of His birth, this Man, the Son of God, through whom we receive our salvation, was a Man treated unfairly. Unfairly hunted as but a baby by King Herod who wanted to kill Him out of fear of being overthrown and removed from power. Unfairly forced to flee His home with His family, becoming a refugee.  Unfairly questioned and despised by Pharisees, Herodians and others, with motives impure and hostile, who sought ways to trick Him into saying or doing the “wrong” thing (in their eyes). Unfairly betrayed by His own disciple and friend when he (Peter) denied Him three times. Unfairly ridiculed, mocked, berated by the people He came to love and declare the Good News to. Now do not misunderstand me, there are many things in life that truly are unfair, I do not want to negate that reality. I am aware of the unfairness that humanity experiences, and even my experiences pale in comparison to so many around our globe who suffer unfairly. It is actually because of these realities that I want to exhort us, those who call upon the name of Jesus as Savior, to also consider that fairness is not our aim. Fairness cannot be the end we strive for. In many cases, fairness cannot fix unfairness. Oh to imagine if God sought only to be fair with you, me, us! It was unfair that Jesus had to die to atone for our sins and take on God’s wrath. Yet, here we bask in the glory of it.

Righteousness. Justice. Holiness. Generosity.

These are what we strive for. Compassion. Love. Service to God and our neighbor. These are the prizes we seek.  In this season of Ordinary Time, a season in which we draw near to the Lord, seeking His face and learning how to be resilient and grow deeper in faith, I am praying for these things that require great faith. I desire righteousness and justice and holiness, and that we, fellow Saints, lay down what we can in service of one another. Let us go beyond seeking to be fair; but rather, let us love radically as imitators of Christ. Let’s be open handed in how we seek to love others in our broken world knowing the transformation that is possible in and through Jesus. 

Yes, our world is broken and fairness isn’t going to heal it. Humility will. Compassion will. Forgiveness. Kindness. Self-Control. Let’s be lavish in our giving, yes may we give what we have without partiality or reserve. What would it look like to seek racial justice with generosity in mind? What would change if we viewed a refugee’s dire situation as if it were our own? In my experience, this way of thinking is not the norm. And to enter into it would take us off our solid ground with our established systems and instead put us all in a place of unease as we are forced to rely on the ways of Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us. Truly, the solid ground we often think we are on is nothing more than an illusion of our own creating, often with our idol of control as its foundation. 

But there is another way. The Word says that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom, this is what will save a broken world. I must correct myself, this is what has already saved a broken world, and it will only continue to do so. So we must ask ourselves, does our life speak of freedom or bondage? Do we walk according to our understanding or by the Lord’s? Is our faith being tested as each day we must offer ourselves to God trusting He will impart what we need for the day to seek His Kingdom? Perhaps in this Season of Ordinary Time we can all be encouraged to give up what we think we know in submission to all that the Lord does know. 

Let’s not resist the unease but embrace it. 

May His promises of faithful presence be our solid ground.

A little note from Colette

Hey friends, I am so glad that you have joined us for the Ordinary Time series! This series will give us the opportunity to hear from a variety of voices, from different backgrounds, holding their own strong convictions around faith all the while calling us to the same thing: perseverance. I give my guests freedom to express their faith freely and any specific convictions they may hold. This is bigger table theology working itself out on this blog. We may not all agree concerning specific areas of scripture but one thing I know we can, Jesus is Lord!

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Hey friend! I'm excited to meet you! I live in Portland, OR and completely love city life. My hubby and I have been married for over 14 years and still completely adore each other. I am a Jesus follower who is passionate about building up the local church and developing healthy communities. It's so nice of you to stop by! So grab a coffee or a glass of wine, and hang out a bit.

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