TO CELEBRATE THE OCTOBER RELEASE OF MY BOOK THRASHING ABOUT WITH GOD, AND TO EXPAND THE CONVERSATION BEYOND MYSELF, I HAVE ASKED 31 BRAVE PEOPLE TO SHARE A GUEST POST WITH THE THEME OF #IAMTHRASHING. THESE ARE PEOPLE I HAVE PERSONALLY DIALOGUED WITH, PEOPLE WHO I KNOW HAVE RISKED A LOT TO WRESTLE WITH THE HARD STUFF THAT COMES WITH SPIRITUALITY. OUR FAITH MAY NOT LOOK LIKE YOURS, BUT WE WELCOME YOU TO THE DISCUSSION.
I say the wine and women didn’t get me but the doubt did. That’s what I say when people ask me why I’m not a pastor anymore. Theirs is a fair question and I believe mine an honest answer. Doubt - the ants in the pants of faith (Fred Buechner). In my time as a pastor I found there was little, if any, room for doubt. I tried to honor it from the pulpit and in front porch conversations but it scared folks. Sure it attracted a few but for most it was playing with fire. Saying things like In the beginning was the Word, whatever that means is not the most reassuring statement for a formally trained theologian to make.
Stepping away from that pastoral role was jolting hard. I just quit, cold turkey, no mas. It was a skinning away of the identity I’d had for many years. There’s no way that happens without some blood being shed and your credit rating taking a poke. I had to take odd jobs to support my family, odd as in selling hiking boots at REI, and cutting timber to make room for high dollar homes. It was then I also started writing. I endured, by God. And I mean that literally, that by God’s grace or mercy or whatever you want to call it, there was bread for the day and even on occasion dessert. I refer to that season as the days when I started going up the down staircase. That’s been ten years ago this month.
My job situation is a tad more stable now. I’m a full-time editor, privileged to work on such books as Mandy’s. As for my identity, that’s still up the down. I befriended a man once, an old Irish-Catholic chaplain named Paul. One day he said do you know what God’s going to ask you when you get to heaven? God’s going to ask if you found out who you were supposed to be. Oh.
I live with that question. The last two years have hinted I might be a poet, maybe. I do enjoy writing poems and I do believe joy is at the very heart of who we’re supposed to be. So maybe I’m getting closer to what was ordained before the foundations of the world, whatever that means.
BENDING TOWARD A RIGHTNESS
I’ve become too old for
bullshit fantasies of invincibility.
At any time God may dispatch
an angel to bind my tongue
or allow evil to scour all I cherish.
Those things have not happened to me
but other things have.
Has my age made me brave or empty?
A number of my peers have recanted,
found God just too wild.
Oh they still rise to say the creeds but
there is no blood in their mouths.
I expected by now to learn the language of God
but I have only learned to love him.
I no longer listen for his voice.
I listen to the wind.
John Blase preached for over a decade but then he thought he’d go where the money is, so he started writing poetry. He’s a lucky man with a stunning wife and three kids who look like their mother. John lives out West but he’ll always be from the South and that suits him just fine. His books include Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas; Start With Me: A Modern Parable; All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir (co-written with Brennan Manning); and his newest book Know When to Hold 'Em: The High Stakes Game of Fatherhood. He ponders faithfully at The Beautiful Due