Among the characteristics people share is to be torn between two ways of thinking.
The Apostle Paul had it right: “I find myself doing the things I don’t want to do and not doing the things I want to do.” (Romans 7.15)
Peter and the early Christian community were pulled in two directions with regard to Gentile converts: to have them become Jewish before they became Christian…or not?
And Jesus, too, had his moments of being torn. Should he heal the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter or not? And remember how he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by, yet not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22.42)
You and I are torn between what we want and what we need. We want these COVID times to end, but we need to live through them and hopefully, come out whole, faithful to God and our loved ones, faithful to our country, our church.
Just as we are torn between what we want and what we need, we are torn between what we want now and what we committed ourselves to some time ago. This is a tough one. Each of us change and grow in life. Tastes change, experiences change us. It is difficult or tempting not to honor the commitments we made in our personal past. Hopefully, what we want and what we are committed to are the same, but it takes work to repeat our determination to live out these commitments.
And then there are people who are torn by a love/hate relationship with the Church. Before he died, a good friend said to me, “I haven’t left the Church. The Church has left me.” It hurt him to say it, but he believed it. He meant that, in his understanding, the church had not welcomed the new questions and insights about life that our times were experiencing. He no longer felt at home in the church which had not embraced him in his personal newness and the newness of these times.
My friend had not found a lasting home in the church in his last days, but he continued to seek and welcome truth. He continued to find a home in Christ, whom he recognized as the Way, the truth and the Life. Christ is greater than the Church, he said. Truth, he found, is somewhere between ambiguity and paradox.
Being torn between two ways of thinking is for some of us the only way we have to go forward.
Let’s not judge each other too harshly.
Instead, as we are torn between two ways of thinking in life, let’s turn to God, the Gentle Disturber of the satisfied and the Relentless Comforter of the distressed. “Hold me close,” let’s pray, “in your embrace of mercy and healing.”
~ Sister Joan Sobala