Monday, September 05, 2005

Thoughts from Elouise Renich Fraser.....

I am currently reading Confessions of a Beginning Theologian by Elouise Renich Fraser. It has really been an encouragement to me in light of where I am on this journey I have found myself on.

"Becoming a theologian is about accepting God's invitation to get started. It's about doing things beginners do. Beginners ask questions even though they're afraid some are dumb questions. They make mistakes even thought they want to get things right the first time. They accept help whether they've asked for it or not. They don't try to figure everything out on their own. They have fears, hopes and expectations. They....dare to take those first awkward steps. I was full of fear when I began seminary. Fear of being wrong(I had a need to be right). Fear of doing wrong (I was a married woman with children). Fear of being misunderstood (I didn't want to rock any boats). Fear of being criticized and fear of being ignored. Fear of change, Fear of exposing my limited academic background. Fear of being laughed at, especially behind my back. Fear of not being able to manage everything - children, marriage, finances. Fear of failure.

God invites us to become beginners. To forget about the impression we think we're making. To stop nodding yes when we don't yet understand what the other person is saying. To give up the habit of apologizing for taking up too much time with our questions. To stop trying to do it all by ourselves, not letting anyone know we feel overwhelmed. To stop hiding behind silence.

I know what happens when I lose touch with myself as a beginner. I become anxious and guarded lest I look or sound like a beginner. I lose my ability to wonder, to ask questions, to let my ignorance show and to laugh at myself. I lose my freedom and try to skate without letting go of the rail. I begin second guessing myself, which leads to failure of nerve and loss of confidence. I become obsessed with what other people think about me and my work. I accept their negative opinions as inerrant. Worst of all, I lose touch with the cutting edge of my life, which is the cutting edge of my theology.

We learn early to cloak ourselves in deceptive armors of competence and self-reliance. They're deceptive because they won't protect us from being hurt and misinterpreted. Instead they place more layers between us and God's surprises. It takes courage to begin laying down the disguises that hide our beginner status."


Mike Clawson said...

Those are good words, and good reminders for me as well. I often find myself trying to cloak myself in the "armors of competence and self-reliance."

Matt Cav said...

good to hear from you karen! hope life is well!