I believe that there is something insidious occurring in my closet. My clothes are intentionally unfitting themselves. When I purchased them, they fit and now they do not. The waist is too tight or too loose, more often too tight. My collared shirts are choking me at the collar and short at the cuff. My pants inexplicably now show my socks. Before there is speculation about my weight, I declare now that my weight has been between 183lbs and 188lbs for the past 5 years. How do you then explain all of the shifts in my clothing? I have come to the conclusion that they are designed to unfit themselves so that I am forced to buy new ones.
Noticing my clothes has heightened my awareness of other things that slowly and quietly shift, creating a sense either through their changes or my re-defined desires, to buy new things. The most obvious of these items would be cell phones. They are unfitting themselves. Millions of those phones were made, sold and used.At some point I may have had every type from the old 6lb brick phones and Star Trek flip phones. Now I have a phone that plays music from a satellite in outer space, can shoot a movie, edit photos to a level of clarity the human eye cannot discern and will tell me a joke if I ask it to. I am about to upgrade this phone, even though I do not need to. Darn thing keeps unfitting itself.
I’m now concerned that my beliefs and moral compass are unfitting themselves. (Sharp intake of breath from the reader). How do I know this? Well the black and white answers I had for everything are getting gray and muddy. My internal religious structure, having been raised Roman Catholic, was very specific on a lot of beliefs and guidelines. Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, saints, feast days, liturgies, deadly sins and venal sins (which are the not-so-deadly-sins), organizational chart…. My religious beliefs changed when I was about 16. I felt like an adult. I was stepping out spiritually, cutting my own path and making my own personal religion. Personal religion sucks. I had to make all of these choices - what to believe, how to pray, who to pray to, what were the rules… Most especially the rules. The rules were my compass- my bright white line to follow. No rules? Driving at night without lights, instruments or any signs on the road - scary as h*ll. (Side note - did that once on a moonless night on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. So scary I still have Jen keep the inside lights on in the car.)
My moral compass is unfitting itself- my old beliefs were homophobic. They were segregationist beliefs- Catholics on the right and everyone going to hell on the left. They were judgmental and moralistic. Guilt…oh, could I right about guilt. Brene Brown talks about the difference between guilt is something you have done and shame is about something that you are. She separates these as two different categories. If she had grown up like me, she would not separate them. Guilt and shame were served in the same cocktail class. BTW - Catholics do not have the monopoly on judgment, moralism, segregation of who is or isn’t saved. Evangelical Christians are in the same woods deeply. They just have better music at services.
I have to find my own moral compass, and that’s not easy any more. 10 commandments, sure. Be good to other people- duh. Accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior - absolutely. I kinda feel like I got it. Oh wait…whoops…help the poor and the widows. Yup, I can show the checkbook on those. Okay - now I’m good. Moral compass back online….except…where do I stand on -
* Gays and Transgender people
* Are our leaders really selected by God and we’re supposed to follow them
* Did Jesus mean we were supposed to pay taxes even if they’re outrageous
* What do I owe humanity?
* If faith without works is dead, what works qualify?
* If Jesus is with the Father and the Holy Spirit is in me, who do I pray to?
These torturous questions just keep rolling. Where is my moral compass now? I had one that fit - albeit not mine, but it fit all the same. Now I am making it up as I go. Instead, I am now using “faith.” Faith is not exactly a moral compass in the term of absolutes. I’ve been advised to immerse myself in The Word. It’s sacrilege to say it, but The Word is not always clear to me. I keep reading it, because over time I get greater clarity, but - you put me in 40 of the 66 books in the Bible and I am totally lost. My answer has come down to something very childish - pray, ask for guidance, do my best. This isn’t a moral compass. It’s very “in the moment or issue” for seeking guidance. Maybe that is good or maybe it’s not. I don’t know, I’m dealing with a compass that doesn’t quite fit yet.
I have come to believe that the Holy Spirit takes a minute or two to warm up when I ask Him/It, (the world of gender pronouns is very distracting), for a compass reading on a person I know, a choice or course of action for me. Often, if I don’t ask, I don’t get any insight. Seems simple as I write it - If I don’t check the compass why should I be surprised when I’m lost? The reason I say the Holy Spirit takes time to warm up is because I don’t get an immediate answer on the tough moral issues. Easy ones, like a man I don’t know with an ax raised at me in my driveway- “should I offer him food or see if he needs directions?” Don’t need to check the Bible or ask the Holy Spirit what to do. RUN! Should I serve as a part of the wedding party at a gay couple’s ceremony? If I feel our country is losing its moral imperative, should I join the fight, encourage from the side lines or just keep my mouth shut? What the heck am I supposed to do with the cute wristband adage of “WWJD” when confronted with the internet, sources of energy, Home Owner’s Association squabbles, insurance lawsuits and a thousand other modern challenges? I think Jesus would just opt out - He’s God, what does He care? Meanwhile, the moral compass that is left to each of us in the Holy Spirit is left with the human challenge of making decisions, not opting out.
Bringing that moral compass a little closer -
* Should we bring another child into this world or adopt or stay childless?
* Is having a vacation home, a second car, a golf membership -whatever - selfish and unholy?
* Do I give money to the person in the median or on the street corner even though almost every study says that they will use the money on drugs and alcohol?
It just goes on and on. I think maybe that is why religion is such an easy choice. Someone else sets the compass for you. If you bump up against an unclear issue or choice, you can call your pastor and get the answer of what you should do. Is it bad? Well, I think that religion is a business and a scam. I don’t believe that the Bible or faith are, but organized religion…has a bad rap for a reason- it has earned it.
All comes back to my ugly fear - I am alone. I have a moral compass of my own convenience and construction. The Bible can be ambiguous or not completely applicable in the modern world. Jesus loves me and wants the best for me. He also does not care about most of the silly things I care about. However, those silly things are what make up most of the choices of my life. My moral compass comes from thinking before responding, asking the Holy Spirit before acting and then moving forward decisively with what the Holy Spirit tells me. When I don’t hear the Holy Spirit, I do the best I can. Re-reading this, my moral compass sounds kinda cheesy. It is. It’s also what I have and I’m using. I confess, I like it best when the Holy Spirit talks to me. Deciding without His voice happens a lot, and it sucks, but it’s true that I do the best I can.