Nobody Puts Jesus (or Baby) In A Corner
I miss Patrick Swayze. I mean, who hasn’t seen Road House a million times, right? Twice a week it shows up on some channel and is clearly a classic, albeit terrible movie that has endured for almost 30 years. Throw in some Sam Elliot, classic fight scenes, awesome 80s hair, and you’ve got movie gold.
Interestingly enough, this blog post is about Jesus. The title is a nod to Dirty Dancing, but when I think of Swayze, Road House is the first movie that comes to mind. I don’t know how Patrick would feel about that, but it’s the truth – and when it comes to my never-ending litany of movie references, I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror.
I do have a point to all of this nonsense. When I have the opportunity to tell my faith story at churches and Sunday school classes, I talk about my progression to a more meaningful relationship with God. I don’t have a lightning-strike or mountain-top conversion story. I wish I did. I’m almost jealous of people with those types of stories.
Growing up, when it came to my spiritual life, I heard the analogy that we are inside our “houses” and Jesus is always on the “front doorstep”. All we have to do is open the door and let Him in. Well, I get that, but I’ve been a believer as long as I can remember. I just never got to know Him. It would be like inviting someone into your house and asking them to go stand in the corner out of the way. I knew they were there, but there was never any interaction - much less a relationship.
So it was with me and God for most of my life. I had this general, lukewarm belief but there was nothing significant going on inside me when it came to my faith. That continued through my young adulthood, and after I got married, my wife and I stayed on the same path. If you had asked us, we would have said we were Christians, but there was no fire. Hell, there was barely a spark.
After years of milquetoast faith, multiple health crises in my family pushed me toward something more. I wanted to feel more than I was feeling. I wanted to do more than I was doing. I wanted to be more than I was being. I invited Jesus out of that corner and got to know Him better. It wasn’t immediate or easy. Plus, I didn’t know where to start with this whole relationship thing. I decided I would do what I do in any other relationship I care about: I made an effort. I learned more about Him. I talked to Him more. I tried to listen more.
Relating to Omni-everything may be easy for some people, but not me. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of a prayer and have this thought that literally shouts in my head “What are you doing? This is ridiculous! YOU ARE TALKING TO NO ONE!” I find myself regrouping a lot and asking God to help me understand that I’m not supposed to understand everything.
I so want my faith to be like my wife Beth’s. I’ve watched her over the years – and I know she has low moments – but it’s like she’s built a wall around her that’s impenetrable. I don’t know what it’s made of, but I’m sure they used it on the Space Shuttle. And then there’s me … I feel like my wall is made out of cardboard or clay and it’s getting knocked down all the time. I don’t know if I have a faith problem or a trust problem. Maybe it’s both. Maybe it’s not a problem. Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired.
I don’t have the type of faith that never questions anything. I question everything. Beth has asked me why I struggle with this. She’ll say “why can’t you just believe and move on?” I can tell she’s checked that off the list. I’m envious of that faith.
I sometimes wonder how God views me when it comes to my struggles relating to something I can’t see or touch. Does He say “Jim, c’mon bud, we covered this stuff quite a while ago. It’s time to move on”? Or maybe it’s, “That’s ok son, keep grinding it out. I’m right here and it’s going to be ok.” I really hope it’s the latter.
Nurturing a relationship requires action on our part. It’s not always easy and I stumble, fall, and fail all the time. I remind myself to do the same things I would do in any relationship that’s important to me - I apologize and try harder.
I may wrestle with my faith, but there would be no real connection if I hadn’t extended my hand and asked Jesus out on my metaphorical dance floor. I may never have moves like Swayze, but this is a dance I’m not going to miss.