I have decided to embrace the fact that I am an intellectual and not an academic (I'll define the differences between those words in a later post). No more time spent wondering why my grades didn't add up to my intelligence. It is time to stop wishing I was like everyone else (everyone "normal"). The time has come to face one of the ways in which I define myself.
If you have kept up with me at all then you have probably noticed the number of posts lately that suggest I am searching for something. Seeking is my theme of late. I have spent the last several months on a journey to understand my direction in life. It would have been nice to have discerned my place in the world a long time ago. However, I was not raised in a way that helped me come to terms with my talents and potential. For example, I mentioned I am an intellectual. There are many circles where it is not a good thing to be an intellectual. One of them often happens to be Protestant Christianity in the Midwestern United States. The herd mentality infiltrates all parts of society. In evangelical Christianity it encourages a certain reliance on experience rather than rational thought. Unless you're a Calvinist, that is. Then it encourages an arrogance about why no one else can understand how deep you are.
I was raised in a Reformed (i.e. Calvinist) church for a time then moved on to a less intellectual place. I was taught to disagree with Calvinists. Believe me, I have argued with the best of them from a very tender age. Anymore I just won't talk about the Calvinist idea of "predestination." Yet it shaped so much of my understanding of faith. You see I was taught to consider the intellectual Christians to be wrong and theology to be unnecessary. I learned to feel disgust toward those who consider or question the Bible's teachings in a non-dogmatic manner. You're just not supposed to do that as an evangelical -- it is shameful. Instead you just go out there, tell your story, knock on your doors, leave your tracts in restrooms, and get offended. When someone asks you to defend your faith you say, "But I found God in this way . . ."
Well, that's not good enough for some of us. Especially those of us who notice other possible reasons for quote unquote religious experiences. What if all that laughing and falling down were a psychologically induced response and not caused by the Holy Spirit? I know. I blaspheme. People always tell me not to "limit" God when I say things like this. I ask you, why doesn't it limit God to assume that you will always have an emotional high when you worship him? What about the days when he just feels far away? Am I supposed to interpret God based solely on my feelings about him? Some days I almost hate God. Some days I want to ask him a thousand angry questions. I am not Job. I cannot accept all of my sufferings without wondering how God could love me and let me go through some of the things I have been through.
Am I weak in my faith because I doubt God at times? Well, yeah. I'm only human after all. I recognize that I am finite. I have a strong intellect, but not infallible wisdom. Some things I do have to take on faith either because they are too big for the human mind or because I do not have enough knowledge to understand them. That is no easy task for a person who likes to be right.
It is okay. I accept that I am an intellectual about my faith, my life, my God. About the people around me and the ideas they espouse. It's not an evil thing to doubt and question. God gave me a brain, after all. Why should I be ashamed to use it? Perhaps he gave me a brain so I could weigh the evidence for and against his existence. So I could consider the logic of his judgments and actions. If so then he also gave me faith and hope. He gave me the need to rely on something bigger than myself. Myself can be a bit of a mess sometimes, after all.