Respecting our Spiritual Journeys
What does it mean to be a respecter of the journey? Our own? Of our loved ones? Of the other? I think these are hard questions. I think for most of us who are trying to live this value, the tendency can be to take a quid pro quo approach: as long as you are just as respectful of my journey as I am of yours, then we are good. But if you “ break” that contract first (i.e. disrespect me), then all bets are off. I now have free rein to disrespect your intolerant and disrespectful faith/journey as much as I want to.
As tempting as this approach is, and as self-righteously justified as I feel when taking this stance, I really don’t think it is what I am called to as a follower of Jesus. As far as I am aware, there is no language of “contract” in Scripture; the concept is covenant. Old Testament covenant refers to that between God and the Chosen People and implies a relationship, not just a temporary agreement that will last until the first one breaks it. Over time, we see that Israel breaking their side of the covenant over and over again. We could maybe even assume that part of the journey involves breaking the promises we have made, reneging on the values we espouse to behold, turning our back on our God of love.
I’m almost certain that this picture of Israel’s journey — one of covenant breaker relentlessly pursued by Covenant Creator in love — is ours as well. Maybe it helps me to see my family in Christ as fellow journey-people who will have no fewer idols or moments of forgetting God than I have, or than the ancient Israelites had. Easy to say, hard to do.
My personal challenges in this space include the challenge to respect the journey of the people who specifically disrespect the journey of certain “others.” Right now that mostly looks like people I don’t know at all personally: internet trolls, devotees of certain news channels, politicians. Others, I know distantly: former colleagues, acquaintances, former fellow church-goers or extended family members. I am grateful (but perhaps far too isolated from difficulty) that most of my daily interactions are with people whose journeys are by and large easy to respect. I try to remind myself that my journey isn’t finished, my learning is not complete, and the path that I have taken to be where I am is not finished either. The God who has pursued me with an everlasting covenant pursues all of us — even the ones that are hardest for me to imagine - with the same covenant. We are all apprentices of the same Master Builder.
Renae Miller is the mother of two, wife of one, psychotherapist 2 days a week, full-time pursuer of Jesus. Music, reading, art and nature are enjoyable activities wherever there might be time in between.