Tomorrow, or today when most of you, my five loyal readers, read this, is my 20th high school reunion.
I’m kinda nervous. And that makes me feel silly.
I graduated from a small Baptist high school –there were 44 in my graduating class or something like that. There’s supposed to be about 1/3 of us or so getting together on a riverboat for dinner and then head back to a classmate’s house for unBaptist-like drinks and a bonfire.
I worry they won’t like me. Isn’t that funny? (not that it’s outside the realm of possibility, but that I worry like it could change anything)
What if I’m too different from how I used to be? What if I’m too much the same? What if…? Good grief, I could go crazy.
I’ve been thinking a bit lately about the “real” me. I hope I’m real most of the time. Orthodoxy made me more real because it allowed me to struggle honestly, to be a sinner in need of grace even after my “conversion.” My Orthodox sister and I joke about how Orthodoxy made us like Velveteen rabbits –our ears all creased, fur petted off and our whiskers missing.
I wonder if I’ll be able to make it through the entire dinner without swearing. Hanging out with police officers and lawyers all day absolutely ruined my vocabulary. There’s only so many words to describe what we see… I wonder if the fact that I drink now will be offensive to those who do not. I hope it isn’t because I honestly believe it’s OK. Jesus didn’t turn the water into Welch’s. I wonder if my Orthodoxy will be strange. Will they wonder why I cross myself and then be further confused by my accidental swearing?
I came to the conclusion a long time ago that we are pretty much who we are going to be by the 8th grade. The only thing that changes is the acquisition of a driver’s license and a mortgage. Sometimes I believe myself in that regard. I still doubt some of the same things I doubted then, I worry about the same things I worried about then and I mostly want the same thing I wanted then — to do the right thing and to be safe. Crazy, isn’t it.
I know, though, that the past few weeks I haven’t been nearly as disciplined in my practice of faith as I should be. There’s been precious few prayers said, no candles lit in the home and too little time spent in study. Because my true identity, the person I’m supposed to be, is to be found in union with Christ, the odds are good I may be a little less myself than I want to be.
Fr. Stephen said it this way on his fantastic blog:
Most often we substitute the ego for our true self – we struggle to learn “to behave” as a Christian. But such efforts only lead us into the world of concepts and arguments, morality and guilt. We do not invent our true self, our authentic existence – it is a new creation and is found only in Christ…Christ must increase and I must decrease. As I decrease so do the false images I cherish of myself. The anxieties that surround me decrease. Lies and deceit decrease for in Christ is only truth. Such a decrease is not the end of my existence but its beginning.
To the class of 1991, those with whom I’ll share a meal and a few adult beverages, I’m going to try to be myself. I’m sorry if I offend. I often do, though I try hard to behave. I really hope that you see someone who believes that I am more of who I should be now, and that’s because of Orthodoxy, because of my faith and because it makes me “real.”