Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mama Bean thinks headlights and missionaries have something in common

As a friend pointed out at breastfeeding clinic today, whoever came up with the Spring Forward part of Daylight Savings Time was clearly not a mother. It was all well and good to tell myself Bean woke up at 5 am on Sunday morning, but every cell of my brain knew full well it was 4 am. Which is too freaking early. Then again, bygones. For the girl who used to sleep in past 10 am every chance she got, every morning is too early.

The sick thing is that daylight really is saved, that is, it's still light out while I drive home after my evenings shifts. And, other than the ten minutes I drive due west straight into the setting sun, it is nice to no longer feel as though I'm driving home at midnight. Plus, I don't have to deal with headlights anymore. The country roads I drive have no streetlights, so unnecessarily bright lights get annoying. And I don't remember the courtesy rules anymore for how near or far people should be in re: turning on your brights.

So, my drive takes 45 minutes each direction. It's a lot of time. I sing a lot. Think about living in the country. Daydream about this year's garden. And sometimes I come up with random analogies between headlights and evangelism. Bear with me, this may be one of those things that only makes sense in my head.

Brights are useful when a car is very far away, because all you can see are their headlights, and with the brights you see them that much better. But of course, as the car gets closer, brights become unnecessary, and then downright obnoxious. At this point, the car is close enough you could probably see it without lights at all. In fact, if they leave their brights on, they will blind you to everything else, you don't see the car, you don't see the road, all you see is light. This is why we turn the brights off when we're close to people, because with proximity, that amount of light stops being safer, or helpful, and becomes dangerous.

If you're a famous evangelist who addresses the masses from far away, a Billy Graham or Rob Bell or even pastor at a mega church, your message needs to be pretty loud, and pretty bright. At that distance, people can't see anything else about you, unless you turn the brights on, and then that message is pretty much all they see about you. But as relationship gets closer, that kind of intensity isn't appropriate; you've got to turn the brights down. Otherwise, the volume of your message will blind them to the reality around your message. And in honest relationship, that reality is important, because the light of our faith exists next to our cracked windshields, and dented bumpers, and dusty windows. The message of how faith adds meaning to life carries more weight in light of the Whole Picture.

I don't consider myself much of an evangelist. I'm not very good at turning up the lights of my faith for people distant from me. Heck, sometimes I just want to turn the lights off and hide from being a Christian at all. I can cringe when the Bright Lights of Christianity speak on behalf of all of us. It's an interesting predicament for someone whose husband is attending pastor school. His education also becomes mine, as we're processing all kinds of wonderful ideas and thoughts about God and the Church. And that processing is going to show up on this blog, because that's what I do here. I write about the cracked-dented-dusty, and yes, the light, too.

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