**Thank you to all of our faithful supporters and encouragers through the years. We appreciate you so much and are excited to discover what direction Mountain Haven will be heading as we seek answers, rest, and direction this next year.
MINISTRY AT A GLANCE
Financials: Monthly Revenue Required: $2700.00 and Monthly Revenue Received: $900.00 Remaining Need:(+carryover need from last month) $1800.00
Something Interesting or Unexpected that Happened Last Month: 1.) We received a generous outpouring of love through a Go Fund Me account started by Chris’s coworker. It is a real gift that has helped sustain us for the last three months in the middle of this emergency as we have been trying to heal and get jobs. 2.) Kevin started Humira injections – a biological medication that we hope will help bring the inflammation of Crohn’s Disease down.
Top Prayer Requests: 1.) Pray we will choose to live in the infinite mystery of unknowing when it comes to the creator, or learn to live without the perfect answer- theological or otherwise. That we will accept our finiteness and continue the free fall of faith with childlike trust and unquenchable passion for growth. 2.) Kevin’s Back is now in severe pain. We can’t figure out what he may have done to fire it up, but most days he can barely walk and after 2 days in the hospital, an MRI, and the opinion of a couple doctors, we still don’t have any answers on what the cause is. Please pray for answers.
Mountain Haven August 2018 Newsletter
The Illusion of Certainty
“Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life – uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation.”
I have a confession to make. What I thought I knew about God and who I thought God was no longer fits in my comfortable paradigm. For quite a long time, especially during the last ten years facing battles I wasn’t prepared for, and finding challenges in my relationship I thought I had overcome; I feared I was losing my footing, or dare I say even losing my faith. But suddenly and deeply, I am quite sure, after this last 12 week battle with Kevin’s sickness, and now his back issues (that has been a period at the end of an incredibly discombobulated run on sentence) that I haven’t lost my faith- I have lost my certainty. And that is a completely different beast altogether. Certainty, when it is built on our own constructs, is mildly comforting at its best, and mostly debilitating at its worst.
It is my opinion that certainty begins and ends with our ego- adorned with superficiality, platitudes, habits, and beliefs- that comfort and stroke its own agenda. My ego has had a workout in ministry, in marriage, in parenting. When you experience a story like Kevin and I, with all its brokenness and defeat, and then you come back together with such pomp and circumstance-it is the ultimate ego stroker. That does not downplay the miraculous undercurrent of our experience but merely points out that all of life has the tempting power to lull us into certainty and mediocrity, especially if we accidentally ride the waves of complacency. Complacency has such a negative connotation, as if a person would choose to feel smug or uncritical of oneself or one’s achievements (see dictionary.com). But that is what we chose to do in many intentional and unintentional ways. This is what I believe we all choose to do. We fit our theology, or our dogma, to our circumstances and then when life brings the heavy hits we can be tempted to stay smug, spout rhetoric, use mantras that we don’t really believe, or brush pain under the rug. We become uncritical of the way we deal with pain, the way we approach life, and the way we deal with one another. Then the habits start- and that is the beginning of an unexamined life. Often a life marked with certainty.
One way this plays out in relationships is that we formulate our view of our spouse in a certain setting. We know what they do, how they do it, and why they do what they do. This creates a mindset in us towards them, this guides our self talk, our attitudes, and ultimately our choices. I think it is imperative to have critical thinking conversations with our spouse, and with others, as we grow and change in our faith because then we can spot our certainty and change it. I look at our relationship here’s what I see. I see that Kevin and I had much suffering and loss up front as we journeyed in this ministry. I would doubt God and doubt the scriptural statements others were stating to me throughout time, but I was becoming angry, lost, abandoned, forlorn, melancholy, possibly cynical. I was certain that doubt wasn’t allowed, and that Kevin would be mad if I opened up, so when I did eventually open up it would come out sideways, accusational, or overly dramatic because I had suppressed it. Then of course he had a strong reaction which then reinforced my doubts about his trustworthiness. I would then self talk myself everytime I had something to share with him, that he wouldn’t get it, or he would judge it, so my prediction would come true and my certainty of how he worked was set.
Then, later in our journey, he started down a road of frustration, doubt and wrestling with pain- and that came out in extreme anger- and I did not create a space where that was allowed. I was in a “better” place regarding my thoughts, my words, and my actions- so with certainty I felt his responses were no good. This doesn’t diminish the truth about calling out behaviors that hurt one another in a marriage or excusing anger; I am merely pointing out that in our own certainty, we created a barrier between ourselves for true and authentic connection to the Creator, and each other. We imaged onto our partner our own selfish fears regarding what their attitude was doing to our ministry, our marriage, and our family. We highlighted that our partner’s behavior was ugly and unacceptable to us, and in doing so we perpetuated the pattern and loved each other less fully. We operated in fear and brought rules and expectations into the marriage- this accusation only stunted our progress towards healing through grief. It also greatly diminished grace in our relationship.
This is a self perpetuating cycle of belief patterns. It leads to selfishness, guardedness, and self protection. I struggle with these behaviors quite often. It depletes vulnerability when we are given over to complacency that has its roots in certainty. I think it can also shield us from authentic compassion. The kind of compassion that acts without judgment and sits in the muck and the pain of others, including our partners, without answers and quick fixes. Certainty strokes the ego, in my opinion. At least it did for me. It kept me on the fringes of utter brokenness and hopelessness, aware of their power but determined to fight their sinfulness so I could stay in a faith that was comfortable for everyone, including myself and Kevin. Because I felt that if I quoted scripture or read enough verses, or listened to enough praise songs that I could stave off doubt and avoid the abyss of sadness over bad things that happened. I realized I was missing a connection with forsakenness- I was looking for answers and couldn’t learn that some questions are unanswerable and it was not my job to answer them. I was convinced that a patterned life of discipline and acts of “faith” were more honorable to my God then the broken, crushed doubts of my heart and the crushing circumstances that were around me. I would act with certainty and even a confidence but I believe it was a confidence of my own. I was trying to keep the law-if you will. In keeping that law i think it gave me over to a power to judge others- especially Kevin. These rules bring accusation and condemnation.
It is now, after we made this move to Duluth to rest, heal, revision and reorient ourselves that we are facing this certainty in a different light. When the unrelenting medical issues hit the day after we moved out here, we both hit a wall- our perfect plan to rest, heal, and slow down had just been crushed and shattered. The ease we wanted when we moved here turned into frenetic, chaotic, painful, scary circumstances. We have talked a lot about the idea of certainty in our ministry, our marriage, our faith- and it has been shattered. We recognized that certainty led to us having expectations and making plans; which in and of itself is not wrong, but we would feel an immense sadness and disappointment over how life has turned out and we could identify that leading to fear. Once fear takes hold, the love is mediocre at best. We know perfect love casts out fear- it doesn’t cast out bad circumstances. So we have to allow our ideas of God and faith to not be compressed only to our mediocre minds.
As Criss Jami says about God and our mind, “ Maybe He splits it wide open, this is why pretentious intellectualism so often fails to comprehend the concept of God: it is only accepting of what it can explain while in the process finding higher sources offensive. What we may confidently assert is that faith is the opening that allows God, this unpredictable, unseen power, to travel in and out of the mind without all the pains of confusion.” (Killosophy) Or like the protagonists Harry Potter, and Bilbo Baggins, they constantly looked back wondering if perhaps they had misread the signs or misheard the calling, or wondering if they were the right person for the job, and if they should have taken the other way. Yet, in the end they surrendered to the path ahead of them with all its ugliness, fear, darkness, adventure, unknowing and mystery. In the end there was a hope, a light, an experiential knowledge that the journey taken on blind faith, can and will be, transformative.
In the meantime, we need only ask ourselves how certainty has stopped us from loving without judgment, created selfish expectations regarding how others should act, or propagated fear in our heart, or worse how we have hidden behind religion and theology to bring ourselves comfort in uncomfortable and daunting circumstances. When nothing is certain, as I feel is the state of our lives right now- then we truly have a blank canvas in front of us to work with. What will we do with it, is the question? For my part, in my life- listen better, examine my judgments, stop thinking I know the best way to manifest faith, empathize more, shine light from a place of truth, unveil masks, and be present and not afraid in circumstances that are terrifying, and mostly try to stop looking for a cause behind everything. After all the cause only looks like a cause from a certain viewpoint (Laszlo Krasznahorkai).