Dearest Rachel –
Consider this something of a post script to my last letter, because it had a number of questions that were left unanswered. Unfortunately, I don’t really think I last night’s event did much to address what ‘respect’ truly is, and why I would want it. Still, the pastoral team did mention things worth considering and improving upon in my – and every man’s – life.
From the very first man, who stood there silently as Eve and the serpent fought a battle of wits over the forbidden fruit; to the general Barak, who refused to fight unless Deborah the judge accompanied him; to Ahab, the petulant king all but ruled by his wife Jezebel, the original Lady Macbeth; scripture is full of men who abdicated their responsibility to be leaders and let the women around them run things, for better or for worse. And what was true back then is no less true today. The question being addressed last night was not so much ‘how to be respected’ (assuming that such was a legitimate concern), so much as it was ‘how to be worth respecting,’ which – regardless of whether respect itself is a thing worth pursuing – is a noble and desirable goal to strive for.
The point is, we are all meant to be leaders at one point or another in our lives; the question is, are we worth following? Needless to say, this mostly comes down to a question of Who we’re following, and how closely.
In all honesty, I’m reminded of a bumper sticker that I saw once that read: “Don’t follow me; I’m lost, too.” It’s probably why I have no desire to be respected (or followed, for that matter): as I’ve said so many times before, I don’t have the absolute certainty that some seem to have that my path is the correct one ordained by God. So with that in mind, if even I’m not sure of my own path, why would I expect – or even ask – anyone else to follow it behind me?
It might be reasonable to consider that, if after every step, nothing goes terribly wrong, to decide that step with the correct one, and to keep going from there. Certainly, the proverbs tend to suggest that a righteous life is a smoother path, and a wicked to be full of trouble. But then there are other books – to say nothing of real life – that make it abundantly clear that this isn’t necessarily so. “In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus himself said. So an easy, carefree life is absolutely no indication of anything, whether you’re doing right or wrong.
So how to tell whether I’m taking a path that’s worth following? And how literal is this? I can remember so many times walking along, getting a little ahead of you, but always assuming you were behind me, only to turn around and see you many pieces behind, distracted by something or someone. I’m not about to claim that this was a mark of disrespect on your part towards me. There were always things on the side of the path that were worthy of attention that you would notice and I would miss. Who is truly right, and who is truly wrong in this situation? It’s still not something I can definitively answer.
Which is just one more reason why I don’t feel like I’m someone worth following. I don’t have all the answers; in fact, the more I go on, the more questions pile up without answers, and some of the answers I thought I had don’t seem so ironclad anymore. I wish I had the rock steady faith that Daniel does – even though I think some of it is misguided – as opposed to all this uncertainty that I find myself dealing with.
At least I have the certainty about where you are, and that I’ll be going there at some point soon enough. I suppose that, at the very least, is a path worth following.
Until we catch you up, honey, keep a eye out for us.