Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Loving the Quiet Places - Guest Post by Addie Zierman

It was my intention to have one post per day this week, but then another potential guest post appeared in my inbox on Monday, and its level of awesome was enough to destroy my well-laid plans. Tomorrow morning will still bring the very last post, written by yours truly, but until then relish the language in this post by Addie Zierman.

About the author: Addie Zierman (@addiezierman) is a writer, mom, and Diet Coke enthusiast. She blogs twice a week at How to Talk Evangelical, where she's working to redefine faith one cliche at a time.

Like all bad ideas, it started off sounding like a really good idea.

It came white-hot, a spark off of our discussion of Acts 2 – that end bit about the early church where they all sold their possessions and lived together. Had everything in common.

It sounds like a glowy Jesus utopia when you read it aloud in a group, and we were, after all a house church. We were committed to pursuing community in new, out-of-the-box ways.

Someone said, “We should spend all day together every Sunday. Just wake up and have breakfast together, and then hang out for the whole day. You know, just do life together.”

Someone else said, “Definitely,” and then there were a couple of hearty mmmm-hmmms. One of them might have been mine. And it was a plan.

But the first Sunday rolled around and we rolled out of bed, and suddenly, it did not seem like a good idea. At all.

For both my husband and I and our respective introverted tendencies, an all-day hangout session suddenly felt like weight to our souls, and so we ditched. Gave some lame excuse. Did life, that day, on our own.

*

I am intrigued and inspired by people who manage to merge their lives together in radical ways. People like Shane Claiborne and his community, for whom Acts 2 has translated to multiple families in one single home. To shared meals and shared bathrooms and shared routines.

I love the idea of loud, family-style meals every night, everyone stuffed into one kitchen slicing peppers and browning beef and kneading bread into great loaves meant to be shared, meant to be broken.

But I also know my own quiet soul. I am the girl who sat outside reading for most elementary school recesses. I am the one who never liked slumber parties because I hated waking up in the morning, surrounded by people.

I prefer quiet to loud, reading to conversation, writing alone in a coffee shop to almost any other pleasure.

In a more-is-more, louder-is-better, Americanized version of Christianity, it often feels like a kind of failure. In my darkest moments, I’ve felt an acute sense of responsibility for my own loneliness. Like if I had been more communal, more committed, more of a slumber-party kind of girl, this would not be happening to me.

*

I’m reading this book by this one guy. It’s called Introverts in the Church, and it’s fantastic. I am learning something about the shape of my soul. I am learning to love my quiet places.

I am beginning to believe that radical community is more intricate than I thought. It is not, as I once thought, spending every second of a given Sunday together or living under one roof. Rather, it’s about movement. It’s turning toward each other in whatever ways we can. Big or small.

In this sense, community is like a kaleidoscope. The pattern is constantly changing, and the emptiness is as essential as the beads are. Without the open spaces, there could be no order at all, no beauty. The quiet shapes the connection, throws the pattern into stark, beautiful relief.

The white spaces will be wider for me than they might be in the lives of others. The patterns will be smaller. One-on-one coffee dates. Small group dinners. Visits with a shut in. Every now and then, a bigger shape will emerge, and there will be grace for that.

And every bit of it will be beautiful. Every bit of it can be radical, if I keep moving in my own, quiet ways toward Love.