Thursday, June 15, 2006

Velvet Elvis

I've had this book on my shelf for nearly a year now. Velvet Elvis was one of the many books I came home from the International Christian Retail Show with - my desire to read them all outweighing the time to do it - as usual.

As I've been wrestling with some issues this week - praying, fuming and crying - the title of this book kept haunting me. Yesterday I went on a hunt for it and sat down to read.

And I was enthralled.

I'm not very far into it, so I reserve the right to add to the opinions I'm about to express, but I'm hooked.

It's probably because I like ideas. I like to ponder and wonder and wrestle. I have friends who don't seem to wrestle or wonder about anything. They take life as it comes with its lumps and its joys without ever diving down into the water to see what else is there. I like to dive. I've never been content to tread water.

That's what this book is like - diving a little deeper, exploring ideas. And I love it. Some ideas are new, others are familiar ones that make me say "Yes! Someone else feels like this!" It also is very validating to know that it is okay for me to be full of questions. I used to think it was simply the artist temperament in me - but now I'm thinking it's from simply being human.

I didn't grow up in the church, and maybe that's why I've retained my penchant to wonder and wrestle. I've never been one to simply accept the way things are because they can always be better. And frankly, I feel that way about Christianity too. I think we can do it better. I think we can live better, love better, be better than we are. I think the church needs to discover a way to be relevant in this culture.

This book makes me think that perhaps I'm not crazy after all. That maybe all these ideas and notions and hopes are really being stirred by God. You see, the real world I live in - well, I'm often surrounded by people who just don't understand all those ideas and notions and hopes. They're content to just keep doing what they've always done, in the same way they've always done them. I have often felt that I have no voice. I speak, and I get looked at like I've lost my mind. And that has led me to feeling like I don't have anything of value to offer. When you are not valued it's very easy to feel that way.

Yet now I am wondering, maybe the answer isn't to stop talking - which is what I've done - but maybe it's to simply be the person God has created me to be and be willing to help provoke change. Provoking change in people who don't wish to be provoked can be an ugly thing. Yet, just as Queen Esther found herself in a place she didn't expect, I am here, at this place, at this time, for a reason. Maybe the purpose isn't as amazing as Queen Esther saving her people, but it's a purpose all the same.

In the book, Rob Bell describes Christianity as a trampoline that we invite others to experience with us. He says that it shouldn't be a wall we feel we have to defend, or a place that we are either "in" or "out" of. A trampoline was made for experiencing - jumping.

I choose to jump.