I spent a lot of the past almost 34 years thinking I knew things. I thought I knew what would make me happy. I thought I knew the path to follow God most faithfully. I thought I knew what issues I was on the right and the wrong side of (I even admitted the ones I was on the wrong side of). I thought I knew who the bad and who the good people were. I thought I knew what bad and good behavior looked like. There's a whole slew of more trivial things that I thought I knew about too like where I wanted to live and what food was best for family and whether or not I should be a dog owner.
But there's a benefit, well not one but many benefits, to growing older. I have come to peace with the fact that there's just so much that I don't know. I will never be able to completely discern the state of another person's heart and soul. Therefore I can never know if they are totally bent on doing harm or have some small propensity for good. I will never completely figure out all of the things I want to know in order to be the best mother I can be. There will always be unknowables, things walking around inside their little (and one day bigger) bodies that I do not know. Perfection as a mother is unachievable. One therapist calls it settling for 'good enough parenting.'
I will never know the perfect path to following God, because it does not exist. I will never definitively know the 'right' position on certain moral issues because the reality is there is grayness in life. I will never know (this side of heaven) what God was doing during some of my dark moments.
The crazy part about all of that is the peace that not knowing has brought me in my life. The benefit of aging is that I can (hopefully) sit in the place of not having all the answers and I can be okay. I have found enormous comfort in understanding that my path toward God is not perfect and in fact no one else's is perfect either. The GRACE that I have for myself at this juncture in my life was totally absent for me 10 or 15 years ago. I thought that there was a person or a book or a worship service or chapter of the Bible that had the answers. I thought that enough searching would give me them and only upon finding them would I be able to live rightly. I would be able to be in communion with God, have peace and interact lovingly with others, always. I was like a laser beam pointed and focused on a goal. But all that driving and striving and searching didn't comfort my spirit. Instead I neglected the soul in order to find the answers the brain was looking for. And what I found instead was failure.
I found that a lot of people I looked up to spiritually, morally, ethically, as God lovers and God followers were failing. They were struggling. They were leaving churches and crying out to God and not understanding the truth of their own lives or journeys. They were experiencing dark nights of the soul that caused them physical pain. These people did not look like 'success' they did not look like the answers, if they even thought they had them, brought them comfort. They were as real and broken as the rest I was.
That discovery, those events in the lives of people I had revered led me back to the drawing board. I sat with my God whom I really loved and in the stillness I accepted that there were no answers. There was no perfect path of obedience. The lie that the modern day Church sells about morality and us following it perfectly is that it is not going to get us out of a dark night of the soul. That is just more taking care of the external behavior without soul tending. What I also was able to realize and accept is that what God most wants is a faithful heart and a soul that wants to follow him.
For all my striving, for all this endless searching to find the answers I knew that God and I both knew one thing about me. We both knew that I desperately wanted Him. And now we both knew that the answers weren't going to give me Him. This acceptance has led me more fully down my own path. It is a path that has been more than a little off track at times, but it is mine and I own it and God and I are the only ones that have to walk it. This knowing that I don't know has given me another gift as well. The absolutely inability to throw stones at your path. I don't know where you and God are. But I pray that you are earnestly seeking Him and I hope that you would pray that for me as well. Because that is all he asks of us.