Unknowing

“Paradoxically, the challenges of our day-to-day existence are substantial reminders that our life of faith simply must have its center somewhere other than in our ability to hold it together in our minds.”[1]  Peter Enns

Today, I find myself in an interesting place.  For the first time in 25 years, I find myself transitioning between jobs.  As of today, I have been without regular employment for two months.  Although that feels totally foreign, it is not the specific reason for this discussion.  As of today, I have three options that are totally different.  All the options are professions that I have never done before.  All of them feel like stepping into the unknown.  For whatever reason, I feel a lot of confidence moving forward; but there doesn’t seem to be a logical path.  All of them have about the same level of uncertainty—all of them have pros and cons.  The choice that seemed the most logical just got a little more complicated.  This entire journey to set myself on a new path has challenged my faith—faith in myself—faith in God—faith in other people.

When I walked into the Tea Shop, I really didn’t have time to be logical.  It happened so fast that my normal defenses didn’t kick in fast enough.   The paralysis of analysis that I often find myself engaged in wasn’t available to me as a trusted resource.  The Tea Shop served as a metaphor for stepping into the unknown.   Almost everything about this experience except the tofu and the sunflower seeds was something that I had never experienced.  Even the tofu was varied and unique.  My mind didn’t have time regulate my actions to what was safe or what was “normal.”  But adventures are like that.  Merriam-Webster defines an adventure as “an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.”[2]  So, by definition, adventures can’t be totally calculated or known in advance and usually are not safe.

I am coming to understand that this stepping into the unknown is not only valuable, but necessary.  If we never step into places we have never been, we will never go places we have never gone.  That seems obvious, but most of our travel is down well-worn paths of familiarity.  We want safe adventures, but by definition, a safe adventure is an oxymoron.

Recently, I have been thinking about the idea of unknowing.  Believe me, it’s not a comfortable or normal path for me to take.  I have always loved my analytical, pragmatic certainty.  I liked knowing what I know and being sure about it.  But in matters of a journey and adventure and belief, I am learning that it is just as important to forget as it is to know.  For example, it is a little more than probable that our view of God is flawed.   There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Christians groups that all believe they are right about God.  As I mentioned in my previous book, a friend of mine once expressed, “none of us is right,” especially in our beliefs about God.  Often when we “unknow,” our minds open enough for a brief second to learn something new.

In the past, I would have approached the coffee shop with a certainty that I knew what I needed to do.  Even though I am a little shy, because I knew what I knew and was certain about it, my ego would carry me through trying to sell them on whatever my latest belief was.  Before you judge me too harshly, understand that it’s a common malady that affects us all.  We love being certain but we long for adventure.

So far, I have recalled 13 lessons that I learned from the Tea Shop that I believe will change my life in one way or another.  Even the best seminars that I have attended usually only gave one or two “takeaways” or “nuggets” that I could use to improve my journey.   It has been about nine months and I am still unpacking the beneficial lessons from the man with no name.  Actually, I finally discovered that his name is known, but it’s a little difficult to write in English and it doesn’t really matter at this point.  Could it be true that knowing always requires some level of unknowing?  When we give up our death grip on certainty, we open the door expanding our understanding and deepening our consciousness.   I know it’s scary, but good adventures are like that.

I think I know the career choice I will make.  I made the choice at 3:35 a.m.  Since there are no logical choices, I’m going with my heart.  I’m hopeful that they still have a place for me, but I trust that they will.  Even when I start my new job, it will be important to forget some of the things I know.  I can have aspirations, but maybe I should give up on my expectations.  I will bring my experience, but not rely on it completely.  Instead of trying to repeat what I already know, maybe I could focus on what new things I can learn and experience.   Maybe this could be a new unpredictable, dangerous new adventure.  It will probably be somewhat messy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful.  The Tea Shop was a tribute to disorganization, clutter, and eclectic choices.  Nothing was certain—but, everything was beautiful.

Here’s to adventure and danger and unknowing!

Blessings,

Karl

** Please feel free to like, forward or comment on this blog. Part of this is for me to just sort through my beliefs and feelings, but it would mean so much more to have your input. **

[1] Peter Enns, The Sin of Certainty, Kindle Version, p. 118

[2] Htt ps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adventure


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