In a recent Christian Century (January 13, 2009), I read an excerpt from an interview with poet Christian Wiman. Wiman returned to his childhood faith after many years of searching and wandering. When he did, some people met that return with suspicion and wondered if it signaled that Wiman had hidden psychological motivations.
But, Wiman is clear that he didn’t return to his childhood faith in its earlier and simpler form. He doesn’t think such a straightforward return is possible, “unless,” as he puts it, “you’ve just woken from a decades long and absolutely literal coma.”
The life you’ve lived in the meantime will have an effect on your faith, “which means, of course, that even the staunchest life of faith is a life of great change. It follows that if you believe at 50 what you believed at 15, then you have not lived–or have denied the reality of you life.”
One of the early church fathers, Gregory of Nyssa, said that “sin is the failure to grow.” And, nearly all growth involves change. I wonder what changes I am resisting, what growth I am missing, because I insist on clinging to ways of thinking, believing, and living which deny the reality of my lived experience and which do not trust fully enough that the Holy Spirit is at work in that experience, shaping and transforming me.