I am a quote fiend. Although it is always the instrumental side of music that hooks me, I find that lyrics are sticking out more and more. It’s not just lyrics either; things people say in conversation, in discussions at Ignite. Lines from books, podcasts, movies and articles.
My faith is also finally starting to catch up with itself. Things I’ve believed in my head are starting to sit well with my gut. But rather than just waffle on about that, I thought I’d use some of these quotes to illustrate what that’s looked like. Maybe this will do nothing for you. Fair enough.
God’s unconditional love
- “In a world that is conditional and transactional, grace offers something that is unconditional and non-transactional” – Cheryl, Ignite sometime early 2023.
- “Why do I feel like I’m not welcome at Jesus’ table until I’ve cleaned myself up first?” – Tyler Staton, Bridgetown Church.
- “If we have not experienced ourselves as unconditional love, we have more work to do, because that is who we really are” – Thomas Keating, The Human Condition.
- “It feels good to be known so well. I can’t hide from you like I hide from myself” – True Blue, Boygenius.
The meaning of unconditional has only become apparent to me through repetition. While I’ve been told over and over that God loves me no matter what, I’ve continued to put limits on. It’s easy to think that He loves me when I lie or act out of jealousy, but less so when times are truly dark and messy and difficult to put words to. What I’ve been learning is that if I don’t let Him love me into those places, I stall myself from being worthy enough to carry out His work. If I let Him love me into those places, each and every time they happen, recognising that they probably will continue to happen, then I can begin to realise that unconditional literally does mean that. If I believe that God loves me right now, not just after I’ve sorted ____ out, I can actually let myself do those things that I still feel He wants me to do.
Throwing reputation out the window
- “I’m ready to get in trouble for my faith” – Joe, after Ignite sometime early 2023.
- “Don’t wait for things to be possible or permissible to start doing them,” – Jacob Collier on music creation, Tape Notes Podcast.
- “It’s exhausting trying to tend to your reputation when the Lord is trying to make you look like a fool,” – Tim Silk, Praxis Gathering 2023.
While I like having a range of opinions around me, I’m sick of nonsense. I will always be someone who tries to see where people are coming from, but I’m also going to start acting out of the conclusions I’ve come to. For example, I’m bored of being at large events where we talk about striving for inclusion and diversity, but stop short of mentioning the LGBT+ community, for fear of alienating our Christian friends who thought we still agreed with them. I’ve spent years and years amassing other people’s opinions, tossing them up in my mind. And while I will continue to do that, I also need to start acting anyway.
Just actually doing
- “What modest dreamers we have become,” – Zadie Smith, A Hovering Young Man.
- “The smallest act in the most limited circumstances bears the seed of boundlessness, because one deed, and sometimes one word, suffices to change every constellation,” – Hannah Arendt.
- “We had some good ideas but we never left that f***ing room’” – Size of the Moon, Pinegrove.
Although I would consider Urban Junction a safe and welcoming place, I would thankfully never call it overly-comfortable. This practice of living in discomfort, with people who don’t agree with me on everything and are vocal about that, sets me up to figure out what I believe, state it, and act on it even if Christians I trust and admire don’t feel the same way.
Because that’s ultimately what I still want to live in. The tone of this may come across as brash or inconsiderate; but I actually don’t want to lose those people who feel differently to me. I just want to make sure I am acting out of what I actually believe in, regardless of what they might think of me.
If I can use a corny analogy for a moment:
If lyrics are the philosophy of my life, maybe the music is the course that runs them from knowledge to action. For years I had a gut instinct for what the music was telling me, a way it made me feel, but without the lyrics to explain why I felt that way, I didn’t do anything about it. Where the music was illustrating pain and a need for empathy, lyrics and quotes have shown me where to direct that empathy.
- Ask Cheryl
- Ask Joe
- Praxis Gathering 2023, ask Tim!
- Intimations: Six Essays by Zadie Smith (book).