Jesus, Trinity, and Loneliness

For those who don’t know much about my background, I was brought up in Biblical unitarianism, which means I was taught Jesus was the Messiah but not God incarnate. It was a denial of the Trinity. To most of Christianity, this is a serious heresy.

For those who don’t know much about where I’m at now, I’ll be studying under a Trinitarian friar and mystic for the next two years. To my previous belief system, this is a huge divergence from The Truth™.

I also have a lot of important friendships with people who are agnostic, atheist, practicing a faith besides Christianity, or another blend of spirituality and mysticism. I, myself, have plenty of days of not knowing where I land.

It’s a strange thing to float in and out of these spaces where the worldviews are so vastly different and, honestly, contradictory to one another. I’ve learned to gauge who and what is safe to share my honest thoughts and questions. I never lie, but sometimes I stay quiet if there’s nothing fruitful to add to a conversation or if a person is demonstrating that they will not consider other viewpoints no matter what.

I’ve observed 3 patterns as I’ve reflected on this weird navigation of different ontological worlds:

  1. A person’s beliefs tend to change according to the community that makes them feel valued, protected, or gives them a tangible way to understand the world.
    This means we are not so objective and critically-thinking as we would like to believe we are. Our emotions and pyscho-social needs drive us more than we would like to admit, even overriding our cognition. We often intellectually rationalize a shift of belief or worldview that was born out of deeper human needs.

  2. Religions and belief systems that most emphasize connectedness — with God/spirit, with earth and creation, and with each other — tend to have similar effects on people.
    They usually grow in empathy, patience, resilience, and generosity. Like nutrients and water for soil, these ingredients usually lead to a more fruitful life.

  3. Religions and belief systems that most emphasize rightness — either in dogma or “pure” behavior — can lead to gradually increasing isolation from people who see the world differently as well as harmful over-dependence on the in-group system and its leaders.

My intent here isn’t to point fingers or criticize anyone.

But at the same time, I’m done watching people feel cripplingly lonely because their sense of belonging and value is so tightly cinched to existential truth claims that they eventually cannot reconcile with their lived reality, and the human relationships associated with them atrophy in turn.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

It actually is possible to value relationships over agreement.

It actually is possible to give yourself patience and compassion in knowing you don’t have the world figured out.

It actually is possible to change your mind about a thing.

It actually is possible to leave an unhealthy system if it comes to it.

Or to stay for a while if you know the time isn’t right yet.

Or to ask for help if you’re not sure.

It actually is possible to find healing in a kind of church you used to denounce.

Or in a break from church altogether.

God is not bound by walls and pages and statements.

God is in the walking trails and
stargazing and
coffee shops and
libraries and
therapists offices and
concerts and
internet friends and
food markets and
local elections commissions and
bored moments at work and
afternoon naps and
sleepless nights and
panic attacks and
clumsy, failed meditation attempts.

All of it.

God is especially in the people who are different from you.

All of them.

After all, if we only love people who think and live exactly like we do, we don’t actually love them. We love the reflection of ourselves and we love our idols.

So what does this have to do with the Trinity?

I’m saying that the kind of love that integrated people talk about when they talk about Jesus can reach you whether or not you believe in the Trinity, whether or not you question God’s existence, whether or not you go to church.

The Trinity has been the biggest example in my life of people trying to draw lines of “in” and “out.” And while I think God-as-relationship and God-with-us are important tenets of the Christian tradition, using a singular belief as a litmus test of where God is or isn’t working is, frankly, bullshit.

No matter which side you’re on.

God will always disprove our systems. If we build up walls to keep the “weeds” out, she’ll surely be raising a vibrant garden on the other side and we will go hungry on our own account.

I’m also saying that it’s okay to listen to your body about what you actually need to do or stop doing.

Even, and especially, if doing so disappoints someone else.

Maybe you have to leave some beliefs behind at some point. Thank them for being scaffolding to stand on when you needed it.

If they didn’t serve you at the time, you wouldn’t have stayed.

And most of all, I’m saying: Stop trying to figure things out in order to find connection with “the right people.”

Instead, find connection with loving people.

In that freedom and healing, you might actually figure some things out. Even if it’s just how to live a full, human life without having 100% of the answers all the time.

You don’t need a verse to tell you matter. You just matter.

Let that be your dogma for a while.

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