Faith Like Geometry

I’ve started to notice something recently. In all of my conversations about life and God and decision-making and such, especially with people who (for whatever reason) talk to me seeking advice, my answers have become much more simple than they used to be. I know more and I talk less.

Lee says it’s sort of like geometry, and I think he may be right.

Geometry doesn’t really make sense on the surface when you first begin to study it in school. (That was 9th or 10th grade for me, but I live in South Carolina and we’re not exactly known for being a hotbed of intellectual prowess). When you start with geometry, you can solve the problems and find the forumlas and do the work, but you don’t really understand WHY it’s working. I doubt that most of us grasp the theories underneath the formulas until years later when calculus initially scares our feeble high school minds to death, but then starts to pull it all together and help all those formulas make sense. You already understand how to make it work, but now you understand WHY it works. And then geometry becomes this wonderfully simple and understandable thing in theory and in practice.

My faith has struggled through its share of calculus; especially in the last three years. My attempts to sort through those big questions, coupled with my desire for more than a cursory understanding of what I believe in have led me back to the same child-like faith that I stepped out on initially. But it’s not a blind faith or a relationship that ignores the hard questions in favor of a false assurance of blissful ignorance, this faith rests firmly on a foundation of complexities. I’ve sifted through enough calculus to begin to see the bigger picture; now I can be free to revel in the tension of equally true things that used to seem like contradictions. That sounds like less resolution than most of us think we need, but when I hear myself responding to questions with simple answers, I don’t feel the twinges of uncertainty with my own words that I used to.

But simple answers to massive questions do not come easily. They are built on the backs of years and months and days and mornings of searching and questioning and praying and talking and living and trusting. The hardest, and most dangerous, part of the entire equation is the pre-calculus season. When it’s beginning to make sense and to become clearer in your mind, but it’s still not quite there. A few pieces don’t fit into the puzzle in the right places and even though the edges are clear, the middle still has some sizable holes. Pre-calculus is the easiest season of your life to just walk away; half-understanding things, frustrated, and with an incomplete understanding of something that you almost already know. If that’s you, then I encourage you to keep pressing and learning and questioning and (especially) talking. 

I love being on this side of that particular part of the learning process. I love giving simple answers that I know exist because of the complexities of the character of God that hold them up. I love talking with clarity and simplicity and knowing that those things bring with them an authority that is sorely lacking in what poet Taylor Mail refers to as, “The most aggressively inarticulate generation [ever].” 

In short, I love knowing more and talking less.