The Narrow Road ~ Guest Contributor, Aubrey Barnes
About a month ago or so, I ran into a good friend of mine and his wife at the local Applebee’s that my sister and I go to on a weekly basis. I hadn’t seen this friend for months prior, due to life’s busyness; adjusting to the recent job change, working on countless plans to make my job as a writer and performer profitable, and the most important, uncomfortable yet liberating journey of personally deconstructing and reconstructing faith and spirituality. We joined them at a table and caught up. There was a slight drift of awkwardness in the atmosphere as we all inwardly wrestled with what to say. This really good friend of mine is Christian, as am I. The dividing factor that made this encounter weird was that this friend was completely certain and sold on his beliefs; I wasn’t (and still have a lot of uncertainty). This friend broke the silence by asking me if I was going to a Christian conference called “Iron Sharpens Iron”. I told him I was not going, which brought him to give me the list of speakers who were attending, as if this would change the trajectory of my decision. I still said no.
A couple years ago, I started questioning a lot of things that I noticed when it came to the church that I was a part of. I was on my way to getting licensed as a church planter, and was very certain and sold on everything that I knew. My knowledge and apologetic intellect were my saviors. Life, I learned, will always have its ways of reminding us that we really don’t know shit. My world and certainty were falling apart all around me. From seeing marriages falling apart by infidelity from very conservative church members, to being under church leadership that was more controlling and harming than healing, I started questioning everything;
“Is the church just a big manipulation tool to keep people in check?”
“Do they just want me at this church because I add ‘color’ to their pews?”
These concerns caused me to withdraw from the church, and do some digging that provoked greater questions...
“Why do we interpret this certain scripture like ‘this’ when the people who wrote it had ‘that’ in mind?”
“Why do we think this book is without flaws?”
"If this book is history, and history is progressive, why is the church culture I see so regressive?”
I was learning how to fill this new wine skin, and whenever I tried to fill it with the ‘old wine’, it would leak and waste away. God, the Divine, the Universe had revealed a new path that didn’t entail ‘either/or’ dichotomy, but ‘both/and’; light and darkness, healing and hurt, blindness and clarity, ugliness and beauty.
That day at Applebee’s, I realized that my friend’s journey and mine didn’t coincide like they used too, but the beauty is that we share the same table. Neither better than the other; equal in uniqueness and worth.
Aubrey Kendall Barnes, "Aubs," is many things but well known as poet, emcee, author and speaker. Besides occupying the mic, Aubs has experience in the arena of teaching and leading workshops for those interested in the art of performance poetry. He hopes his art will empower others to embark on their own journey.