For the better part of ten years we traveled I-35 between Dallas and Oklahoma City. It would be hard to underestimate the number of times we took that route that traffic was not slowed by an accident. Whether traveling north or south we often reveled in our success at not being a victim of a fender bender. But, invariably we, along with evidently every other road warrior, appeared very interested in whatever failure caused the accident in the other direction. Welcome to flawed formation.
Rubbernecking Does Not Produce Fruit, Only Frustration
Slowing to observe a wreck in the opposite direction does not equal concern for those involved. It simply illustrates our penchant to know what is wrong with them. The result of this sort of practice is broad frustration. That is, once the first driver slows to gawk, others will. Eventually, everyone in that long line of slow moving traffic is frustrated having no idea why things are moving as they are.
If Christian spiritual formation creates more people interested in the well-being of others, then one must spend some time reflecting on his or her practices, not on the failures of others. Slowing to watch the consequences of the unfortunate decisions of others does not imply an interest to help. Instead, it generally results in, “Whew, glad that was not me.”
What Happens When It Is You?
Maybe the experience you suffer is not the consequence of a poor decision. It could as easily be simply a matter of life. Consider it the other reason traffic slows between Dallas and OKC: Road Construction. Miles and miles of road construction may be found along I-35 between OKC and Dallas. That is life.
When it happens to you several things come to mind. Should I take an early exit and find another route? Is patience really a virtue? How should I respond to this unexpected event?
Life happens and it is far better to reflect on our practices. Ask good questions.
KirsAnne Swartley is the Pastor for the Missional Journey at Doylestown Mennonite Church in Doylestown, PA. I met KrisAnne a number of years ago when she was working on her Mdiv at Biblical Seminary. Today KrisAnne lives out her calling leading practices for spiritual formation and transformation.
Listen in and I think you will see how her theology is practical and rooted in her Christian experience in the Mennonite Tradition where they take seriously the notion that Christians may live out the way of Jesus in the world today. You will hear KirsAnne describe what it means to be a Mennonite Christian.
What’s more, and more to the aim of the Interview, you will hear KrisAnne describe the layered work of reconciliation and how we might benefit from a rhythm of practice-reflection-practice-reflection. Don’t miss here description of the Examen and the ways in which we may benefit from the practices of other Christian Traditions appropriated in our own experience of the faith.
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