Tuesday, July 10, 2012
9:21 PM | Posted by Erin
When I was seventeen and in the 11th grade, my literature teacher dedicated an entire unit on the life and works of Henry David Thoreau. I read and read and read. The father of transcendentalism, the philosopher, the peaceful rebel and the author of Civil Disobedience...I connected with him.
In fact, it was more than a connection.
He inspired me.
I'd had it up to here (think Mount Everest) with institutions...religion, education, religion. Oh, did I already say religion? So when I learned about Thoreau's philosophy, I thought, "Oh!! Him, too?!?!"
I started thinking like my new friend, HDT. That's what I called him: HDT.
Here are some of his words that I kept with me everywhere I went:
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.I heard my own music.
I walked alone.
I decided that no one was putting me in a box. If it could be defined, measured or confined...I didn't want any part.
I tip-toed in that gray area of not right and not wrong. For example, I had this bumper sticker on my car. In insinuated a bad word and this is what it looked like:
You remember when those were cool? Anyhow, I was at church one Sunday morning (because my parents MADE me go) and when I came out of the service, my bumper sticker was gone.I had been bamboozled!
At church, nonetheless!
Didn't these Christians know "thou shalt not steal" was one of the Ten Commandments?
That box? The "religious" box? I didn't want anything to do with it.
And so it went...for several more years. Until God changed my mind. He softened my corners and showed me a love that is too big to fit into a box. The irony is that I had spent all of those years avoiding things that could be defined, measured or confined. And when I finally gave in to Him, I realized that His grace cannot be clearly defined by man; His mercy is immeasurable; and His love has no walls.
All those times I thought I was walking alone, He was right there beside me.
The freedom that He gives, in a way, is the ultimate Civil Disobedience because I can see beyond today's political issues, the financial woes, environmental concerns, wartime/peacetime...He holds it all.
The problem with Christians is that we are human. We let our ideas and our personal beliefs dictate what we think other people should be doing. This is the "religious box" that I was trying so desperately to avoid.
Religion can creep in do silly things like take someones bumper sticker; it can judge the teenager on back pew because she has a nose-ring; it says things like "always" and "never."
Thankfully, God is so much bigger than people and He can even use these silly things for His good.
Like He did with me.
Oh, I still admire Henry David Thoreau. I think he was on to something with his idea of simplicity and I still fancy myself a "free thinker."
I just don't advertise it on my bumper sticker anymore.
Note: Thank you, mom and dad, for making me go to church even when I didn't want to. Also, if you are reading this and YOU are the one who took my bumper sticker, please don't tell me. Please don't feel bad. Please know that God had a bigger plan for that Fukengruven sticker than you or I could ever have imagined.
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