Girl Scout Faith

For most of my life, my faith has resembled the Girl Scout motto- “be prepared”. Be prepared with fire insurance by accepting Jesus and being baptized. Be prepared to answer non-Christians’ questions about the faith. Be prepared to do anything for God. The reality is… well… being completely prepared is not truly possible and is antithetical to Christian faith.

 

Pressure to be always prepared stunts Christian growth by increasing anxiety, obsessively thinking through every possible scenario. How could someone be prepared for a loved one’s suicide? How could someone be prepared for a broken leg? How could someone be prepared for a tornado destroying home? How could someone be prepared for a child being born with a disability? How could someone be prepared for a question from an unfamiliar perspective? How could someone be prepared to receive a difficult truth or surprising calling?

 

The ridiculousness of over-preparation and worry reminds me of Meryl Streep’s character, Aunt Josephine, on Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. [a clip at the beginning here: http://youtu.be/_tXxJRRV4Ig]

 

Life happens. Destruction happens. Grief happens. Fear happens. Unpleasant surprises happen. The beauty of God is that God is present and working whether people are prepared or not. God is ultimately the initiator of all spiritual healing and comfort.

 

One of the first steps of committed Christian faith is to admit to oneself and to God that I am unable and unprepared to save myself and cannot be forgiven for mistakes without God. God is prepared to save and I am not.

 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:8]

 

Yes, Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15 to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”. Many Christians only commit the first part of this verse to memory- give an answer. The second part of the verse has an important clause to Peter’s exhortation- with gentleness and respect. Being overconfident, thinking one has all the answers as a result of unrealistic concerns to “be prepared”, is in conflict with this verse as a prideful attitude does not include gentleness and respect. Admitting a lack of knowledge when asked an interesting or difficult faith related question shows honesty. A follow up comment [and commitment!] such as “let me think about that” shows thoughtfulness and sincerity.

 

Christians don’t need to be prepared for every question or idea. We simply need to be willing to admit our limitations with humility.

 

Being prepared to do anything for God is not entirely up to me. I can be intentional about prayer practices, faithful to educational opportunities, and involved in healthy community that encourages discipleship, but it is God who prepares people, sometimes through these efforts. It is the person’s responsibility to have, as St. Ignatius of Loyola calls it, “internal indifference”- true openness to God.

 

Rather than faith resembling the Girl Scout motto of “be prepared”, what about the Girl Scout Law which sounds curiously similar to the Greatest Commandments-

 

“I will do my best to be

Honest and Fair,

Friendly and Helpful,

Considerate and Caring,

Courageous and Strong, and

Responsible for what I say and do,

And to

respect myself and others,

respect authority,

use resources wisely,

make the world a better place, and

be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” [Mark 12:30-31]

 

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