Years ago at the Clinical Pastoral Education course that I took, another student who was extremely frustrated with me yelled out at me in front of the whole class, â€œDavid, you are an enigma!â€ At the time, I wasnâ€™t sure how to take it. He intended it as an expression of his frustration with me, and so I took it as an intended insult. However, when I thought about it further, I decided to take it as a compliment. â€œEnigma: somebody or something that is not easily explained or understood.â€ Iâ€™m inexplicable, and it frustrated him.
Then, just this last weekend, I met a woman who is a very successful book distributor to Christian book stores. She had shelves of extra copies of books that she wanted to give to Lisa and me as a gift. We got to know her and her husband, and through our conversations, she discovered what my interests were in theology and pastoral careâ€¦ all that stuff. She discovered that I read everything from Barth to Torrance to John Paul Jackson and T. D. Jakes. She said that she doesnâ€™t really carry anything of the Barth variety because Christian book stores just arenâ€™t interested, not only because it is often considered uninspiring and too intellectual, but also because it doesnâ€™t sell. She was perplexed that I read such a wide variety of literature, but mostly that I read such a wide variety of theology. She looked at me and said, â€œYou are an anomaly! Iâ€™ve not come across someone like you. The people I meet in the business are either intellectual or charismatic. Not both. That is rare.â€Â I took it as a compliment. â€œAnomaly: something that deviates from the norm or from expectationsâ€¦ something strange and difficult to identify or classify.â€ Iâ€™m a deviant!
I realize, because Iâ€™ve taken enough psychology, that being strange and difficult to classify could stem from my unwillingness to be known and understood. I know that it could be my defense-shield against intimacy and vulnerability. That may be true. But what I feel is truer is that I long for the marriage of the two: intellect and emotionsâ€¦ the head and the heartâ€¦ the mind and the soulâ€¦ whatever. I long for the heights of intimacy with God and the manifestation of that in passionate worship and joyful livingâ€¦ the mysticâ€™s path. But at the same time I long for the depths of wisdom and knowledge, and that the manifestation of that in meaningful living, justice, freedom and love. I want to know Christâ€¦ not just with my mind, but also with my heart. And this is what I long and pray for in my church.