This past week, I published an article with an online magazine and discovered it afforded me an opportunity to serve as an ambassador for our nation outside its borders.
I was invited to write a reflection piece in response to a favorite book I read recently, Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber, and it will probably be no surprise to you to learn that I chose to write the reflection through the lens of the Enneagram, enamored as I am of this helpful spiritual tool of late.
I'd been made aware of the diversity of the magazine's readership and felt myself taking a chance by not only reviewing a book by a rather liberal female pastor, but also by choosing to write about a tool that has a weird name, is unknown to many, and frequently causes people to think it has something to do with New Age spirituality.
But I published it anyway, curious to discover how the audience would respond.
I was surprised by the response. I did receive a lot of pushback, but the pushback had nothing really to do with the book or the Enneagram. Rather, it had everything to do with the value of personal introspection. I was baffled to discover a whole realm of people who negate the value of knowing one's self, viewing it as an activity that leads either nowhere or to narcissism.
There'd been no expectation placed upon me to engage with those who chose to comment, but I found myself intrigued by their position — not to mention surprised by the assumptions about me made along the way — and so I chose to engage in dialogue.
Do you want to know the truth? I felt like I was representing you, like I had traveled to another land bearing the insignia, robe, and ring of our Still Forming nation, and there were several times that our nation's list of qualities that I shared with you last week helped inform my responses to that dialogue along the way. I sought to be:
I can't say the experience seemed to bring any new residents to our land, but I don't even think that was its purpose. I think its purpose was to faithfully represent you and our nation's values in a foreign territory, and I hope I served you well accordingly.
(If you'd like to read the article and the comment dialogue that ensued, you can do so here.)
I also found myself thinking of you while out on my expedition, wondering how you may have found yourself representing our land this past week, too, in your own context. Are there ways you found yourself given a chance to be welcoming or brave, tender or honest or kind, open or reflective — either toward others or yourself or even God?
If you're willing to share your experience of living out any of these values this past week, maybe I will select a few to share with the rest of us in next week's letter. I think the shared stories could provide a bit of encouragement and insight for all of us about how the citizens of our land embody its values in daily life. What do you think? Would you care to share a story?
How were you invited to live out any of our nation's values this past week?