A Faithful Life?

I notice a tension between a substantive conception or articulation of a faithful life on the one hand and its entirely contextual and unexpressable nature on the other.  The notion of the substantial reality of faith is most often employed as a negative presence.  This is why my life is not faithful.  The most common refrain being that I live in the midst of and am embedded in powers and principalities that benefit the few at the cost of the many.  In Yoderian language I cannot say that I live independently of these powers.  Therefore my life is not faithful. But I can look to the ungraspable notion of grace and hope in apocalyptic action (of which I seek and participate).  So maybe my life is not faithful but God is faithful.  I am internally in contradiction.  I live in tension.  I would argue, though, that this tension is not a creative dialectic but a binding and entangling cord.  It is only a negativity.  Perhaps a negativity that will serve a purpose or has a place but it is a negativity nonetheless.

I think of a family I know.  She works and receives an increasingly rare middle-class salary.  They have bought a modest house in a ‘bad’ but developing neighbourhood.  He suffers from mental illness and requires stability but is still unable to work.  They have a young girl who he cares for.  This is not a dramatic home (well I cannot attest for everything that goes on there) but also not an easy life.  They discuss and strive for faithful choices in daily life.  I would characterize this house as faithful in the sense that Jean Vanier speaks of when he refers to enough stability for healing and growth and enough chaos and uncertainty to keep life open.

My life is not much different.  But I struggle some days even to conceive of their life as faithful never mind my own.  Negativity can always appeal to a lower (or higher) denominator.  This is binding, indebting and imprisoning.  It is not Gospel.  But I don’t know another way forward.  Is this process I am in necessary . . . is it helpful?  What would freedom mean?  Can I enact that freedom (who will rescue me from this body of death . . . )

Am I stuck in morality?  Do I need to move beyond good and evil as they say?  There is not enough nuance in the world to account for its complexity, at least in terms of possibility.  Who then is the righteous fool?  Who is the faithful one?


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