Living in the Doorway
I’m a doorway person. I don’t mean that I have some abnormal obsession with doors; its not a fetish or anything. I just think its a great metaphor for how I’ve felt about myself for most of my life. I’m a doorway person. That’s where I’m most comfortable, even while standing in the most transitional of spaces, that’s where I tend to settle. Right there in the middle, with one foot in both spaces. I guess you could say I’m a little noncommittal. Not ready to leave the former room nor fully embrace the new room. But that’s not how I see it. I’ve never really felt like I belonged in either room; well maybe for a moment it’d be alright, or a season, but not to fully take up residence. No, that would be too much. To be honest I’ve struggled with this at times, wondering if and where I belong, always deeply aware of not quite feeling a part of either room. And It’s taken my lifetime so far to realize that while I’ve struggled with it, that the struggle was preparing me for something, and really, this is a good place to be; in the doorway.
I was the church kid who sang in the choir and read Scripture for worship while being on a first name basis with the bartender at the tiki bar that I used to sneak into, yep, a tiki bar in Tucson. I was the Marine who read Kurt Vonnegut during down time. And, most likely, the only English major in college who could field strip an M16A2 service rifle blindfolded. I often carried a Bible with me while tending bar during college. And for many years I thought holiness would demand I leave the doorway, to pick sides if you will, to be fully in one place or the other. I no longer believe that.
Isn’t that what we’ve all been taught though? Haven’t you thought that being a Christian meant making a decision on what and who you would leave behind in that other room? Isn’t that what’s kept so many people from becoming followers of Jesus? Yes our character will be changed as we grow in Christ. And yes, our morality will be distinctly different than the surrounding culture. But, being a follower of Jesus just might lead us to a life in the doorway, maybe true holiness demands that we take up residence in the transitional spaces of life.
We are called by the Great Commandment to love God and others. Jesus makes it pretty clear in Mark 12:30-31 that we are to love God with everything that we are, and we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Maybe the command of Jesus is not to leave behind others in our attempt to love God fully, but just maybe, we can’t love God fully if we aren’t in the transitional spaces. Loving God with everything we are is intimately connected to loving others. How can we love them if we’ve left them behind?
Further, many of us have heard that Christians are to be in the world but not of it. I don’t know about you, but that sounds particularly difficult. It’s not a direct biblical quote by the way. However we do find in John 17:14-18 Jesus praying about his followers. Jesus makes it clear in this prayer that His followers are not of this world, and will be uncomfortable in it, even on occasion hated by it. Yet Jesus is not asking for His followers to be removed, just the opposite, He sends His followers into the world on His behalf. To be a follower of Jesus is to be a little uncomfortable with life in this world, all the while witnessing to the fullness of life available in Jesus, to be in the doorway.
Wasn’t it the role of the priest to be a mediator between a broken sinful people and a holy perfect God? Now, with Jesus as our perfect high priest, we are to be a royal priesthood. 1 Peter 2:9, in an echo of Exodus 19, declares, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Maybe, to be holy is be priestly, and to be priestly is be in the doorway. To be fully in love with God and others is to stand with and in between, all the while, bridging the gap and helping people through the transitions.
This life in the doorways is not easy, however. You know, just in case you thought it might be. It’s not. Not even close. It can be heart breaking. And lonely. It can also be exciting and joyous. It is definitely worth it. Living in the doorways; in the transitional spaces, where people make choices and encounter new realities. This is the place of holiness, and love, and grace.
Will you live in the doorway? What might a life in the transitional space look like for you?