on immovability

“All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.” – Benjamin Franklin

Commuters on the whole are flexible people, while maintaining inflexible schedules. It’s partially a necessity – we are all at the mercy of the machines we ride back and forth on the schedules they set.

All commuters will at some point have bad days, but there are always a few who choose to have bad days.

I met one the other day.  I was attempting to walk on the inner side of the sidewalk past a woman in a camel-colored coat approaching from the opposite direction. She aimed for a door in a building we were both walking by. I didn’t correct soon enough and anticipated that she would flex. We ended up facing each other.  You know the situation. Awkward but easily worked out with a laugh and a sidestep.

Except this wiry lady stopped stock-still in front of me. She looked straight through my collar bone at the door she couldn’t get to, steely-eyed and aggressive, for approximately two or three seconds.  I recovered, said something like “I’m sorry, excuse me,” and side-stepped around her just in time to hear a triumphant “uh-huh!” as I walked on.

She was astonishingly, palpably immovable. Not just because I’m certain it would have taken a crane and a forklift to detach her from the sidewalk. This lady was a force of nature.  Must have eaten her Wheaties this morning.

I grew up thinking of immovability as a Christian virtue.  Now I consider it more or less a true vice. Let me explain; it’s obviously more nuanced than that.

We often equate immovability with faithfulness. Our kid-selves sang “I shall not be moved” in Awana growing up and our adult-selves never forgot the tune. The difference between the two is vast, though.

See, the Pharisees were immovable. Mary Magdalene was faithful.

Adherents to law are immovable. Followers of Grace Himself are faithful.

What I’m getting at is that because we are complex and wonder-full human beings, and as Christians we worship a complex and wonder-full Creator, our interactions are more nuanced than following a formula.

We live in a world where compromise is a watchword and tolerance a requirement.  Both of these resonate with fearfulness, not faithfulness.  We live for a Savior in whom love and truth coexist. That coexistence is where faithfulness comes into play. We say yes to Truth.  We say yes to Love.  And within those action-agreements is faith.

So why am I writing about immovability on an art blog?

Aside from finally getting the opportunity to tell a story from my commute (of which I honestly have very few), here’s why: conviction can easily become immovability in all areas of life. In the arts, this may take the form of turning our aesthetic preferences into law or formula, instead of striving to see beauty and truth in all things.

We all tout our pet passions and ascend our stylistic soapboxes.  The trick is distinguishing a truth from an opinion, and couching it in kindness instead of bludgeoning people into disinterest. Choosing our battles wisely, adjusting our expectations, championing the Beauty-Amid-Brokenness that is Humanity – imitating Christ… all take faithfulness to our Lord and the ability to be moved, deeply.

And of course, the ability to see a human in front of you instead of an obstacle.


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