About a week before Confirmation I met with the kids individually to talk about their statements of faith. Most of them genuinely wanted to get confirmed, but almost all of them also had some concerns about making the commitment for the long haul–what if they believed differently when they grew up? One of the teens in particular was more than a little bit hung up on this, so I tried helping her envision Confirmation as the first step on the journey with God. The journey metaphor is, as we have already implied, kind of standard for talking about spiritual growth and development. I thought maybe it would make sense to her because, you know, on a journey, you don’t stay in the same place. But something did not compute, and although she reiterated that she wanted to get confirmed, something still felt a little uncertain.
We were at a coffee shop, and so eventually the conversation turned more casual and she started talking about a play that she had been in earlier that year. She talked about what it was like being in her drama group at school and about all the practices and about how sometimes even when you practice for most of a semester, one show might go fantastically and in another, you might forget your lines or something. I had already been mulling over NT Wright’s article for a few weeks, and so I guess I was already thinking of plays as another spiritual metaphor, and suddenly, even though it wasn’t exactly the same metaphor Wright had drawn, the spotlight clicked on or something.
“Hey!” I said, “What if you thought about Confirmation as a commitment to be in the play?”
“What?” asked my teen-aged friend.
“Like, when you commit to being in a play, you probably have an idea about the basic plotline, but you don’t necessarily know which character you’re going to be, or how the play develops, or any of your lines. But you try out for it and get chosen and then you commit to learning it. And you do it over and over and over, and sometimes you still don’t get it right, but you stick with it because you’ve committed to the play. What if you thought about Confirmation and the beginning of the Christian life like that?”
“Oh!” she said. “Yeah, that makes a lot more sense.”
The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me, too. Maybe the Holy Spirit is the Director of the play, but it seems that the life of faith is a lot about practice, a lot about discipline, and that through that discipline and practice, we become more and more a part of the Story, and the Story becomes more and more a part of us. The more we allow the Holy Spirit to direct us, the more we move into our individual parts in the play–in concert with each other–and in that way, the freer we are to become ourselves.