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I’m not sure where this came from.

Maybe when I was buttoning my shirt this morning, on the way to teach an adult class at a local church–another among countless other classes where I am, once again, going to talk about God.

God must be bored out of his mind.

We have a lot of free time here in the modern west, a lot of access to information, and many means for communicating that information.

And we religious types have the luxury of time to turn God over and over in our heads. Over and over. Again and again.

Nothing wrong with thinking, of course, but it can become habit-forming–especially thinking about God.

In my experience, the more we think about anything, the more we become viscerally committed to our ideas and the false security we gain for our fragile life-narratives from holding tightly to those ideas.

We actually do become addicted to our thoughts, those beautiful thoughts.

We love them so much.

And the more personally meaningful the thoughts, the tighter our grasp, the greater our addiction–and the more we fight to hold on.

I am coming to the conclusion more and more that the most interesting people to listen to when talking about God are those who have suffered enough to know that their thoughts are never meant to be confused with the real thing.

I find it more interesting to listen to an “uneducated” Nigerian father talk about his faith in God after his daughter was kidnapped by Boko Haram than a western educated white male who is genuinely skillful and adept at explaining biblical texts.

The latter is fine, of course. Maybe even quite interesting. But I don’t think I will come face to face with God in the same way as when this Nigeran father opens his mouth to speak, a man with less free time on his hands and a spotty internet connection.

I don’t wish suffering on anyone, and most of us here on this side of the Atlantic don’t suffer the same atrocities as other world citizens.

And that’s O.K.

If we could tap into our own pain, to those places where we suffer (and we all do), we might find ourselves reducing the background noise of our wordy thought-worlds.

Perhaps we would find ourselves talking less, fighting less, embarrassing ourselves less, alienating others less, and finding more peace.

Perhaps. Let me think about it.

This blog was originally posted in February 2015.

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.