Wednesday, October 9, 2013

one more weird, religiously-themed post for today…

so, pretty much most of my 30’s has been defined by personal and/or religious crises. like really. one after the other. considering that dave and I got married when I was 28, I can only assume he is wondering what on earth happened to the girl he married and, after this much time, has all but given up hope that she will ever return.

sorry, babe. that you stick with me though all of this and even remotely attempt to follow it/care, is amazing to me.

at any rate. mostly my struggle has been with HOW to express my faith in daily life. being a 1 hour a week pew-warmer has never sat well with me. one of the biggest criticisms from unbelievers is that christians are a bunch of hypocrites. they dress up nice and paste a smile on their faces for an hour every sunday, and the rest of the week they’re no different than everybody else. that kind of christianity (if you can even call it christianity) is a waste of my time and I want no part of it. I want to be known as ‘devout’. as someone devoted to my faith, to my God. I want to be someone who actually lives her life, makes her decisions, based on that which she claims to believe. christianity is not a sunday-only hobby. yet people seem to have this idea that religion and the bible and anything related to it is something that is okay to get out on sundays (like taking out the fancy china only on holidays), and you’re really kind of a freak if you ‘use’ it at any other time. and the fact that people would use what is written in a book that was written thousands of years ago as something that could actually influence your daily life is apparently, not only bizarre, but downright WRONG. in case I have been unclear, I disagree with that kind of religion. what is the point of your religion if it does not define you? if it is not transforming, then why bother?

this is how I think.

I’m not saying any of this is bad. not in the least. I read a quote recently (I think it may have been attributed to aristotle) that read “an unexamined life is not worth living” or something along those lines. I’m not a big one for quotes or inspirational sayings, but that one stuck with me. I guess because I relate to it. I probably spend too much time in examination and not enough time in actually living.

lately, my struggle has come from a different source.

the great commission. matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

I realize that’s all kind of weird, and an odd thing to be the source of some major personal reflection, but stick with me here.

one major thing I have never been good at is sharing my faith. maybe it’s a lutheran thing, maybe it’s just a personality thing, I don’t know. I was really lousy, the one time I attempted a job in direct sales. if someone approached me to discuss the product I sold, I could go on and on about it, but I could never figure out how to bring it up. and that’s just selling something. something I really liked and used on a regular basis. but still, just a thing.

an evangelist, I am not. it’s only amplified by the fact that I KNOW how much people who are not religious don’t want to be pestered by overly enthusiastic bible bashers, no matter how well-intentioned.

but here’s the thing. that’s a lame excuse. Jesus said to do it. Not because he’s a slave-driver or just likes to give commands, but so that everyone can benefit from the grace and love that comes only from having a relationship with your creator! as the church, the members are charged with discipling others. planting seeds which will lead them to Jesus.

and I just don’t know how to do that.

and so I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating that. what is it that I would share. how would I share it. how would a person respond. how would I answer the questions that would naturally arise.

and as I heard the questions in my head, I realized I didn’t have good answers for them. not even for myself.

so that sent me into a whirlwind of doubt. am I even really a christian? am I “saved”? those are some big questions, and it has created a BIG panic.

how can I begin to even think about evangelizing my own children, let alone, anyone else, if I can’t answer these vital questions for myself.

I want desperately to understand and be able to explain why I need a savior. the idea of bondage to sin and redemption is so foreign to our culture that, even though I know all the words and lines, and even passages to point to, I do not really understand it in a personal way. and definitely not in a way that would enable me to tell someone else about this in any way that would make sense, or be remotely intriguing. I want to be able to navigate the idea that yes, you are forgiven by God, but that doesn’t eliminate the consequences of your actions here on earth. how a murderer can ask for forgiveness and have the assurance that God will give it, yet that doesn’t change the fact that someone has lost a loved one due to that person’s action. Some people say that their biggest breakthrough in accepting Christ as their savior is realizing that nothing is too bad for God to forgive, or so bad that God can’t still love you beside it. Some people can’t get over the fact that they don’t have to do anything to EARN forgiveness and salvation. I’ve never really taken issue with those things. There are things that I’ve done in the past that I continue to feel guilt over, but I know that it’s me having trouble forgiving myself, not God being unable to forgive me. and the earning forgiveness thing, well, I guess I’m a good lutheran because that idea has never even really occurred to me. weird. I’m actually having trouble defining what my big hangup is. frustrating, nonetheless.

so this is my latest religious crisis. it’s a good one, I think. probably the most valuable I’ve had, to date. (yes, I think it’s slightly odd that I can rank the importance of my long list of religious crises.) This gets at the heart of everything I’ve been contemplating all along. I don’t know when I will come through this, or how. I get the feeling that this may be one of those trials that refines your faith. or maybe this is nothing and I’m a stubborn enough individual that I’m going to require a lot more ‘refining’. I suppose I will have to wait and see.

I’m not a very patient person. the very nature of this crisis makes me feel that I URGENTLY need answers. I guess God’s schedule is not the same as mine. go figure.

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