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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

It’s been a couple of weeks … here is what is going on now.

I am 100% clear that I need God in my life.

My husband and I have had numerous discussions about where we are heading individually and as a family.  He still feels like Buddhism has been very helpful to him and he’s not ready to jump ship.  I have been encouraging him to read Theravada Buddhist literature (because Zen isn’t doing it for him) and gave him some links to Theravada Buddhist temples in our area but I don’t know that he’ll actually visit any.  That’s okay.  I understand that he has to walk his path on his own, just as I walk my own path.

But I’ve also told him I need his help and support on my spiritual journey.  I feel self-conscious sometimes wanting to talk about God because I know he is an agnostic.  I want to do family prayer or grace before meals – he feels put on the spot – so we’re working on a compromise where I would lead prayer (so he’s not on the spot) but he will help me remember and hold an intentional space.

I was all set to visit a liberal Mennonite church nearby last Sunday and then my daughter had a raging fever and I stayed home to nurse her.  So she was sick and then I was sick… but finally we’re both better.  So then I was planning to visit the church this Sunday but last night I was online and found some recent sermons online at the church’s website and decided I didn’t want to visit after all.  The sermon talked about scripture but also brought in politics… a lot.  And I just cannot attend a church where politics (even — or maybe especially liberal peace politics) are a major topic of discussion.  I don’t have a good explanation for this – but these sort of sermons sound to me like “you have to be an activist to fit in here and to be a good person and to do God’s will” and I just disagree.  Don’t get me wrong, I am glad there are activists in the world – we all owe them a debt of gratitude for the work they do in the world.  Political activism just is not my work.  And it doesn’t have to be.  Unfortunately, I’ve had a number of bad experiences with Activists who feel that it has to be everyone’s work… or else you are wrong/bad/stupid/evil/an oppressor.  But for me, I have to focus my energy on what I can immediately control (my own life and how I treat the people around me) or else focus on accepting what I can’t control and what is in God’s hands.  A woman online I know described this as the difference between an Activist orientation and a Quietist orientation.  I have the latter.   (and I’ve rewritten this paragraph like 4 times now to try to make it less offensive, but it may still offend some, and if so, I’m really sorry.)

So instead I decided to put myself out there… and attend an Amish-Mennonite / Beachy Amish mission church I had learned about online several months ago.  I was scared to go because its in a really bad part of town and I didn’t know what the people would be like, and I knew it was very small and of course it doesn’t have a website or anything like that… but I went, and it was really nice.  It was very small, maybe 10-12 people there, some of whom were children.  The people were very friendly though and I loved the a capella singing (which was done sitting and without all that stand-up/sit down business that feels artificial to me) and the simple sermon.  There was a Sunday school portion and a second sermon which was really long – and these parts were less compelling… but in general I felt really comfortable there.  The people were down-to-earth.  Women were in plain dress.  Everyone there spoke with great love and faith in God.  It was inspiring.  I also liked that there was space during the service for people to pray out loud together and to reflect upon the sermons.  After the service I talked to several of the women there and felt comfortable to share parts of my story and to explain why I was there.  They were very supportive.

My thoughts are still in a jumble about my experiences this morning.  Here are some things I want to say…  I really don’t understand what this is all about.  I keep feeling myself drawn to conservative Christian churches.  This is odd for me on so many levels.  I am (and always have been) politically and socially liberal.  I am (still) not a Christian (yet?).  I think of Jesus as a great prophet and teacher but a savior?  These ideas are still foreign to me.  I am not the sort of person who interprets things literally, for me, most things must be taken in context.  I know these things… and yet, I still find myself drawn to the idea of a simple faith and a simple life.  I want to rely on God.  I want freedom from the things that keep me running in circles – my doubts and fears, my intellectual compulsion to “figure everything out” and accompanying frustration when this is fruitless, and I want to believe that God is with us in every moment and that He has a plan.

I feel naive writing this… its not that I want to put my head in the sand and cultivate an immature or unreasoned faith.  It’s that I know what doubt and disconnection is like and I know it doesn’t lead to greater compassion and love for me.  So there is a part of me, that is growing stronger by the day, that is thinking “well, f*** it.  Even if I don’t believe it (yet), maybe I should just go with it, because what do I know anyway, and clearly what I’m doing now isn’t getting me anywhere.”

And, that’s what happened with my involvement with that Buddhist group – which ended up not being such a great group, however, they inadvertently helped me find my way back to faith in God… so maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing after all.  Maybe God knows what he’s doing here, even if I don’t.

And God bless my husband… who is still supportive… even though he doesn’t get it.  He has strong faith in his own way.

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I’ve been visiting my mother in my hometown for the last several days.  It is good to be here – I am getting a much needed period of rest and renewal as my mother is helping considerably with my daughter.  The best thing about my trip thus far has been reconnecting with two friends – one relatively new who reminds me of my unencumbered college and graduate school days, and one a lifelong friend and kindred spirit.

I am learning some things on my trip.  My childhood friend is reminding me yet again about the importance of faith.  She is encouraging of me and inspiring to me.  She is my daughter’s Godmother because I admire her dedication to faith.  She recently left the Catholic Church and has joined a United Church of Christ congregation.  She is fired up about it and her pastor.  I asked if I could attend services with her tomorrow morning and she was elated to share her church with me.  She even suggested that I might talk to her pastor if I am interested.  I’m really looking forward to the service and to see how it feels to me.

Since talking with this friend on Wednesday I have been praying consistently before bed.  She inspired me to return to this practice and it feels very good and natural right now.  At the moment I am headcovering while praying (and will tomorrow for church) but not the rest of the time.

With my newer friend I am cutting loose a little.  I let my mother babysit and went to a party she threw.  I had a great time and really liked her friends.  It reminded me a great deal of my former life – those days I thought I was missing because my life is currently consumed by Mommyhood… and I found that although it was fun to unwind and be irresponsible for a few hours, I was happy to return to my settled life.  I do not regret anything about my life.  I love my husband and I love my daughter.  It was a great blessing for me to have this opportunity to be reminded about how much I have and how little I would desire to trade my life for another.

My daughter has been blossoming during her time here and is starting to comprehend language and play interactive games.  She has been a joy to observe.  I was feeling a bit disconnected from her before the trip and now I feel close again.

I am understanding that what I need is more balance in my life.  I need to be Mommy and also a person alone.  My marriage needs times when we are a couple alone.  I have let my interests fall too much to the wayside.  I don’t know the solution yet, but when I return home I intend to pay attention to finding balance in my life and life-roles.

Unfortunately being here around so many old friends and acquaintances (and my mother) I have indulged in a fair amount of gossip that I am not proud of and regret.  I do not want to be this person.  Tomorrow I am going to endeavor to practice mindfulness and right speech.  Tomorrow I intend to refrain from gossip and judgmental speech.  One day may seem like a small goal, but I need to start small.  This may be a hard one for me.

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Waiting on God

I stayed up late last night reading back entries of Anna’s blog where she writes/video blogs about her decision to convert to the Eastern Orthodox Church.  She said one thing that struck me: that in the past her spiritual inquiries had been intellectual “head trips” of trying to figure out what religion had it right (which wasn’t very profitable) and that she was moving to a place of not knowing and relearning about God.

I can relate to that because I’m currently in the former state.  I have spent a lot of the last 6 months intellectually consuming information about different faiths and trying to suss out my leanings while attending various churches and meetings.  I’m not getting anywhere.  I am treating this as a puzzle to solve and nothing seems to fit/no one seems to definitively have the right answers.

I realized last night as I was reflecting on Anna’s words and sitting in silent prayer, that I have been approaching this the wrong way.  If God is here and reaching out to me (as I feel S/He is) then S/He will guide me to the spiritual home where I belong.  It is clear to me that the primary spiritual attribute/virtue that I am supposed to be working on in my life right now is Faith.  Faith has always been a hard one for me – I tend to be pretty high-strung and controlling (not of people, but circumstances) in my everyday life.  I want to find a spiritual home where Faith is emphasized.

And it occurs to me that I cannot just convert to a religion that emphasizes Faith based on something I read or thought about and try to generate the faith intellectually.  First, that would be really hard, and second, that would probably land me in yet another cult or cult-like group, because it would be artificial.  So, if the right spiritual community is out there (which may or may not be the case, I’m open to this being a path I walk alone), I need to be prepared for that path.  And so it occurs to me that God may already be leading and guiding me, but that there is a process of finding a spiritual home that cannot be rushed.  God is already working in my life and I am already walking the path I am supposed to be on.  So it’s not like I need to hurry up and pick a spiritual path to walk because I’m losing time (yes, that’s how it feels some days).  I am already on the spiritual path.

And last night and today I am working on being open and receptive to God working in my life.  And I go out in Faith that S/He is guiding me and will help me find the place where I belong.

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