Category — thoughts on spirituality
Thinking through life. Thinking through myself.
So many thoughts swirling around. That seems to be a trait of mine–all this thought swirling. Jerry often tells me that I just need to turn my brain off. I’m sure he’s right. He usually is. But it’s just a huge part of how I’m wired. I need to mentally process and prepare for things.
And then I usually end up daydreaming into the future. It’s helpful and hurtful. Sometimes it inhibits me from being truly present in the moment and appreciating the day that I have before me.
Nevertheless, I spend a lot of time thinking.
I often wonder how my faith, my relationship with Jesus, really influences my daily life. I wonder how it should be influencing it. I don’t know many things for sure, but I know that Jesus is alive and active in this world. We live in a world where experience is considered a strong indicator of truth or reality and Bible aside, history aside, my personal experience is undeniable. I have seen this thread of protection and provision woven throughout my life in various ways and there are these supernatural spike moments where something crazy, out of this world happens. Either to me or someone I know. And in my core I just can’t deny that. Regardless of all the questions and the skepticism, at times, I just can’t deny that. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
But the challenge comes in knowing what to really do with that on a daily basis.
In the mundane.
I don’t feel called to a life of usual church “ministry” either here in the States or abroad and I know I am not wired to be a particularly vocal “evangelist” in the typical sense of the word, telling people at the grocery store about Jesus. I’ve struggled with that one for a long time and felt self-conscious and like an inferior Christian at times because of it, but it’s just not me.
The sermon at my church a couple weeks ago was about evangelism and how it can take different forms. I appreciated it for many reasons, but especially because it spoke to people like me, people who believe that relationship should be the catalyst for building trust and showing someone the importance and need for faith. My own personal actions, my consistency, my loyalty, my hope should speak louder than words. Over the long haul. My pastor called this “relational evangelism.” That makes sense to me. It jives with who I am.
The challenge for me comes in knowing when in that relationship to be more vocal, to show a little boldness. I definitely still have some timidity in that regard, some embarrassment even. And that’s not good. Personality aside, that’s just not good. For me it’s not so much the action of whether or not I am actively talking about Jesus–to the person at the bank or a longtime friend–but the reason behind it. And right now I know that I often don’t bring it up because of this insecurity, this fear or timidity or shame.
It’s just not good.
And it makes no sense, really.
If I believe in the power, awe, and life-giving nature of Jesus (which I really do!) and if I care about these people with whom I am building relationships (which I really do!), then why am I so hesitant to share? And why is my daily life not oriented more in that direction? And I suppose, more importantly, what would it even look like for my daily life to be oriented that way, to be seen and lived through this lens of the power of Jesus and the centrality of faith when I am never going to be a super outspoken evangelist outside of a relationship with someone? I know it’s about being loyal and being consistent and building trust, but I feel like there is more that I am missing. I feel sometimes a little aimless in my daily life these days. Like, what am I even doing aimless. Yeah, I work and save money and spend time with friends and take care of daily life tasks, but what am I doing with any eternal purpose?
I guess what I want is to find this (elusive) balance between being content in who I am as a non-traditional-not-gonna-be-preaching-it-from-the-street-corner-evangelist and yet knowing when and how to challenge myself and step out in boldness and faith. If I believe that this faith thing is the most important, only eternal element of this current life, it should be impacting my daily life in much more tangible ways. It should be coloring my daily life and daily decisions more than it currently is.
I’m just not really sure what that looks like for me.
March 17, 2012 4 Comments
1. The idea of prayer is mind-boggling. If you believe in a sovereign God who intervenes in this world, the idea that we, as tiny, finite little beings, have the ability to speak directly to Him via prayer completely blows my mind. The idea that those prayers matter, that they are heard and in some mysterious way they actually make a difference, is perhaps even more mind-boggling.
2. Considering I believe what I just stated in #1, it’s sobering to know that I don’t spend significantly more time in prayer. See, I enjoy praying quite a bit. Ideally I like to have a quiet space to either journal or just speak aloud all my thoughts about the day, my triumphs and anxieties, both big and small, dreams for the future, prayers for others, etc. But I have found that when it comes to certain topics, the really big ones that can feel overwhelming to even think about, I can’t pray. I feel too paralyzed to pray. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, since these ones are the exact ones that need extra prayer, but I really struggle. I am so afraid that if I throw in 100% and really, devotedly pray in earnest for these things, and my prayers never come to fruition (as I envision them anyway), then I will be left to deal with the implications: does God not love me enough? Does He really not intervene in the way that I believe He does? Has my premise been flawed all along?
3. The Bible describes the prayers of the saints as incense, a sweet aroma that is pleasing to God (Rev 5:8). I like that imagery.
4. Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran Church, is quoted as once telling his barber, ”I generally pray two hours a day, except on very busy days. On those days I pray three.” Talk about a shift of perspective when it comes to time, prayer, and priorities. Something to aspire to, for sure.
5. Sometimes I feel convicted in groups of people when we’re going to pray before a meal or a celebration or something and there’s this long, awkward silence following the Who wants to pray? question. I just feel like if we really, truly believed that prayer was an active conversation with the living, all-powerful God, shouldn’t we each be eagerly desiring to be the one? What an honor to be the one representing the group as we bring our supplications to God. Why then is that question sometimes followed by a not-it nose touch? You know the one I’m talking about. Like uuuugh, I so don’t want to do this so the last one to touch his or her nose is stuck doing the typically undesirable task. How the nose became the symbol of choice, I don’t know, but sometimes it bugs me that we (myself included) are not more honored and humbled to pray.
6. I think that prayer matters. Even though there’s not a set formula to know that God will answer in the way that you want, there have been too many crazy stories of answered prayers and too many times that God has been exceedingly faithful in my own life for me to toss it out altogether. But I hate not being able to figure it out. I hate feeling vulnerable and at His mercy. I think that’s part of the point and it’s really right where I need to be, asking for mercy and grace, but it’s uncomfortable.
March 28, 2011 3 Comments
The man’s got about 371 quotes that cut right to the heart.
To inspire, to convict, to enlighten, to make a complex idea seem elementary–he’s got a little something up his sleeve for every occasion. Plus, he’s British and brilliant.
I’ve got a little crush going on over here.
March 15, 2011 7 Comments
I am selfish.
I’ve known this about myself for some time, really. It’s not the most glamorous or pride-inducing realization (though I’ve got plennnnty of that pride thing in other ways, belieeeeve me).
See, I really value an authentic, holistic self-assessment. This can be a tricky thing to do in a healthy way. As humans we seem to have the tendency to either 1. exaggerate our flaws, leading to pity and self-loathing, while underselling our strengths in the name of “humility” OR 2. in our self-absorbed little worlds we overlook or justify our weaknesses believing that overall our good outweighs our bad, especially compared to others. People in the latter camp don’t even have to be obnoxiously self-promoting or pompous; they simply believe that they fall more to the right than the left on the “human evilness comparison scale” and hey, that should count for something, right? Somehow I manage to have a little bit of both sides in me, but mostly I am just a slave to comparison. So my holiness or unholiness typically depends on who I am comparing myself to. Healthy, I know. Cuz other humans should really be my scale. Yeah, that makes sense.
I like to process through this self-assessment with my husband. I talk out my strengths and weaknesses, qualities I’d like to improve or change, the person I want to strive towards becoming, etc. He mostly listens and sometimes when he feels I am being too hard on myself, he jumps in to counter. I appreciate his effort and the sentiment behind it, but when I’m in a good rational frame of mind to authentically self-assess, it’s not coming from a place of self-loathing and nasty outward comparison, but a place of clarity and honesty to see, as CS says that I am merely a “creature whose character must be, in some respects, a horror to God, as it is when we really see it, a horror to ourselves.”
Before Jerry and I got married, he was asking a buddy of his for marriage thoughts/advice and his friend, who is a stand-up guy in every sense of the word (Lindsey–this is Scott…), basically said, “Marriage shows you just how selfish you really are.” This really stuck with Jerry. It’s something that he found to be so profoundly true that he now passes it on to others as they are about to embark on the marriage journey. But what you have to understand is that to the outside world, Jerry is the epitome of selflessness. He is literally the least selfish person that I know and his actions reflect that. This is one of those great paradoxes of life: the more acutely aware you are of the ”horror of your character,” the holier you actually are. Just as so many brilliant intellectual giants (such as CS) are the first to admit their ignorance and lack of knowledge (which seems absurd to us laymen who regard them with such respect and esteem) so too are the most pious saints the first to admit the depth of their sinfulness.
So it seems that this greater depth of awareness evokes actions which contradict the central tenet of the awareness: the self-proclaimed selfish man acts exceedingly selfless; the self-proclaimed ignorant man provides profound insights. I think this is because upon recognizing the true “horror” of his selfishness and the implications on his standing with God, the selfish man has no recourse other than immediate, wholesale change. This is the signature difference between Jerry and me: my awareness has yet to summon consistent change. To be clear, this is really not a self-loathing thing and it’s not a claim that he’s perfect, by any means. It is simply an area of my honest self-appraisal that needs work and one in which I am so thankful to have Jerry as an inspiring example. See, oftentimes it seems we rebuke the notion of shame or guilt, preaching instead that we are meant to live joyfully, infused with grace and freedom. While all those things are true, we must also remember as CS says that “shame must be valued not as an emotion but because of the insight to which it leads.” And that insight (hopefully) leads to action…and more freedom and joy and all those other great things too. So don’t hate on shame. And don’t be afraid to peel back the layers for a little introspection and honest self-appraisal.
January 10, 2011 6 Comments