Today I’m thankful for second chances. We all need them. We all reach a point at one time or another (multiple times if you’re me) where we cannot go forward without them. I am grateful that my God is one who grants second chances, that He seems to relish in providing opportunities to those who seek them from Him.
I am thankful to the people who have given me second chances through the years. And I am thankful for the opportunities to provide people with second chances. Sometimes, those are the moments in which I find myself the most.Filed under Faith, Most Everything | Permalink | Comment (0)
Tagged with: Faith • NaBloPoMo
A few days ago, as I was driving to work, I was thinking about the difference between my parents’ view on life and my own. I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that they both tend to lean toward the Old Testament theories of holding to the Law while I tend to lean toward the New Testament theories of grace. Which got me to thinking about grace and mercy and why I’m having a hard time moving back toward a closer relationship with Christ.
And it’s more than a little shameful if I admit the truth.
Which, of course means I must admit the truth. Right? So here goes. If only to say it out loud to myself. I believe that we don’t earn God’s love, that He gives it freely. And I believe that He’ll take us back after we wander if our hearts are genuine. And I am genuinely ready to be back in fellowship with Him. But I feel badly approaching Him, like I don’t deserve it. I know. I’d tell anyone else that none of us deserve it. But I’m the queen of the double standard. And so, because I don’t feel like I am worthy or ok to approach Him, I don’t. Which only compounds the problem.
We are attending this new church and enjoying it, which is the first time we’ve enjoyed a church situation we moved. And we’re enjoying the fellowship with other Christians. Oddly enough, it’s the prayer time - which I used to enjoy so much - that I still find so difficult.
Ironic, isn’t it, that I believe so strongly in grace and mercy and attempt to practice it in my life, and yet am having such trouble accepting it in my own?Filed under Faith | Permalink | Comment (1)
Tagged with: church • Faith • grace
If I have a friend who brings nothing to our relationship, I don’t continue with that friendship. If I have a friend who brings negativity to my life, I cut my ties with that friend. I am too old and have too many things in my life that demand my time to waste my time on people who drain my time and energy and lifeblood without bringing something positive to my table.
Why is it I have people in my life who bring mostly negative energy and yet I tolerate it because they are blood relatives? What makes blood more important than anything else?
I got a letter from my father on our anniversary (last Friday… 16 years… yay, us!) telling us that he felt led by God to remind us that our marriage was in danger if we didn’t join a church. That we weren’t being good parents because we weren’t taking the kids to church, that we were putting other things in ahead of church.
Now, I’m not usually one to respond. I’m aware that my dad enjoys debating and drawing people … me and my brother, my grandmother, specifically … into debates with him that he won’t discuss fairly or allow anyone to leave in a reasonable manner. When I was in my teens and early 20s, I didn’t see how he handled things, how he manipulated us into these destructive interactions, but once I moved out and was on my own, I was able to see that not everyone interacted in that manner. And I was able to begin to establish my own way of handling things.
Mike and I married when we were both in our early 20s, and we built this lovely way of interacting that is open and honest and has none of the trappings that I had/have in my relationship with my parents. And now that I know that I don’t respond well to that sort of relationship, I just don’t bite when he tries to engage me.
But that letter… on my anniversary.
I sent what I thought was a calm and reasonable emailed response. I told them that our marriage is on really solid footing and that we’re quite happy together. I told him that we’re aware that the world is touching our children, as he stated, but that we believe that it’s our responsibility to nurture their spiritual foundation, not the church’s.
I told him that he was completely right, that we did feel that church wasn’t more important than other things. We feel that each individual’s personal relationship with Christ is more important than all other things. Church is an extension of that. As it turns out, we had already chosen a church earlier this summer, but I hadn’t told them (as with most things).
Within hours, I got a response from him that was highlighted by my father’s use of multiple Scriptures. Now, my parents are the most God-fearing individuals with the most in-depth knowledge of Scripture I can imagine. I am in awe of their knowledge. That said, they have both on occasion used both Scripture and their knowledge of it a weapon. He mentioned that it is his responsibility as a father and grandfather to rebuke us when he sees us sinning.
Well, lovely. I haven’t responded to that one.
Now, again. These are dear, sweet, Christian people. Which is what makes me feel so conflicted about all of this. I hate that they offer unsolicited advice, rebuking. I wish they would keep it to themselves. Their visits, their cards with the advice, their letters and calls… they cause more stress within our marriage than provide help.
And yet, on the rare occasion that I stand up for myself and suggest that they need to give us some space or defend our choices, they respond so vehemently that it hardly seems worth the effort. It is draining. To date, they haven’t said anything too harsh to either of my kids. They’ve said things about my kids to me, but not to the kids. The day that happens is the day all bets are off. I’ll put up with a lot myself, but I won’t put up with anything regarding my kids.
And yet, what’s up with that? Seriously. What does that say about me? I’m willing to stand up for my kids but not for myself. I’m not sure what it says, but I know it’s true.
And I know that the experience reminds me of several things…
I am safest with completely superficial topics with my parents. I remember why I gave up on the hope of having a meaningful relationship with them years ago. I remember why I work so hard to foster important, meaningful relationships with Christian friends.
I am so grateful that I have a clear vision of the type of relationship I want to have with my children both now and as they grow older.
And I am deeply thankful to have been able to be a part of various families through my life who have built really exceptional relationships with their children and their children’s children and who have provided me with superb examples to follow.
And I am blessed to be friends with both my brother and my brother’s wife, and I count it a deep blessing to be able to discuss these things with them. Neither of my parents are on speaking terms with any of their siblings, and I think they are missing something so wonderful. I am so terribly grateful to not miss that.Filed under Faith | Permalink | Comments (5)
Tagged with: church • Faith • Family
Those times when I worry that we’ve harmed the kids by not having them in church for the last couple of years are always eased when I hear them talking about God without our prompting.
Mike’s reading Eliza a children’s Bible book now, and she asked him how God talks to us (as opposed to the outspoken God of the Old Testament). Before Mike could answer, Griff says, “You know how God talks to me? When I have questions about something and I think about it, and I come up with the answer, I think that’s God talking to me.”
We may not have instilled in them an understanding of the idea of corporate worship, but we have instilled in them a love for Christ and an understanding that what is most important (at least in my mind) is a personal relationship with Him.
Go. Us.Filed under Faith | Permalink | Comment (0)
Tagged with: Eliza & Griff • Faith
“Frantic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure.” — Reinhold Niebuhr
In a conversation with a friend yesterday, he said that I needed to determine how to articulate my own theology of faith, and that really resonated with me. I know what I believe. I know that my faith has evolved these last few years, even as we’ve been out of church itself. I just haven’t been able to articulate my own theology of faith.
I know that the faith I had as a child or as a young adult is not the faith that I have now. While I am most assuredly grateful for the solid foundation I was given by family and friends and wonderfully strong Christian mentors, I am also aware that the faith I have now is less accepting and more questioning. And I believe that it’s ok to question and to doubt and to inquire of God.
Maybe the crisis of faith I have been feeling is less a crisis and more an inability to properly articulate my faith, my moral compass, my belief structure. While that still leaves me with spiritual work to do, it also gives me hope that such work will be fulfilling to me and pleasing to Christ.Filed under Faith | Permalink | Comment (0)
Tagged with: crisis of faith • Faith