As I've posted about recently, I've been struggling in the God department lately, more specifically, about where God is in all the messes that take place in this world. On a broader scale, I am talking about ISIS, innocent people being blown up, and children going hungry and being abused. On a more personal scale, my thoughts immediately go to good people I care about going through one crisis after another, without getting a break. And of course, my own struggles with constantly having to deal with daily medical issues and never seeming to get a reprieve from all of that.
My spiritual life has been even more challenged lately as I have found myself, along with my husband, in a dilemma about my (our) church life, something that has been an integral part of not only our individual lives, but our marriage as well.
When I first started going to church regularly and consistently as an adult, sometime in 2005, it was church that brought me closer to God. And I became dependent on that. But over time and especially in the last several years, I have come to learn that my relationship with God is not, and should not be, church dependent. Don't get me wrong, I am a BIG church advocate. I think churches can be a beacon of hope, strength, and love in a community. I could spend the next several hours discussing with you all the reasons why, if you believe in God, it would be helpful for you to be a part of a church community.
But here's the other side of it. What happens when church is not going right for you? The reasons can be many, or few. What then becomes of your relationship with God?
The past couple of months have left me with more questions than answers about God, church, and people in general, but this week, I hear God speaking to me. Sometimes I just need to shut up long enough to hear him.
I have been hearing God speak to me through the voices of others and it is starting to shift my perspective about where God is in all of the messes in the world. For example, I see God working through a friend of mine as she makes solid preparations for the future of her and her children for after her husband leaves this world. I see her strength and determination in carrying forward, despite this monumental loss that she is facing.
I hear God in her husband's voice, my friend; a friend who has been with me for almost thirty years. We have have had the best of days together, him and I, and also some tough ones, the toughest ones being most recently. But it was God who created this amazing person in my life; one who has brought me so much laughter and love. I feel God in the authenticity of my conversations with this friend...the conversations which now include how much time he may have left and how him and his wife are handling THAT conversation with their young daughters.
Most recently, I heard God in a different friend's voice as well. Her perspective on where God is in all the messes in her own life was the opposite of where mine has been up until recently. She saw the sequence of difficult events in her life as God supporting her and preparing her for her challenges. I'm making it sound more simple than she probably meant it, but I think you know what I am trying to say. Her message wasn't that God was being punishing or didn't care, but rather he was putting into place what she needed to get through it all and continue forward.
While listening to her speak, I could truly see where she felt God was in all her messes. It lightened me. It also made me wonder why we, as Christians, are not having these conversations more...the conversations about God. Are we too busy? Or are we so busy just trying to survive it all?
And when I say talking about God, I don't mean regurgitating scripture over and over again, tossing words around in attempts to get others to subscribe to our way of believing. Or using God as a weapon to bash whatever group of people we feel are violating some Biblical law that man has misconstrued for his own use.
No. I am talking about conversations where we share with each other, on an intimate level. Share our struggles and our strengths. Our weaknesses and our victories. How we see God working, or even not working, in our lives. What our challenges are in leading a good and faith-filled life. What roll does church play in our spiritual life? How important is it? What makes us spiritually fulfilled? To me, those are some of the most important questions.
What are the important questions for you?