Faith isn’t personal, it’s a verb

Throughout my life, I’ve been told faith is a very personal thing. Yes, your beliefs are unique to your person, but that’s not what people mean when they say their faith is personal. They mean they don’t want to share it with others either because:

  • they don’t know where their faith lies,
  • they’re embarrassed about it,
  • they’re afraid of being judged.

Faith isn’t something you keep closeted from those around you. It’s something you live.

Think about this: What if Mary hadn’t had enough faith to bear Christ? What if John the Baptist didn’t faithfully prepare the way for Him? What if Joseph had decided he didn’t have enough faith to stay married to Mary when she became pregnant? What if the Apostles and their disciples hadn’t have enough faith to write their stories, creating what we now call The Bible?

Mike Breen writes in Building a Discipleship Culture that “Faith always comes to the surface and faith always produces action. It cannot be contained. Thoughts and intents that are held within and not acted upon are not faith, no matter what we like to say.”

And it’s true. Jesus had very clear instructions for us. He wants us to go out and spread the Good News. How do you do that without sharing your faith with your friends and family, and sometimes even strangers? Short answer: You don’t.

Each morning I wake up and ask Jesus to use me as His faithful servant. So far, this hasn’t meant that I hand out Bibles or stand on a street corner with a megaphone.

It has meant that I consciously think about the way I speak and behave, so that I try to always portray The Kingdom positively to those around me (believers and non-believers). It also means that I don’t keep my faith a secret. I pray for people, I pray with people, and I proclaim my faith freely to those around me so they’ll hopefully see me as an example of what Jesus is like.

It has also meant that I interact with other faithful followers of Jesus. Because how do we learn how to do something if we don’t have others teaching us? You can only learn so much from a book (even if it is The Book). God led me to my church family so that we can learn from each other, encourage each other, and hold each other accountable in our faith.

Next time you hesitate to share your faith with someone, I encourage you to listen with intent to God and obey faithfully. And if you’re not sure what you believe, I encourage you to start thinking about what you value and why. Who are you being Jesus to? If the answer is no one, you aren’t obeying God’s will.

After all, you don’t light a lamp and put it under a blanket, right?

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No, I’m Not Religious.

Supernatural Relationship

I love Jesus. But I’m not into religion.

This is a common topic among many of us theological musers right now. Even more cringe worthy is the claim, “I’m not religious, but I’m very spiritual.”

But when you ask what their spirituality looks like, it’s a combination of different aspects of forty different theologies. Some people say these spirituals are just picking the concepts they like and leaving the icky parts, customizing a system just for themselves. I prefer to think of them as people just trying to figure this life out (like most of us…), and using the things that make the most sense to them. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about now.

I’m here to talk about why Jesus is my Savior, but I’m not a religious person.

I have some problems with the term religion because it implies a rote, legalistic system with no connection. My relationship with Jesus isn’t rote or legalistic. It’s messy and there’s gray areas, and it’s beautiful.

I grew up going to Sunday school at a Catholic church, and I despised it. Every Sunday was a fight with my parents before I was loaded into the car and dropped off for two hours of utter misery. My lesson books were filled with doodles and drawings, but my parents didn’t care because I might be learning something through osmosis (doubtful). My other interactions with faith when I was young came from Awanas, which I actually asked to be a part of, because the kids always looked like they were having fun and they had bonfires. The only thing Awanas proved was that I am decently good at short term memorization of verses (long enough to get the little jewel for my vest) and bonfires are awesome.

Even though I wasn’t learning about Jesus and I wasn’t learning about God the Father at Awanas and Sunday school, I was learning about the kind of relationship I wanted to have with God. I came out of these institutions knowing that I wanted to confess my sins directly to God, I wanted to sit at His feet and listen like Mary does when Jesus visits her home. I didn’t want to tell a priest how many times I swore (I’d never leave the confessional), and I didn’t want to recite prayers to wipe my slate clean. I wanted to sit down, tell God what I did and how I felt about it, and ask for His forgiveness, and for the grace for me to forgive myself. The word relationship means both parties are involved in some capacity. I wanted to have a relationship with God.

The problem with the term “religion” is that it doesn’t adequately encompass what following Jesus actually means. Religion has become synonymous with routine, and that’s probably not how it was originally intended. But I know I’m not the only person out there who has had negative experiences with religion and religious people.

So no, I’m not religious. But I am a faithful daughter to an almighty Father. I seek His heart and His will, and I follow His agenda. For me, following Jesus isn’t a religion, it’s my way of life.

On Dealing with Sadness

 

Sadness

Every year around this time my happiness plummets. It’s not because of Valentine’s Day, either. I purposely arranged in-utero to be born a week early so I wouldn’t have to share my birth with that stupid holiday.

Maybe it’s the lack of sunshine and vitamin D. Maybe it’s post-Christmas hang-over. Maybe it’s lingering heartbreak. I think it’s probably a combination of all three.

I’ve only truly been in love twice in my life. The first time was a classic instance of young love torn apart by different life ambitions, different colleges and different friends. The second time is more a classic story of losing yourself in someone too fast too soon.

The second time could have been written as a modern fairy tale. We met in a class while we were each dating other people and felt a connection we never acted upon. Years later we randomly reconnected. And the seven or so months we were together were blissful, at least, they were blissful for me.

I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t in a good place during those blissful months. I had just graduated college, and was living at home in my parents’ dining room turned bedroom, working 20 hours a week in a shitty retail job. I couldn’t pay my bills and if I really admit it, I was unhappy. But I didn’t care because I was in LOVE!

Here’s the thing about priorities. If you don’t keep them in check, even when you’re in LOVE, someone will notice. And it won’t be good. Essentially, I put aside my ambitions and needs for a man. I put my entire life in his hands. And he probably felt pretty uncomfortable, since the girl he initially met was strong-willed, driven, independent and ambitious (and hilarious…). The girl he dumped was reliant, uncertain and lacking confidence. 

This was before I figured out Jesus was my Way, so my priorities were already out of whack to begin with. I think I get sad this time of year because I’ve grown so much more in my will, drive and ambition, but I wonder if I’ll get the opportunity to show this man who I truly am.

Really, it shouldn’t matter if I do get to show him, because I’ve shown myself, and I am a Daughter, and Heiress to the Kingdom. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to want him. I give it to God every minute of every day and ask for relief. And I pray one day God helps me break this burden, prompts me to act, or prompts him to act.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

30 Before 30–Or, 10 Before 30 Because I’m Not Lazy, Just Realistic

Bucket

I turned  29 years old on Friday, Feb. 7, and yes, I feel old. But I’ve felt old for a long time now, so essentially I’m just old-ing into normalcy, I suppose. And since I’ve heard life basically ends at 30, I thought I’d make a little list of things I’d like to accomplish in my last year before kicking the ol’ bucket (yes, I’m being overly dramatic, but it’s still my birthday month so I’m entitled, right?).

Anyway, I do have some goals I’d like to accomplish this year, and I’d like to share them in hopes of being held accountable for at least trying to reach some of them.

  1. Think of a new blog name since it’s my last year as a twenty-something (!!!!)
  2. Organize this blog with keywords so it is more searchable
  3. Brush up on my Spanish-speaking skills (or at least slightly improve my poor Spanish speaking skills)
  4. Learn how to read notes to play the piano
  5. Take a solo vacation (preferably somewhere warm with some adventures)
  6. Learn to lead a group of ladies in the Canadian wilderness
  7. Live alone for the first time in my life
  8. Eat healthier
  9. Spend less, save more, tithe more
  10. Grow in my relationship with God through prayer, community, and reading

These goals are in no particular order of importance, though I will say the last two are my biggest focus for this year.

I’ve heard that if you want to make God laugh, you should tell Him your plans. So, with that in mind, I could scrap this whole list (except the last two) and just say I want to honor God with everything I do, take risks for Him and be obedient to His will.

And once I turn 30 it will all end (ha).