I had almost forgotten about this blog. Well, not really. I did remember that I had a blog and I've even had things that would be great for blog entries...but I just haven't made time to write. I'm still not certain how much I want to share in this space, but I've been encouraged to use the gifts God has given me for writing and share the thoughts swirling in my mind with you.
The past two years have been a journey of spiritual growth and that is both a blessing and a struggle. Since March 2012, I've been dealing with many questions and thoughts relating to church, theology, beliefs, and authority. I began devouring Scripture (thanks Mom & Dad for the Message Bible...I LOVE it!) - in the beginning to read certain passages relating to my struggles and then I just couldn't put it down. :) In February this year, I was thrilled to finish a lifelong goal of reading through the entire Bible and though it would be easy to feel guilty about never having done that before, I truly believe that I was able to do so at this time for a reason. My heart was so open and thirsty for God's Word and I know that in the past I would not have gotten as much joy or felt as much comfort as His Word provided me during this time. This verse in Jeremiah 15:16 sums up how I feel: "Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts."
I've read over 30 books relating to theology, women & ministry, church membership, the Trinity, grace and freedom in Christ,and continue to be drawn to other books on these and other topics. I've had discussions and disagreements with others and have had to come to a knowledge of my own beliefs that aren't dependent on my parents or pastor. I am definitely not "done" or "arrived" but I'm on a journey with God and while it has been difficult at times I am so incredibly grateful for what I have learned and continue to learn. In that time, we've left a church, tried out another, and are currently on sabbatical from church. But we want to start trying churches again and trust that God will direct us to the place He wants us.
I've been surrounded by so many friends and family who are so encouraging and supportive and have helped me to wrestle with the many lessons I've been learning about God and His Word. My spiritual mentors, Marcus & Shauna, have been a gift to me and recently shared some encouragement and important words with me. Writing in this blog and sharing some of the things I've learned and continue to learn is something they feel God calling me to do. And although its a bit scary, I felt the Holy Spirit's tug of peace and agreement in my heart. So I'm going to be brave and try to be vulnerable. I can't promise to always succeed and in fact, I'm certain I will have failures. But my hope is that I will keep trusting God and try again.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher
“Though I fall, I will rise again.” ~ Micah 7:8
So, it's probably obvious that I like quotes. I've always been drawn to words. I love reading. I love listening. I loved English classes and though my college major was Liberal Studies, my concentration was in Literature. I've always loved quotations and verses. I have many (MANY!!!) scraps of paper filled with verses and quotes. I have notebooks with bits and pieces of words from others. I loved how they made Elisabeth Shue's character in the movie The Saint obsessed with writing notes and quotes and lists on Post-its and sticking them all over her apartment. I remember being babysat by my dear friend Marilyn and seeing that she had written words of encouragement and verses and quotations on index cards and posted them in her bathroom. My bedroom mirror used to be crowded with photos of friends, stickers and quotes. When I went on my mission trip in the summer of 1996, we had to memorize lots of Scripture and they were all written down in spiral-bound index cards which I still have. Due to that influence, a few years ago I started keeping spiral-bound index cards by my computer and when I read a good quote or Bible verse, I add it to my collection. I have many Word documents full of quotations, devotions, verses, poems, and other types of written word. When I read books, especially non-fiction, I always keep some paper nearby for note-taking so that I can remember the things I've learned or specifically want to remember. My Bible is filled with underlined passages and notes in the margins. I love words that encourage, that resonate, that comfort, that inspire growth...all these things and more. I love to send cards and believe that it is one of the spiritual gifts God has given me. On more than one occasion, I have felt called to send a card to a specific person, for a specific purpose and a few times I've even seen God actually write the words because I knew it wasn't something I had thought of or intended....and have had confirmation from the recipients that it had to be God because it was something I couldn't have known. In these cards I send, I almost always include at least a verse or a quote or sometimes several of each. I love the opportunity to share encouragement and faith with friends and family and am always so blessed to discover that it arrived at the exact right time or had the right words....I know it's God and I'm blessed that He allows me to be a part of it.
As the days have passed, I feel more confident (though still scared) that God wants me to start sharing some of these things I've been learning in a more public way. I'm a very private person and even though I have no illusions that I have a huge audience of readers, it's still a struggle to put my deep thoughts and prayers and struggles and questions out there for anyone to read and comment. I'm also a people pleaser...the good girl...the introvert who hates criticism... But one of the clear lessons I've learned in my current journey with the Lord is that life is about being real - it's far easier to keep things to ourselves, but it's scary and hard because when we do that, we live in fear that we are the "only one" and that no one else could possibly imagine or experience our issues. I don't think it's ego or arrogance or even pride (though it might be sometimes), I think it's simply fear...because what if we are alone? What if others think we are crazy? What if it makes someone angry? Or what if it calls our Christianity into question? Or what if people stop loving us? But the irony is...when we begin to share our fears and hopes and secrets with others this happens:
"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one." -C.S. Lewis
Everyone has struggles and everyone has secrets. But the reality of our Christian faith is that we are supposed to be in community with each other...and community means sharing life together. And if we are focused on loving God first, and then loving our neighbors (of which everyone one else is) then we should not have to live in fear of being abandoned or alone. Yet, I know we live in a sinful world and our human nature is strong and we make poor choices and say and do hurtful things. But we can't give up...we must keep trying....we must keep attempting to love God and love people.
I'm going to keep trying...and I'm going to start sharing here in this blog. I'm stepping out in faith - I'm a bit wobbly and fearful...but I'm trusting in God's word in Hebrews 12:12 (the title of my post). In the past few days, God has filled my mind with ideas for things to write and it has kind of sorted itself into an A to Z theme of topics. All those quotes and verses have come together into topics that I feel called to share. Pray for me as I attempt to be real and vulnerable. I'm praying for you - that you might have those moments of "I thought I was the only one" and if you do, please share with me so that I know I'm not alone either. :)
Dear heavenly Father, Thank You for the opportunity to share my journey. Please give me the words You want me to share and the courage to be vulnerable. Give me peace in my heart and help me to put my trust and confidence in You alone. Help me to remember that You are all that matters. Be with the people who read these words - give them strength for the difficulties they might be facing, give them comfort for the pain they might be feeling, give them peace in all circumstances and most of all, help them to feel Your incredible love for them and come to know You in their hearts. Thank You for loving me and leading me on this journey of faith building. I still have much to learn and I pray for an open heart and mind to Your direction. Thank You for the people You've placed in my life to show me a glimpse of Your infinite love for me. Thank You for saving me. I love You. Amen.