>> Sunday, January 25, 2009
This weekend... has been incredible. I have no idea what has made it all that different... but in it's own way it's been special. Maybe it's hormones, maybe it's this transitional period in my life.. but I think I 'feel' more now than I have in a really long time. Mostly I've been wrestling with my faith and wondering what my purpose in this life is. I used to have all the answers.. everything planned out to the point of ridiculousness. Now here I am at 25 years old, about to graduate with my masters, and wondering "what in the world am I doing here?".
Today, I embrace the new direction I am going in. For a long time I've enjoyed change.. enjoyed knowing that I was a wee bit different from the rest of my family and friends at home.. but still hoping to come back around to that lifestyle eventually. I wonder if it's because I want so badly to please the people who love me the most. I've realized that even my parents are supportive of the random person I am, so really it's only my own neurotic thinking that believes there is something wrong with me for being different.
Basically it's come down to this. Spirituality is extremely complicated.. and one clear cut path is obviously not going to work for all of humanity. Even in the Christian faith that has a pretty set standard of what it means to be a Christian and what that path should look like, there are incredible differences in how that is to be lived out and what worship should look like. My problem is that I have wrestled my entire life with a certain Christian dogma that doesn't fit well into my personality. Many times I felt like I even had to choose between my personality and my faith. In particular, I don't understand the guilt-driven tactics in Southern Baptist churches. As an extremely sensitive, analytical person... this method has NEVER worked for me. I spent about 20 years of my life (I figured there has to be 5 in there that are gimmes) trying to convince myself that I am in fact NOT a bad person.
It dawned on me today while sitting in a Presbyterian USA service, that there are reasons certain people feel drawn to certain services. Once I realized that a lot of people aren't like me.. don't over analyze and don't hold on to their guilt.. it occurred to me that some people may actually find a Baptist type service encouraging (not trying to completely generalize Baptists as all guilt-focused.. just my unique experience). For me, I just want to know that God is real.. and that He embraces the diversity that is in this world and is patient with our petty effort to somehow harmonize with each other and try to get it right.
I loved the pastor's sermon today. I loved that he could recognize that many people that sit on church pews everyday are a true representation of the world. The church isn't the place with all of the answers.. it's only a place where people can go to ask. I never felt comfortable asking questions in my church growing up.. but now I feel comfortable in knowing that I can choose my faith and choose my churches based on where I feel comfortable. I don't think I want to go as far as calling myself a universalist, but I don't think the Presbyterian USA church is as "heathen" and off base as a lot of more conservative Christians believe. It's not necessarily the best denomination.. but the message today was probably the best fit for me in what I've experienced so far in Blacksburg.
I had a great talk with a friend after church today.. and it made me realize that even though I've wrestled with my faith most of my life and have even been mad at God for a significant portion of it.. I do in fact have very strong faith. I wouldn't care enough to wrestle with all of this if I didn't in fact believe that God was real. I think what I've really been wrestling with is WHO God is and whether or not I should believe religious authorities about God's ultimate plan for humanity (which ironically often times aligns with certain political motives). I think I'm going to try to focus this year on the basics.. on the aspects of faith that are least controversial for me. Love. Compassion. Grace. Peace. Redemption. Humility.
I'm kind of done worrying about what other Christians think and how hypocritical they are. It's not really going to change anything to prove them wrong. I can only enjoy MY faith more by focusing on what works best for me in my relationship with God. I earnestly want truth.. and I hate feeling misled. But I am ok with knowing I am bound to be wrong at times.. and I am also bound to be right.
A little bit of struggling is probably healthy. I'm working on finding a happy medium. Regardless, I've found that God continues to meet me in odd places... and this time for me.. it was in church.