August 7, 2008

A Journey in Faith: My Life, New

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God, my God, I cry out
Your beloved needs You now
God, be near, calm my fear
And take my doubt
Your kindness is what pulls me up
Your love is all that draws me in

"I Will Lift My Eyes" - Bebo Norman

I'll start my final post with something I wrote only a few days after I joined the Presbyterian church:

Monday April 2

The last few days have been really full for me, but in my time in the car or lying in bed I've done a lot of thinking. I am really happy. It's weird I feel a lot more relaxed in the past two days, and weirdly I feel more confident too, or maybe just... Well, I always worry about things that aren't worth worrying about. For instance, since it was the first Sunday of the month, they had communion at church. Beforehand I was talking with Mom and Justin and they both thought that I wouldn't be able to take communion because I'm not baptized yet, but I thought that it would be okay, but wasn't sure. Now, in the past, I probably would have been convinced not too because of experiences at other churches, and just sat there quietly and waited until after I was baptized, just to be safe. But instead of doing that, I told Justin I would be right back and went and ASKED Mike, and found out that it was totally okay for me to do it. Instead of just being scared or unsure, I just took care of it. Or yesterday when Brooke and I got to book club and we had the address but hadn't been to Ceci's in a long time and it didn't look familiar. Instead of going through the hassle of looking it up on my phone's crappy internet browser or calling Justin or Dave to look up the address to make sure, I decided we should just get out and knock. If it wasn't the right house, it wasn't. It's not like anything bad was going to happen. I know those are little things, but to me they do make a difference.

Attending church on Sunday was great too. Since it was Palm Sunday the church was more crowded than usual. We also had communion, and I was able to take communion for the first time. It was also interesting how things sounded so different to me. Listening to the songs parts that I wasn' sure about before made a lot more sense to me, and I understood how the words fit in to my faith and my interpretation! I just really like it there, and I'm looking forward to getting more involved.

I've also felt pretty happy the last few days. I feel really close to Justin and have been just enjoying spending time with him, and I'm glad that happened just before Sam was going to be gone because I'm really enjoying hanging out with him. So, that's what's going on with me. I know this was really long, so if you got this far, thanks for reading!

I wouldn't consider myself a born-again Christian. To be truthful, I don't actually know exactly what that means. But when I really think about it, in a way I was born again when I accepted Jesus and gained my faith. My life has not changed dramatically, yet there have been changes. Little things. I feel more confident. I have let go of some of my fears about what strangers think. I still think about it, I am human, but it just doesn't bother me as much. And I do have the power of prayer. When I'm worried, when I feel anxious and things are not quite under control, if I can find a minute to sit down and talk to God, to remember all of the people who need my positive thoughts and prayers, I can ground myself again.

It's been almost a year since my baptism, and over a year since I joined the Presbyterian church, but it's all still fresh and new. I have a longing for spiritual learning in my life. I go to church eagerly, to hear the sermon, to gain knowledge. I have a beautiful bible that my Mother-in-law and her husband gave me when I was baptised, and I can open it and feel this wonder about the stories and the lessons they hold. I long for discussion, for books on spirtuality, for the closeness that my small group and our interactions bring to me. Things can still affect me in such a proufound way. I don't know if it's because it's so new, or if it will always be this way. When I started this series, I talked about Andrea from Punk Rock Mommy. Since then, Andrea passed away after a year long battle with inflamatory breast cancer. I read Andrea's whole blog, mostly in one sitting. Nestled between the updates, the posts about her illness and her children, were several gems of posts about her faith. Just reading the blog of this amazing woman affected my views, I gained something invaluable from reading her story and despite never having met her, I loved her. I prayed for her, and pray for her family and their peace still.

I wish that I had the words to describe what this experience has meant to me, but I have to limit myself. I could sit in front of a computer for hours and type away describing all of the wonder, the peace, the insight and the curiosity that my faith has brought to me. I feel love. I feel like I can contribute something that I wasn't able to before. I'm writing this series because faith IS a large part of my life. It doesn't always effect every single action I take. I still live the life I lived before. I am a Mom, I love reading vampire books and watch too much TV, I love movies and I still swear and make bad jokes. I still feel anxious sometimes, I let my kid watch too much TV. I don't always do as much as I can to help other people. But I try. I am still the same person, but better now and getting better day by day.

I don't want to force my views on anyone. I don't bring up religion in conversation that often on my own - only if it's already come up as a topic. I am ecstatic to share my experience and my faith with anyone who wants to know - but only if they WANT to know and hear about it. I would love to be able to share my experience with my friends, but I know that many of them are not ready, and my never be ready, just as I was not ready for so many years of my life. I believe whole heartedly that everyone has the ability to find some faith, and that they'll find it when they need it. If there is a way that I can facilitate that process for them, I will do it. Just as Violet was so patient with me, talking with me, praying for me, I will continue to give my love and support to whoever needs it, despite their religious beliefs. I want this kind of feeling for people because it has added so much to my life, but it is such a personal journey.

I decided to write my story down here for a couple reasons. One is that I really want to have this journey all in once place for myself. When I go back and read the story, it still brings up amazing feelings of discovery and wonder for me. I know there will be a day when I need a reminder of how amazing it can be. I want to be able to look back, and remember this discovery. The other is that I wanted to share my story with people. If you've come here, and aren't interested, it's easy enough to just skip these posts. But if you ARE interested - if you're looking for support or to read someone else's experience, if you're searching for what you believe, I hope that you'll find these posts helpful or inspiring. If even one person gets something out of this series, I will feel so much joy. I've also had a couple of people ask me about my experience, and I would love to have a place to show them and let them read the whole story, and now I do.

If you've made it to the end, thank you for reading. I hope that you enjoyed this, and that it helped you in some way. Now back to life and my 2 year old...

To read the other posts in my 'Journey of Faith' series, click here.

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