Mom: So where did you go to church today?
Me: I decided just to stay home and get some rest today.
Mom: You couldn't find a friend to go to church with this morning? Jamie? Andrea? Kelly?
Me. I just decided to stay home and get some rest today
Mom: Well maybe next week....
Some time on a Sunday in February I had a phone conversation with my mom that went something like this...
Mom: So have you gone to any new churches recently?
Me: Yeah, I went to Kelly's church a couple of weeks ago.
Mom: O great! And how was it?
Me: It was good. All churches are kind of feeling the same.
Mom: Well, I know you'll find the right place soon. You just have to keep looking
Some time on a Sunday in March I had a phone conversation with my mom that went something like this...
Mom: So what did you do today?
Me: I just slept in and did some reading down by the river.
Mom: O ok well your dad and I ...
These conversations look like they would come from a girl who didn't really care what her mom thinks about what she does and who she is, but I wouldn't say that is true of me. But from November until this past May I only tried about 5 different churches, and I usually didn't go back a second time. And while my mother was concerned about my faith, I just wasn't in a place to fix that. I needed something from God that couldn't be found in aimlessly wandering from church to church. I refused to go to church by myself, something I had been doing for a year and half.
Not only was I not going to church, I was tired and frustrated with all "good" Christian things. I stopped reading my Bible. I would not pick up Christian books. I didn't really pray for others.
And here's the hardest thing I had to wrestle with....God was giving me permission to do all these things, or I guess better put would be to not do these things. Do I recommend this or think God often tells people not to read their Bible or pray? No, not necessarily.
But I had been living off of a checklist of spiritual things that had lost their meaning. God didn't want me to read my Bible everyday because I felt like I had to. He wanted me to want Him.
There were times I felt like reading my Bible during those months, because I thought it would fix everything. And God would tell me no, not yet. Not as an obligation. Or as leverage. Or to feel better. But when you are drawn to it.
It was funny, how God started showing up in other ways. Through art. And nature. And people. And in really small, insignificant events.
And my prayer life was changing too. I wasn't wrapped up in praying specific things or specific ways for specific amounts of time. It was becoming an ongoing conversation. Brutally honest conversation. Raw. Unpolished. Unapologetic.
I had always had glimpses of these things, but now I was living in a much freer relationship with Him. There wasn't anything forced about it. I was learning "the unforced rhythms of grace."
Wow. I just had a moment. I couldn't figure out where I had heard that phrase, so I did what any 21st century person would do. I googled it. And though I don't think it's where I originally heard it, it's found in the Message, a modern translation of the Bible into everyday language. And although my hermeneutics professor might die to hear me quote from it, it has been the only translation I have picked up to read on my own, outside of church since January. God will use anything to speak to His children.
The Message (MSG)
28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Wow. Thank You, Jesus.
Hang in there. We are getting close to being caught up. We just have March-July to go. I have shared my whole life with you in 5 posts. You are very patient readers. I would so love your feedback.