Friday, November 15, 2013

Being faith-full...

There is a popular quote, by who I don't know, that goes something like, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." I saw it yesterday as, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle. Apparently God thinks I'm a bad-ass." I find this funny and not so funny for a couple of reasons. First, because bad-ass always makes me chuckle and second, because I used to believe the first sentiment to be a way to put into perspective the difficulties that have come up in my life journey. But as I've gotten older and dealt with more "stuff" I've started to look at it differently and maybe just not believe that statement at all. It's always fun to be a little bad-ass though.

Over the last several years I've felt not so full of faith. To be honest I've been rather pissed off at God. Some horrible things happened that I didn't think should have and I've blamed God for them. I feel like he wasn't listening to my and many other people's prayers and those prayers were not answered the way we wanted them to be. But I know I am not alone in my feelings and this happens all the time to people. We get all high and mighty about our faith. I believe in God. God will guide me. God will heal people who are sick because they are good people and this just can't happen to them.

And over the last several years of struggling with my glass half-empty faith I've come to realize some things about that quote and my faith and my journey.

  • God hasn't given us the "stuff" we are dealing with. The "stuff" happens. To everyone. Good people, bad people, faithful people and non-faithful people. Good people die. Bad people get away with murder. I do not believe God's master plan included my friend dying of cancer or her mother losing all of her children. I don't think his plan has the dates of natural disasters written in it. SHIT HAPPENS. And I think the biggest lie people tell is that it is God's will. No, it isn't. A lot of times it's the bad choices we make because we have free will. And many times it just that bad things happen. Not so we can struggle, not so we can suffer but just because.
  • God doesn't pick and choose who lives and who dies. People die because they get sick, or hurt or injured and the treatment they receive isn't enough, doesn't work or can't save them. We are human and we are fragile. But we forget that and blame God when we or someone isn't saved. 
  • The point of prayer is not to ask God for what you want and then expect to get it because you or others have asked for it. When I was in graduate school I had a class called Social Foundations of Education +Teaching Vocation & The mission of the Church and in that class we discussed and explored using prayer in education. One group did a presentation discussing the types of prayer and how to go about doing those with children. The five types of prayers were: blessing & adoration, petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise. And our prayer can have direction either inward, outward or upward. Our inward prayer is transformative, our upward prayer helps establish, develop and strengthen our relationship with God and our outward prayer is in service to others through our actions. The only part that God plays is to listen. Prayer is our way to God and fosters our relationship with him. Along the way I forgot this. I didn't get what I wanted and I got mad. 
  • The bible is a guide and there is a lot of meaning in it but I don't think the important part is to believe that everything in it is the truth. Or in other words that it all happened the way it is written. The point of the story of Jonah is not that he was a guy who got stuck in a whale. The point is that he learned that God asked him to do something and Jonah learned to have the faith that with God's help and guidance he could do what was asked of him. 
  • God is here even if I don't hear His voice. And He sits with us through our joy, and sorrow. Lots of people talk about hearing God speak to them. I don't hear that. I have often thought that I was the hard soil that the mustard seed falls on or the deaf ears because I don't hear God's voice the way that other people claim to. But I have learned to see God in many things, especially science and nature. I find too many things to be so perfectly orchestrated that it can only be because of a divine hand. I don't think science and theology are at the odds that the media try to make them be.
  • God does not give up on us even if we choose to shut him out. I know my half-empty faith is my fault. I have not wanted to confront my own pain and grief over the loss of my friend and so I harbor resentment and anger toward God. But I know when I am ready that God is ready too. 
I have always believed that struggle is part of faith development and if one isn't wrestling with something; whether it's why bad things happen, or certain passages of scripture or something that is happening in one's life then growth and spiritual development aren't happening. And I guess it's probably time that I start wrestling again rather than being comfortable in my resentment and anger. I am after all kind of a bad-ass!