Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Why I believe - Part 2

Soon after college I was married to a Catholic man.  I agreed to be married in the Church and found the priests to be quite open-minded and accommodating to my differences in belief. Later, I investigated converting to Catholicism out of a desire to be on the same page with my husband. I found, at the end of the conversion process, that I could not agree to the oath that was required, mostly because I did not believe in the infallibility of the Pope. At this time of life, spiritual matters were not a primary concern for me. I was very busy adjusting to marriage, then birthing and raising babies.

It was a personal crisis that led me into investigating healing modalities based on other religious beliefs. I learned about Hinduism, Buddhism, Native American beliefs, paganism, shamanism, Goddess religions. There were many, many interesting and helpful aspects to each spiritual practice I explored. I  also saw disturbing and, I felt, dangerous spiritual interactions engaged in by people who did not really know what they were about. But throughout, I felt a yearning in my heart for Jesus. It was darned inconvenient because not only were all my friends at the time very "New Age-y", I did not want to have to grapple with the bible.

I can not prove my experiences, I can only share them. What I know is that a feeling and a thought that felt deeper and somehow, from the inside, repeatedly came over me: seek Jesus. Believe me, I resisted for a good while. I was afraid of what seeking Jesus would bring. But the thoughts and feelings would not go away.

When I agreed in my heart to re-dedicate myself to following Jesus, it was not a shooting star moment. It was more of a gradual softening of my heart. An engagement with Him that both changed my priorities and values, humbled me, and excited me. I lost interest in parts of my life that were not in alignment with being a Christ follower.

In the ensuing years I was overwhelmed by grace while at the same time troubled by doubts. I have lived with a strange tension between belief and doubt since then. There have been many moments when prayerful reading of scripture has brought me deep comfort and understanding. I have experienced the deepest inner peace during times of prayer and worship. But I continue to struggle sometimes with scripture - when I read things and just feel inside, "What? That can't be right...." And yet, many times those feelings have been allayed through further research into the context and different interpretations of the text.

I suppose my faith is pragmatic - it works for me.  From what I can tell, I am not the typical "Christian". Honestly I am often disgusted by the actions of "Christians" who are hateful, bigoted or ignorant. I like the term Christ-follower better. I love that Jesus said the most important commandment is

 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

I can get behind that.