Can I be really honest and serious for a minute? I’m struggling. I mean, for the most part, things in my life are great. I have family and friends who care about me, a nice home and plenty of stuff to fill it up with. That’s not the problem. The problem is that my spiritual self is feeling pretty lost and lonely these days. I’ve drifted away from my faith and don’t have a clear path back.
Here’s the thing, I believe in God, but have little confidence in churches as they (in my experience over and over and over again) currently exist with so much focus on the negative and nitpicky details, exclusionary behaviors, and political leanings. I believe in salvation through Christ, but can’t stand the behavior and beliefs of the extremely vocal (hopefully) minority in America whose outspokenness has alienated not only those who don’t believe, but many, many followers of Christ as well. I don’t want to be associated with people who use the Bible as a weapon to hurt and shame people or a soapbox to stand upon and to hurl their bigotry and hate from.
That is not my faith. That is not my Bible. That is not my God.
Because of a combination of these problems and many personal hurts and wrongs from the Church, I have not had my butt in a pew in a very long time. For a while it felt fine because Hubby and I had a regular Bible Study with friends that kept us connected to God and allowed for questioning, conversation, and learning that is impossible to fully achieve on one’s own. As all good things do, though, this too fell apart and left me on my own to maintain my relationship with God and continue to learn what I could. You can guess how successful that was.
So, now, looking at the season of Lent that is before us I wonder what I can do to bring myself close to God again. How do I cultivate my faith with no leader and no others with a commitment to study or pray or learn other than myself?
I don’t know.
I do have an idea, though, that I hope will be a good place to start. I found this book, 40 Days and 40 Nights by Ilene Segalove, that is intended as a journal guiding the reader on taking time out of each day (for 40 days) to focus on self-discovery. It’s set up in such a way that you choose your own intent – love, relationships, career, religion, etc – before starting and let that focus area color your responses to each journal prompt.
So, this is where I begin. Starting next week until Easter, I will not be giving up things so much as adding to them. I will follow the daily journal prompts and try to open my mind to God’s plan for me. Perhaps by the end of it all, I will have either built such a routine that I am able to study on my own, or I will find others to study and share encouragement with.