FAITH, SPIRITUALITY, LOVE and a LEAF

below is a bit i have written about spirituality. i want my readers to know i do not have any church affiliation, and am just writing to share my thoughts on spirituality. i am not writting this to preach to you. and the plant photo.... well, i don't have any fitting photos for this post... 

i had heard it said long before i had a child, or even thought about raising one... that i would start to consider religion and spirituality more than i had ever before. that my love for my child would bring about a desire to give her the best i knew how to, and that "the best" would include some form of spirituality or religion. at times in my life i wondered how i would ever consider religion more than i did then (my bible college days), times when i scoffed at the idea of raising a child in the church (during my post-bible college days where i realized what a rough place church can be). church though, is not religion, nor is it spirituality... however i am thinking more and more it does serve as an instrument for both.

but this post is not about church really, it is about faith.

i cannot remember a time in my life when i did not have it. there was never a lightning bolt or a dramatic climactic moment where i came to believe. i grew up in a home with born-again christian parents who took me to church at least twice a week and read me bible stories - these things were not my faith, but they were again, instruments. while i don't know if i ever realized it then, i had been sealed and nothing would break me away from the ongoing "relationship" i would have with the Lord. oh, i hate to use the word "relationship", i think it is such a bizarre word to describe it, and really has been used in such an odd way by the modern church. what it feels like is more like sharing a breath, being so close to something you have never seen, cannot feel, and cannot fully understand, but you know it is there, even on the darkest days. there have been times i am sure it would abandon me, times i wish it would, times i have held on tightly, or weakly, and it doesn't leave. without getting all theological and arguing about pre-destination or calvinisn, i have come to believe that my faith is truly not present due to my own doing, but a result of the Lord taking hold of me. if it had been up to be, this faith would have been lost long ago. throughout my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood i haven't seen it leave me.

now, i hardly ever pray, at least the type of prayer that you might think of... the kneeling, the daily discipline of confessing, the asking, the praising... it has been many years since i have done any of that. my bible collects dust on the shelf... partially because it bears on the front of it my old name, from my previous marriage, and i feel in a way as though i am bringing myself  back to so many dark days when i take it out. i stopped going to church a long time ago... i found a beautiful church body to worship with after my divorce, but never really allowed myself to really join in with them in a way that would give us any long-term gig. i guess you could say we were casual. sometimes i do still sing hymns.

but, none of these things are absolutely necessary for faith. they are instrumental, but without faith, they are not going to do anything. 

now, then, what is faith? there are many definitions, i guess that faith means different things to different people. for me, it means that i have been taken hold of and won't be let go. that this little kernel, that damn mustard seed that church people love to talk about so much, that it is there, and won't go away. belief that the spirit of the Lord communicates with me throughout my days, is there despite my actions or thoughts, and will not abandon me... that is my faith. 

does this sound really odd? well, it isn't to me, and i am not trying to be preachy to you. this is just what has been on my mind lately, especially as i am thinking more and more about what i will introduce chloe to as she gets older. i have sort-of introduced her to prayer in a very basic sense. at bedtimes i will often take time to thank the Lord for people and experiences we had through the day. i  can remember my grandmother doing this with me, and feel it is good to verbalize how grateful we are for the people we love. 

i also think and have talked to christian about church... eventually. him and i had some interesting church experiences growing up, and are somewhat wary to introduce chloe to such experiences. it is hard to censor what you do and don't want your child to be told in a church, what attitudes or ideals they will be exposed to... and despite it being a place of worship, there are some hurtful things that unfortunately take place within churches... things that i do not want to condone or confuse my child with. it is hard to teach a young child that a good place and good people can sometimes hurt other people. the whole idea of good and bad and what makes a thing one or the other is long debated, and can be confusing for a child. hell, it boggles some adults.

what i want for chloe is simple and easy... or well, it sounds easy. i want her to love the Lord and love other people. this is the small kernel that i have held onto when i don't know what to do or why i still consider myself a "believer"... that i strive to do these things is enough. this is the core of many religions in fact. love for God, and love for fellow man. throughout my crazy bible college days where i studied my butt off to cram as much about religion and theology into my head, eventually becoming confused and exhausted, this was the one thing i realized that i needed. i could go through life not learning another dang thing, so long as i knew and strove for this. it is what i try to do now... i don't always do it good. sometimes i make it look really shitty. but it is still what i believe is important, and really the only thing really required of me as a "believer". however, this simple and easy thing, of loving the Lord and loving others, is also one of the hardest things to teach.. it is not tangible, and young children do not understand abstract things.

so i just do my best to do this, and hope she will do it too. hope that the same kernel that i posses, or rather that the spirit that has taken hold of me, will also take hold of her. that she will know a faith that won't leave her, even in life's darkest times, and will love the Lord and love other people. 

imagine if every person strove for the same, despite their religion, or who they believe God to be... 







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