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Beyond Surviving

Several months ago, I came across this quote; “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”- Howard Thurman.   It really resonated with me and I have been thinking about it ever since.  I started to ask myself;  What DOES make me come alive?  That has not been an easy question to answer.

In the last three years,  life has presented me with circumstances and events that I am just happy to have survived.   I haven’t thought much about coming “alive” in a spiritual or emotional sense in a long time.  My goals were much simpler; hold on to a shred of faith and sanity…don’t scar my kids for life…avoid bankruptcy…just get through it!  In other words SURVIVE!

Now, as I contemplate what makes me come “alive, ” I do so with a fair amount of skepticism and fear.  I feel like someone who survived a bomb strike peering out the door of a fallout shelter…is it really safe to come out?  What if another bomb is on it’s way? There may not be much life in here but at least its safe.

Coming out of the survival shelter is risky but life is pretty darn limited in here.

So, what does make me come “alive?” Hugs, kisses, smiles and laughs from my babies make me feel alive.  My husbands warm touch, selfless actions, unconditional acceptance and understanding heart make me feel alive.  But, what is it that I do that makes me come to life?  What is it that I do that transcends being a wife and a mom?  What is it that I do that has potential to be a ministry to the Lord and the hurting in the world?

My answer to those questions is I write. It doesn’t matter if I am awesome at it or if a lot of people read it.   It is what I do that makes me come to life. It is how I connect with the Lord. It is how I pray. It is how I process. It is how I heal.  Maybe in the future it will be a venue to minister/encourage/teach  Who knows?

For now, this blog and writing in general is all about being “alive.”  It’s me stepping out of the survival shelter and saying safe or not, I’m getting out of here!

What do you do that makes you come “alive?”


Beauty for Ashes…My “Agnostic Days”

In the past several years, I have seriously considered the possibility that God doesn’t exist.  I’m not talking about just having a bad day and thinking God doesn’t love me…in a tantrum of self-pity. I’m talking about really wrestling with the possibility that everything I have ever believed is just a bunch of made up stuff.  For someone like me, who has built my entire life around my faith, that is a really awful place to be.  It’s like removing the foundation from underneath a house. It would crumble to the ground.

I’m a skeptic, doubt comes naturally and it is something I have battled for most of my life.  I’m like the guy in Matthew 9 who tells Jesus “I believe, forgive my unbelief.”  I struggle with doubt even when life is going well and it seems like God is near.  Over the last 6 years or so, life hasn’t always gone well and God has been kind of silent.  Doing the right thing no longer guaranteed getting the right result.  Dreams were replaced with disappointment and loss.  I could no longer find purpose in the events in my life.  My prayers seemed to fall to the ground. I could no longer convince myself of God’s existence through my circumstances.

It’s in this context that I have been forced to face my doubts honestly.  I’ve read books, watched debates, and studied philosophy.  I have honestly examined both sides of the argument on God’s existence and decided that Atheism does not suit me.  I just can’t embrace the idea that everything randomly came from nothing.

Agnosticism on the other hand…well, that’s an idea I can get cozy with.  It can somewhat answer the question of where we came from; we can’t really know but maybe some impersonal designer.  It answers the question of my suffering and THE question of suffering; it just is what it is, there is no purpose or reason for it.  It lets me off the hook; no one in particular to obey.  It’s easy and sometimes I want easy.  So, I have what I call “agnostic days.”  They usually coincide with my “whatever, I don’t care anymore” days and my “I give up” days.

Then, every single time, there is a quiet voice in my heart that says Nope, this isn’t right…remember when…?  I do, I remember when…  and all of a sudden I am reminded that I’ve experienced too many “coincidences” to not believe in God.  So, my faith in God and my hope in Jesus live another day.

For years now, I have been comparing my current weak  faith with my former strong faith and beating myself up over it.  Well, the clouds have parted a little and for the first time in a long time, I’m starting to see more clearly.  I catch glimpses of the purpose behind the pain and I am realizing that my faith is not weaker than it used to be,  it’s more real.

My foundation has not been removed like I thought, but the big, poorly constructed house that was built on it has burned to the ground.  There’s not much left, not much at all, but what’s left is real, tested and proven.

Beauty for Ashes…

…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:2-4

Dancing In The Rain

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

It’s not a Bible verse, but it is Biblical. Trials and suffering are part of the Christian life.  They have certainly been a significant part of my spiritual journey.  It has been “raining” for a long time now. Lately,  I have been challenged to press through it.  For awhile now, I have been waiting for the storm to pass.  Looking for optimal conditions to really live life and be what I am supposed to be.

What if the storm never passes?  Then, I will have wasted my life.

In nature, little grows in places where the sun shines all the time.  It’s places that get lots of rain that flourish.  I think the same applies spiritually.  I tend to think that a spiritually “blessed” life, is one that does not see a lot of adversity, rejection and grief.  Maybe it’s just the opposite?

We keep praying for God to take away the “storms”.   They keep coming.  I have to believe that they are producing growth, that we can flourish through them.  Somehow, they are molding us into the people that we are supposed to be.

For years, I have been thinking of writing about the REALITY of my spiritual life.  Not about the highs and great accomplishments but about the lows.  The doubts, failures and imperfections.  I have been afraid of what people will think and how it might affect our position in ministry.  I’m not afraid anymore…

It’s time to start “dancing” in the rain.