God lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it.
— C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity
I was raised a Christian, and in describing myself, I think first and foremost to be a child of God. It is who I am, the essence of my very being. Any blog posts on my faith are not meant to offend or exclude anyone. Like all my posts, they are a reflection of me, and this is who I am. I am not ashamed to call myself Christian, because although some who call themselves Christian give us a bad rep, and some set incredibly high expectations, I am not sheepish in writing that I am a constant work in process. I fall from grace (many times a day) make mistakes both small and large, and because I do all these things I am not a hypocrite for calling myself Christian, I am human.
I never asked, “Is there a God?” as a child because I was told early on. I attended a Christian kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and high school. Same school. Bible was a subject just like history or math, and we had chapel every Wednesday. I was eight years old when I gave my life to Christ. Before then, I was worried I didn’t do it right. “Give my heart to Jesus” as my teachers would say. So before an outstanding performance of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego (rave reviews poured from Mom and Dad), I sat in the car in full costume, looked to the sky and prayed. This is it God, I give you my heart. I opened up my hands to receive salvation. Little did I know that yes, salvation was mine, but giving my heart to God needs to be repeated as necessary. Little did I know period, I was eight years old. At nine, I met with my pastor to be interviewed. He wanted to make sure I understood the significance of my next step. That year I was baptized on the same day as my dad.
Since then, I have not followed the routine sometimes associated with being a Christian. Going to church at least once a week, praying every day, committing time to devotional study, etc. Also my mind is not always focused on how to better serve God, but how to get pretty things, where I want to go, romance and falling in love and food. If I get truly brave, I might write a blog on food later. I praise God and pray for forgiveness, yes, but the major theme of my prayers has been a request for guidance. I pray His will be done, that it is made clear to me. But, He knows that deep in my heart, I really do like my own ideas. I know my dreams are influenced greatly by the world, and well, might not pan out in joy and success for me anyway, but it’s difficult letting them go. Giving my heart back.
When I feel close to God through prayer and learning I feel like myself. The Holy Spirit gives me…me. Lately, I feel lost. I’ve lost myself in my job and my professional and social goals. I also haven’t been to church on a regular basis in three years. How can someone have a close relationship with someone they stop learning about?
Three years ago, I did have a church family. It was the church I knew growing up, but my family and I didn’t attend regularly until I started singing in college. I was that girl. Special music girl who attended early Bible study and sang gospel. It was a small church.
After my move, I knew I needed to find a church. Coming from my teeny country church to attending large churches, I had a bit of a culture shock. Really nothing against the really large churches, because they reach many in many ways, but I could not find fellowship. One youth Bible study group never asked me my name. I couldn’t find a smaller group in another church because I got lost on “campus.” When my grandmother died last year, I held it together pretty well until we were at the actual cemetery. It hit me that I was putting her body to rest in my past. So I not only cried, I wept. I turned around and there was my pastor and his wife. I fell into his arms and sobbed, and he held me tight. He stayed with my family during the afternoon and uplifted our spirits, and we laughed together. He was the one who gave my father a Bible, who baptized us, who helped me remember that my ministry was in my music. He says to not call him “Reverend.” We preface his name with “Brother.” At the churches I visited after my move, I even had a hard time tithing. Usually the hard time for me would not be having cash on me, and then feeling guilty, hoping nobody was staring at me. During the recent visits, feeling that I had not given back to the church withered as I passed a Starbucks on my way in and a gift shop on my way out. We cheered when my pastor was able to lease a new used car, so he could return to making home visits. And that comparison stuck in my mind.
I do like the idea of a larger church, because I’ll be more likely to find fellowship with those my own age, the music tends to be better during the service which inspires and uplifts me, and there are more ways to find lessons you need and some you didn’t know you needed. I’m just lost. Figuratively and literally. I had a hard time parking, finding where the services were taking place, and even finding my way out again.
So instead of praying for guidance in my career, in my finances, in my love life, in my travels, in my community service, I must pray for guidance back to Him. Therein lies fulfillment and direction. I will find a church, I will find the time, but He needs to hold my hand. And I need to let Him take it.