I've been ruminating this one for quite awhile. I've been ruminating this one because a) it sounds nothing like the me that moved from Colorado and b) a LOT of my friends will disagree. I'm open to it, and I'll listen to your impassioned disagreements, so long as you're willing to listen to mine, and you've read the entirety of this blog.
For those of you who expected a religion-themed post from me... I'm shocked. I'm shocked that you expected it. Me in 2010, I'd have been shocked. Me in 2012? I'm more than comfortable talking about my beliefs. They haven't changed dramatically since my move. It's more that I've actually spent time thinking about it and realise that the words that I've always had are fine. I don't have to use "proper" words to express and defend my beliefs. My beliefs are built with my words.
Unexpected side rant - Why do we have to defend our beliefs? Unless my (your) beliefs are hurting someone else, live and let live! I cannot, and will not here, defend the actions of many Christians and Christian groups in God's name. Nor will I address the atrocities committed by many extreme groups of other faiths, Islam being the example most readily available. I won't address either of those, because those people represent such a small portion of their respective faiths, that I think I've already given too many words relative to the size of this post. That being said, I have so many friends of so many different of so many different faiths who are wonderful people, that I get sick of the idea that we have to defend our spirituality. Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist, Pagan, Jew, anyone else who I'm forgetting, let's just acknowledge that we all believe differently. If you want to explain your beliefs to me, great! I'll be happy to explain mine to you, and where they've come from. If, however, you want to belittle me or mock me for being a Christian, I'm done. I will pay you the same courtesy and not mock your faith. I'm sick of people calling Christians stupid in particular. My IQ is well over 130. My Faith is based on life experiences and conversations with God, not ignorance or naivete.
God. I invite my friends of other faiths to replace that word with your deity (or deities), the world, the fates, or the word "coincidence." In thinking on this, I've been trying to decide if there are coincidences in the world. Does crazy s**t just happen, or is it part of His grand design? Honestly, I think there still have to be coincidences (this morning, when I'd decided to write this today, my answer would have been no). Free Will is the basis of Original Sin. God gave us Free Will knowing full well that we'd blow it. Almost immediately. We did that, very nicely. In Deuteronomy, God says we'll forsake him(31:16). He knew. He gave us the gift of Free Will anyway. My relationship with God is stronger because I chose to walk with Him. He loves us, even when we don't love him (like our parents!). That being said, I have a hard time seeing a lot of coincidences. The BIG things in my life? I just wasn't listening. I could list the things since I've moved here, but I won't bore you. The biggest things of late, Markeya and Lincoln? God's been loud. I moved here for a reason, and I listened when he suggested this to me. I'm glad I did, as I've been very happy here (I still want to come back, don't worry). It's renewed and revitalised me and is still doing so in ways I didn't think it would.
I also started listening. I have not asked Him to show Himself to me. Thank goodness, because, as Father Mark said this morning, you have to be careful if you do, He might just show up! Not just trying to read the signs that God put in front of me, but also asking for him to talk directly to me. He doesn't always do it, but it's remarkable when he actually does. My key has not been asking for things, but telling Him that I'm listening. He wants us to be happy and successful. He gives us the tools. Look in the previous paragraph (that's an imperative sentence, kids). He gave us Free Will. We have to do the right things with those tools. I've effed up repeatedly. My life's not always been great. He was, probably, sad when that happened. I can't say that for sure, but I'd imagine He was sad. I'm trying to make him happy now. He knows I won't always do it.
One of my players last year drew it out for me. We started one of my (to that point) most uncomfortable conversations because the Westboro Baptist Church was protesting at a high school in Iowa we drove past. Balls (her nickname, and I've never met a girl who was farther from her nickname) asked me about my faith... and I talked... a little. She talked a lot. A bit of background. This girl is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. She's also naive to the world, to a point, and is incredibly forgiving. She sees nothing but good and does nothing but good. She is devout. She is, in almost every way, what you would picture if I told you she's 20 years old, grew up in a small midwestern town, and is devoutly Christian. What she said was NOT what I expected. She tries to live a Pious life. She tries to do exactly what God would ask. Her words? She can't. She will never be able to live up to His expectations. She's not perfect. She sins daily. He knows she will. He sent Jesus because of that. Jesus died for sins committed and yet to be. I don't live a perfect life, by any means. I am, however, making fewer mistakes than I used to. I still cuss, drink, have the occasional cigar and FREQUENT unclean thoughts. I'm working on it. He's talking to me. He forgives me because He loves me, and I love Him. I don't pray for everything every night. I do, however, always tell Him of my gratitude for the plethora of ways He has blessed me. I am in awe and humbled by His power, His grace, His benevolence, and His goodness!
By way of a disclaimer, I am not, nor will I ever be, a creationist. I am still scientific-minded and see the logic in things like Evolution and the many and varied scientific theories and proofs out there. Fundamentally, I don't think I've really changed. I've been a Christian for quite some time, but am more confident in my beliefs. I found a church I love with a priest and congregation that is just wonderful. I was asked to participate in a prayer group, and I'm glad that I did. Really, all it did was make me more comfortable as a Christian. Knowing that I didn't have to know, that's not a key. Knowing that the most important part of this faith is love and gratitude for Him. I try to show Him I love Him, and will do my best to lead others to him. I'm not here to demand others follow Him, but if you ask the way, I'll do my best to show you. I'm here because He wants me here.
Want to know more? Just ask.