However, there is something I'm wrestling with that I need to write about. And I'll warn you, it's not going to be pretty. It might not even make a whole lot of sense. In fact, I'm mostly writing this for me, to try and put some semblance of order to the thoughts tangled up in my head. So if you're reading it, hang on.
And good luck. :)
This morning I realized something big. Monumental, even. Here it is.
I've been a "Christian" for what seems like almost my whole life ... (Excuse me while I interrupt myself. I put quotes around the word "Christian" on purpose, because with this morning's realization, my lifelong flimsy excuse for faith came crumbling down. And for the record, I'm not doubting that I'm a Christian, just trying to express how weak and broken of one I am.)
Anyway, here is what I realized. I've been a "Christian" for over 25 years and yet I have literally no idea what faith means, practically speaking. I talk about having faith, but don't know what it looks like to live out my faith. It's like all my life I've had this carefully built, but incredibly fragile front called faith, and once the facade cracks, suddenly it's obvious that there's not much supporting it underneath. And to be honest, that realization scared me. Everything that I thought I knew about life and God and faith is nothing if I cannot articulate why it matters.
My husband has been the catalyst for this realization. For literally the first time in my life, someone is challenging me to dig into my beliefs and "faith" and find it's roots. And sadly what I'm finding is that there's not much there. And honestly, that is a shock to me.
So after some tears and soul searching, he and I spent some time in Scripture, studying what the Bible says about faith. And although I know we are just beginning to scratch the surface, it feels good to finally, after 33 years, be putting some roots down to support my faith.
On the highest level, here are a few of the things I discovered:
- I am a highly emotional person, and consequently, my faith has been 98% emotion-driven. While emotions in and of themselves aren't bad, they have been the entire basis for my faith, and that's bad. Emotions are fickle and ever-changing. Pretty much the opposite of what faith is supposed to be. Therefore, what I have always ascribed to as faith is actually not faith, but a feeling. So I need to learn what real faith is and then figure out how to have it.
- According to what we found in the Bible, faith is, plain and simple, a stubborn belief in something with little or no evidence to support it.
So faith is my belief that Jesus Christ died for my sins. Faith is my belief that I will be with Him when I die (and that my dad is now.) Faith is my belief that He has forgiven me and loves me unconditionally.
Faith is not praying. Faith is not going to church. Faith is not reading the Bible every day. Faith is not what music I choose to listen to, how I spend my time or money, what car I drive or what I choose to eat. And it's not a lot of other things which many Christians call faith.
- Faith and obedience are very closely related. In fact, they're in a circuitous relationship. Faith is the means by which I am able to obey God. And obedience is the evidence of my faith. So basically, I can't obey God without faith. And if I don't obey God, I don't have true faith.
While I know this is the crux of understanding faith, when I try to think about what this means for me, my brain feels like it's ready to explode. I do want to work through this, and I will, but I am at my limit of logical, analytical thinking for today.
It's been rather heart-wrenching and emotionally draining to realize that something I thought was rock solid is actually quite flimsy. And in some ways, I feel like even though I've been practicing for years, I'm still at the very beginning of this whole Christianity thing, trying to figure out what it all means. Like I thought I was a couple decades in and suddenly I find myself back at the starting line.
Also I would like to publicly thank my husband, Chris, who is courageous enough to challenge 33 years of my thinking, along with much of the rest of evangelical Christianity. He is a brave man and I know God put Him in my life to call me to something greater.
I cannot wait to explore what that is.