There are some important things to note as I jump into this discussion.
I live in the buckle of the bible belt in the middle of corn and the flattest land you’ll ever see. There’s a church on every corner and generally one in the middle of the block as well. In a city of 45,000 we have one church for every 208 people and that’s a little crazy if you ask me.
I never thought I’d end up in my hometown, but it just kind of happened. I’ve spent a long time resenting it, feeling like I don’t fit anywhere and living for the day when we’d leave. Call me stubborn or stupid, but I just figured out we’re not going anywhere. Imagine my disappointment after 20 years, and hear at the same time my sarcasm.
I told you yesterday that my people are Answer People and let me say today that I love my Answer People. Deeply. Have you ever experienced a love that you absolutely cannot explain? One that makes you go back over and over even after your heart has spilled out every last tear-tinged drip of blood? That’s how I feel about Answer People.
They loved me and hurt me. There was a big, ugly tribunal-type implosion in my faith community at a pivotal time in my teens that left me feeling like Katniss Everdeen. You may think I’m being dramatic, but these were the only people I knew as a child. I wasn’t in gymnastics, didn’t go to public school and soccer hadn’t been introduced here at that time.
My people disappeared over night and honestly, I’ve felt like I’ve been running from the Capitol ever since. After a long period of time, I began rubbing shoulders again with some of these same people. Slowly, they began to tolerate me and slowly I realized that I was still part of the tribe. I’m fortunate to count many as good friends today.
It’s a good feeling, because I’ll say it a hundred times over, they are my people. I know that what I feel in my heart has been put there by God, because there’s just no other explanation for it after the pain I experienced.
There’s a big world out there beyond my hometown and it doesn’t seem at this point that I’m going out there. Less than a handful of people really know how I feel about life and faith and that’s ok, because despite our loneliness as a whole, we’re really not meant to know that many folks up close and personal. I really thought I’d be going to the Big City someday though, and I’ve been saving my thoughts and feelings, reserving the places in my heart for thought provoking relationships until that day.
Life rarely goes as we think however, and Someday is Today. I won’t live in the place of my birth, not for one more minute without expressing who I am. Authenticity compels me to this discussion and I’m guessing it could be drawing you as well.
Life’s been hard lately. Cancer and car accidents have ravaged local families this year and folks are reeling from the rate of the loss we’re experiencing. I’ve got my own pile of personal struggles and very deep disappointments. I’ve walked roads of heartbreak in the last year that I never expected to walk and in spite of all the questions that have bubbled up to the top this year, I’ll tell you right now, I believe that Jesus Is the Answer.
You may be so sure of Jesus that you can’t fathom having Questions about him or you may not even believe he really existed, never mind that he really was the son of God. I don’t know your faith experiences or your struggles, but I want you to know I’ve been through some hard things and I don’t believe anymore because of childhood indoctrination.
In fact, I believe that I have faith in spite of my upbringing and I often wonder if it would have been easier to come to an understanding of an authentic faith as an adult with no knowledge of God whatsoever.
I don’t believe because I finally found a church here after 20 years.
I don’t believe because of bible stories or small groups.
I don’t believe because I clap my hands at a Jesus Pep Session.
I don’t believe because of theology.
I don’t believe because I’m surrounded by others who believe.
I don’t believe because I’m afraid of hell.
I don’t even believe because it makes sense, because it doesn’t.
I believe because when I was alone, night after night, sobbing for hours after my first miscarriage, He was there.
I believe because when I couldn’t get pregnant and was disappointed month after month after month, He was there.
I believe because when I finally delivered our first-born and didn’t take to mothering like I expected, He sent new friends to walk me through, and He was there.
I believe because during years of extreme lonliness, isolation and loss and He was there.
I believe because during years of nightmares in which people were trying to murder me, He was there.
I believe because when my marriage has been difficult, unbearable even, He was there.
I believe because when I had no idea how to run a household he pointed me to that crazy Flylady and He was there.
I believe because when we lived below the poverty level six years ago we still paid the mortgage and He was there.
I’ve had dozens of in-real-life experiences and if we had a couple of hours and at least two pots of coffee, I think you’d agree they’re modernly miraculous.
You may have guessed by now that I Believe, but there are still doubts and questions that have infiltrated and continue to cause me to question every level of that belief. I think God is completely cool with that (Philippians 2:12), but I’d be lying right now if I told you that I think all of my friends will agree.
I’ve grappled with faith for years with two women who love me as much when I cuss a blue-streak as when I quote scripture. I’ve been known to do this simultaneously because I think God can handle it. Also, in the last two years, I’ve been asking God to help me ask better questions.
I was going to talk about Answer People today, but what I want you to understand first is that I have been and often still am an Answer Person. The Answers in my head are woven so intricately into my thinking that I’m constantly looking for the sources of my thoughts. Some Answers are from God of course, and some Answers are from satan, but I think there’s another source of Answers worth noting. They’re from Because-I’ve-Always and they’re insidious because we don’t often recognize those thoughts. Because-I’ve-Always wraps itself around our view of life, love and God and becomes a filter that we don’t even know to question.
Think about your thoughts for a minute would you? If you dare, toss up a prayer (preferably out loud, a whisper will do) and ask God to help you see where your thoughts originate.
If you’re a Question Person, can I tell you how excited I am that you’re here? And if you’re an Answer Person, holla!
I’m going to do my best not to make any more announcements about what I might discuss next, because inevitably, I’ll change my mind. I have dozens of journals full of my thoughts, questions and rants and may randomly pull them out and share some things, but I’d also love to hear what you’d like to talk about. Feel free to jot some things down in the comments.
This is somewhat of a new direction for my blog, so we’ll see how it goes. On the right of my primitive little site you can sign-up to have these posts delivered directly to your inbox, it’s the blogger version of a thumbs up and you can un-subscribe at anytime so would you consider joining my email crew?