Thursday, December 2, 2010
Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..." 1 Peter 3:15
While feeling exuberant joy over my new faith journey, finding God in my heart along with His forgiveness and compassion, I am constantly reminded how uncomfortable I feel sharing my journey with my friends who don't follow the Christian path.
There is a brilliant author, Stormie Omartian (author of the book linked in the first post and author of many other Christian books), who also wrote the book, Praying God's Will for Your Life, which is slowly seeping into my soul and having me answer difficult faith questions.
Like Ms. Omartian, I dabbled in New Age practices. She called them "things of the occult" and while that word gives me a sour taste in my mouth, I suppose, according to God's law, I was practicing the occult. She said she had to give up all doings and place both (not just one) feet on God's path.
What does that mean to me? It's certainly frightening. A certain part of my identity is wrapped up in believing in reincarnation. How do I reconcile the two beliefs? In Christianity, from what I understand thus far, when you die, you spirit is lifted to Heaven and there you reside in eternal life and happiness with the Lord. I ask: do the spirits just stay there? What is the point of the spirit going into a new body, as I believed? In my former views, I would say to learn in that life what you couldn't or didn't learn in the previous life. But where is God in all of that, I ask now? The two beliefs don't compliment each other as I yearn for them to do. As Ms. Omartian says, you can't have one foot outside of God and one foot in God.
See? I have many things to figure out. I have a friend who is Catholic (a relatively new Catholic) who has done a good deal of judging my marriage, husband, and family. I won't go into details, but, to me, she is not coming from a very Christ-like place. I must decide if I should stand up and defend my faith, as it says in 1 Peter 3:15, or to separate myself from her because...perhaps she takes me away from the God I know and love. Read this correctly: separate not because she is Catholic, but because she is so condemning and judgmental of me.
Speaking of the possibility of forgiveness, there is the story of my stepfather who married his ex-wife after my mother died, a mere six months before my wedding in their very own house and never told me until I found out by happenstance. He did not speak to me for nearly six months and then only because we were stuck at a relative's wedding together. I feel anger, yes. The little girl in me is angry that he remarried his ex-wife and yet I understand how he craved company after the devastating loss of my mother. I am angry because he did not respect me enough to tell me and did not answer my letters that I sent, beseeching him to contact me during those six months of silence.
We are in intermittent contact now and the ball is in my court to contact him so that we can get together and talk. My fear is that he will not own up to any of his mistakes and that he'll invalidate my feelings. I have a hard time standing up for myself. I have a hard time defending myself because I was constantly told I was wrong, wrong, wrong, as a child.
And so we are back full-circle to the beginning of this entry: standing in my faith, even to naysayers, and feeling confident. Talking the talk and walking the walk. I have not provided a link to The Dove Chronicles, publicly, because part - a big part of me - is nervous what my New Age-y friends will think. Yes, I've always been worried about what others think of me. Do you read how I put a caveat on most every strong opinion? I'm scared of what others might think.
But look at the word, "others." Others: those outside myself, even outside of God. I want to only be concerned with what God thinks of me. Am I being a good Christian? Am I being Christ-like: loving, compassionate, kind, forgiving? What does Jesus think of me?
I want those to be my only concerns. I can only hope my non-Christian friends respect my new way and hopefully they are happy I am happy. Because I am happier and more whole than I have ever been. I am still putting pieces together, asking myself questions and seeking out the answers, but I do feel full of joy and gratitude, even in my place of not knowing everything.
So I'll end this entry with a prayer for me and, if it applies, for you too:
Heavenly Father, I pray that You infuse me (us) with the power of Your Word. Let me (us) stand in Your light and feel confident and at peace. Let no one shake my (our) beliefs and, if they do, let me (us) respond with love, kindness, non judgment, and gentle certainty. Discussion is okay, but I (we) cannot let anyone bully me (us) into questioning my (our) beliefs. When called upon to defend my (our) faith, let me (us) be filled with the Holy Spirit which strengthens and fortifies me (us). Help me (us) answer questions that come along as I (we) walk this path. Let me (us) find a home with You, Lord. Amen.