Saturday, May 28, 2011
Statement of Faith
[As part of the final project for the School of the Spirit, the teachers asked us each to write a statement of faith. The instructions were to articulate my understanding of my relationship to God and how God is present in the world (translating those words as needed), not to exceed two pages.]
My relationship with God is intense. A few years ago, I committed to making God the center of my life. I had no idea what that would be like, but I think it is what has happened. To me, God is both personal and infinite. I am fortunate to feel the presence of God around me all the time, and sometimes I think that is unfortunate. I get more angry with God than I ever would with a person, because I know that God can handle my anger. I fight with God constantly, even though I know that God will eventually win. During a hard time recently, I commented to a friend that I felt like God was breaking my knees. Looking back, I think that may have been a mercy because being on my knees was the best place for me at the time. I sometimes feel like the prophet saying, “You have seduced me and I was used. You are stronger than me and you have prevailed.” (Jeremiah 20:7) And yet, the first part of my message is always to turn toward God, because I know that God is our only hope.
A School of the Spirit classmate of mine commented once that conversations with me can be a little weird because I will be talking about how I said something to God and then follow that with, “and then God said . . . .” I have two-way conversations with God and I sometimes wonder if that makes me qualify as a genuinely crazy person. Most of the time, I don’t hear from God in actual words. If I am paying attention, I feel nudges from God throughout the day. Most of the time, these nudges do not make sense to me. They will be things like, “go outside,” or “sit here,” or “take your bag with you.” Sometimes I get confirmation of why I am hearing something―I will run into someone I needed to see, or I will find something I needed. Other times, I never understand why I did something and I wonder if I was hearing correctly. And when I ignore these instructions, I sometimes know why I should have done something, or I am aware that I am not listening well.
There are times when God speaks directly to me with words, and that is almost too much for me. The messages are usually short, and I feel devastated afterward. A few examples that come to mind are, “It’s not always going to be this easy, but I will be there too,” and “That is not the plan I have for you.” I am grateful for these clear messages and feel encouraged by them, but I am glad that God generally chooses gentler ways to communicate with me. I hear God in the things that other people say to me, and in the things they do without speaking. I also hear God in messages in meeting, from others and from myself. Often, when I give a message, it is something that I also need to hear.
My relationship with Jesus has been changing over the past few years. I do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, though I have many friends who do, and I enjoy hearing about how they interact with him. I find the Bible stories about Jesus comforting―he was so human. He needed space away from other people, he lost his temper, and he learned things. He was incredibly faithful, even when facing death. I also find it meaningful that, in becoming a person, God was limited in the ways that we all are. Jesus could only be Jesus, not anyone else. He was a man who lived in a certain time, who died young and never grew old, and had the limited experiences that he had during that time. Even though I do not feel Jesus physically present with me in the same way that some do, I know that he is an example of faithfulness to follow.The second part of my message is to turn toward God in whatever language you use to describe God. The language that is most comfortable for me is Biblical language, because I grew up with it. So I use the word “God” most often, but I also use “Spirit” or “Holy Spirit,” and sometimes “Christ.” Regardless of the language we use, I know we are all talking about the same thing, and I can see the fire glowing in those who have encountered the same indescribable presence that I have.