Remember to Whom you belong. (Ephesians 2: 19-22)
I woke up refreshed because I slept. It’s amazing the difference solid sleep can have. And so, today, I’m finally able to write. I’ve been wanting yc.to write a sort of spiritual mission statement. These days, people write books, tweets, or put up articles that show who they are and what they believe. They face persecution for their beliefs whether they are left or right winged. They are judged, challenged, insulted and in the worst news cases, they are killed and this has been true for centuries.
But, what about me? Where do I stand you ask? What do you want me to stand for? What will I march for? These are all good questions and in the state of the world, many are searching for solidarity, followers and like-minded thinkers. I get that.
So, today, having a bit more head space, I decided to write. Not to mention, Sunday’s are the day I allow myself time to think, contemplate, ponder, wonder, envision, dream and grieve. I’m not a part of any congregation currently, but that doesn’t mean I don’t worship, pray or have communion with God, my guide, my companion.
So, to answer the question, I’m a Christian, meaning that I attempt to follow in the ways of Christ as written in the bible. I’m not a perfect follower, nor do I believe any human can be a perfect follower. But I choose to have faith. Basically, faith is believing in what you can’t see. I understand what a stretch Christianity can be and how those who believe are believing in a “virgin-birthed” human who performed unbelievable miracles among other things, like walking on water and such. I get how these things go against any branch of science. The good news is, you have a choice! God is “pro-choice” in that way, he will never force you to believe in him, because force, continual unhealthy coercion and other non-loving tactics go against love, God’s love. But, regardless, I choose by faith, to believe. You can call me a believer.
So, just relax everyone! No true Christian will take your arm and bend it unnaturally in attempt to have you follow. (Sure there are extremists in every religion) A true Christ follower will love you no matter where you are, who you are, and whether you follow in Jesus’s way or not. There is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear.
If you find yourself curious, seeking, lost or broken or have found yourself feeling disconnected, (as I have) there’s a reason and an answer in many books. But, the truth remains, you have a choice to seek for an answer, for love and this is your journey alone.
It was the decision to follow in the way of Jesus that began my walk with a God. A walk is an active practice. But, there’s also sitting in silence and listening as well. God speaks, but his voice is inaudible, however, he speaks in abundance, if you’re listening.
Thirty-one years ago, and despite many ups and downs in my walk, it still seems to good to be true, to be loved me just as I am. That I didn’t have to perform, earn or give up anything to receive his love. But there was one requirement it seemed. And here’s the part where faith comes in. If I was to be a follower of Christ, then I needed to understand his whole story. That not only was he human, but also God. I realized that it would take faith, not human knowledge to believe that God sent a son, his only son to earth to live as a human and eventually end up dying a terrible death on a cross and later rising defeating death to save all of humanity. I was like, “What the?” Growing up catholic, I’d been raised going to a somber church, reciting prayers while being reminded of how Jesus died. I would say the catholic prayers, looking up occasionally to see the cross and Jesus, bloody, hanging on it.
Well, after attending the young adult bible study and reading the bible myself, I learned that there was more to Jesus’s story. That him hanging on a cross was only part of it. He didn’t stay dead. He rose. That is what Easter is about, not some chocolate bunny and egg finding holiday. There is a God that is alive. He lives.
Anyway, that is my humble beginning with the faith and 31 years later, I’m frustrated because of social media, I have been feeling compelled to share my faith, to profess my faith and beliefs, but I knew what would come next, I’d be damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. My relationship with God had always been a very personal relationship, so to put it out there where others will judge it or misinterpret it wasn’t worth it for me.
But, now, more recently, I’ve come to peace about my beliefs. In part it came from living in a liberal city where uniqueness is celebrated. Sure, the opposite is also true. Thankfully, I’ve had the opportunity to live in many places across the US. So, I’ve had to think and reflect about who I am and what I stand for continually. So there it is. I follow Jesus. Jesus is the personification of love. So, if he is about all things love, then I need to attempt to be as well by his empowerment.
What a challenge in this world to be about all things love!
But, there is the challenge. The greatest commandment, to love God and to love others as yourself.
Seriously, it took the whole day and two glasses of Pinot Grisio to get me in front of the screen to write. Oh, and a square inch of Theo’s dark chocolate. I could’ve eaten the whole bar, but I need to pace myself on the stuff, a slow steady supply is perfect for the soul.
Anyway, here I am and I facing some heavy reflections from my vaca. Here in lovely Seattle, where the air and water are fresh and the connections few, I have time to think, to sit, to ponder. I think that what is important fades to the background here, but it doesn’t disappear. It’s a constant on my heart and mind, the conversations, the interactions I had with the people I love. They don’t go away. I know and have learned what’s important in life. I’m one blessed individual to have been given a chance, again, not one chance, but multiple to figure it out.
Do I have it all figured out? H-e–l-l no!
(I’ve wanted to say that!) I’m not saying that. I’m blessed, but I have obeyed the “voice”of God these days because I know I didn’t in my past. I was the queen of doing what I pleased. I was the quintessential brat. Spoiled in the “soul”way. I thought life revolved around my desires. I had to be shown I wasn’t all that. I had to be torn down to finally “see”. My life had to come crashing down around me in order for me to smell coffee brewing.
Do I know 100% what He wants from me in this life? No, I don’t. Do I have the answers to the problems of this world? Not even close. My gift isn’t intellect, nor especially insight. That isn’t what He’s given me. What He’s given me is mercy. I deserve punishment for ALL the wrong I have done and continue to do, but no, He continues to give me mercy and I’m just so grateful, so, so grateful.
But here’s the thing. I’m not special. I’m not favored. I believe His love is for everyone. Everyone is given the same as God gives me. His gifts are for all who choose to believe and who choose love.
What are you going to choose today? What voice are you obeying today? What has happened in your life to get your attention? What has happened that has made food unappealing and life scary? Are you wondering how you’ll live another day? Yeah, I’ve been there as well. I want you to know you’re not alone. I remember it well and won’t allow myself to forget it.
Ellen Grace Olinger
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