This blog is a one year journal commitment to God. You know, kinda like the Julie & Julia Project…? For me I’m going to practice a discipline, a spiritual discipline, an obedience.
You see, I had a light conversation with my mother-in-law while they were visiting us last week about how ‘our generation’ hates how ‘their generation’ was/is/seems to be so legalistic in their faith. How ‘their’ faith appears as a dutiful religion, and for those of us that grew up in the church we didn’t want any part in duty, we wanted feeling!! Church became distasteful, Christians were especially distasteful, and religious practices were distasteful.
Our generation is all feeling, it’s sad, really. I want a job that makes me feel awesome, that is perfectly designed to use all my giftings. I want a marriage that feels like cloud 9 – always. I want to feel like a superhero daily, conquering life like a boss. I want my relationships with siblings and friends to only be good times… People! This is not realistic.
Now bring those feelings into your relationship with Jesus – into my relationship with Jesus, with the Creator, my Heavenly Father. When I feel God – we’re great! And for many years I felt Him in a real and powerful way. In high school, when my relationship was new and exciting, I was giddy with passion. After high school, when my parents divorced, He was my rock, my stable ground, I never doubted Him – I felt Him everyday. When I was a missionary student overseas, completely submersed in a bubble of charismatic believers experiencing God daily. Then, visiting Thailand after the tsunami in January 2005, whoa! I mean God was real, and I was experiencing Him. I felt Him – daily. Later that year my husband and I got married, I mean what doesn’t feel good about being newlyweds?!
For the first 6 years of our marriage we worked at my husbands home church, doing ministry. I think that was where the feelings for God began to disappear, ironically. We were responsible for creating church- a place for other to meet God, and the longer we did it the less we felt Him and the more it became ordinary work. (That whole journey can be for another blog post.) But in a swift, completely healthy yet super rebellious, act we moved to my hometown.
These last 5 years, frankly there has been no feeling – at least not with God. We’ve had numerous other feel-goods that have preoccupied us: new friends, new jobs, new home, two kids, new travel, new roles… New things always feel good, and God was back there somewhere.
So, two years ago I felt it for the first time: longing. I wanted to feel God again, I wanted relationship with him again. And for myself, not the “ugh! I wish my husband would lead us into a relationship, he’s the leader, right?” (another post) Nope, I knew it had to be for me and by me. I knew how to do this: pray, read your bible, be in community, go to church, have a bible study. But it wasn’t working, I wasn’t feeling it. Praying was dead, reading was nothingness, church wasn’t preaching to me, worship was dated, studies were homework. Truly, community kept me within arms reach. I have an awesome community (I can brag about in another blog post), we operate as a body of Christ, and it blows me away. I love learning from these people, being humbled by them, being loved on by them, growing with them, and doing life with them. And if I’m honest with myself, it feels good! (sigh)
Now lets go back to that conversation I was having with my mother-in-law… She responded with something profound. She challenged me as I sat there accusing her of how ‘their generation’ screwed it up for us, how they had a religion that was legalistic, and duty, and obligation, and and and… (ok just to clarify this was NOT by any means a mean conversation, no yelling, or hurt was exchanged) She graciously responded, “No, I don’t believe our generation was/is legalistic, I believe we understood reverence. And because of reverence we wanted to obey the Word of God. We did it from a place of respect, and honoring the Lord, as an act of worship.”
As the light bulb went off in my head, we agreed there must’ve been a generational gap, possibly failure, on ‘their’ part not to instill this reverence, to pass on the reason for obedience. Not sure who’s at fault here, but we were raised to feel a living, breathing, passionate relationship with Christ. But where’s the commitment? If the foundation of our relationship with Christ was built on feeling, of course we’re going to turn away or feel dry, barren, emptiness, dissatisfied when were not provided feeling on a platter and are completely capable of finding it elsewhere.
All that to say, “I don’t want to feel” the title of my post. I want to practice obedience because I revere my God and Savior. I know in my knower that He is worthy of my praise, I just need to practice my obedience, and hopefully I find what I’m looking for… a renewed relationship with my God.
My journey this year of spiritual disciplines will be with the help of the book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. Some nuggets from the Introduction that I’ve been meditating on: keep company with Me (Jesus), and having a desire for “unforced rhythms of grace”. (More on what this book is about and why I’m excited for it.)