My hubby and I had a really intense conversation yesterday about faith versus religion. When the red wine starts flowing, Chuck gets really intellectual and philosophical so our conversation drifted to the topic of his faith, or more appropriately, his doubts in his faith.
Chuck grew up with very smart, kind, Biblically-driven parents. He took on their faith as his own for the majority of his life and when he went and got married to some liberal-minded Jesus lover for whom some aspects of her faith were much different than he was used to, it threw him for a loop. While I did much of my faith exploration during my time at my small, liberal Christian college; Chuck never had that opportunity. So for him, moving out of his parents' home and into our little apartment on the North side of Pittsburgh was when he really started grappling with what he believes. I don't want him to continue blindly following what his parents taught him but never understanding why. And I certainly don't want him adopting my beliefs as his own. My husband is really wrestling with what he believes and it's amazing to watch him explore and grow.
So yesterday, when he commented on the fact that many Christians claim to have heard God speak to them he exclaimed with due frustration, "I've never heard God talk to me!"
And this is where I shared my experiences with God's voice.
. . .
God has never directly spoken to me. He has never come down on a winged chariot to direct me one way or another in my life's journey. I have never had a climatic Lieutentant-Dan-aboard-the-Jenny-screaming-at-the-sky-during-a-hurricane kind of revelation.
And yet when I was 16 and did not yet know the love of Christ; when I was depressed, hated life and felt unworthy of love, I picked up a Bible and God "told" me I was loved. I was so loved in fact, that he would die a most painful and excruciating death just so that I could live an unburdened and joyful life; confident in the fact that one day, I would live the most beautiful and harmonious eternal life beside him in Heaven.
For an angsty and unlovable teenager to suddenly realize that she is beautiful and she is adoringly and unconditionally loved is a BIG thing.
. . .
Today, among the hustle and bustle of city life I don't "hear" God.
When my my mind is completely spinning out of control and I'm angry and restless often times, I'll go for a run or a hike in the woods. My feet clumsily and obliviously find the dirt trails, and in my mind, I scream accusations at God.
"Why did you lead me to believe I was so special when nothing I do is of significance?!"
"Why did you make me fall in love with a homebody husband when all I want to do is travel the world?!"
"Why can't I find a job I love when all I want to do is help people?!"
And in the midst of the noise, and confusion, and frustration, and anger, I realize there is a fawn and doe standing approximately 10 feet away from me peacefully foraging through the woods. They are oblivious to me, and to my problems, because in the end, those things don't matter.
And in those moments, it is as if God hears all my petulant whining and just whispers, "Shh. I'm here, Kaity. I am here and always will be. And, I have a plan. Have faith in me, because I promise, I have a plan."
Those moments are why I believe in God.
God never talks to me, and a lot of times, my prayers feel fruitless. I don't know if I believe that God really talks to anyone. But I believe that He does communicate with us in the ways He knows we'll understand. For me, it's through writing and being surrounded by His creation. For others, maybe it really is sitting in a pew week after week. Or maybe it's through the powerful epiphany brought on by the lyrics of a song on the radio.
. . .
So when I told Chuck this last night, I didn't answer any of his questions. I didn't leave him with a profound sense of wonder at my deep, personal theology. But I left him with peace.
Because while he's still working things out, I think he knows that God already has.