Friday, March 25, 2011

Jackie - Big Question Marks

Ok, here we are, back into posting about actual goals. I suppose it's about time to dig into the spiritual goal. I started writing all of these a few months ago, so I just need to spruce them up a little and post them. I'm hoping to get through these pretty quickly. Here we go...

I felt a nagging, no, that's not quite the right word, it sounds too negative. I felt a tug back before the holidays. It was really soft at first, in fact, I almost missed it; it was tender and gentle and kind. A beckoning of my soul. And, it felt familiar.

I've had this spiritual goal on my list and I spent the better part of the year not addressing it, but over the holidays I answered that tug and got to have some really fascinating conversations. Here's a refresher on the goal: I have spiritual questions. Ones that cannot go unanswered any longer. I decided the book and church answers I can quote from memory weren't enough; I needed more. I wanted to hear first-hand experiences and thoughts. 

I chose a handful of people I respect and asked them for a cup of coffee. I got all scientific-like asking them the same questions, documenting their answers and will present these findings to you. I explained to them that I know the Bible passages and rote answers, but I want to hear their hearts and what made them choose, and continue to choose Christianity.

But before we get to their answers, I want to give you the questions for perspective.

[Wait, even before I get to that, I must apologize. It's going to take a handful of posts to get through this goal. I hope posting this all at once isn't tedious for you as a reader, but if it is I won't be offended if you skip a few and "save them for later."] 

Here's where I'm coming from. I am a Christian and I believe everything that goes along with that. I believe there is more to this life than meets the eye and I want to be a part of what's bigger. I love, depend on and need God. BUT... and you knew that was coming... sometimes have a hard time seeing the relevance in Christianity. It seems out of place; it's like doesn't fit. I suppose that makes sense with the self-sufficient, relationally-disconnected lifestyle we have modeled for us in America. Thus...

Question #1: What does it mean to be a Christian?

Each person choses faith for their own reasons - as they should. But to get a little background on the perspective of each interviewee, I wanted to know how they each made their decision to identify with Christianity. Thus...

Question #2: Why should I believe there's a God? Why should I care? Why does it matter if I believe in God?

Life is significant, or at least it should be. I believe it is. But is it really? And if so, what does that mean?... for my life? For the lives of those around me? For the world? And if we know the point of life, will that make a difference or change things? Thus...

Question #3: What's the point of life? What's our individual purpose? What is the point of God having a will if he gave us freedom of choice? Is it Satan who causes bad stuff because he sucks? Or God who causes bad stuff to happen because I'm not good enough?

Then I have to wonder how prayer fits into all of this. I don't always understand why God wants to spend time with us. We're supposed to be in some sort of relationship with him, but few people would continue to be in a relationship with someone who treats them as badly as we treat God. It feels almost like God is self-deprecating in the way it feels like he lets us walk all over him. Which brings me back to my point, why does God want to spend time with us? And why would we feel we have the right to ask anything of him? Thus... 

Question #4: Prayer: how do I approach it? How does it work? Does it work? How do I evaluate its effectiveness?

Then we get to the real crux of the matter... being a real-life Christian. I hate to say this, but I am more often embarrassed to call myself a Christian than I am proud. I am often bewildered that the faith system I belong to, whose focus is loving God who desires relationship, has become a place of judgment, selfishness, unloving and not accepting. It's beyond a matter of personal reputation. I hate that I feel I have to apologize for choosing to to be a follower of Christ. Thus...

Question #5: Why should I want to be a part of Christianity when it feels like it comes with a bad reputation or bad name? What does it look like to be an culturally-relevant, non-apologetic Christian? 

I think a lot of people can agree that during the hard times, when it seems there's nothing else to rely on, it's easy to have a relationship with God. Well, maybe "easy" isn't quite the right word. But, when the going is rough, there is an inherent need to have something bigger than this world to believe in, to lean on, to be carried by. How about when things are going well and everything seems to be holding itself together? What then? Thus...

Question #6: What does a relationship with God look like in the "normal" times?

And last, because each person's relationship with God is such an individual experience, I asked this final question. [Spoiler alert: This question might have something to do with one of my goals for next year.]

Question #7: Who is God to you? 

Looking over this list in hindsight, it feels like I asked some daunting questions... I supposed I did. 

The people who gracious shared their thoughts with me did an amazing job putting their faith into perspective. I'm excited to share their answers with you... stay tuned.


  1. Hey Jackie! Great questions. I think it's great that you have been able to define actual questions and seek answers on them. I am confident that God has, or will give you an answer for these (whether through others or just between you and Him) in a way that speaks peace to your soul and leads you deeper into your relationship with him. Questions are good things, not things to be afraid of, and healthy to ask. I do find that sometimes God will answer questions with other questions though, Jesus style :)

  2. Why would someone trying to objectively self-examine her spirituality only consult religious or specifically Christian individuals for perspective? Seems like you've stacked the deck...


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