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Matters of Faith

January 19, 2014

The following post is the first in a series I plan to share each Sunday for the next several weeks.

This Sunday, I went back to church. I hadn’t been since Christmas Eve, but before that I’d gone several Sundays in a row; and before that, I’d never gone regularly in my adult life. We went inconsistently in my childhood, sometimes becoming regular for several months, alternating with absences lasting years. Neither of my parents were what you would call devout. In fact, I was never really clear what their beliefs really were; I know they were Christians ostensibly, and I’m confident both believed in God in some way. I just wish I could have come to understand what that way really was, respectively, for each of them. My dad passed away a decade ago. My mom, now 80, suffers from dementia. So I’m never going to know, in this lifetime anyway.

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Dedication page of said Bible.

When I was 10, my mom heard that our church was holding confirmation classes. I completed them and was confirmed and baptized. I’m glad it happened to me when I old enough to be aware and make the decision for myself. I felt something that moment that I believe was (is) the Holy Spirit. Everything was set for me to get integrated into youth group and become a committed young adult Christian. But something happened; the church was changing, in ways I didn’t really understand at the time. All I knew was that my parents didn’t want to go there anymore, and didn’t bother finding an alternative destination for our Sunday mornings. 

I held onto the Bible I was given upon confirmation, and around age 18, I decided to read it cover-to-cover. Much like this writing, I usually saved this reading for late at night and would often fall asleep before I could finish a book. I’m not sure how long it finally took me– something short of a year. I’m also not sure what I got out of that self-appointed project. I can say I succeeded in reading the entire Bible; many pages while I was half-conscious at best, and dozens of passages, even whole books, that I lacked proper context to interpret. 

For a long time, I had a compulsion to pray every single night. I had to, literally, get on my knees, and it had to be in private. There were times I had to do it in a bathroom just to meet these conditions. I always asked for forgiveness if in any way I was praying wrongly. During bad years when I drank nearly every night, I made a point of praying before the first sip. The habit persisted well into my married years, and then, one night, I just decided to stop. I guess I reached a point where I knew I didn’t have to prove anything to God. Perhaps more importantly, I didn’t feel like God had to prove anything to me.

In this series, I hope to relate my own spiritual journey, and explore matters of faith, religion, science, scripture, God, good versus evil…. I know I could fill a hundred Sundays with all my thoughts on these matters, but just as importantly, I hope you will comment upon your own thoughts and beliefs.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2014 11:14 pm

    I look forward to reading the next installments.

  2. January 20, 2014 8:19 am

    Jason, I am very much looking forward to reading these installments. I am a seminary student who struggled(s?) mightily with the faith. It is always good to go on these journeys with others. We are not alone, nor should we be.

    • January 20, 2014 8:51 am

      Ultimately, the whole point is that we are never alone. I’m glad to see you back here! I don’t think I was aware that you were in seminary before. How much longer do you have to complete the program?

      • January 20, 2014 11:04 am

        I am it in my second term of a 4-year Masters of Divinity. I’m still trying to decide if I want to specialize in Pastoral Couseling and Care or Evangelism and the Growing Church.

  3. January 20, 2014 4:33 pm

    I look forward to seeing your next installments.

    • January 20, 2014 4:41 pm

      BECCA!

      • January 20, 2014 5:15 pm

        Hey! How are things going? The baby is a year old now?

      • January 20, 2014 8:16 pm

        Thirteen months! I really need to post more regularly to my blog. I am shocked you remembered. Viewing us all here together again makes me all warm and fuzzy. :)

      • January 20, 2014 9:28 pm

        Of course I remembered. :) Warm fuzzies all over.

      • January 22, 2014 8:20 pm

        She steps in and there goes my comments section. ;) For me, counseling and care sound more appealing, but that is all up to the call of God’s voice in your heart.

      • January 22, 2014 8:41 pm

        It sounds more appealing to me as well, and it is my current spec. I had considered switching to something “more marketable,” but I have squashed that line of thinking. The “worldy” things in my life will be taken care of if I follow the call. Everything about counseling and care scream into heart. I think I will listen.

      • January 22, 2014 9:06 pm

        I admire you for that– keep listening! I’ve learned it’s best the hard way.

  4. vickyvix permalink
    January 24, 2014 6:14 pm

    Jason – I’m so glad you left a note on my blog (and such a sweet one, at that). I’m looking forward to following you here.
    – vickyvix

  5. January 24, 2014 8:52 pm

    I’m looking forward to this series, along with the rest of your blog. Your experience sounds similar to mine. I was never a regular church attender until I went to college and then wasn’t what I would consider “devout” until a few years ago. I hope you find a church home that is perfect for you, whether it’s the one you recently visited or not.

    As for praying, for me it used to be a ritual much like you described. I did it every night before bed, on my knees with my hands together because for some reason I thought that’s how you’re supposed to do it. Then not long ago I ditched all of that and realized I had it all wrong. Prayer is simply communicating with God. It doesn’t matter how you do it. So now I pray laying in bed, in the shower, while driving, or whatever. If I feel an urge to talk to God I do and I don’t worry about any rituals that may go along with it.

    • January 24, 2014 9:30 pm

      I don’t know why I had the hang-up about the “right” way to pray. I eventually moved on but there’s still lingering vestiges of that hang-up sometimes. As for churches, well, that’s what the next post will probably get into, so I’ll save my commentary for that. I’ve got like 3.5 people looking forward to the forthcoming posts in this series. Pressure! ;) I’m glad you are here.

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