Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dear God....Are You There?

There seems to be this underlying tone in our Christian societies and churches that makes us feel that it's wrong to question. What if someone were to be really honest in Sunday school or small group and just come right out and say, "I'm not really sure that I believe in all of this. In Jesus being the son of God, in the existence of God, in the validity of the Bible. Can someone please tell me why I should believe?"

What would we do?  I would like to think that our Christian gatherings are warm, welcome places. That people's jaws wouldn't drop to the floor. That the person who is searching for answers wouldn't then be gossiped about for needing prayer because they aren't "saved".

I would love to think that but I know I have been the person that in my longing to help this questioning person, has turned them into a project. A person that I need to help "save" and I was also afraid of them.  If they aren't sure that they believe then they aren't a Christian and satan must have a hold on them and they aren't "safe".

But in my brutal honesty I will admit that over the past few years I have become the searcher. I question God's existence. Is He really there?  Have we as people made all of this up to make ourselves feel better and help society have a stronger moral code to live by?

I haven't dared to utter these words aloud to my Christian friends out of fear of being a major disappointment. If I have a good spiritual life I couldn't doubt, could I?  I would become a complete and total let down and be looked at as a fraud.

Well, I don't have all the answers and I think it's ok to question. No doubt my deep sense of despair and questioning has come through trying times. Through transition, through the birth of babies, through the loss of jobs, money, and things, through the loss of stability at times, it left me feeling hopeless.

When in years past I would dig in my heals and cry out to God during trying times, I began to falter. I would cry out, "God, if you're really there please just show me. Give me a sign."  And even though He was holding my hand, I couldn't feel Him. Even though there were signs of His faithfulness, I couldn't see them. I don't think God put me in a pit of despair but I think I have learned more from being in pits than I will ever learn when I am high on top of a mountain.

I've learned that it's ok to not have all the answers. Although, I would love to know more about God's word and who He really is, no one knows it all. The Gospel is a mystery. I have to put in the hard work to study and work on my relationship with God but, I will never know it all and some things are unexplainable. There is more gray than black and white and that is ok.

We don't have to have all of the answers and anyone who claims to have them is a fraud. We do have to put forth the effort to study His word. That is easier said than done because honestly when I have some quiet time away from the kids I want to sit in peace and watch TV. I have to put forth the effort to find the answers to my questions. No one can find them for me. Although there are some great preachers, teachers, and speakers out there, they can't answer all of my questions and they can't make my relationship with God stronger. Only I can do that.

I am thankful for my pit because I no longer fear the unbeliever because I have been the unbeliever. The person who is scared of the judgment of the church or that they will always be labeled a sinner, I am that person. And I will still continue to battle that gossiper who places judgment on others. She likes to creep up too. I will still continue to wrestle with both sides because I am human. I'm not afraid to admit it.

I will let others down and myself because I am not perfect and I never will be but I have to believe there is a God who is and He wants to love us and know us more. He doesn't want to rain down hell, fire, and damnation on us for our questions or unbelief or wandering. He wants to welcome us home with a wonderful party.

Luke 15:11-32

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mommy Wars...Welcome to the Cage Fight!

Stay at home mom vs. working mom. 
Public school vs. homeschool vs. private school vs. charter school.....Oy Vey!!!! Can't we all just get along?!?!?

We've all seen the "Mommy Wars" played out online through blogs, comments, and articles. I've been in the trenches in this battle as a participator and as a spectator. 

I've participated in both sides of the condescending and degrading comments such as..."What does she have to do all day?" Referring to the stay at home mom and then of course there is....."Well, if all I had to do was sit at home all day I would......" Fill in the rest of that sentence with whatever judgement fits the circumstance. And....."She just doesn't want to work." Implying that the stay at home mom is lazy. 

Then there's the judgment of the working mom. "Well, she just drops her kids off with someone else all day long. She has to make that money so she can pay for that lifestyle."  Blah, blah and so on.  

And Where do I even begin with what others say about homeschooling moms? We are freaks of nature. Our kids can't possibly go to college (even though they do and often times before completing high school just as they can in public school) or function normally in society. 

All homeschooling parents must think public school is the devil. (Which we don't. I think each family and child has a unique set of circumstances. Sometimes homeschooling is best, sometimes public, sometimes private, and even though I would be chastised in Montgomery, AL, sometimes charter schools.....gasp! Why don't we figure out how states that have thriving public and public charter schools do it? I don't know, I'm just a crazy homeschooler.)

I've been on ALL sides of this battle. I admired and was envious of stay at home moms when I was a working mother and now I admire and am envious of working moms now that I am a prisoner...um...I mean...stay at home mom. (Jokes and sarcasm intended)

So here's the point. We all want what we don't have. It's human nature. Someone else's life always looks more enticing than our own. "The grass is always greener" but then when you get over to that "grass" you see (and smell) all of the fertilizer, and it doesn't smell like scentsy or essential oils.  (In case you were wondering, it's poop. I believe I may have written these same words before, but it's a never ending battle and could stand to be reiterated.)

I've heard it said time and time again, we have to water our own grass. If our grass is dying, then we have to do something about it. Sometimes that requires stinky fertilizer, (which is a metaphor for hard work.) 

What we shouldn't do is start lashing out at the person or people who appear to have what we want. (And by "we" I mean "me",  preaching to myself) Or the ones who appear happier than we are because 99% of the time they are fighting their own battle that we know nothing about.  As my husband put it most of us are "like a duck on the water, it looks calm and peaceful from above but underneath it is moving it's feet as fast as it can."  

Before we moved to Eugene I was terrified of raising my children on the "liberal" west coast. That was my view of it because I had never lived out of the south. I was terrified of the unknown. I felt like I didn't belong there but I grew to love it, while still feeling like an outsider. 

However, I feel like an outsider in the south too. I love it but I've never felt like I belong here either. I know that's probably all of my own psychological issues. (Someone needs to crack open the DSM and diagnose me. I'm just kidding. Please don't. :)

I think in all of this transition and change I have gained some insight.  I haven't figured anything out or gotten any answers necessarily, but I realized that we are all just people. 

We are all just trying to live our lives. We are all trying to figure it all out and it gets messy and we make mistakes (sometimes big, sometimes small). In the end we are all just trying to make it through. 

The south has some great qualities and so does the west. Stay at home moms have some great perks but so do working moms. For the most part we are all just people trying to do the best we can with what we have. I don't think there is a perfect answer or a perfect place, at least not here on Earth in this life. 

So for me while I try to figure out what will work best for my family....While I try to navigate homeschool vs. public school vs. private school vs. working mom vs. stay at home mom....I am challenging myself to stay in a healthy mind set. To not offer judgement to those who do things differently than I do and to not covet what they have or envy them. 

I have my own unique circumstances and my own unique children. I'll probably get this wrong more than I will get it right but I will keep trying. 

Now if I could just figure out how to turn writing my thoughts into making money then I would be a stay at home mom/working mom. I'm sure that would offer it's own set of issues which would require it's own blog. I would just settle for a writing seminar with Jen Hatmaker and Ann Voskamp. Let's make that happen!