Sunday, May 30, 2010

Faith Stuff

I can't sleep so I'm going to see if I'm able to get out one of the posts I mentioned before...

Today I mentioned Wally and I had another great afternoon date. We drove an hour out of the way so that I could scratch a craving itch I was having for a great burger with everything on it and some onion rings. It was so worth the drive.

While we sat in the nearly empty dive of a restaurant we eased into some rather deep discussions about life, living, the meaning of it all and just where exactly we stood. Or didn't stand.

I feel the need to put out a disclaimer saying that I never ever intend on offending or turning anyone off by my thoughts or honesty. I am not ever really trying to win an argument or push my opinions onto anyone reading. My blog is where I throw out my thoughts in hopes that I myself can figure things out (often with the helps of your comments, often not). Just remember this.

Many of you may know that Wally and I both were raised in church and to some degree in Christian homes. We both went to church every week. We both made serious decisions in our faith early in our youth. We both were and are sincere about what we believe. But what do we believe?

Well, over the past several years what we believe has changed a lot in some ways and not at all in others. I have to note as well that I know had we not shared this faith we would not have found ourselves together as it was the primary reason we were drawn to one another.

I have to admit though now, our faith as we knew it is not the only thing that draws us together. We have actually grown to love each other as people without the same faith we used to share (but rather a new one) and have learned to like each others differences (well ... most of the time). Sometimes the drastic change in how we now live out our faith startles me and even at times gets me worried as it is so different from what we've always known or even believed to be right in the past.

When we married we both felt 'called' to full time ministry life. Meaning working for a pay check in a church or on the 'mission field' (yuck I hate that terminology!). We were honoured to serve God relentlessly in a way we thought would bring Him 'glory' by giving unlimited time, do whatever anyone in ministry asked us to do, staying completely and over the top involved in church stuff. Whether it gave us 'Wally and Eva' time or not.

We were prepared to have a family and to 'train them up the way they should go'. Which really to us meant possibly keeping them out of the public school system, keeping them loyal members of Sunday School, and teaching them all of the important parables and stories of Jesus. From what we were taught in church culture raising your children Christian was about teaching, teaching, teaching.

It was thinking about our possible future family that made me think about our old thoughts and wonder about our new ones.

What are our new ones?

I'll share on one condition: remember these are our thoughts right now, and they have come out of our personal experiences. We do our best not to compare our thoughts and ideas against those of others that may do things differently. We realize we don't have children and that things could and probably will change. We are both works in progress...

Here are some changes:

I used to think about home schooling because of the same reasons many people home school. Often a better education for your children, one-on-one time with them, you can use time to teach Bible stories and principals, more family time and well you know what they are learning. Also, many people who home school (Christians I mean), don't want their children to get mixed up in 'worldly' things or people. They feel if they keep them learning at home they are safer and perhaps more prepared to face the 'world' when there are adults.

Now: For me and Wally. We've been stretched after working with at risk youth to remember that the only way 'the world' is to be reached (and by that I mean loved) is for those who love to get out there and do it. We feel now, that (again for us) we would be able to do a better job teaching our kids to love others their own age by sending them to a public school (although I'd definitely be open to a Catholic school as I feel love could definitely be spread around there too - anywhere really). We could actually teach them practically how to be a 'light' the way we are naturally meant to be a 'light'. We both often felt sheltered by our Christianity and isolated from the world. Initially we thought that was good but once out in the big bad world had no idea how to relate to others that weren't Christians - we didn't realize the love is a universal language, Christianity as we knew it(with the: 'washed in the blood of the lamb', being 'saved' and all the other lingo) wasn't.

I could easily add that neither Wally nor I are people that could do a door to door sales pitch for our faith. We are relationship people - good or bad, that's what we are. We are touched my other's love through their actions towards us and their relationship to us 90% of the time. People's words matter maybe the other 10%. So that's why we'd go that route - and this would be good experience for us too. Those who are 'sold' by door to door sales people would likely be drawn to door to door sharing of faith. That is fine for them, whatever floats your boat. You probably just wouldn't be that convincing for us (yes, even if your were Christian).

On the school front: I also believe that as a parent, even if you send your kid to school, you are still your kid's primary teacher and you need to make that a priority.

I've asked Wally a few times in the past year or two about what we would do if we had kids about how to teach them stuff about faith, seeing as we no longer attend a church (though are connected to a home group) with anything for our kids to do.

We both still believe in the key elements of the Christian faith (though we question ourselves - I think it's mostly due to the fact that we live and think so differently than we used to and know that church types would be questioning us as well). However we aren't sure if we want to teach our children too much about the doctrine of the Christian faith. Until they perhaps ask when they are older and even then I think we'd prefer to encourage them to seek things out themselves.

For those Christian's reading that grew up in regimented Sunday School or Churches this will probably be a stretch. I'm going there anyway. Try to hear me out.

Wally and I have no issues believing in the Christian doctrine but both struggle with the fact that people through out the centuries have turned what is a most amazing love story of sacrifice and relationship into a formula. Into rules. Into ... something so far removed from the beauty (we feel) it was meant to be that the personhood of God has been lost somewhere.

We both have struggled in keeping (who we see as) God in a relationship. We've been taught so much about Him, heard so many stories of old, and be told who and what He would or should be to us, when we chose to believe, that it seemed to take all of the beauty out of meeting Him for ourselves.

I was saying to Wally today that I kind of wondered if it would be best not to overload our kids with Bible info but rather give them an incredible (yet obviously imperfect) example of what it means to love like God by how we live our lives. And when they ask why we do what we do, just give them little nibbles of who we've learned God to be to us and maybe things we've discovered in the Bible (as it does hold amazing information). But only really when they ask. Have faith, they will ask.

I said today that sometimes being told and taught so much about God in Sunday School and Church sort of ruins the surprise of meeting Him for yourself, and kind of taints your view one way or another before you get to really meet Him on your own. It's kind of like if I were to tell you all about my very best friend and said how great they were and all of the amazing things about them. I'd go on and on and likely paint them in an unrealistic light. You would meet them and agree or disagree, or think 'yeah she was dead on about that, but way off about this'. Also many Christians teach the perfect time of day to pray and do 'devotions' (I can't tell you how much I hate that term!!!), they tell you how often you should do whatever and on and on. Then comes all the formulas ... blah, blah, blah.

I don't know about you but I know that every relationship I have is different. If I measure my relationship with my husband to you and your relationship with your partner and start setting all of the rules to be the same when our lives and relationships and the people we are, are indeed so vastly differently - well, let's just say one size does not fit all. (In my opinion that is). We take the relating away and all of a sudden have made our relationship a structured plan.

(Don't get me wrong I know that sometimes we need an element of structure - ie. set a date to hang out, make a commitment to that person, etc. I'm getting at the fact that often structure turns into obligation without spontaneity ... sounds so fun eh?)

Back to the concept of revealing too much information. Not that I think God is disappointing, I don't think if we know God truly that we could ever be disappointed. But I think as humans we are unable to fathom so much about Him and just think how much inaccurate information gets passed on about it - as we are indeed human.

I also think we do a great job of sugar coating how great life is 'with Faith' or God. I kind of think of it like marriage. When someone commits to it I say to myself 'Geez, they definitely have no idea what they are getting themselves into'. I think that is a reasonable thought to have about someone entering marriage but it shouldn't be what I think when someone begins to live with faith and love in their lives. But I do because my experience has been challenging, more so within the Church setting.

I'm not saying life with faith should or shouldn't be challenging. Life period is challenging and in order to grow we have to be challenged. I just don't think that people should be ushered into it (just as in marriage) with romantic feelings of 'this is how it will be - la la la'. One way or the other.

I may be coming off as thinking that I totally know what I'm talking about, I really only know what my experience has been. And like I said before, I'm quite positive I'll have different thoughts not too far down the road.

I know this:

The further along I get in life the less I know for sure.

I believe for some reason God wanted us here and created the most amazing and beautiful place for us to live because He loves us.

I believe something got messed up along the way that wasn't in His original plan.

I believe He set the example of true love to fix whatever got messed up.

I believe He really just wants us to follow His great example of true love the best we know how until things get ironed out.

I believe all of the other details that get everyone tied up in knots are human's ways of avoiding loving each other they way they were meant to.

I don't know ... just what I'm thinking.

By the way, we still feel called to 'full time ministry'. It just has a brand new definition to us now:

Living everyday loving others, ourselves and each other the best we know how.

We're still not all that good at it, but we are admittedly both works in progress...

I met my match

I had to know it was going to happen. I just didn't think it would happen so fast.

I think this happens whenever anyone makes a big decision or discovery in their lives. The fates (whoever they are) or God or whoever gets their kicks off of watching us here on earth, send along someone to test our belief and commitment to our new found 'way of life'.

Seeing as I haven't even had a chance to get past my final long long week of work I can say that I certainly did not expect it occurring so quick. But I am glad it did.

A mere 24 hours after deciding to cut back on my work schedule I am in a kitchen of someone I was supporting with another staff. We found ourselves chatting about our schedules, a certain team we are both on and how crazy things can get doing what we do.

Our conversation meandered through our hours and losing our weekends when we started and then pretty much every day except one out of each week.

I mentioned to Toughy that I had just started take my every other weekends off and guarding them with my life. She looked at me with quizzical eyes and gave me a 'That must be nice' look, in fact she may have even said it. She followed it up by adding that she's been collecting too many hours and had to go in to ask for help from management to get rid of like 8-10 hours a weeks that she'd taken on over the max for the next few weeks.

Toughy talked about how insane life was with her new fiance and her son, and not being able to spend time with them really. As I listened and agreed with the challenge of this lifestyle I could tell she felt more able to share her frustrations with it, knowing she wasn't coming across as weak I think.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to share but I did anyway and mentioned that I had booked a week of unpaid time off in June (her super busy month) because I just needed to stop and take some time. Perhaps in the back of my mind I hoped that I could help her find some reason to see that she deserved a break, that she probably needed one and that by me saying I needed one she'd feel 'permission' to take one too.

Well, not so sure it worked. After I told her this she gave me an even more intense 'Must be nice' look. I flatly said: 'I need time. I need a break from this to live. I want a life.' We chatted a bit more about it but let the conversation go. I only had a slight pang of self condemnation but for the most part was very proud of myself. Not just for sharing what could be seen as my weakness with her, but sharing what I was going to do about, even if she saw it differently.

The more I practice this guarding of my time and my need for it the better I feel about my decision.

Now I am brought to yesterday.

I was chatting with another young staff at work while relaying shift info. She works full time at a day job and work nearly full time (or so she says) at my place of employment. There were some shift changes and since I put in an extra long day yesterday and was scheduled to work an 8 hour day and a full week, and she was going to unexpectedly lose 4 hours I offered her the last half of my shift today. She gladly took it.

I mentioned generally that I was trying to keep my hours to a certain number so that I could participate in my life. What a stupid thing to say to someone who works two full time jobs and isn't in a long term relationship.

She immediately pridefully announced that she works 36 1/2 hours at her day job and often 38 hours at this job. She mentioned that this job could be a challenge but 'Hey, we love our job right?' Of course. But I also like to live my life too, I mentioned that.

I so used to be that person. The person that took so much pride in working every waking hour, even though I was crabby and beat and drained at the end of the day.

Now I am really working on being proud of trying to be a good wife, a passionate Liver of life, a thinker, a writer, a hopefully decent friend, someone who can help out another person without getting a pay check, a growing human being. I think those are good aspirations.

I still struggle with feeling validating for taking the time, but I know that will iron itself out as I obey my limits and just let go and be who I am supposed to be. I know that if I don't I'll miss out on important relationships, incredible revelations and possibly even becoming a mother. I want those things, more than I want people to think I'm the hardest working person around.

Who knew this would be a challenge?

I'm up for it.

(I hope me talking about this issue isn't like beating a dead horse. It's something I struggle with so it's something I'll write about. Feel free to skip the boring ones!)

I'm ba-ack

Ahhhhhhhh... feels so good.

You know what's frustrating sometimes though? The fact that I have days that give me excellent blog material but I never get the chance to sit down and write about them. That frustrates me.

But I'm here today with about 4 posts in my head and currently have no clue as to which one might come out first.

Hmmmmm... let's see.

Maybe I'll start off with some random happiness.

I committed myself to wearing a sleeveless top (or tank top) for the past three days in a row. For those of you who don't know me well, this is a big deal. I'm a rather modest dresser. I used to think it was because I was spiritual, now it's more because of low confidence. Well, I am now at least one shade darker than my regular pasty white skin colour and a tad more confident - very impressive.

I went out and bought an expensive bra yesterday. I love it and now wonder if I'll ever be able to cheap out again. (Seriously, it makes the fact that I lost 4 inches around my chest not so depressing.)

I also purchased myself some new sandals yesterday. I spent $69.99 plus tax on them. Never in my life, EVER, have I done such a thing. They have been worth every red cent. They are flip floppy and comfortable. The first pair I've never had to 'break in'!!! (NO BLISTERS!!!!) Amazing.

Yesterday an issue arose putting me in the place where I had to decide between my hours off and the person I was supporting's well being. I chose their well being instantly and was all mama bear about it. I've never felt those instincts kick in before like that (and some may say it's unprofessional for them to come out at work), but they were there. I'm no hero and I know the answer isn't always being protective but it was needed yesterday and I'm glad I did it. My 6 hours turned into 10 1/2 and I honestly didn't mind one of them. I could be a mom someday. I could. But, if I am, I better never have access to a gun because I'm afraid that if anyone tried to hurt my kid I'd shoot them.

Wally and I shared another amazing Sunday afternoon together just eatin' and chattin'. We had a great talk and really enjoyed each other. Today I liked him a lot and loved him too.

Have I mentioned that I'm retreating soon? I think I have, right? During my 10 days off I'm taking a couple of nights and actually taking off. I don't know where yet, but I am. I don't remember the last time I was alone. I told my mama tonight that I was going away or a couple of days during my little vacay. She asked 'With who?' I said 'Me'. She was ok with that, and so was I.

I miss you Bex, we need to hang out soon.

My birthday party is Friday - YAY!! I hope the 3 people that said they were coming do, but even if they don't I'm planning lots of fun! I think we'll have a good time :)

I am really thankful for Dee and his acceptance of my sense of humour. A lot.

I need to get (I mean I want to get) a pedicure so bad, but I keep putting it off.

For the first time in the 2 years since we moved I miss having our house. I'll get over it. We've stopped looking at houses as Wally and I don't agree on what our financial state should be when we buy. He's careful and responsible, I'm carefree and irresponsible. Someday we'll even it out. Hopefully before we become the appropriate age to live in Wrinkleville.

I feel so good in this moment I feel a little guilty. Damn judgment.

Friday I was wandering through the mall and bought a bunch of cards because I like sending people cards for no reason. In fact I think that's the best reason to actually buy an over priced piece of paper - I rarely do it for birthdays or appropriate occasions, but I will gladly do it for non occasions. Sometimes I'll buy a get well card for someone who's fine or a birthday card because I like it and just erase the 'get well' or 'happy birthday'. Why do we always need to follow the rules?

Tomorrow the beginning of my next 12 week challenge (for myself) begins, I am unusually excited about this. I feel like I have learned so much about myself, my health, and my thinking in the past three months that I can't wait to see what happens in the next three. I actually believe in myself and know that I will achieve all that I want and more. I've never felt that way before, it's incredible.

Today I talked on the phone with my mama for 17 minutes and 34 seconds (I think that's like a record). We had a nice little chat, and even made a date during my down time. At the end I said: 'I love you!' and she said 'I love you too'. That's a big deal. Now I want to cry. I am so grateful. Tell someone you normally wouldn't tell that you love them (well make sure it's not like the mail man - unless of course you have that kind of a thing with your mail man. In which case I'd consider getting some counseling ...)

I really love having had the chance to get to know some of you all out in reader land lately. Whether it was through an e-mail, a coffee visit, a party, or whatever. It's been such a gift to me - Thank you again for accepting my honesty.

I know these thoughts were all over the land, but sometimes random scenery is good.

This scenery was on my heart, now I hope it's on yours.