Category: Spiritual Formation

The Beginning of My Doubt

Day 20: The Beginning of My Doubt

I can’t quite remember when this current season of doubt starting creeping into my heart and mind, but I can remember the day that I realized its presence full-on.

It had been a day like any other. I spent my day at work, and came home to my sweet kiddos. I ate dinner, bathed some babies, tucked them into bed, and hopped onto Facebook for my nightly cool-down scroll.

Scrolling….scrolling….scrolling.

Stopped scrolling. Stared.

“Jake.” (more…)

Doubt- The Big, Bad Wolf of Faith?

Day19Doubt

I love college ministry. There are a zillion reasons why, but one of the top ones is because college students aren’t afraid of discussing hard stuff. They’ll talk about money, sex and power to a complete stranger. When out on a coffee date, the steamy liquid gold won’t even be cool enough to drink before a discussion starts about religion or politics or some recent headline.

To a college student, things are meant to be discussed, debated, mulled over. Their job is to think and wonder aloud in their classes, and it just naturally pours over into the rest of their lives.

As we get older, most of us slowly learn that it’s time for our priorities to shift. We have money to make, houses to buy, kids to birth, careers to advance. Our schedules get busy. Our minds get preoccupied. Our bodies get tired.

One day you’re sitting in your weekly small group with other people your age, and some brave soul admits that they’re struggling with doubt.

The room gets quiet. A couple things will inevitably happen:

  1. Someone will give some verses as to why the person shouldn’t doubt.
  2. Another will offer helpful advice- read your Bible more! pray more!
  3. A third will suggest a great christian apologetics book that will answer whatever questions are tripping him up.

Brave person will kindly accept all the advice. The brave person will be prayed for by the group. And the brave person will go home promising himself that he will never bring up his doubt again. 

To many, doubt seems like the big bad wolf of faith. When doubt comes around, we run into our houses, lock our doors, and pray that the faith we’ve built around ourselves will not get blown in. 

But what if doubt isn’t something to be so scared of? What if doubt is a natural part of our faith development? What if it’s something to embrace instead of run from?

Theologian Frederick Buechner once wrote that “doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”

Doubt is the ants in the pants of faith

 

This week I’ll be talking about doubt and the role it plays in our faith development. I’ll be sharing parts of my faith journey over the past several years, as well as some resources that have really helped. I’ll share some of the questions I still have, and how in some ways, they don’t matter as much to me as they used to. I’ll also (hopefully) be sharing some ways to love and care for those who are walking through a season of doubt.

My hope for this week is to offer encouragement, companionship, and tools to my fellow doubters, as well as to the ones who love them.

 

 

Books to Read When Your Faith Feels Uncertain

Books to Read When Your Faith Feels Uncertain

 

Over the past 5-6 years, I’ve gone through a fairly significant shift in my faith. I’ll share about it in depth sometime later this month.

For now, I want to share some of the books that were helpful to me during this season. I know that I’m not the only one out there who has had big questions, felt deep uncertainty, or who has just gotten tired of the Christian hamster wheel.

When in these kinds of places, I tried to keep hold of a rhythm of Scripture reading, but that was often like taking an iron supplement (unpleasant but you know you gotta do it). I found great book companions along this path of my journey that helped me feel understood. These writers helped me to understand what was going on inside of me during a time when everything around me felt like it was shifting uncontrollably. (more…)

Sacred Spaces

17 sacred spaces

 

The place you work matters.

Whenever we travel, I’m reminded of this. Typically I work at a desktop that I absolutely love. It’s tucked into a corner of our main living area. I have a little light. My papers are scattered all over the desk. My desktop is overcrowded with icons. It’s perfect.

When we travel, I work on Jake’s laptop. His laptop used to be my laptop, so you would think working on it would be like riding a bike, right?

Wrong. I feel slow and inefficient. It takes me nearly twice as long to get anything done.

There’s something significant about the place I work that allows me to dig in and get into my zone quickly.

While new experiences and beautiful places can give us a burst of creativity and openness, the long, hard work of everyday sustainability works best in familiar places. 

For me, my intentional practices of spiritual formation work similarly. While I definitely enjoy the 2 day conference that takes me outside my comfort zone, or the retreat that gives me space to breathe and listen– I’m always ready to come home to my sacred space.

Sacred spaces can be actual places. In college, my sacred space was the Panera on Providence, in the right corner table in the back room. It’s the space I would go to get “alone” without interruptions.

Sacred spaces can also be a space’s ambiance. One of my friends lights a candle when she’s ready to settle in to a time of reading and prayer. It reminds her of God’s presence with her.

Sometimes a sacred space has to do with a set of songs, a particular Bible, or a season of the year. Fall is my favorite season of the year, and it’s always the season I feel most connected with God. It holds memories of life-changing retreats and a rhythm of fresh renewal of spiritual practices.

 

What are the sacred spaces in your life?

 

Practicing Authentic Gratitude

Why we can be grateful for the good things while calling out the rest.

 

Today I’m thankful for yellow, crunchy beneath your feet leaves.

I’m thankful for the spur-of- the moment walk we decided to take this evening.

I’m thankful for an armful of sticks, leaves, buckeyes, and rocks, all given to me by a sweet 2-year-old who loves to explore around outside.

I’m thankful for a delicious dinner of orange chicken and also thankful for crockpots.

I’m thankful for kids’ teachers turned friends and interesting discussions over soda and tea.

I’m thankful for my anti-social 4-year-old blossoming into a good friend, and her new BFF and first-time playdates.

I’m thankful for friends and random gifts and chestnuts.

I’m thankful for very generous people who share their knowledge and the internet and #write31days.

I’m NOT thankful when my mini-me screams like a banshee over gum and bad attitudes and outside-in-the-cold-without-enough-layers and dishes and cluttery houses and kids struggling and 2 pee accidents of a potty-trained child and getting up early after going to bed too late.

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I’ve been learning about practicing authentic gratitude

We can express gratitude for the things we’re really actually thankful for, but we don’t have to convince ourselves to be thankful for the things that are ugly and hard and not-how-things-are-supposed-to-be.

Too often I think we try to guilt one another (or ourselves!) into being content with things we shouldn’t ever be content with. I’ve heard things like:

  • I’m grateful for my son throwing up in the middle of the night, because at least I have a son. Or because someday my kids will all be moved out and I will miss having kids at home (don’t believe me? google it).
  • I’m grateful for the time I lived in poverty because it taught me a lot about compassion for others.
  • I’m grateful that my husband is gone all the time because at least he has a good paying job that provides for us.
  • (this one is my favorite!) Look at those poor people in {insert country name}! They don’t have much but they’re so happy and grateful with little!

I say we can be authentically grateful for having children, while not being grateful for cleaning up puke at 3:00a. We can be authentically grateful for compassion being sewn in our hearts while still being disappointed that we had to experience that season of very difficult poverty. We can be authentically grateful that our husband has a great paying job that meets all of our needs and most of our wants, but we can be really sad and sometimes mad that our husband is missing out on so much of our lives and our kids’ lives.

And yes, some people around the world live in awful poverty and watch their children die of malnourishment or AIDS or easy-to-cure childhood illnesses and by the grace of God they are grateful for the good things in their lives, but I can guarantee you that they aren’t grateful for their kids dieing or going days without food or getting sick with malaria. They are grateful for other things, better things, things that are truly good.

We live in a broken world. Some things in our lives aren’t meant to be called good. Because they’re just not.

Just because “every good and perfect gift is from above” doesn’t meant that EVERY gift is from above.

It’s exhausting to live in a culture in which “gratitude” is the new buzz word for “put on a happy face.” YES, let’s write down 5 things we’re grateful for everyday in our fancy notebooks and try to find silver linings of huge nasty storm clouds. But let’s also call out the crappy, awful, “this-world-is-not-our-home” stuff too.

 

The Songs that Shape Us

Day 15 of #write31 days: Songs that Shape Us

 

When I was younger, I could never quite say I was looking forward to heaven. Somewhere along the way, I learned that in heaven, we were going to sing to God all day.

Ugh.

When I sing too much my jaw starts hurting. I yawn a lot. And if the music is not theologically flawless (to me), my mind automatically begins deconstructing the words of the song and trying to figure out what about it rubs me the wrong way.

Ironically, good music with carefully thought out lyrics speak to my soul more deeply than any sermon ever could. In fact, rich music has been what has encouraged me through some of the most difficult seasons of my adult life.  (more…)

The Hard Days Shape Us Too

#write31days: hard days

To be honest, it’s really hard to write about spiritual formation on a day like today.

I woke up happy, but quickly found myself entirely out of patience for a particular behavior in one specific child and I totally lost it. At 7:15a. This behavior is an issue that has been building and building and we’ve struggled through it again and again and again. We’ve talked. We’ve taken away beloved things, We’ve reasoned. We’ve taken away more beloved things. NOTHING HAS WORKED. And today I came to the end of my proverbial rope.  (more…)