Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Write God's Word on your heart foot...

The past month has been interesting and good. Hard and necessary. Beneficial and enjoyable.

I have had to face some of my anxiety issues head on; it became unavoidable. And for those of you who knew I was off work, that issue goes way deeper than what I am going to write about here, so this isn't "why" I was off work, just something that came up during that time. And since this is a public blog, we're going to avoid the "why I was off work" issue. Oh and this is NOT an invitation to ask why I was off, either :)

write the disclaimer. check.

Onward....

I have had some deep struggles with God these past few years. Well, I've had them longer than a few years, but now, I'm finally admiting it. And it's not so much me struggling with God as me just avoiding the fact that I need to struggle with God. I have been extremely frustrated with not having answers to hard questions. Tough questions that many pastors would avoid... like, how can we know that something is an answer to prayer versus a happening that would have occured even if I was a tree-hugging-must-do-yoga-and-be-one-with-the-earth-athiest? Why, when God promises peace (assurance) of salvation by simply "believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth Jesus is Lord," would someone have to pray for years to receive that peace? How can we be sure there is a heaven when no one (I'm talking no one who is still alive AND I can see face to face) has been there and then came back to say, "Hey earthlings, I've got good news and bad news: Heaven is real. So is hell."

These questions just scratch the surface of what I deal with in my head. Day in and day out, I have questions like this. Sometimes I avoid thinking about them, and other times, I have tearfully poured over these questions with friends and family. But what has remained consistent is this: no matter how much I question or how hard it is for me to have faith (if I have any at all) I KNOW that the Bible is true, God is who he says he is, and even if I don't "get" Him, it doesn't make his Word any less true.

Having said that, I still have to deal with this stuff. God created me and gave me what I'd like to call the "Clark Personality" - I over analyse everything, I want facts, I need things and people to be tangible, and any explanation needs to be logical, to the point and without fluff (hey, I didn't say that is the way that *I* will always explain something to you haha). I wish I had the "uncomplicated" faith type of personality: take things at face value, trust everyone, and believe that everyone around me is doing their best to make everyone else feel warm and fuzzy. Maybe this personality wouldn't be able to debate theology as well, but they wouldn't need to; they know whom they believe in and that is enough for them. Wouldn't that be great!? =) I am jealous of people who are like that!

So, here I sit, needing answers about a God who I know is real and living and true but many of the questions I'm asking don't have the kind of answers that I like to have.

This struggle of mine has freaked some people out... like mom. Don't worry mom, I understand... you are on the outside looking in, seeing me, your daughter, struggle with something that used to be so easy for me. Seeing me making changes in my life and you fear that I won't find my way back to God. I don't blame you for questioning my committment to my faith.
But this whole thing kind of came to a point where I really needed my faith to be real and if it wasn't, I was not going to continue pretending. What would be the point of that? I have a feeling there will be lots of people who went through life doing and saying all the right things, while secretly having questions about what they believe, and someday, they will stand before God, shocked that their name isn't found in the book, because while they were damn good at doing and saying the right thing, they never really trusted God... I don't want that to be me (or anyone for that matter).

So. I decided to ask the questions and stop pretending.
Something I've always known but that has become very apparent to me is this: you can't talk someone into believing in Jesus. Sure, God might use a conversation you have, but it is not something you can talk to someone about, have them repeat a special prayer and bam! saved! Often times those conversations and prayers get the ball rolling and sometimes, God uses those moments to bring people to himself. But when God gets your heart, I am confident that you will just know it. You will have that peace of salvation (even if, for some reason that only God knows, God makes you pray for that peace for years and years). I don't have that peace; which doesn't necessarily mean I'm not "saved" but it concerns me enough to seek that peace. And I might have to pray for it for a while but I am counting on God to deliver on that promise!

And I don't want to be the cookie-cutter Christian. I might read this someday and "lol" that I am saying this, but I doubt it. I want to be *real* because guess what, I have issues. We all do. Yet when you walk into a church many people hide their problems (granted, some issues you want to hide, at least from most people). But I am so tired of the facade. I am tired of people cringing and looking at me funny because I said a bad word (sometimes, I am emotional and I swear because it's the best word that fits in that moment. And YOU do too!!! You may not admit it. You may not say it out loud. But 4 letter words run through your head sometimes. Own up to it. haha). I am tired of people freaking out because I didn't go to church for a week, month or, wait for it, a year. Basically, God didn't give us a check list of do's and don't's on how to live our lives (yes, there are laws and certain things that are sins, but he didn't say: wear skirts, don't go to bars, never dye your hair blue, always judge people who smoke, etc).
So, my goal is this: seek answers to the questions and trust God with the rest. As someone who likes to have total control, this is never going to happen in my lifetime, but hopefully, it will get better. And just as a side note, just because I am writing this post, doesn't mean I am going to get my church clothes out and join a church next week; it doesn't mean I want to talk about this kind of stuff all the time; it doesn't mean I want to pray together or read the Bible together.
It's a step.
Kind of like the AA program... Step 1: Admit you have a problem. Check. I have a problem. A faith problem.

To get to the title of this post... I wanted something to remind me of this endeavor, my "faith journey" if you will... something so that I don't forget. Something that can be a permanant reminder that I choose Jesus, even if he confuses the crap out of me sometimes! So, even though this will cost me $300 when my dad finds out (a whole other topic for another time), I felt it was something I wanted to do... for me... so no one else has to like it because I do.

And so.... since I can't literally write God's Word on my heart, I figured I do the next best thing... put a Christian fish and cross on my foot (in PINK of course).

I know what you are thinking... "You're going to regret that someday." Sure. Maybe. But here's the thing... first, there are bigger things in life to regret. second, even if I regret the permanant marking, I will never regret my reasons for doing it and what it reminds me of.

17 comments:

Heather said...

Great thoughts, Jess. Definitely something we all need to think about!

(and I totally forgot about the $300 thing) :)

PG&E said...

personally, I think God would rather you question and be honest and upfront and wonder, etc., than sit in church every week not sure if you believe anything.... let's talk soon :) love you!

Rebecca said...

If I ever heard of a good reason to get a tattoo, yours is definitely it!

I appreciate your honesty. I don't know about everyone else, but I have questioned a lot of those same things. I go through phases where the answers are enough. . . and then they aren't. God, however, is always enough.

Praying that your journey is exciting!

inked33 said...

i want to address the peace that you speak of and tell you about mine. for me it has come with time and troubles and faith maturity and growth. i've always believed in God and that He sent His Son to die for our sins, but i have always questioned lots of different things... given many a pastor a headache :)
i think for certain people, questioning is healthy and it's part of who we are. we need to remember to talk to God about our questions and listen closely for His answer. the key is to not come up with the answers for ourselves or solve problems on our own.
the peace that i have right now has really shown up within the last year or so. it is because i have really prayed a ton and learned to turn everything over to Him. small things, big things and everything in between. when i do this, i know i am under His care and that things will work out according to His plan. it's when i try to take control and make things go on my schedule or timeframe and do things that i want to do... well, that's when life seems so much harder. i am a recovering control freak and i do slip up everynow and again. let me tell you, when i do... that's when things get icky. i see that things are going badly, turn it back over to God and even the icky things seem less so... funny how the easiest thing that we can do (letting God take control over what's already His) is the HARDEST. you are in my prayers (as you already know) and i'm proud of you for taking this step and going on your journey. by the time i'm able to put your tattoo on my foot, i cannot wait to see the things God has done in your life and in your heart. much love to you my fx sil.

Jess said...

I don't know exactly what to say except that I know how you feel. I really struggle with "feeling" God. I feel love through " touch" and I really struggle with feeling God's love because I need that physical connection. I don't understand why God made me to receive love this way and yet, he can't give me the love that I need. It's so frustrating. I don't know if I expressed that in a confusing way or not so sorry if it does not make sense or if it really has nothing to do with what you talked about.

not2brightGRAM said...

Jess, I love you!

I've struggled with many of those same questions (I'm a Clark after all), but here's what it comes down to for me...where else would I go?

The Words of Eternal Life (John 6)

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

P.S. I think your tat is cute...

not2brightGRAM said...

P.S. Pffft, $300? Pocket change!

Four peas in a pod said...

Jess,

Many years ago I struggled with the same questions. My journey lasted not years, but decades. I have come to different conclusion about the literal interpretation of the Bible, etc. I will not argue the point here, but just let me know if you want my reasoning. AKA play "devils advocate" :-0
(I think that's funny ...except when I realize that there really are those here that really think I would be advocating for the devil)

You are on your own journey, and I trust, in the end, you will be comfortable with your faith.

Keep it real. Stay away from the haters.

I love you,

A. Lori

Four peas in a pod said...

Jess,

Many years ago I struggled with the same questions. My journey lasted not years, but decades. I have come to different conclusion about the literal interpretation of the Bible, etc. I will not argue the point here, but just let me know if you want my reasoning. AKA play "devils advocate" :-0
(I think that's funny ...except when I realize that there really are those here that really think I would be advocating for the devil)

You are on your own journey, and I trust, in the end, you will be comfortable with your faith.

Keep it real. Stay away from the haters.

I love you,

A. Lori

Four peas in a pod said...

PS
Great place for a tat! I'm thinking I should put, "Eleanor" on one foot, "Audrey" on the other. The only problem would be who gets the right foot? :-)

Jess(ica) said...

Jess- totally makes sense. I am right there with you!

Aunt Pup- Thanks! Great passage! And totally pocket change! haha

A. Lori! As always, I am totally open to hearing your perspective! I would really LOVE to talk on the phone sometime! Really. It's been too long! Call me sometime when you have a moment without kiddos (dont want to take you from your time with them!!)...

And you should totally get their names tattoo'd on your feet! Have them pick which foot they want, that way, you dont have to pick who is "right" =) hehe

Four peas in a pod said...

Jess, sorry for the double post. I hit the submit button and weird things happened.

Even better than a phone conversation would be a visit!
;-)

I'll give you my reasons at some point. If I ever get around to writing my informal biography, I'm sure it will be in a chapter. :-)

Best,

A. Lori

Jess(ica) said...

You have no idea how badly I want to visit you!!! And seriously, I am dying to play with Ellie and Audrey. I can't stand how cute they are... if I come I'm bringing my salt shaker because I might eat them... just sayin' =)

Daniel said...

hey Jess! I forgot you have a public blog but your little pink tattoo led me back to it :) I like what you wrote. Appreciate your honesty. AND love you immensely!

I'll talk to you soon and maybe even see you before the year's out! who knows? we need to sit down at Caribou coffee, sip on turtle and whipped cream blended mochas together and catch up.

We shall discuss these and other sundry topics when thou calledst me.

grandma said...

First of all, thank you for all your honest where your heart is with God,,,,
I guess I am one of those who have always believed in God...when I was little I use to go to church to talk and pray to Him...I did not relies that you could talk to God any where...any time !!!! He is a large part of my life and I'm not saying I have always been a "angle"..I have made mistakes, and have ask for forgiveness .... And I know in my heart, He has forgiven me..
As I am getting close to the end of my life, I am looking forward to seeing my Heavenly Father face to face....and when we do meet, THEN I will have a lot of questions to ask...like why have always been such a bad speller ..lol
Trust and believe...some things in this life we will never have a answer..just look at all the 'wonders' of nature...
Love you granddaughter and keep on searching ...I'm sure God loves it !!!!

Jess(ica) said...

Oh grandma, you are amazing! Your faith has always amazed me and I wish I could have faith like you! someday... I'm working on that!

Your question for God, about being a bad speller, cracks me up! =)

Love you!

not2brightGRAM said...

Mom, I LOVE you and wouldn't change you one bit! And if I had my 'druthers, I'd rather be SWEET and a bad speller like you, than ABRASIVE and a crack speller like me.