I wrote recently that I would be writing about something lost and something found. When I wrote about what has been lost (interpersonal communication), it got quite a bit of response. I actually even got a couple telephone calls! All of the feedback I got from everyone was very positive.
Now to write about something I found. it is actually something that I lost a while ago and have found again. My Faith. Not always the easiest subject to discuss. it makes many people uneasy. What is the saying: ‘two things you never discuss, Religion and Politics.’?
For many years I was not connected with my faith in any way. I was raised Lutheran, My parents married in a Lutheran Church, I was baptized in a Lutheran Church, took first communion and confirmed in a Lutheran Church. I have always believed. Always recognized the sacrifice. But I disconnected as time went on and an unfortunate event within my old church that left me very hurt. Christians are supposed to love, but members of that congregation were unable to look past some troubled times I went through and give me an opportunity within the church, so I walked away from it.
Later I had a roommate who married a very religious individual who made some very disparaging comments about her fiancé’s ‘unchristian friends'(including myself) and how much of an embarrassment they would be to her, her family and her church at the wedding. That disgusted me to no end and any hope I would have had in even wanting to reconnect with my faith were shoved aside. (A side note to this part of the story is years later, this individual personally apologized for her remarks, and took some ‘bad advice’ and did nothing about the statement at the time. I completely believe her, but at the time the damage was done.)
While new mom and I were dating, she made it no secret how connected in her faith she was. And I saw it. We would try out a church and afterward she would say how recharged she was after hearing the word. I just shook my head and said ‘that’s great’. I did not feel the same refreshment she did. But it was not from not believing, it was from being shut off due to resentment.
I warmed up through our relationship and into our marriage. But still had not really reconnected. Through some friends we found a good church we both liked (Lutheran, I know you’re surprised!) and had been going for a while. I was there physically, but not spiritually. Again, shut off.
Having a child really changes your perspective. It is part of the basis of this entire Blog, the training you go through as a new parent. One of the big questions that came up with us is how is religion going to play a part in our child’s life? We knew that faith was going to be important in his upbringing, but inside I was struggling, because I knew I had to lead by example. So I really started trying to find what I saw others experiencing. Why were new mom’s batteries recharged when mine were not? I watched members of our congregation and realized they had what I was searching for.
One week in church, the mention of the annual men’s retreat came up again. New mom asked if I was going to register, and I told her “yeah, I will sign up for that’ with NO intention of signing up. Just letting the deadline pass and then it would be “ohh, didn’t realize I missed the deadline”. The next week she leaned over and said “oh, I signed you up for that, you just need to pay for it this week” what what what??? So I was going.
While I was there, I realized a couple of things, the first being these guys that were there were going through the same struggles I was. In a couple of the sessions we had frank conversations about our lives and trials we were going through. It was very enlightening to see others going through some of the same challenges and having support for each other. But there was a moment. THE MOMENT. Someone who has become a very close friend to me shared his story. It was POWERFUL. To hear the trials this man has been through, how he too had lost his faith as well and the changes in his life since he rediscovered it.
It was a jumping off moment. It truly was the Holy Spirit working through him and reaching every man in that room. Through his words, I found what had been missing. It has not been immediate, but I have in the past couple years been working on it and can say now that I have a stronger connection with my faith than I have at any other point in my life.
It has not made everything rainbows and puppy dogs. There seems to be a misconception that being connected in your faith, being a believer will exempt you from pain, tragedy and overall suffering. This is not true. Having faith has helped me deal with issues and trials, giving me an inner peace. When I was unemployed for four months, I knew that we would be alright. I had an inner peace that was beyond understanding. When I hear bad news, it is difficult and like everyone else, I have no idea how it fits into the bigger plan, but I know that plan is out there, and it will eventually be revealed.
I hope to never become my old roommate’s fiancé, as poorly chosen as her words were, they were still said and the message was well received. I hope never to judge another based upon their beliefs (or non-beliefs) but I will share my own faith and beliefs. I will always be willing to open a discussion about it. Recently on social media a friend made statements about God that were from an angry place. When I answered this post saying how none of the statements he made applied, he challenged me to prove it. I asked him to have lunch with me, which we still (and likely won’t) have not had.
There are many more stories to share about these past couple years and the benefits (and detriments, yes, there have been a couple) of being in touch with my faith. I will be sharing those in the near future, especially the stories that have impacted me as a dad (this is what the blog is supposed to be about right?)