You may have noticed that I don't write overtly about my faith on this blog.
That's because I don't wear my faith on my sleeve. Or on my t-shirt or bumper sticker, for that matter.
It's not a part of my life. It IS my life.
It's not something I say. Or something I do. It's something I AM.
And what is my faith? What is my religion? Let's see. If I could describe it in one word, it would be LOVE.
It's feeding the poor and encouraging the hopeless and living beyond myself.
It's caring for children and fighting against injustice and doing good.
It's putting myself second and asking forgiveness and thinking about people more than things.
As I write this, I hesitate. Should I really post about this? Faith is, after all, kind of a touchy topic. It triggers emotion. So, I'll preface this series by saying you might be a little uncomfortable, I might be a little uncomfortable. Not because I will be dissecting theology or anything like that, but because there is potential for misunderstandings. For example, if - in passing - I tell you I went to church this past Sunday, you might:
You see? Just by saying the word "church," I am instantly vulnerable.
Here's the thing. I don't want to fight. I grow weary of dogmatic rhetoric. I just want to say: "here's my thoughts about church, God, religion, people, whatever" and then hear your thoughts. K? Just like we're talking about anything else. Matter-of-factly. Respectfully. With laughter. Without big religious words that we don't use in regular conversations (unless, of course, you do use those words in regular, everyday conversations).
So, that's what this weekend is about. I'll be writing about things that are somehow tied to religion or faith (which is a bit terrifying). Next weekend there will be more product reviews and giveaways as usual (I have a bunch of them planned). This weekend is more about musings. Let's see how this goes...
P.S. I really don't understand putting bumper stickers on cars. You put this one-liner message on your car that you can't fully explain, but that requires explanation. Not to mention the damage you do to your car.
P.P.S. There is nothing wrong with bumper stickers. I just don't understand them.
P.P.S. When I say that love is my religion, I am indeed referring to the love that is rooted in Jesus Christ.
P.P.P.S. Do you ever notice that it's really hard to talk about religion without using a bunch of clauses and explanations and post-scripts?
* Image credit: Flickr, iFatma's photostream
I love that you are honest enough to speak about this. I was reading some of your posts earlier and was thinking about things you had written in the past about how you never watch TV, how you read with your girls over 20 books a day and live a comfortable happy life with your family.
You are busy, you are dedicated and adore your family - whom in return adore you.
So I caught myself thinking, "I wonder if Stephanie is religious"... then I got down to these posts (I've been a horrible follower, I let two weeks pass since I had read your posts.) and I got to these.
I realized that you are truly the type of Christian that I love. I am not a Christian and have found it hard to find those of the faith that I believe fully follow the concepts passed down by the words and teachings of the bible. It is rare when I find someone that fits that "title". You do... in all your actions.
I can feel the love you have for your family and beyond. You are truly inspirational, and a person I can say, "I know a Christian family that inspire me."
Thank you for being "That" person... for giving me hope that there are people in this world that I can believe in.
Much love, Suzanne
I LOVE the honest discussions this week on FAITH! I pray that they will continue to stir our hearts to seek after GOD and His love. Keep up the good work Stephanie!!! Your heart shines through it!!
Great post. Like many others on here, my faith defines WHO I am. Everyone has faith. In something. It takes faith to get up every day and face the world, regardless of what one believes. I, personally, am so thankful that Jesus' overwhelming LOVE for me (and everyone) is so freely available! I would not be a fraction of who I am without it. It has been great reading comments and your other posts. Thanks for being bold enough to make this your theme!
I love the fact that LOVE is your faith. You are a great person! If more people loved others, the world would be a much better place.
I LOVE my faith too and I can't wait to learn more about yours!
Steph, off topic a bit, but I sent you an email to your gmail account just now... in case you don't check it often.
My family used to go to church regularly; however, after so many painful splits, gossip, and all the other "crap" that happens in too many American houses of worship, we stopped attending.
I am a Christian; I love God, but I don't rely on any building, preacher, or church affiliation to tell me "how I'm doing spiritually" or "what mold I should fit into."
It may sound like bitterness to some, but I guarantee that I'm a lot better off now then I ever was. I've had more spiritual growth and gained more knowledge of my purpose outside a church than I ever did in one. Furthermore, I'm not alone; this exodus is becoming a trend. A good book to read is Revalution, by George Barna.
You put it perfectly, Stephanie!
Faith, my beliefs, my morals and values...they are all WHO I am and not just a small part of me. They are the driving force behind every decision I make, not just a Sunday church thing.
And, yeah...bumper stickers...total decrease on the value of your car! :)
This is great! Can't wait to see what you come up with. I really like what you said about not wearing faith but faith being who you are. That is such an important part of real and active faith.
P.S. The bumper sticker thing...agreed. Especially when I see a car speeding down the road, whipping in and out of traffic, cutting people off, etc. all while sporting a "Got Jesus" sticker. Oh. my. stars.
I agree on the whole bumper sticker thing. Looking forward to reading your thoughts! I love your picture of the heart with the feet - so artistic. Indeed there is so much love that He has for us...
Haha, your bumper sticker thoughts are funny. I have always refused to put a Christian bumper sticker on my car because I usually see them on the car ahead of me that just cut me off or whatever. I am not the best driver anyway and living in Phoenix it's hard to avoid the occasional road rage. I would be spreading the wrong message....:)
I always think blogs are such a strange thing in that they are really your own personal writings, so you should be able to write whatever you want and not feel like anyone is reading it and judging you (or if they are, they won't be ignorant enough to leave a nasty comment). However, just by the fact that blogs publish to the entirety of the internet, you're left feeling vulnerable when you say what you want. So very odd.
I think love is a wonderful faith. I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say about it.
Thanks for being vulnerable with us...I know how difficult it can be. My faith is so important to me. Like you, it's not just a part of me, it is who I am.
I try to keep it simple! I have what I consider a deep faith and try to be the best human being I am capable of! One of my beliefs is that if I can't help someone, I try not to hurt them.
I love musings.....
I don't necessarily have faith I guess, I think the bible has some good messages and morals but do I believe that it is all factual, no. I believe they are teaching stories, fables to teach people things that are inherently good or bad. I don't think faith is a bad thing, in fact I wish I could get behind it sometimes because people with faith always seem so much more passionate and positive. I do think though that being a part of a social community is part of it because as humans we crave social interaction and to be part of a group.
I guess I am turned off by religion because so many people seem to rely on 'God' to fix their problems, when they need to look inside themselves to fix it. My husband is very against religion, he gets angry when people hand out pamphlets and stand on corners with signs and such. It is slightly annoying to me but they have the freedom to express their religion and if I don't like it, I don't look. He however gets worked up bout it. It kind of bothers me that he gets so worked up over it. However I am glad he does go to church with us when we can make it, we are not morning people though so we rarely do.
You might be wondering why we go to church if we are not religious, that is because we recognize the good building blocks that the children can garner from the experience. The pastor at the church we attend is new and her sermons leave something to be desired. I think I would enjoy it more if the sermon's were better, they are kind of nonsensical to me, not because I don't know what she is trying to convey but because she does it poorly, she concentrates more on the bible content than the message that is trying to be conveyed and when she uses analogies they are mediocre at best. However she is a very nice person.
I guess I am open minded and I think all faiths are interesting but I think people put too much weight on them when it concerns others who have differing beliefs a lot of the time.
I too tend to shy away from posts on my blog regarding religious topics for the same reason. My religion is so much a part of who I am, but I also know that religion is a touchy topic. People can be hateful towards others of differing religions (although this never made sense to me as Christ loved all). If we live by His wonderful example of Love, we cannot fail to be good people. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)
I'm interested to see what everyone has to say about faith since it is such a personal matter. I have been wrestling with how to incorporate faith into our lives since my husband is anti organized religion (his mom took him to too many churches that preached hateful fire and brimstone rhetoric as a kid). I am not a particularly religious person, myself, but I definitely think that the community and charity of weekly spiritual meeting is a good thing to expose kids to.
I'm driven by my faith. I'm driven by my personal and deep relationship with Christ. I've always had some kind of super close/totally real relationship with God/Jesus that I have never been able to describe.
Maybe I'm more sensitive than some people and I just feel him because I'm very in touch with my spirit... I don't know. I just know that I've always called him my Daddy, I feel him holding me when I'm crying, I hear him speak to me (yes, for real. not just my own thoughts in my head.), have been given a vision from God (maybe I'll write about it one day.) and I know without a shadow of a doubt that he is real.
I was reading my bible last night, but this time I was visualizing it... putting myself there in bible times following Jesus around and hearing him speak, and raise the dead, and heal the sick and I began crying.
What an incredible blessing to have been alive in the time of Jesus. To walk beside God in flesh form. To touch him, speak to him... one day I'll see him in Heaven and it'll be amazing. I can't help but think how amazing it would have been to have known him like that here on earth, too.
I remember making Jesus as birthday card when I was a young child and praying with all my might that his angels would come and get it. I was so sad when the card was there the next morning. Though I knew he was real, I loved him so much even as a small child that I wanted him to hold my card and read it.
My knowledge of the bible might not be as great as some others, but for whatever reason I've always had this amazing connection with Christ. And as I age, and I'm touched by him more and more to do his good works here on earth, I yearn to know more about him and so I've been getting into the word more, watching shows like Andrew Womack (do you know him? if not, know him. he is amazing!).
I love God. I love Jesus. I love what Jesus stood/stands for... grace, love and truth. We Christians need to embody those qualities more and more. It would greatly change others perceptions of we Christians.
Just tonight I pulled the van over, honked the horn, and waved over the homeless man begging. I told him I didn't have much, but he could have what I did have. He was so grateful, but more than that he was blessing me! This man, who had nothing in personal possessions, who didn't have a home or food, was praying a blessing over me for being kind. It's like I was looking right into that mans soul when he was speaking to me. HE, this man that many overlook or think badly of, embodied Christ. I'm crying just thinking of him.
I pulled away and cried... smiling to the heavens and speaking to God about how blessed I am having had that experience with that man. Here I pulled over thinking I was going to bless this man, and he in turn blessed me.
I should have made this short and sweet, and took all these thoughts to my blog, but I've just felt compelled to pour my heart out!
Thank you for opening up this dialog. I'm sure it'll bless people and open up a window to speak openly.
For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all...II Cor 5:14
BTW...where are you attending now? :-)
Looking forward to this coming series and good for you for putting it out there. Thanks for being gutsy and candid.
very well written and prefaced in my humble and limited opinion
I write about my faith some on my blog, but not much, for the very same reasons you give here. It is my life though so I'm looking forward to the discussion here.
Oh and the whole bumper sticker thing... yeah, I don't get them either. Although we do have a wonderful friend who is a bit eccentric (and single). He covers his car with bumper stickers - but he puts them all on magnets so that they don't damage the car and so that he can move them around whenever he feels like it.
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp an dput it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyon in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heave." Matthew 5:14-16
Looking forward to your thoughts. I, too, see religion and faith as a part of who I am, a part of my life that defines me so thoroughly that I can't imagine who I'd be without it.
You won't find THIS reader cowering at the idea of organized religion or faith in Jesus Christ. :)
Faith in love, how can you go wrong? :)
Your love for others shines through your blog, your life, your smile, the list goes on and on. Faith is a touchy subject, but why should you care if it is your way of being, it's who you are. I am looking forward to your honest thoughts and opinions.
Your love for others shines through your blog, your life, your smile, the list goes on and on. Faith is a touchy subject, but why should you care if it is your way of being, it's who you are. I am looking forward to your honest thoughts and opinons.
Personally, I remain neutral :) I have seen some really beautiful and inspiring ones and heard stories of when bumper stickers provided people with a needed inspiration/connection/phone number/etc.
What an interesting tie in to a discussion about faith though! I never would have thought of that. Both require you to put yourself out there. Both can be used to share a piece of yourself. And, unfortunately, both can be used to connect or antagonize....
I'm sure you will do a beautiful job with this theme. People who follow this blog do so b/c they like who you are. Your faith makes you who you are, and that's something people of all backgrounds can appreciate.
My husband fully supports your bewilderment about bumper stickers :)
Way to be vulnerable, Stephanie! I look forward to hearing your thoughts. You are so right to say that when God has changed your life, He is not a "part" of who you are, He is the very center of our lives - being found in him IS who we are, indeed!