Monday, June 23, 2008

Real Talk or Religious Talk

In recent days I've had several friends and family members who have faced sickness, surgeries, losing a loved one, and other life-changing events. As I have.

I've interestingly observed the differences in conversations and communication. A few fill their words with many religious phrases. Sometimes this just leaves me wondering, where's the grief? where's the natural fear? where's the sadness?

It often seems that the more religiously one talks, the less of real humanity is being experienced.

Rare is the believer I've encountered who seems real in his/her humanity and equally real in his/her God relationship. I have met a few, but not many.

Some years ago I became aware of this in my own life. I noticed that in some group meetings if someone said they had prayed about it and "God told me..." that immediately stopped all conversation and that person must be the "chosen one" because they had God's Word on it.

I also noticed that in other groups if there was a tough decision to make, someone would say let's just pray about it and let God speak. That ended it! If you had an opinion to offer, the obvious climate was, not now! I became cognizant of favorite phrases and religious talk that permeated Christian groups. I began to question, where is reality here? Can we not be who we really are, who God made us to be, and still be Christian? I sometimes wanted to scream, "Stop the canned talk! Just be real!!" But, of course, I didn't. I usually was the pastor's wife and I just kept the smile on and was questioning inside. However, I did make sure when I talked that I didn't go into that mode.

Some of my "Christian" friends would say, "Do you still believe the Bible?" I would laugh and say, of course. They had noticed my dropping and not using the language and phrases. On the contrary, non-believers would sometimes say, "You're really a different kind of Christian, not like those we can't stand to be around." Hmmm... Food for thought.

To the point I'm making today, too often (in my opinion) we as believers pull out this coded language that masks real human thoughts and feelings, and though we might think it's a testimony to how we're trusting God, it often comes across as nonsense and non-reality.

Are you now thinking I'm a heretic? I hope not, but I respect your opinion. =)

In these my latter, wisdom-filled years (JK) I have come to believe and experience that you can be fully human, fully alive, and fully Spirit-filled. You can weep and grieve and question and hurt and still know you are accepted and loved by God.

Of course, my recent experience of Paul facing two back-to-back surgeries has caused my rethinking this. Some said to me, "I know God won't let anything happen to Paul. Don't worry. He'll be okay." Oh, really? 

Here's my thinking: I know Paul and I both are in God's hands. What He does and when He does it may be tough and it may not be what I would like, but it's okay. He's there. He loves both of us and He has a plan. If His plan is death, I'll hurt and grieve and cry and be sad. I'll feel my human-ness and let my humanity show. And at the exact same time, deep in my inner being I will know that I'm in His Hands! 

Two examples come to mind: two sides of the same coin, and you cannot look at both sides at the same time, but you hold the entire coin.

Another example: two train tracks–one track is my humanity, the other track is God's sovereignty and control. You need both to carry your train of life, and you need both completely. If either track becomes more important than the other, the train of life is lopsided.

Well, enough of this. Those are my thoughts today and my reality check. Am I really real or religiously coated? 

Monday, June 16, 2008

Question to Ponder

Do I really believe what I say?

I hope so, but there come certain times and events in life where that is tested.

This is one of those times.

Today Paul, my soul mate for 49 years and counting, has surgery. The surgeon has given us the spiel including the risks. I've been here before. Paul had bypass surgery back in 1986. Since then he's had a heart attack and a stroke, both requiring hospital stays.

Each time these things happen, I'm face to face again with the question, Do I really believe what I say I believe? And I know the answer is, Yes, I do! I believe that death for the Christian is a rite of passage into a better place and a better life.

As I ponder, I realize that's not my real question. My real struggle is, Can I go on without him? If at any time Paul precedes me in death, I know I can go on, but it will be very different and not what I want to do. I jokingly tell him that if he kicks the bucket, I will kill him. He can't do that to me. We laugh, and I realize I really mean that.

My reality check today is that I have to face the small risk that something could happen. Yes, I can handle it. Death is a very real part of our lives. I don't want to, but I will and I can.

But, you know what? I hope that time is a little later for us. Whatever...

One thing I do know, that time is set. I don't know when that is, but thinking about it and realizing that is reality helps me to be prepared. 

With that reality check, I'm now prepared to face what life brings for us this week. It is an adventure for sure!