Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Walking In The Spirit

"Are you walking in the spirit? If you stay close to God, he will show you what he wants you to do."

My mom said this in an email to me last week. As i read it, i was suddenly overcome with anger and guilt. Guilt because i am certainly not "walking in the spirit." I haven't prayed in weeks. Guilt because reading the bible secretly makes me squirm. Guilt because i would rather hear God explain himself to me than beg and plead with him to tell me what HE wants. And Anger. Anger because her admonitions still make me feel small. Anger at God. Because, as usual, He's upset with me. Impatient, threatening to leave me if i don't get back to working on our relationship.

I was raised to believe that only a few were going to heaven. We were disdainful of those who believed they were saved by "works". but we simultaneously judged the state of a persons salvation based on how they lived their lives. We were told that true believers were always full of the spirit. If we were real Christians, all we would ever want to talk about would be God.
I am not exactly displaying the fruits of the spirit these days. I imagine that's why my mother is so concerned. I am not bursting with joy, my heart is often far from peaceful, and talking about God makes me uncomfortable, and sad.

Sometimes i wish i could just toss it all out and forget about religion. But I can't. Somewhere in the midst of the lies my parents told me, I caught a glimpse of God that was strong enough to make me stay. I have been comforted by God. I have seen him change lives, i have felt the joy of trusting him. But most of all, I see my husband.

My husband: The product of a broken family. Tumult and pain color the story of his past. He is analytical, He is a skeptic, and He is a christian. Strong and quietly passionate, He sees the loving God I have always searched for. His God is the calm in the storm. The peace and hope that changed his life. I have brushed shoulders with this God and been blown away by his goodness.

I want to learn about this God. If he's really who i think he is, then He has nothing to hide. I can face my demons, I can rest, and heal, and take my time. And He's not going to threaten me, or leave me, or even disapprove of me. If God is who i think he is, then he knows my heart, he understands my pain, and nothing else matters.

So mom, don't question my salvation. Don't tell me what God wants. Because you don't know and you never have. It's always just been you, attributing your human concerns and emotions to God.

  My husband tells me that God is not a human. He doesn't react like mothers and fathers do: with impatience, disappointment, and threats. I don't have to earn His love. My Husband's God IS love, and He would literally wait forever, just for me.


  1. I totally get this. When I or one of my other adult siblings do something mom doesn't like, she questions our salvation, tells us we're not good Christians, etc. I like to say that she thinks she has a copyright on the definition of the word "Christian." And yes, this: "her admonitions still make me feel small."

    Here is what I tell myself when this happens: My religious beliefs are mine, not hers. No one else is the judge of what I do or do not believe, and no one else can decide that for me. Parents need to let their children figure these things out for themselves, because you know what? At some point kids grow up. And when we do, we get to decide for ourselves what to believe, what to do, and who to be with. Parents like yours and mine forget that.

    The result is boundary issues. At some point your are going to have to tell your mother that your life, your faith, and your decisions are your own, not hers. Sort of a personal declaration of independence. I did it, and it helps.

  2. Oh, and kudos! It sounds like you are facing these problems with firm footing! Also, good for your husband being there for you and supporting you! With the two of you together and your strength of resolve, you're going to do just fine. :)

  3. God is Love. Amen! Many prayers for you and much gratitude for your strength to share your story.

  4. Girl... THIS post makes my heart glad. As I follow your blog I find similarities in our life stories. Not necessarily in our histories, but in the hurt & painful background & finding a way to light, life, joy & faith.

    This post could very well be my own. I've found God for myself just this year & I can't believe it has taken me this long to realize that the loving God I caught glimpses of as a child IS REAL... not just a figment of my imagination. God IS truly love & learning to let Him LOVE you is the first step towards learning to walk in His spirit. & if your mom wants to question your salvation, maybe she can answer a question I have: WHERE was she when your father was beating you in the name of the god she believes you no longer follow? Because THAT god wasn't a loving god & I would NOT want to walk in that god's spirit.

  5. I can relate to this point almost to the letter. My mother is EXACTLY the same way. So much so that, a few months ago, she called me a "fraud" publicly.

    I have since then, completely removed her from my life. It was a decision that took 10 years to make. And I am convinced it is the right one. You cannot move forward in any growth or journey when you are constantly being clawed back down by those you are trying to become un-like.

    They say their intentions are good, but they only do it out of the need to prove their rightness to themselves.

    I realize this is highly personal, being that it is your mother, but it was mine too.

    Keep pressing forward, kid. Love you.

  6. I just loved this portrayal of the pain religion creates and the way you escape it. I have a similar story. I'm glad to know I'm not (doing it) wrong with God. I experience the same barrage of mental assaults and for years responded as you describe. Sad, huh. Well, we are not alone, and I bet there are scores of others just like us.

    thx for sharing,
    God bless and keep us, eh!

  7. I found you through your sister. You both have a gift for writing. Your thought on being angry with God reminded me of this post (http://teachingtuckandty.blogspot.com/2011/09/anger-this-deep.html) which I love. He can handle it.