PartII-the finished product
I'm trying to be all smart and get a post written while driving back from vacation. Unfortunately having technical difficulties and the below got posted unfinished and without edits and iPhone technology just doesn't want to cooperate- so like me- I think is this a sign? Should I not be posting this post or is it ready as is? Well I will finish but once in back in touch with proper technology. Sorry draft two will be coming.
For some the title above may be hard to understand or agree with because not everyone loves their family members. I have been raised by parents who have instilled in me a love for our family. We aren't a perfect family and don't always get a long but we always love each other. My sister and I are best friends and talk almost daily. Despite living states away from each other we find time to be together in person almost every other month if not monthly. I talk to my parents frequently too and see them about once a month or sooner.
My love and closeness extends past my immediate family. I'm close with my in-laws and feel blessed to have extended pair of parents. Besides my in-laws comes my extended family:grandparents,aunts,uncles and cousins. Despite living states away from my one set of grandparents I grew up knowing them as well as the ones who just lived a 15" drive from my childhood home. The local set of grandparents watched my sister and I growing up and we celebrated many special occasions/holidays together. Again don't get me wrong we weren't "the Walton's", but despite differences and the drama that comes with all families we love each other.
So lately I've been thinking about my faith,religion, and what I believe in. How does this tie into my lov for my family? Well my religion or faith means to me an all inclusive welcoming to anyone, everywhere, who believes in "loving thy neighbor as thyself" and not passing judgement. I'm not saying I am able to practice these two beliefs/actions,but is something I'm trying to instill in my life and my kids' lives.
So what happens when you meet someone who doesn't have the same beliefs or definition of faith or religion? What happens when I meet someone who reads the Bible literally, other than my poor attempt at reading the Bible as a sort of historical fiction or storytelling? Or when someone tells me so and so won't go to heaven because they don't believe in Jesus, but I think some of these non-believers are the most giving, generous, thoughtful people I know- far more than my Christian/Jesus believing self. I struggle with those that state these are going below and mot above. So am I doing the right thing by attending church, raising my children in the church meanwhile asking all the above questions?
All these doubts and questions took me to setting up a coffee talk with our interim pastor. He has been with our church for a year due to illness and eventually death of our head pastor. His sermons and views on Christianity have taught me something or made me reflect on my faith. So I sat down and asked some of my many questions. His initial response made me feel quite not so crazy. He stated that I wasn't falling away from the church or doubting my religion, but acknowledgement that I wanted to go to the next level with my faith. My comments about never having read through the whole Bible and disliking the way in which some people try to enforce their interpretations of the Bible on others were also not strange thoughts or feelings to have- again I'm not a heathen. He felt I was just able to verbalize what others felt about the Bible. I didn't write down all his great comments, but a few of them I did were:
"Love wins" "love your neighbor as thyself" is what faith gives us. Also not judging and passing judgement- it isn't our job but God's. To help me with my concerns about some Christians commenting about those who will and won't get into heaven he said it is not our decisions to be made. (Basically I need not worry myself with it because it is in God's hands). He also suggested the next couple books to help me further discover my faith and possibly answer some of my questions: "We make the road by walking" by Brian McLaren and also "Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buda and Mohammed cross the road". "Pastrix: the cranky, beautiful faith of a sinner and saint" by Nadia Bolz-Weber.
I left that meeting feeling at least comforted by the thought that I wasn't losing my faith by asking these questions. At the end he suggested trying to understand the Bible better by discussing with others and not read it literally, but as if having a "conversation with God"(love that line). He suggested asking to start a "how to read and understand the Bible" group- I know just another thing to add to my "to do" list.
Then a few days later I was at church circle. We were reading about Mary and Elizabeth visiting with each other when pregnant with Jesus and John the Baptist. I really didn't know this story very well or much about Elizabeth so I learned and my church circle members answered my questions. One of the ladies stated " I don't get caught up in all the details when reading the Bible - like how old Elizabeth was when becoming pregnant". I liked that- don't get caught up in the details. Another member again answered my question about who is going to get into heaven... "I don't worry it's in God's hands"- again reminder of not our place to judge and those that think they are certain who will and won't get to heaven really aren't any more knowledgeable than I am on the subject.
Then my last "Aha" moment came with my writing group. We had our writing discussion, exercises, and reading review of our works. Then I asked them some of my "faith questions". The other two ladies at group that night bring to the table knowledge about faith. One is heading off to seminary this fall and the other is head of the "prayer group" at her large church. My friends' words of wisdom and answers were helpful in clearing my "fog on faith". My friend's comments on praying was really helpful. You are thinking of others when praying. You are not being selfish;you are putting others first. I think praying for others helps you see how good you have it. ( all a paraphrase due to not taking accurate notes during discussion).
So all of these experiences occurred in less than a week. I thought it was not just coincidental all these conversations occurring within the same week. I was asking the right questions of the right people. So I went to the library after my coffee talk with pastors and checked out "Pastrix". I will continue to have questions and look to those who can answer them for me.
What does all this babbling have to do with the title of this post. Well if I can forgive and forget some of my family's quirks and my own can't I do the same four those that aren't family- love thy neighbor as thyself.
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