This I Believe

karen - windham, Maine
Entered on January 30, 2008

I have become one of those people who only find their way into my church for holiday ritual services, weddings and funerals. This bothers me on the one hand and yet I am grounded in knowing this is the way my life has unfolded. I am making choices with no less love of God, church community and worship. I believe that I am no less spiritual or religious than the consistent attendees.

I can’t continue to blame this pattern on my schedule as it has relaxed a bit and I am still keeping the same distance from my church community as when I couldn’t possibly get there. It is not an intended detachment. I mean no indifference; I take comfort in knowing my church is functioning. I pray no less for those in need within my congregation and I care deeply for their well-being even though I am not physically in their fold.

I have guilt in knowing my tithing commitment is in arrears. It seems when I am done paying the bills there is nothing left to forward on to the church, yet somehow I find a way to buy Chinese take-out. I know that I should just climb back on the tithing wagon and give up thinking I will fulfill my past due debt.

I have great concern that I do not get my daughter to the weekly service and also involved in the social circle of junior members. I want her there and I want to be there but I don’t want to surrender four precious hours of my weekend. I do want and need to wake up slowly, meditate on the beauty outside my window, listen to myself think, ponder the flurry of days that have gone by, distance myself from potential commitments that will arise from being part of a social group. I believe that alone time keeps me well.

I admonish myself for allowing my daughter’s sports schedule to suck the life out of me and thus take away from her religious education, yet I know I do right by keeping God at the center of our lives. I talk with my children about seeking the Lord for guidance and strength. I taught them to pray for those who were hurt as well as those who have hurt us. I struggle to instill the suspension of judgment in my children. I struggle to suspend judgment in myself.

I berate myself for being able to schedule exercise time and happy hour everyday and yet not make it to church once a week or even occasionally. I can blame my distance on so many things. I am the only one taxi-ing us back and forth to everywhere. I am the sole and primary caretaker of two and one half people and a dog. I believe I love my God just as much in private as in public but I grow so deeply with God in private- so much more than I do in public. At the end of every week I am tired and in need of a blank canvas.

I am trying to give my children everything they need and not everything they want. I strive to head them towards a spiritual path without forcing my beliefs on them but secretly I am hoping they will absorb my spirit. I do not settle down to sleep without praying every night that they will be desirous of spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual health. I pray this for everybody, everywhere, no matter the name of his or her God.

I did better in the spiritual social realm when my son was my daughter’s age. I had less on my plate maybe, more energy maybe. Was less grounded in my personal convictions likely and less trusting that God was wrapped right up inside us tumble tight. I believe that I was then less confident that I could communicate faith properly and likely was less able to surrender to my own individual and delicate needs.

So now in this spilling out of confessional angst with no anticipation of an end but to send thoughts off to the four winds at a time of rebirth, rejuvenation and spiritual awakening, I think I have it. The “aha” has popped right into my head and is settling into my heart. The testament of both failures and strengths is appeasing the voices in my head and the stories in my heart. I believe that I have been in a conflict of social spirituality.

Why shouldn’t I be confident in seeking comfort in the communal gatherings of religious holidays and times of sorrowful goodbyes?

I believe these events are but a collective emotive sighing for the high and low points in life. I also believe that day-to-day I don’t need to be communal in my spiritual actions; I need to be selfish and confident in my indulgence and gentle with myself. I go full speed more often than not, living my faith. I share the Word by living it. And…I know God loves me whether I am in church or not.