When I was a child, my faith life was whatever my parents taught me. There was a loving God, and rules, and if you did the right thing, and helped your neighbor, all would be well. If my early-adult life was a house, I would have painted one room ‘religion’, another ‘family’, another ‘work’, another ‘hobbies’, and so on. I went to church to get the checkmark from God and I tried to be a good person. And it worked, kind of. When I was pregnant with my first child, however, I found myself questioning everything I had previously accepted and I dug in deep to see if the faith was something I would pass on to my son, or not. It was an exciting, scary, painful time, but so worth it. After an avalanche of books, questioning, debate, conversation, and a couple of full-on spiritual experiences, I came to the conclusion that Jesus, and life with him, was way better than I thought it could be, and from then on, my faith was no longer confined to a room. Rather, it was the window through which I saw everything else.
In the time since, faith has been the prevailing guide of my life, even as my experience of it continues to change. I learn and grow and see things from different angles. I believe in the full application of our God-given brains when coming to conclusions; I do not see an inherent conflict or contradiction between intellect and faith. At the same time, I have had a number of spiritual experiences which have formed my perspective about just who God is and what we’re all doing here, and it’s a personal, colorful view. I believe he’s in the details, never far away, taking our lives and weaving experiences and people into them into the richest kind of story. I believe in ‘godincidence’, although I hate that word. I think he operates in the small bits, giving us opportunities to participate and walk with him as we learn, grow, heal, and help each other. I’ve believed that for a long time now, in a walk with a loving God who knows and loves you and me more than we can imagine. No thunder-cloud, bearded, angry deity for me, thank you very much.
And if God is writing a story with my life like I believe he is, then he is using a good amount of literary devices as he writes. I experience foreshadowing, metaphor, drama, repetition, symbolism, conflict, character development, and even anthromorphism as I move along. Mine is a hero’s journey, after all, just like yours. My story has a narrator’s voice and it’s not mine, although that voice is distinct in my mind most of the time. This “story” view of life causes me to look for symbols and test the winds for direction. It leads me to form opinions and state them with the voice of a worthy heroine. I’m a plucky Katniss fighting for what’s right. Or, sometimes, I’m quiet Beth March from Little Women, or more often, Ally Sheedy’s character in Breakfast Club.
As I move through my story, I see how God rescues me and helps me along in my challenges. I see how he sends in reinforcements in the faces and words of people. I see the lessons I am meant to learn along the way, at least most of them, at least eventually.
Still, I long for the thing a story most needs. Resolution. There are too many loose ends here. Is this the part in the story when everything changes, or the part when I wake up and think it’s all a dream? Those are the worst stories, aren’t they, as they make no sense and who wants a life like that? But ‘happily ever after’ isn’t a real thing here on earth. It never was. A new chapter is something I’ve been waiting on for some time, something that’s been hinted at, something I’ve trusted in, something rich with foreshadowing. Dear God, it’s time to turn the page.
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