I decided that before I could write my post about Jesus and Humility, I wanted to talk about my relationship with him. A dicey proposition, I suppose. My mom always said it isn't polite to talk about politics or religion. Once again (we never talked about politics at home as I told you last week) my parents did not talk about it but there always was an under current of understanding that we should end up Catholic like them. Once more three strikes...three kids no catholics.
Thinking about all this, I'm reminded of a joke I used to tell about my Dad. First thing you need to know about my Dad is he was a devout Catholic. Second thing you need to know is he was a die hard Red Sox Fan. His entire life plan was for his kids to marry in the Catholic Church and for them to produce lots of grandkids he could take to Fenway Park in his retirement. First his son married a protestant minister's daughter in a park while wearing Chuck Taylor Basketball sneakers and they declared they were not going to have kids. Next, my sister married a Jewish man under a chuppah and agreed to raise the children Jewish. These were nearly unthinkable for my father but the worst of all was me who lived in sin with a Yankee fan!
To add insult to injury, the time I lived with my Yankee fan was also the time when the Yankees were repeatedly crushing the Red Sox in the post season. My Dad never liked that guy very much and I was never certain if it was the living in sin part or the Yankee fan part that caused him the most consternation. Many things have changed since then. My brother decided to have a child after all and my sister's kids did get to grow up experiencing some Christmas traditions. I went legit and actually married a Red Sox tolerant man (I'd love to say fan, lets just say we're working on it!)
So that is the family backdrop for my relationship with Jesus. Additionally, I did attend Church School right up through the 12th grade and even taught a class of younger kids when I was in high school. My Christian friends would probably scoff at this even being called a relationship but this is just where my story gets started.
In my late twenties I dated a man who called himself a Christian. When we started dating I didn't think twice about it. I grew up Catholic, that is Christian isn't it? Well I soon learned that Catholic Christian and other types of Christian beliefs are very different. The basics are the same but the application of the beliefs is VERY different. People joke about Catholic guilt and some of the trappings that go along with that, and while I know there are very strict Catholics out there most of the Catholics I knew could be considered "Christian Lite." Belief in Jesus as the Son of God, celebrate the holidays and just don't talk about the stuff you believe that doesn't jive with what the Pope says. You know things like birth control, sex before marriage, gay rights etc.
The Christian guy in my twenties and I had plenty of other things to quibble about without bringing Jesus into the mix so before I needed to confront my own questions about God we broke up. A year or so later, I began a very fun long distance relationship with the best friend of an old college roommate's fiance'. My college roommate and her guy were both Jewish so it really took me by surprise when after a whirlwind weekend of fun when I got a letter from that cute San Diego guy that said "God Bless" as the closing. When I read that I had an initial foreboding feeling but immediately thought "What Born Again Christian guy is BEST friends with Jewish guy?" and was able to skirt the difficult questions because we lived so far away from each other. Sure enough though, in time I was not Christian enough and/or he was too much and we knew it was never going to work. We knew it was important for parents to agree on things like this and if we ever had kids he knew mommy was always going to be wrong on this topic. Christian disagreements aside this made me very sad, he was/is a great guy.
Rapture image found in Google Images
Fresh off my heart break I attended a seminar and met Colin in a most miraculous way and began yet another whirl wind romance with a Christian man. I shared our meeting in this post but I didn't tell you that after we met and spent several hours totally absorbed with each other, it really was if no one else was in the room, he handed me his card as he rushed off to catch his plane. Giddy with the whole experience I look down at his unassuming card and absently turn it over where the phrase "Hour of Power" was written in an inviting type face. Initial foreboding again. I knew there was some evangelical style show of that name here in the states but he was from England. It had to mean something different there! This couldn't be happening to me again.
But oh yes it was and it turns out Colin's brand of Christian belief was the most fundamental of the bunch. I just couldn't believe it. I was so taken with this man. Why the heck was this happening? And this is when I decided that God must be talking to me. Why else would I keep falling for these Christian men? So I decided once and for all I would do my best to get to know Jesus.
I joined a Fundamental Christian Church. I attended services two sometimes three times a week. I prayed. I read. I listened to Christian music. I attended retreats. I joined bible study groups. I met with my pastor to ask questions. I spent a small fortune in Christian book stores. I read hundreds of stories about people finding Jesus and I hoped fiercely that he would find me.
I was motivated. I was in love with a Christian man, again, and I didn't want our mismatched beliefs to get in the way. I adored some of the new church friends I made and I liked the extraordinary community they enjoyed. I studied. I reflected. I tithed. I prayed. At the retreats and services where congregants regularly talked in tongues and were with taken with the Holy Spirit, I longed to understand and I would wonder why I never felt the same. I did not take my journey lightly and even remained a church a member long after Colin and I were no longer a couple. I was convinced there MUST BE a reason I was led here.
Finally at one of the women's retreats I attended, there was guest pastor who came to speak to us that everyone in the church was in a buzz about. This woman, who came from Australia and didn't often make it to Massachusetts where I was living at the time, was known for her very powerful sermons. She was credited for thousands upon thousands of people finding their way to Jesus under her tutelage and if we were very lucky she may even receive a message from God specifically for one of our group. Women from my church had made yearly pilgrimages to hear her speak in the hope that she might have a message for one of them. It was a big deal that we would get to see her.
I was nervous and very hopeful the entire weekend. I really felt the thing I had wished for was close at hand. A couple of my Church friends who hadn't previously been "taken by the holy spirit," including a formerly Catholic women with whom I felt a warm kinship, were experiencing this gift right before my eyes. However, at the same time, I was starting to feel very sad and uncomfortable. For almost two years, I really had poured my heart into this and I still felt no closer to "knowing Jesus."
I now knew A LOT of scripture and I was impressed with the impact this man who lived so long ago was/is having in the world. I think his messages of hope and brotherhood are fabulous but son of God, more special then any other human who walked the earth I just could never come to terms with it. And right there in the middle of that retreat I knew I never would. People all around me were "finding Jesus" and I was saying goodbye. Now what was I going to do?As if to confirm my sad heart all of the sudden the guest pastor pointed to me. Someone from OUR church was going to get a message from God and that person was me!
I immediately thought "Oh no! pick someone else, I am not a believer, I do not deserve this." The woman who had pointed looked directly into my heart and said this, "You have not found your home. A new opportunity will present itself. You should take it." I couldn't believe it! God was even giving me my way out! At the time, I was not looking for any new opportunities but I was willing to keep an open mind. My home pastor and I discussed my message from God and the entire Church felt blessed for my having received the gift. When several short week's later, I received a job offer in another state we were all convinced this was the fulfillment of my destiny.
When I took that job I also took my leave of Church life. I did not seek out another Church when I moved and I became very comfortable with my personal beliefs. I do not regret my experience one little bit. I feel I am in a unique position to understand my Born Again friends, I was almost one of them and I lived among them. Truly my intensive study was like being an exchange student immersed in another culture. There are joys I still miss and things I deplored that I am happy to have shed.
I share all of this because I wanted you to know where I am coming from when I write about Jesus' humility. I feel we became friends during my time with that church and even if I walked away with a different perspective then my Church friends would have hoped I am glad for the experience. I feel a closeness to believers even though they would find my heart blasphemous. I have a conviction in my own beliefs which do not have a place in any organized religion I have found. I have respect for what others do find in Church even if it isn't for me.
Next Post: Jesus' brand of Humility!
My 13 bliss virtues: joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry, community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, surprise