Monday, May 28, 2007

Relationships and Religion

I really meant to write at least a little bit every day with this new blog - instead of once a month like the old one. But I see it's been over a week since my last post - oops. I've been enjoying the sunshine so much that the first time we got rain after several sunny days, I actually enjoyed the smell of the air and the freshness of it. After all, you can only miss something once it's actually gone!

Saturday, I went to a card-making class with my friend Krista at the Clipper Street Scrapbooking Company. It was so much fun and so inspiring... and I was good and didn't buy anything. Of course, I went to Michaels the next day and got a couple stamps and embellishments... there's just so much fun stuff! It makes me miss my friend Tammy; we would get together and just make cards and eat and talk and laugh... and then she moved back to New Brunswick and abandoned me. Boo hoo!

I've found myself praying more the past week than I have in a long time. I realize I make my faith journey so complicated and difficult - thinking I have to be a certain way or do certain things before I can come before God. When will I ever learn? He just wants me to come before Him, just as I am, and He'll take care of anything that needs taking care of in my life. I don't have to try to fix myself first (which never works anyway!).

I've also been getting out my hymn book and singing - there is so much truth and substance in those old songs - each one is like a prayer. My two favourites are "There's Power in the Blood" and "Standing on the Promises" - though I also love "Be Thou My Vision," "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus," "Amazing Grace," "Take My Life and Let It Be," "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," "I'd Rather Have Jesus," "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus," "O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus," "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less," "More About Jesus Would I Know," "When Peace Like a River," "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," "To God Be the Glory" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness." I mean, even the titles are inspiring!

I've been thinking about what makes true Christianity different from other religions, and it's this: that true Christianity is not a religion at all, but a personal relationship with our Creator and with our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Quite frankly, there are plenty of times when I think I'd rather have a religion that's black and white with just a list of rules to follow (which is how many people mistakenly think of Christianity). It's easy to follow (or not follow) rules - they're clear and you know exactly where you stand. You can have your sense of achievement and pride if you follow them or you can have your sense of rebellion and pride in not following them. But to get to know our Creator, the God of the universe, the Jesus that died for us... that's much harder work. It's less clear cut; it's scarier. I always did well in school, without even trying. But I've often felt like a failure in my relationships - whether with my family, friends or members of the opposite sex. Praise God, He's brought me a long way, but relationships are still hard... they're time-consuming, emotions-consuming, life-consuming, and sometimes it just seems like too much bother. I'd rather go back to sleep or read a book or play Chuzzles. Relationships - with God or other people - require self-sacrifice, hard work, often exhausting emotional investment, pain and suffering... is it really worth it? Definitely. Because what you suffer, what you sacrifice, what you invest, you get back so much more - love, joy, intimacy, purpose. Oh, I admit sometimes I still get lazy or fed up with relationships and think I'd rather be a hermit living in the middle of the woods in a cabin full of books. Books can't hurt you, annoy you, frustrate you, disappoint you - but they can't hug you either, they can't cuddle you or tell you they love you. So as much as I will always enjoy solitude and good books, I'm opting to keep working on my relationships... getting to know my loved ones better, loving them better, and letting them love me. I'm choosing to forge ahead on my journey of faith, with whoever God brings into my life. As one of my favourite movies, "Moulin Rouge" says: "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."

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