Finding Hope When Faith Changes

These days, I find myself with more questions than answers. Although still based in the original foundations of scripture and relationship, my faith is changing.Faith-still-believes

No longer do I think in terms of black and white. In fact, I spend more time thinking and meditating than I do reciting the rules I grew up with.

I am more aware than ever of grace and its powerful side effects of humility laced with joy.

Now I know how damaging legalism has been in my life and in the lives of others who are asking for another chance, for another splash of grace on their hardened souls.

I am more careful of how I answer the questions of others who ask me about faith, about God, about what happens after death. I respect their need to discover these answers for themselves, and I know that my faith does not look like theirs nor theirs like mine.

I spend more time in silence before God, just beholding who he is with awe. As I am more aware of my inner self and my desire for intimacy with God, I also feel him pulling me closer – wanting to spend more time with me as well.

I am more disgusted with the stuff of this world and the lies we are fed. It pleases me to turn off the television and unplug from the electronics that threaten to overtake all imagination and leave us truly fried.

I am more determined than ever to make sure that young women do not have to struggle with these same lies. To let them know that they are enough within themselves, that they are incredibly beautiful and they do not have to starve themselves or pay someone to cut them to try to look more acceptable. God gazes longingly at them and sees his son. What could be more fulfilling?

I am more in awe of what his holiness means and how we fall short yet somehow, he reaches toward us and loves us into his kingdom.

Psalm 33:22 challenges me. “Let your mercy and lovingkindness, O Lord, be upon us, in proportion to our waiting and hoping for you.”

Our waiting and hoping for him: experiencing more of his presence and that awful dichotomy of yearning for a closer place near him yet dreading that when that happens, I won’t be able to stand it.

Then as I wait and hope, as my faith changes, grows and explodes, I experience even more of his mercy and lovingkindness. His patience allows me to draw ever closer to the mystery of his presence where there are more questions than answers.

So real it is frightening. So beautiful it is dreadful.

©2014 RJ Thesman – “Intermission for Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/1l4oGoo

What Alzheimer’s Teaches – Part 1

oneAs a Christian, I try to focus on the positives in life – those creative surprises that God brings out of any situation.

He promises that he can bring something good out of our struggles. We look for the good. We trust that He knows a better way.

Truthfully, a belief in the positives has not been easy as I’ve watched my mother disappear into the shadows of Alzheimer’s Disease. This trial seems to bear with it only the negatives, the sorrow and the unending disappearance of memory and identity.

But on days when I feel stronger, I consider what Alzheimer’s has taught me. What has been one of the emotional or spiritual benefits? What have I learned by observing this disease that gradually takes my mother away?

Patience.

Answering the same questions over and over taxes my patience, but then I think about the question from my mother’s point of view. For her, it isn’t the same question. It’s a new question every few minutes.

If I stop, breathe and wait for some inspiration from God, I sometimes create a new way to answer Mom’s questions. Or I change the subject and lead her into a different conversation where we start all over.

It helps me to search for patience when I realize there will come a day when Mom’s questioning will stop. She will no longer be able to formulate sentences. She will stop speaking entirely, and I will miss the sound of her voice.

That helps me find motivation for patience while we’re both still existing in the present tense.

When she forgets how to put in her hearing aid, I observe the patience of my sister instructing Mom once again.

When she can’t find the slippers we just bought her, patience helps us look for them.

When she no longer knows what day it is, even though we’ve circled it on the calendar – patience whispers, “Tuesday, Mom. It’s still Tuesday.”

Reverend G might counsel us from her own viewpoint, “Please be patient with me. I don’t mean to be forgetful. 3D Rev G coverIn fact, I once knew everything about each of you. But this disease has changed me, so please wait patiently with me while I go through another stage.

“Honor me for the mother I once was, for the many ways that I helped you remember to do your homework and take out the trash – for the many times I reminded you of meetings and how I made sure you made it to church on time.

“Be patient with me as I wait for the sunset of another day and hope this will be that special date on the heavenly calendar when I join my Jesus in heaven.

“Hold me close and answer my questions, because then I’ll know you’re trying to communicate with me.

“Remember how patient I was with you as you learned to tie your shoes, brushed your teeth and practiced on that squeaky violin. My heart needs you to be patient now in return.

“Strive for patience because that is what Jesus asks you to do, and when I hear the frustration in your voice – it hurts my feelings and it hurts him, too.

“Have faith that someday the need for patience will end. I will no longer respond at all, but somewhere in the pockets of my soul – I will remember you and smile.”