Categories
Faith

New Year. New Resolve. New Bible Study.

I was recently invited to join a Bible Study with the daughters. A friend of mine had shot me a message about this new study she was excited to start. And she hoped that my girls and I would be able to join in.

Now Crumbs and Sassy are what we affectionately call “heathens”. They have no interest in faith right now. And we are raising them in an environment that lets them decide and figure it out on their own. We answer questions when they come up. We share out beliefs, and also what their grandparents believe. But we let them decide for themselves what they believe. Once upon a time we also took them to church. An activity they never seemed too thrilled about.

The Bible Study

It was to be focused on our daughters, with us moms guiding and walking along with them. To build up their faith and allow them to see it in action in us. Since it wasn’t about growing our own faith, but rather our daughters’ faiths, this wasn’t the right fit for us. I bowed out and wished them well.  Which is when she offered this: “Our church has a Women’s Bible Study on Wednesday nights that you’re welcome to join.”

I passed, and thanked her.

But Lucie, why would you pass up that invitation? Isn’t a Women’s Bible Study a perfect place to grow and learn in your faith, while also building community with others in your boat?

Let me count the whys.

First, the church hosting this group was one that Lovey and I had previously attended. Once upon a time, this had been our home church. It’s where I met this friend, and many others. This is the place that initially led me to the step of accepting Christ into my life. I found my MOPS group at this church, and I found myself.

It is also the place where Lovey and I fell apart. And while the friends we had made surrounded us with prayer and support, the church leadership did not. Leadership followed the protocol laid out in the Bible, rebuking and praying. Then washed their hands of the situation and moved on. They did very little reaching out to help our relationship heal and move forward. In fact, in one instance, they even actively tried to block me from participating in a conversation with Lovey about our marriage and their handling of it. They seemed more concerned with the repentance of one individual than with the healing of a family. That is not the church leadership I want setting an example for my kids.

A difference in beliefs

Second, Lovey and I are at a very different place in our faith than we were when we attended church regularly. We have both grown in our separate faiths, and honed in on the core things we believe in. And we slowly realized that a lot of those things are at odds with Church Life. Not at odds with the Bible, as far as we have read and studied. But certainly at odds with Church culture and the Christian Conservative views that permeate it.

We believe in religious freedom for all, which to us partly means keeping religious views out of policy making. We pray for an end to so-called conversion “therapy”. All of us are proud allies of the LGBTQ+ community and support equal rights all around. And these beliefs make finding a new home church tricky, and attending a church-based Women’s Bible Study even trickier.

I’ve been to those studies. They are usually larger groups with a handful of seasoned older women speaking louder than others. Their beliefs, as a group, don’t align with mine, at least in my experience. And if I am going to dig in to a Bible Study, to open myself up to the lessons I need to learn, I want to be my authentic self with those walking along that path too. It’s hard to grow otherwise.

Bible study during a pandemic

Third, in our neck of the woods, there is still the concern of Covid-19. Life is slowly returning to a new normal here, with shops and restaurants opening again, and gatherings being a little more common. But our family is still operating out of an abundance of caution, and limiting our interactions with new groups of people. Which means, any Bible Study group I want to attend needs to have a virtual or social distance option, something we have not found a lot of in our little corner of the world.

So what’s next for my faith?

While I am bummed I won’t be able to do this study with my friend, who is quite amazing in her own faith, I am not totally disheartened. I have recently found an amazing devotional that I can’t wait to start. And Lovey and I have also picked out a couple foundational studies to work through together. (Updates on all of these will pop up on the facebook page once we start, so be sure to like it if you haven’t already!) And once the pandemic is a little more under control, and we feel safer going out, it will be off to the churches to find our new faith community.

Let me know your thoughts: Are you a fan of the larger group Bible Studies? Or do you prefer smaller, intimate groups? What are some of your favorite studies or books that have helped you to deepen your faith?

Categories
Faith

Love God: It Really Is That Simple

It’s complicated. Yet so simple. As Jesus says: Love God. Love your neighbor.

Check and checkā€¦ mostly.

I think we all struggle with that last one, regardless of beliefs. We are human after all. But that first one? Check. Simple enough. Love God.

It took me a while to get there though. I was not raised in the church. Nor in a particularly religious family. My mom is not at all religious. My dad has his faith but it’s his, and he is not one to really share unless asked. I’m sure it has guided him throughout life. But quietly.

Feeling His Influence

My grandparents and aunts and cousins (on my dad’s side) are slightly more religious. They have their bible studies and church on Sundays and prayers. Okay, so maybe more than slightly. But we moved a lot (military brat!) so their influence was from afar (if at all).

I grew up knowing who God is, knowing the important commandments, and the big bible stories. There was church and Sunday School and youth group depending on where we were stationed.

But it wasn’t until Lovey and I got serious that God and church became a real part of my life.

So we “shopped” around town for months before finding a church we both felt comfortable with. We “plugged in” to the studies and ministries. And I found a safe place to wonder and explore.

“All the questions just faded to the background and it was just peace.”

I made great new friends who were patient and loving and ready to help me find whatever answers I needed without being pushy. And then it happened, driving in the rain with Lovey, off to explore a nearby city for the day. A peace I had not felt before just washed over me. All the questions just faded to the background and it was just peace. Like standing in the middle of a forest, surrounded by a silence you can feel, with none of the dark and foreboding ickies surrounding it.

Since that day, I have grown and read and still sought out answers. But I also settled into a peace that those questions may always be there. That He will give me answers on His time. It has been a lesson in trust and patience. And love.

Love God. Love your neighbor.

It’s just that simple.

Tell me about your journey. Do you still have questions? How has He answered those for you?