January 25, 2017

"Maybe knowing is not the point. Maybe it's learning to live inside of your questions."

I took Hannah Brencher's #cravingseries class on Faith last night. I'm not a very religious person. I was raised Catholic and somewhat follow that ideology, but I more prefer to focus on things like Love and Passion and Vulnerability and Strength and Softness instead of assigning a power to whichever form of God sounds good at the moment. My notes that I took during the class left me feeling inspired this morning when I went back over them, so I thought I would share them here. 

How did 2016 go for you in regards to faith?
Faith felt like a lost & found box. I started the year still trying to accept the loss of my grandma, the first person I've ever been super close to to die. 2016 also took my father and my almost brother-in-law from me. There are two times I can say that I was 100% absolutely sure of my faith last year. 

April, at the cemetery visiting my grandma. I had cut some daffodil stems from her hillside garden that colored everything from family reunion photos to my senior prom pictures as the background. I cried, sitting crisscross applesauce in front of my grandparents' grave, and I felt a breeze ruffle my hair and golden hour sunlight was streaming just right through the trees. I felt my grandma there with me in that moment, and I knew I had faith in something. 

August, walking up the steps to St. Charles for my dad's funeral. I was as broken as I have ever been. I whispered the serenity prayer and just hoped I would find a way out of the dark and all encompassing grief that was thrust on me by the loss of my dad. During the service, my mom never let go of my hand—just as my dad had done with me at my grandma's funeral 10 months prior. I felt it then, a warm feeling washed over me and I knew it was going to be okay. I had faith. 

What do you hope to gain, grow, or learn in 2017?
I want to show up. I want to learn how to be better at showing my people that I care for them instead of just telling them I love them. I want to be there for my people when they need me the most. My One Little Word for 2017 is Care, that kind of piggy backs off my word from 2016—Choose. Last year I worked on choosing my people and cutting off the ones that didn't fit in my life anymore. I worked on choosing my attitude and working on the unconditional part of unconditional love. I accepted that overall, people are flawed. Commitment has never been my strong suit. Once I noticed something slightly off, I would become emotionally unattached and unavailable to that person before either making a decision to completely split or stay and deal with it. Being a faithful partner hasn't come easily to me. This year I want to care more about the people who love me, intentionally because I'm actively choosing to love them every single day. 

Where do you lack faith & trust altogether?
My faith, much like my past self, is lacking in confidence. I miss the early days of social media where we could write long stories in our captions and didn't worry so much about appearances and what looks good. I miss that sense of vulnerability and seeing the person who was posting as an actual person living their life instead of an image of perfection that people tend to apply to their online personas these days. 

Who do you look up to when it comes to faith?
My family. We may be broken, highly dysfunctional, and barely functioning at times, but they always are right there whenever I need them. My mother has always been my pillar of support. I remember the day my dad died. I woke up at 1 pm with two voicemails from the hospital. One from 11:27 AM—telling me he had taken a turn for the worse. The last one was from 12:36 PM—informing me that they were very sorry, my father had passed peacefully at 12:05 PM. The first thing I did after listening to them was call my mom. No one is able to comfort me better than her. I have to have faith in that. Her and her sister and brother-in-law immediately made a plan to make the 3 hour drive to come get me and bring me home where I needed to be. They showed up, like family is supposed to. 

What kind of faith do you want to have?
Strong. Unwavering. Able to fully commit to it and not just pick it up when I absolutely need it like I have been doing all my life. 

What is one goal you want to set for your faith in 2017 & how are you going to get closer to attaining that goal?
Trust more. Working on being more open with my feelings and insecurities and being vulnerable in front of people. Especially the people I know I don't have to worry about being vulnerable in front of. 

"If I wanted to know strong faith, I had to get to know the thing that I was trying to believe in. And I had to realize that that thing didn't want to hurt me. That thing didn't wanna harm me. But it only wanted to grow me and it only wanted to make me better."

"Loving someone is always going to be hard and it always needs to be active. It is never going to be easy and never going to be passive. Like, when you sign up to actually love people, you sign up for a life of runny noses, & awkward car rides, hugs that last too long, pauses that demand no noise, and admitting that you were wrong. (You're gonna be wrong a lot.) But if you want to actually love people, you have to be willing to be wrong and you have to learn to be vulnerable."

Prayer journaling. Writing down your thoughts. Your dreams. Your goals. 

Miracle list. Good things. Magic things. Little pockets of light and happiness. 

Pick a word. Look up verses. Look up in actual bible. Look at cross references. Find meaning, not just for yourself but what it might mean for others as well. Practice empathy. 

"The Bible is not a story about me. I fit into this story, and god loves me and I know that and I believe that, but this is a story about god and god's divine sovereignty. And this is a story about Jesus. Instead of taking notes like, "Here's how I can become a better person!" start taking notes on WHO god was and what God was proclaiming, how god was sovereign. If I wanted to put my trust in God, I had to make God bigger than me, and that only happened when I changed my point of view."

God: I can't answer your prayers if you don't actually pray them

"The only way to really know a word is to dig down deep in the trenches of it."

MAKE TIME FOR YOUR FAITH. 

"My anxiety was so at large because I was constantly feeding things to it. I was feeding my relationships to the anxiety, I was feeding my worries to the anxiety. I was basically, like, anything that anxiety could feed on–I was giving to it. I couldn't say my faith was very strong because it was ruled by what I was feeding to it. That was worry and that was fear. I had to learn to stop feeding things that were valuable to my anxiety and to my fear and start to feed love instead."

"I don't know yet." The most beautiful phrase. Grateful to be forever learning new things. Growth is always a constant. It might be messy and painful but it opens new doors and makes room for so much more light and good things to come. 

"Maybe knowing is not the point. Maybe it's learning to live inside of your questions."

"It's not our surroundings that need to change but our perspective. We need to realize where we are planting our seeds."

"Church is wherever you find people. When you go up to someone and say 'I've got this darkness, could you help me?Because I don't wanna be alone in it.' It's being vulnerable and being real with people."

"When you fall in love with someone, you fall in love with them 100%. You take them as they are."

Discipline = baby steps. Baby steps, no matter how small, still = progress. 

"Suffering has been the times in my life that have drawn me closer to other people. Suffering can also be the thing that can give you a really unique role in the lives of other people." 

"Do you love me?" = showing up for your people. Off screen. Make real connections. Help when it's asked of you. 

"Faith is a bunch of action steps stacked up together and at the end of it, people will know you by your love. By the things that you do."

Appreciate silence. 

Everything we do is worship. 

Gods email: holderofyourhand@gmail.com 

BE VULNERABLE. PEOPLE WILL LEARN FROM YOU and your transparency, openness and honesty will inspire others to do the same. 

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