Art surprised me last night by coming home and proudly announcing that he had found a sitter and he was taking me out on a date. We've been married over 12 years and he's admittedly not the best planner, so for him this was special. I wore a pretty blouse and we saw Drive, which was great and made even better by its incredible soundtrack. But first we went to dinner and over his Blue Moon and my lychee martini we talked of many things, but a good portion of our conversation was dedicated to religion, prayer and faith.
I think I've told you before that I didn't grow up going to church on a regular basis. We had a church to attend that my Aunt and her offspring all attended. My grandma played the piano and my cousin was the co-Pastor. We made an effort to attend church on the big days, you know Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, but that was about it, and our sparse visits were made only slightly uncomfortable by my Aunt who would say every single time, "How nice to see you all here. It's been so long" (emphasis hers, not mine). My parents were too busy trying to pull their $hit together to seriously dedicate themselves to our spiritual development. It's fine and I don't blame them or anything, but it makes me only slightly envious of those that grew up in the church, their feet firmly planted in the strength of knowing God's love. My husband is one of them.
Our conversation turned to prayer and I asked him straight up why he doesn't pray with me and he flat out said he doesn't believe in it. "What do you mean you don't believe in it?" He explained that to him prayer is a very private, personal moment made that much more powerful when done alone and in your own head. "Well what about the kids, who's supposed to teach them how to pray?" I asked and he said "How about Him?" I bring this up not to stir up a debate about what makes a biblical marriage and home, and to bring on judgement to our family, and I'm not claiming he has all the answers. But his answer did make me stop and think.
Do we fall prey to making something that should be private and personal, too public? Does our desire to build community and unity at all costs lead us to turn outward when we should be turning inward? How does one really reach that spiritual level when you feel God's touch?
And then that made me stop and almost question my right to think these things when I didn't grow up in the church. I don't know much scripture and I've never read the Bible through and through. Who am I to even question these things? And that made me long for a place for people like me, that are really just searching for these answers later in life because they didn't have the upbringing or parents to shepherd them to these answers. It sounds silly but almost a spiritual training for dummies of sorts, or at least for those just starting out, because in many ways I feel so very far behind in my faith and in my spiritual development.
I find myself sometimes so frustrated reading books like this one, or reading faith based blogs or even just sitting in church. It all seems so presumptuous sometimes. Assuming we are all at the same place spiritually, emotionally, even knowledge wise. Books and blogs filled with verse after verse and how my life should relate to those verses. It's like they're teaching at college level and I'm still in 1st grade. I want to scream out loud sometimes, "Stop, back up, I don't get it! Wait for me to catch up please!" Where is this place for people like me? Where is the book that will gently, kindly help me catch up?
But I don't think anyone can tell me that, whether you grew up going to church everyday or you've never set foot in a church. There is no instructional manual, there is no "how-to guide", and growing spiritually doesn't require a devout knowledge of scripture. It just requires an open, teachable heart and mind and a little bit of tenacity to find my place. I joined my first small group at church this week. There were only a few times I felt a little out of place, a little behind. It didn't stop me from asking questions though when it came to spanking and its role in biblical parenting. Dummy or not, I'm never afraid to question, to beg for clarity so it makes sense. I think that alone would make God proud.
It was such a fun and exciting week around here, but I have to admit I'm glad to have my space back to myself now for a bit :) I really needed to get this out. If you are in the same boat as me or you took the same journey as me, please share. I'd love to hear from you.