Faith. That's something I always thought I had, but I am quickly learning that I never really had true faith. It was some kind of ruse that I lived under to protect myself from the bitter truth. It's been a long time since I have truly had faith. When I was younger, I was actively involved in my church and spent a lot of time listening to what others said God said. I prayed prayers I was taught, and I believed in what others told me I should believe in, and I never really thought to study and develop my own relationship with God.
When I came out as a lesbian, I kind of lost my faith because I knew other people told me that it was a sin, it was "bad," and I would need to change my "lifestyle." This is where I really fell out of touch with God. It started when I first began college and I became concerned with grades, working on my future, but it really snowballed when I came out. I didn't really know how much it affected me until very recently.
When we moved to Illinois, my spouse started talking more about getting back into church. We tried a church our friends went to and we played volleyball for, and it was okay for a while. Then, we got into the Lenten season and they started to ask for money. Now, I understand churches need money in order to survive and rely on donations from their parishioners; however, they started to talk about money all the time. This is also a hot topic for me in regard to religious institutions. I stuck with it for a while, but then they discussed how we were all broken, and we could not be fixed. They painted a very hopeless situation, and I couldn't stick with it anymore. We tried another church, but it just didn't stick.
Then, a friend of ours started to talk about her journey into rediscovering her own faith, and we started to listen to what she had to say and talk about reconnecting with our faith. Then, our friend offered to do a Bible study at her house. So, we bought Bibles (yep, that's how far outside of our faith we were) and started a Bible study. This past Tuesday was the first actual Bible study, but we have also been trying to do devotionals every night.
It's funny how the readings speak to you. During Bible study, we discussed Matthew where God spreads the word of God, and we are responsible for how we receive the Word. For a long time, I was the thorny bush, I didn't let the seed grow where it was planted. Now, I have shallow soil, waiting for it to be enriched again to provide proper nutrients to my seeds so I can let my faith grow. It was very symbolic of where I am in my journey. Friday night, I also read a passage where Jesus discussed the two most important commandments are to love God and to love your neighbor because these two things are the essence of the other commandments. The devotional discussed this is also part of loving yourself because we are to treat others as we treat ourselves...and most of us tend to not treat ourselves pretty well. However, it's not about focusing on yourself and your imperfections...it's about focusing on God and others, and your improvements will come. Maybe that's been my problem this whole time. There's been this type of selfishness in trying to work on myself, and if I just focus on my relationship with God and have Him guide me though this journey, then I will achieve my goals.
I'm excited to see where this journey takes me.