Walking Our Faith: The Moebius strip of faith
Walking Our Faith
When I was in high school, I woke at 4 a.m. to get to swim practice at 5. This was even more of an accomplishment for my father, who drove me to those morning workouts after he worked the night shift at the post office and, more often than not, got home from work at 2 in the morning, which means he had only two hours of sleep before he took me to swim practice.
What compelled me to get up and go to swim practice in pre-dawn darkness? I loved swimming. I loved competing. I loved my teammates. I loved how it felt to glide through the water. I loved everything about swimming. And I knew the only way to excel at swimming was to practice it consistently — always pushing myself to do better.
My devotion to my swimming career in high school is what came to mind as I tried to find a way to describe my newfound pleasure in attending weekday morning Mass and evening prayer and praying the rosary.
Does all this weekly churchgoing make me overly pious or simply an enthusiastic pursuer of God?
I believe the answer is like a Moebius strip. Yes, on the one hand the more I go to church, the more I learn about my faith simply because I am exposed to more facets of my faith. But unless I have that innate desire to grow closer to God, I could go to church all day every day, and it wouldn’t make a difference.
Maybe the difference is the help of the Holy Spirit who opens our hearts and minds to God’s love. With an open heart and mind, we become more receptive to what we experience when we go to church, and that positive experience compels us to seek God more fully and more often.
In one form or another, I have been seeking God my entire life. Although my earlier life was spent at more parties than churches, the question of a relationship with God was always in the background. That search and what I have found is what I share in this column each week.
Do I understand why my pursuit of God has snowballed over the past year? Not really. But some evenings I find myself wanting to stop whatever I am working on to pick up a book on faith. I find myself looking forward to getting up at 6 a.m. to make coffee and sit and pray.
The psalmist describes this feeling better than I ever could:
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
— Psalm 42:1-2
Our spiritual journey will be as individual as each of us, but I believe the common thread is spending more time with God. There will be years when we feel the consolation of God’s presence. There will also be times of spiritual drought.
So I don’t want to tell you how to pursue God. I’ll just share my journey and what others have shared with me along the way. Then I hope you’ll find the path to God that is most meaningful and enduring for you.
What matters is that you understand that God is already with you, already loves you.
God is already present, and the beauty and depth of the relationship we have with God only depends on the amount of time that we are willing to devote to it. Please join me in exploring what a relationship with God will look like when we pursue it with the same passion that we pursue the other passions in our lives.
We go to church, Bible study and prayer groups during the week because we gain tools to grow in our faith. And then we spend time alone with God in nature and in prayer to experience a personal relationship with God that is meaningful to us alone.
I don’t think going to church is a choice between either-or. Time alone and together are essential to deepening our faith.
When I was a high school swimmer, I swam for the joy it brought me. Were the daily practices, running, weights, injuries and inevitable failures difficult? Of course. But they were worth it because I loved swimming.
I haven’t felt that same joy in my life until now. Do I have difficult conversations with God about innocent children who suffer, about unanswered prayers, about my growing understanding about the brevity of life? Of course. But they are bearable because I love God so dearly. That is what I hope for you, too.
“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” — Acts 17:24-26
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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