Walking Our Faith: What is the purpose of walking our faith?
Walking Our Faith
“When thoroughly mastered through practice, we believe, these things should enable one to attain a higher state of consciousness. But this view gives a completely false picture of mental prayer and the mystical life in Christianity. It is false because it leads us to cling to methods that depend ultimately on human effort, whereas in fact, as Christianity sees it, everything is grace, a free gift from God.“ — ”Time for God,“ Jacques Phillippe
On our afternoon ride home from school, my high school student asked me what I write about in my weekly column. I responded that I write about faith and my relationship with God.
Her simple question started me thinking about what I have accomplished, or hoped to accomplish, over the course of six years of weekly columns in this newspaper.
My original intent was to explore what it looks like when we walk our faith into the world. Does the person we present to the world six days of the week differ from the person who shows up at church on Sunday?
I also wanted to explore what it means to know God. Is it possible to have a relationship with God that we can understand and experience?
Later that afternoon, I was reading a book by Father Jacques Phillippe. I came across the quote mentioned above and realized that although the author was writing about mental prayer it also captured my feelings about my pursuit of God.
Over the course of this column, I have spent more time reading, thinking and writing about God than I have in the previous 54 years of my life. And what have I achieved? Do I feel enlightened? Have I attained a higher level of consciousness?
Actually not at all. To be honest even if I spent the next 50 years continuing my pursuit of God through books and prayer, I don’t think I would be any more enlightened than I am right now.
Instead, I have discovered that with every book I read, I want to learn more. I pay closer attention to the homily during Mass, especially to book recommendations from Father Stephen.
It’s not because I want to better myself but because I want to know God better. I find myself with an insatiable appetite to read more books and to spend more time in prayer, but most of all to love God more.
Jesus said to his disciples: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. And the second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” — Luke 10:25–27
The curious outcome is this: As I have loved God more, I find myself fulfilling Christ’s second commandment, which is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
To love God deeply is to gradually accept that we are loved unconditionally by God. It is impossible to accept that we are loved by God with all of our flaws and sins and secrets and not somehow also find ourselves lovable.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” — 1 John 4:10
When we accept that we are loved just as we are, not because we have achieved a particular level of enlightenment, but simply as we are in this moment, we can learn to love ourselves with full knowledge of all our flaws. This is humbling. But in our humility, we discover the grace to love others just as they are because we now see ourselves in them and perhaps we see God in them. God loving us both, just as we are.
God’s desire for us to know that we are loved is such an enormous gift of grace that it is more than enough for me to spend the next 50 years embracing and contemplating the impossible enormity of God’s love. And thanking God for it. And most of all, living it to the best of my ability. I imagine this is a very good purpose for walking our faith in the world.
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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