When I was a kid we seldom went to church unless my grandmother came to visit. I never went to vacation bible school, or understood the difference between the Old and the New Testament, or why I should have a relationship with God, and for much of my young life I thought it was significant that God spelled backwards was dog. Of course it didn’t occur to me that God spelled backwards in other languages like French or Spanish meant nothing.
But as I got older the concept of believing in God frightened me.
In my 20’s I watched Jim and Tammy Faye Baker on television and wondered who’d I’d be if I let God into my life? Frankly those people on television scared me. They were different from anyone I knew, and the thought of giving my soul to Jesus was like surrendering to the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Would I throw my arms in the air when I talked about God, and why did I need Him in my life anyway?
I may have told you I love old churches in small Mexican villages. Numerous times I’ve sat in darkened confessionals and imagined that musty secrets and clandestine sins still hung in the air like death and broken dreams. My fingers touched the same well-worn wooden seats where centuries of hands had asked for atonement and waited for forgiveness. I don’t know if I expected to feel anything, but the signs I was looking for—if any—weren’t there.
God never spoke to me, and I didn’t know how to pray or talk to Him.
Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I’ve since learned I’ve “always had the power” to talk to God. It’s not a mystery. We just have to say, “Hi God. I don’t know how to pray, but I want to know you. I need your help. I need your strength. Please come into my life and show me how.” The rest will come if you open your heart and your mind.
About now some of you may be thinking I’m taking a new direction with my blog, but I’m not.
I will still write about sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll and how to make the most of this time in our lives, but I would be remiss if I didn’t toss out—for your consideration—the concept of faith in God.
In other blog posts I’ve mentioned I’m a woman of faith, but this is the first time I’ve been outspoken about it. I’m writing this because I’ve met several women over 50 and 60 who’ve achieved their goals and are looking for a deeper meaning to life. Some are looking for guidance about profound personal issues. Some are seeking answers to concepts bigger than themselves. Some have asked me about my faith.
I want them to know they’re not alone, but in today’s culture, if they’re interested in exploring faith and God, I fear they may be hesitant, embarrassed or afraid to dig deeper and ask questions.
In the last 10 days three, black Christian churches in Louisiana were burned; there was a shooting in a Jewish synagogue in California—six months ago there was another shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue—and a shooting at a Muslim mosque in New Zealand. I’m alarmed and saddened that while we may have different belief systems, our ability to celebrate our similarities and respectfully agree to disagree is on the decline.
It seems as though it’s okay to be atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu, practice voodoo or be “spiritual,” but Christians, Jews and Muslims are eliciting increasing unspeakable hatred. (You might be interested to know, contrary to popular thought, you can’t pigeonhole any of these groups as Democrat, Republican, Independent, gay, straight or transgender.)
No one should fear for their safety in a place of worship or feel pressured to keep their faith, or lack thereof, secret.
PS: If you’re interested in learning more about the words of God you might try the #1 Bestseller, Jesus Calling, that has poignant, bite-sized entries by Sarah Young to read 365 days of the year. If you’re interested in reading the Bible, I would start with the New Testament—it’s easier for a newbie to digest—and read the New International Version (NIV). The NIV is written in easy to read English and has footnotes and maps that puts Biblical events in context with what was happening in the rest of the world at that time, or you may want to read the Jewish Torah and/or the Old Testament in the NIV Bible.