I wrote a post a couple of days ago about who God is, and how He will reveal Himself to you however you ask Him to. That being said, something felt wrong ever since I posted it, but I couldn’t figure out what because I really believe He does that, but then I realized that I didn’t talk about why I have chosen who I have.
Every day I choose Jesus. Even when I am left standing gaping at Him like what the heck did you just do? Or even what was that for? I have a lot of friends who don’t believe in God, and honestly, I don’t blame them because I wouldn’t either if I hadn’t had a few really amazing experiences of the real-ness of being with God.
Here the thing, I have rational reasons for choosing Him.
Jesus is love.
He ate with sinners.
He lashed out at those who hurt other people.
He wants to be our friend, lover, family.
He forgives everything.
But what really matters when it comes to faith is your experience with the person of God. Some people have never experienced Him, some have experienced Him in different ways than me. For me, He is friend, lover, father and more.
Since I got married and lost a child weeks into my marriage I really struggle with God. The problem of evil is nothing when you aren’t faced with unfathomable pain, but once you are, it is everything. I raged at God, I questioned Him, I begged Him to be with me and heal me, I wondered if I’d leave Him completely.
This year, He took me aside to talk.
He wanted me to have a deeper relationship with Him, and to clear up some confusion about who He is. See, I have experienced some very negative religious communities in my life, that have given me some really messed up ideas of who God is.
This year, He took me aside and took me through so many lies I had been told, and showed me how wrong they were and who He was instead.
He started with Financial Peace University. So many of us have been told the lie over and over and over that God does not care about our well-being here on earth, and that all He cares about is our salvation. This year, I learned that He has plans for our success here, and I learned about His advice to make that happen. He does not promise that there will be no suffering, but He does give advice to help us make smart decisions, and He does give extra grace and blessings when we ask for them, and when we follow them.
He also sent me to Bible Study. Bible Study was the center of a million different things He showed me, but the biggest one was that He still wanted me to be close to Him. It had been years since I had been at a Church that I really loved, or in a spiritual community that I felt safe in. The Bible study I went to is a beautiful testament to what I really believe the Church is meant to be and I am undyingly grateful to have been there.
Lent was like a spiritual boot camp of feeling completely destroyed by the lies I had been told and climbing out of them learning how to cast them off. It was hard. Holy Week was the most intense week, and anyone who reads this blog knows how dark Holy Week got for me. Easter was even more intense because God showed Himself to me in a way I haven’t fully seen Him in a long time. He showed Himself to me in bright splendor, and I was scared because I was afraid to believe that He had the power to overcome all things, because there are some big things in my life He has not overcome yet, and if He hasn’t and He can, that is a worse pain than believing He can’t sometimes.
I want to live with the assurance of God’s love, assistance, and abundance like the Christians do. I want to live with the Eucharist and intimacy that I find in the remains of what the Catholic Church should be. I want to live with the freedom that the atheists do.
The crazy thing is that I believe that through Jesus, God showed us that is exactly what He wants for us. He wants us to be assured of His love. He wants us to be close to Him. He wants us to be free.
I can hear all three groups fighting, seemingly constantly about who is better, and has more truth, and condemning each other, but the truth is that everyone is seeking God in their own way. I even believe that the people who have left the Church are looking for the God that the Church is not always putting forward. Jesus did not divide, unless people were getting hurt. Jesus reached out to people who were considered unworthy. He went and found the woman with 5 husbands, and talked to her even though He knew it would be a huge scandal if He was found out, and He didn’t condemn her. He loved her where she was. He encouraged her not to sin anymore, but their conversation was not about sin. Their conversation was about love, and need. Over and over again, we see this happen with Him. Even down to the two commandments He gives-Love God, Love your neighbor. This is because if you really love, sin disappears. Not that doing the right thing doesn’t matter, but that if you love, you will do the right thing.
So, I choose Jesus, but not in a vague, whoever the Church or whatever person I talk to says He is, but in who He says He is, and I believe that in Scripture He told us He is Love, and I choose which Churches I attend, and people I trust based on Love. The Catholic Church as it is now, is a huge, huge mess, but the actual teachings of the Church, are not as cruel and hateful as so many churches can come across or be. There is a nugget inside of what the Church is supposed to be, and there are Churches that are living this reality, or at least striving to, and that is where you will find me. You will find me also in friendship, understanding, and conversation with those who disagree with me, and who are opposed to my views, because I believe in Love, not fear. You will also find me siding with the protestants and the non-Christians, fairly often, because Catholics don’t tend to hear them. They have needs, and many feel hurt by the Church and her people, but that is not who the Church is supposed to be, so I will not be that. I will be love to them, and I will be their voice among the Catholics, even when I am condemned by Catholic people for not being “Catholic enough.”
Tangent note: To be clear, it’s not that I believe that I am better than most Catholics, or that I am better than the Church. I don’t believe that. I do, however, believe that there are a lot of things that are believed to be the Catholic Church, and are not, or are not explained well, and are not explained in love, and it is my responsibility to discern which truths are actually the truth, and which ones are not. I am not choosing to not follow the Church, I am choosing to understand what the Church is really saying, and to help them to say it better.
There is a woman saint, St. Catherine, who went to France when the Pope left Rome to live in Paris long ago, and she told him, he needed to be in Rome. There is precedent for holy people coming forward and saying, “This is not okay.” The Catholic Church as it is now, is not okay, and the only way it will become okay, is if we make it what it was meant to be in the first place. The only way to do that, is to love the people that hate the Church, and see what happened to make them hate it, understand them, and give them what Jesus actually had to offer, not condemnation, but love.