(I can't get this to format right, and I am too lazy/it is too late so I'm not going to try to fix it. I hope it isn't too annoying or confusing)
I'm going to write this post in outline form, to get my thoughts in order and to do it quickly...it's late at night but these thoughts keep going through my head. I'd love to think them through and get back to my cozy bed!
Title: I've been feeling a call to be closer to God
I.I'm open to the call privately
A. I've gone through these stages in my life before; it's fun
1.High school - it was fun to go to church when I was making my own decision
a. Pre-Bill: each person I dated was Catholic and there was always a phase when I went to Church with that person (maybe part of the reason they liked me was because of the Catholic upbringing). It seemed like once they figured out it wasn't a requisite to dating me, (few weeks in/month in, once they knew me better) I went less often!
b. When I was dating Bill: There was a time when I was going to Church during the week even. I think I was lonely. (During my junior year, he was living in Chicago and working and I was obviously still in Ann Arbor)
3. Christian Record Company Days - It would have been hard not to think about God when you are helping someone start a Christian Record Label from the ground up - music and God 24/7!
4. Pregnancy with Emma - It was a time of change and big decisions in my life!
B. I would never say I am far from my relationship with God, even if I am not practicing it within a religious framework.
II. I've been resisting mentioning this call to God publicly (via this blog)...but feel like I am supposed to mention it here. Why resisting it publicly?
A. It seems so cliche (can't put an apostrophe on the e on the blog, though I would like to) - Get a scary disease - become come closer to God. God will give you answers! Religion will give you answers! Here is the hope and truth you need!
B. It's not always fashionable to be a Catholic - examples during my life?
1. The College years - Ann Arbor is a liberal town. You could find Catholics, of course (see above about all boyfriends). But college is college and it is probably always a time when it is interesting to think oneself is more 'intellectual' in your pursuits rather than just following what you've been raised to do.
2. Christian Music Days - all the people I worked with may have flipped if I had let them know I wasn't born again (my close friend told me he thought I was going to hell because I was Catholic and not born-again. I could never figure out why he wanted to be friends, then!)
3. People who are no longer practicing Catholics often seem to be more vocal about it than the people who are practicing (and loving it) Catholics...sort of like Democrats seem to feel more comfortable being vocal about their status as a Democrat. This doesn't seem to be the case at this point in my life, but it was definitely true during my days of being a post-college, more-of-a-grown-up/homeowner/mother days in Ann Arbor.
C. I love all my friends, I don't care what religion they are, and don't want to insult anyone who doesn't practice the same faith as I do...and I've gone through phases of my life (see previous item number) where I definitely felt like people were insulting about faiths different than their own. They weren't insulting me, per se, because I hadn't said what faith I was, and they probably assumed I was either a disenfranchised Catholic ('everyone was', or wasn't admitting) or a born-again Christian (Christian Rock days).
D. Is it considered impolite to discuss your religion? I don't know. I remember hearing that when I was little.
E. I'm not good at organized religion
1. I don't like to be told what to do (I try to keep this a secret.)
2. I don't like lots of structure, (If I have to be somewhere at 10am, I might find lots of compelling reasons to start this project at 9:30am, and I do this mostly subconsciously. I don't like to be tied down to one thing.)
3. I think there is too much human/non-divine involvement in religion, too opportunities for humans to mess things up that God might have intended.
4. I don't think any one religion is the only way to be close to God, even though each religion seems to stipulate that theirs is the only way.
III. But, it is happening nonetheless, and I think I should mention it here. I am becoming closer to God, and I am a happy Catholic.
A. It is so fun to be sharing faith with Emma. When it was time for her to start learning about being a Catholic, I wasn't as involved in the religious aspect of my faith...but I felt like even if I wasn't the biggest Catholic on the planet, I should give her some framework for a relationship with God, and she could make her choices as to a particular faith when she is grown up. (Same with Katie, but she hasn't started catechism...though she has always seemed to enjoy faith-based things more strongly). I've since found that I'm enjoying the religious aspect of faith more through watching her learn. Emma really enjoys learning about being a Catholic, and it is so fun to watch her do it and remember how much I liked it as a child. It gives me flashbacks to days when I fought with my sisters over who could be the nun in the family, or even days when some teachers could make religion the most interesting thing (I had one religion teacher in high school who I thought was so great - if any high school friend is reading this, do you remember Mr. Forys? I think of his stories of he and his motorcycle band with great fondness. I think they called themselves the Purple Pierogies)
B. I'm learning (I should say, learning again. See above about phases of my faith, but then I don't like to be tied down...) that religion and ritual are a good thing in many ways - where some might think sitting at the same Mass and saying the same repetitive things over might not be a meaningful conversation with God, I was brought up to do that. I've done it thousands of time through my whole Catholic-school upbringing, so even though I have explored other faiths and religious options, for me, that is home. That is what I do, that is my springboard to a relationship with God. I might be able to find God in other ways, but I've practiced this one way so much that this is a tried and true method.
C. I think the whole scary-disease - go-directly-to-God cliche is not necessarily a cliche. It only takes something meaningful to occur in one's life to make one think more deeply, and when one thinks more deeply, it is so easy to see the hand of a Greater Being in everything. The fun thing about delving deeper into faith, reading works that people have written about God (e.g. - the Bible, but this could be extrapolated to other faiths and great books), is that other people have done this before and you can learn from their experiences...other people have had great relationships with God and have written about it.
So, dear friends, there you have it. I've gone through a little self-exploration of this journey of faith that I am now on. It's fun to look back and to think of all the phases I've been through, and I'm very interested in where I am at right now. It is fun to be in the land of miracles, wonder, and deeper thinking again (more about that later).
And here is my latest Bible verse that has touched me, from a reading this past Sunday (by the way, I had the most wonderful quick weekend trip to Evanston to my little adorable nephew Matthew's baptism - more later about that too):
"Finally brothers, rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace with be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the holy ones greet you." 2 Corinthians 13: 11 - 12
I love this verse because I AM rejoicing in life, I am mending my ways, I do hope to encourage people, I am hoping to live in peace...I love the part about greeting one another because I am trying to use this new phase of my life to reconnect with people I may have unwittingly lost contact with and I am now lucky enough to be in contact with them gain...And I love the part about "all the holy ones greet you". I think that is just so cute to think of all the people who have gone before us reaching out to greet us. Hey guys! Nice to see you!