Last year one of my new year’s resolutions was to focus more on my relationship with God, and as part of that, I decided I would try to go to church at least once a month to help make God a bigger part of my life. This day in age, one free Sunday a month can be hard to come by, but when you step back and think about it, it’s only 12 times a year…not even 1% of your year here on Earth. Sounds like a fair trade for eternity to me.
I grew up in a non-denominational church where I remember going near every Sunday. But at some point, I realized we hadn’t been in awhile which eventually turned into not going all together. I was too young to know what the real reason was, but if I had to guess, it was the “being too busy” one. As I grew older, so did my spiritual curiosity. I wasn’t old enough to drive yet, so I asked my dad if he would take me back to our church and join me if he would like. I continued going as I could drive myself and would invite friends and family members along the way. Then came college, which coincided with a challenging time for me and my spirituality as my faith was tested by a handful of life events which cast a shadow and helped me get lost a time or two. It wasn’t overnight, but one day you wake up and realize something is missing, that life is much bigger than yourself and there is something out there greater than any one of us. In due time, I found my course again, like most young people do, and revived my relationship with God.
My first time back at church the name of the lecture series was “Begin Again”…how fitting. It was in January and poking fun at the same old new year’s resolutions (e.g. hit the gym, start dieting, read more books, etc.), but what it was really getting at was the real hope and real change God offers by living in the truth with Him. The next week I went, I was reminded that every good thing in life comes from God and His generosity and that He has a never-ending supply of what we need. The next week I learned that the way into God’s kingdom is repentance which is most times viewed as a bad thing, but is instead very beautiful as it is changing your mind about the way you see and do things and correcting the course you are on.
It’s so easy to drag your feet on Sunday mornings, or even more, just skip church all together. But without fail, when I do go, the message is exactly what I needed to hear…just like all the ones above. I’m fortunate to have found a church with an authentic teaching lead by a pastor I enjoy listening to as he does an incredible job communicating God’s word in a culturally relevant way all while tying it back to the Bible and its scriptures.
About a year ago, I was asked what faith meant to me. Not prepared with an answer because I had never really thought about it, I just spoke from the heart. I found myself describing faith as all the things in life we don’t know or understand but believe and trust there is a reason or explanation that is much greater than what meets the eye. Faith is confidence not in something you can see, but in something you can feel and experience. It is the answer to all of our questions.
For me, it’s never been about checking a box by showing up every Sunday so everyone knows you are there, but instead it’s about your personal relationship with God, what’s in your heart and how you live your life. I believe going to church helps to grow your faith and expand your heart by surrounding yourself with like minded people, but I don’t think this is the only way to grow your faith.
I view spirituality as something very personal where each individual must define what it means to them and how they nurture and strengthen their beliefs. For me, I plan to continue to make going to church once a month a priority and expanding my spiritual network, but in between my visits, focus on growing my own personal relationship with God by reading the Bible and simply remembering to talk to Him more, both in times of turmoil and distress, as well as times of well-being and joy.