Rhetoric

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I don’t spend a ton of time thinking about religion. I am pretty sure of my beliefs, and I am happy to discuss them. I don’t feel the need, however, to try to force them on people.

I was thinking about that a little bit tonight. I have friends whose religious beliefs are very different from mine. I also have friends who don’t really believe in anything. And while this worries me, I know that I can only show them my faith through my actions. (We’ll save what a flawed example of faith I am for another day!)

I was thinking about why I feel that way, when so many churches would tell you a list of things you must do to “belong” to a certain religion. My immediate family is Christian. The denomination varies slightly, and in my youth, we didn’t necessarily attend church with great regularity. In spite of that, I grew up with wonderful examples of faith. My parents taught me to pray and that God is with you everywhere. I believed that with the imagination of a child, and I talked to God like some kids talk to an imaginary friend. He was always there. He IS always there.

When I was about 6 or 7, I asked my next door neighbor, Geraldine Mason, what it meant when people said they were “born again”. She told me that it meant those people had asked Jesus to live in their hearts and that from that point forward they were a new person. I think I must have asked her why you needed to ask Jesus to live in your heart, and she told me that He wants an invitation from us, and that even if we pray, we still have to specifically ask Him into our lives.

Then she did something that I thought was very odd. She left me alone in her nice living room to think about it. We kids weren’t generally allowed in that room, so it seemed like she must have really wanted to get my attention. I thought about it, and decided that I already felt like Jesus was in my heart, so I might as well make it official.

When I came out, she offered me a piece of her chocolate cake and she asked me if I’d asked Him in. I told her I did and she just nodded. I’m not sure if she ever told my parents about that. I’m pretty sure I didn’t. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time.

Looking back now, it seems huge! What a gift to have had faith all around me at such a young age! But what really strikes me is that Mrs. Mason never pushed me to be baptized. Make no mistake. She was as Baptist as they come. Her son even became a minister. All that really mattered to her, though, was that I was free to choose and I had chosen Jesus.

I have some friends who suffered a tragedy today. Their church has a slightly different belief structure than I do, and that particular line of belief has given me some points of pain in the past. There has been a doctrine that has held that church separate from others. I guess that could be said of most churches.

Tonight, I’m just hoping that people of faith, including me, can see beyond the rhetoric to the heart of God. Love one another.

3 thoughts on “Rhetoric

  1. Amanda,
    Hey there. My name is Sarah and I would love to openly discuss what we believe if your interested. Therefore I present the question, what would you say you believe in? What truths have you come across in your life?

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    1. Hi Sarah,
      I am a little hesitant to discuss that here – only because I don’t want to alienate anyone. It seems kind of weird not to talk about it, though, since you asked. So let me just say that these are my beliefs and I respect other people and theirs…

      First and foremost, I am a Christian – of the variety that believes in the Holy Trinity and that Jesus is the key to salvation. After that, things are a lot more fluid. I believe that the Bible is meant to be a guidebook, much like a scouting handbook. Someone has come before and navigated these waters. The Bible is a figurative and sometimes literal guide of how to get through life. I find I am most happy in life when I am trying to live the kind of life it says I should live in the Bible.

      I am not, however, a regular church goer at the moment. I like church. It’s just that I find it to be extremely emotional after the death of my son, and right now, I can’t fully participate in what the services offer.

      As for what truths I have come across, well, that is a little trickier. I find that few things in this world are steadfast. I have found that people can be cruel even when you are kind, but it is better to be kind anyway. And babies are the sweetest gift we are given in this world.

      It’s kind of early, but those are the only real truths that spring to mind. You said you wanted to discuss, so I would pose the same questions back to you (and other readers interested in responding). What do you believe? What are the truths you have discovered?

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  2. Amanda,
    First and for most.. I have to say that with who I am right now, I give you all the empathy I can give. I have blocked my thinking of what it would be like to lose my 8 month old baby girl. So i feel very distant to what you are experiencing with the loss of your beloved son. Sigh.. But wow. Honestly.. I am happy to see that you have not given up on life yourself.
    What do you put your hope in, in such a time as this?

    Were you raised in Christianity?
    You mentioned that you can not fully participate in what the services offer.. Why do you think the disconnect.. If church was full of love, would there be a disconnect? If we mourned with those who are mourning, I cant help but feel that you wouldn’t feel this way.

    I enjoyed what you said about kindness. I do believe this to be true.. kindness is not always returned. When this happens this leaves us still with no good reason to discontinue in our kindness. This is something that I am more so focusing on in my current life.
    the simple thought of.. just be kind.
    To just be kind.. i feel brings peace. How do you find peace?

    As far as what I believe. Well, I am on a continuous journey right now of exploration in my beliefs and all the possibilities. I was raised Christian, its engrained in me. But I am seeking to enlarge the box I have God in.
    Why do we call him “him”? and how about the label of “God”? I cant help but to think that with any label we fall short of accepting everything this being is. I do feel as though we will never on this earth be able to come to the place of saying, ” I know God.”
    So for me, I strive to continually seek and to not be closed off. But this is a true challenge for me having been raised to believe a certain list of things.
    I am just now starting to question, thanks to my husband who has brought many questions to my attention.
    Truth.. what truth have I found? Hmm.. Honestly, the only solid thing that comes to my mind is that I do not know. And to think that I do know.. yikes.
    So to admit to self, “I dont know.” I believe is a good place to be.

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