January 1, 2016 by vlittle528
Today marks a new beginning, and this year more than ever I am feeling so positive and looking forward to growth and change. I have been taking steps and becoming active in groups that will strengthen my faith and deepen my understanding of God more than ever before. The children’s pastor at my church told me to journal these moments, advising me that these are the seasons of growth that will eventually give me the knowledge to help others in the future. So that is what I hope to do this year, and hopefully my journey will resonate in someone out there as well.
In the past couple of months I have been going through a great bit of doubt, frustration, confusion, and heartache. My first thought was to turn away and hide because I certainly didn’t want people to know what I was thinking. But if I did that I knew I would end up turning away from Christianity, and I would take my children with me. So I took a deep breath and talked to those I trusted most…and even a few people I had never met before but highly respected. And I am finally at a point where I have hope again. It is amazing how different we see the world around us when we don’t have hope. It is a sad and lonely place.
The first year I spent at our new church, I absolutely loved every service I attended. I felt moved during worship, I was comforted by the sermons and I left feeling hopeful. But the last six months were spent feeling like a fraud. The songs meant nothing to me, I was going through my daily errand list while we prayed, and I started questioning what was being said in the sermons. And I started feeling like volunteering in the children’s ministry and in Awanas was not something I should be doing anymore. How was I supposed to lead the children in their faith when mine was lacking so significantly?
What I am learning is that some questioning is good. How are we to support our beliefs if we can’t answer questions? If we don’t seek the answers? If we can’t explain why things are what they are. It is hard to love what we don’t know. It is hard to live a life we don’t understand. It is hard to justify beliefs we don’t truly believe. Questioning doesn’t automatically mean I don’t believe (even though it certainly felt that way to me many times). Questioning means I need to learn, I need to study, I need to IMMERSE myself in the Word in any way I can. I tell my Awanas group that just reading something three times right before they recite it does not mean it is memorized, it does not mean the word is in their heart. Practice makes perfect. So 2016 is going to be spent practicing, learning, and immersing myself in my faith.
Tara-Leigh Cobble, the founder of D-group and one of the most beautiful women (inside and out) that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, gave me this bit of advice that I am holding on to:
Remember: “Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.” (I John 3:20) When your emotions lie, His Word can be trusted. When your desires are wicked, He can grant you a heart of repentance! The Spirit can expose what you’re holding back — if anything — and you can pray, like David, “Restore to me the joy of my salvation!” (Psalm 51:12). “
So here is to a new year, a new beginning, and a new understanding. And living a lot of little moments that add up to a greater love for God.