Faith has not been easy for me, and calling myself a Christian has become harder over the years. As I find myself more and more “on the edge of the inside” of Christianity, I’ve collected some sparklets of truth that keep me from giving up.
These are my lamp posts- welcoming me further into the mysterious land of building my own theology. They are my north star when I feel lost and alone, the comforting reminders that pull me out of my turbulent thoughts and set me on still waters again.
I’m sharing these patchwork pieces of my faith in the hopes that in you can find encouragement and comfort in your own dance of faith and feminism.
Finding God in All Things
You know that feeling you have when your hand finally finds your partners after a long day? I believe God is in that moment. That one painting that has always moved you- the colors, the energy? Pretty sure God’s there too. Your favorite spot, on your favorite hike, during your favorite time of year? Definitely. The smile of your child early in the morning. The smell of the first rain of the season. Good food with good people. That moment when the peony is just about to burst into a fury of feather soft petals? Each and every time, the Creator is there.
I don’t need my musing confirmed by a saint, but it does help. This practiced was introduced by St. Ignatius Loyola, who founded the Jesuits in 1540. His first instruction to them? Go out and “find God in all things.” He believed that the Divine is present in our every moment and our every thought. We are invited to discern this presence and act in it. In this way, the whole world becomes a Holy Sacrament we have permission to engage in. Isn’t that amazing?! We get to participate in the Divine presence in every moment- we just have to see it.
“God is not remote from us. He [/She] is at the point of my pen, my paintbrush, my needle — and my heart and my thoughts.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
As I dance through faith- in and out, hills and valleys -the idea that I can find God through it all gives me strength to continue. The experiences I have with Divinity may not fit inside a gospel tract, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real. Your experience of God can extend beyond the walls of your temple or the pages of your holy book. Moment by moment, we are invited to experience God in all things- nature, art, music.
But more than the sanctifying of the secular, what I really love about this idea is that God is not only found in all things, but God can use all things to find you. If you’re a more introverted person, God may reach out through a moving piece of poetry, or the warm kiss of the sun on your skin. If you’re more extroverted, maybe you will find Divine comfort in relationships or the energy of a gathering. Wherever you are- that is where God is going to meet you.
Recently, this truth broke my heart in the sweetest of ways.
If you’re not already watching Anne with an E, you need to be. Anne, an 13 year old orphan, struggles to find her place in the town of Avonlea and with her new family, the Cuthbert siblings. At the end of the first episode, Marilla Cuthbert sends Anne back to the orphanage over a misunderstanding about a lost item. Hours after sending Anne away, she realizes her mistake. Heartbroken and terrified, Marilla rushes to her brother, who is sent riding after Anne. As the viewer we don’t know if Anne is already on the train back to the orphanage, or if there is time to rescue her. We cut to Matthew Cuthbert, not a young man, racing across the marshes of Avonlea. Sweat drips from his brow, and an expression of physical pain, grief, and fear is on his face as he urges the mare faster and faster. This man riding not only to save Anne, but to save himself by bringing her home. And time it running out.
Tears threatened to fall as I watched, in anguished awe of this great love. My heart was breaking under the weight this devotion. And I heard in my heart – “This is how I am running after you.”
The dam broke, and the tears cascaded down my face.
The truth is- I am not loved by my father. I’ve cried out telling him “I just want to feel like I’m your princess, like you love me the most out of everyone in the world”, only to get a “I just don’t know what you want from me” and a blank expression in return. It isn’t his fault. He was right- he didn’t know. His father broke him long before I came around.
But, over the last year I have felt the Divine call out to me- “I will run down any road to find you”. Not walk, Run. Sweat and blood pouring out, mile after mile, down any road to bring me home.
You can read a scripture from your holy text, you can sing a hymn, or you can find God in an aging man breaking himself to bring his new daughter back home. And all the while, God is running down any and all roads to find you.
There is not a man or beast
Nothing on the land or underneath
Oh nothing that could ever come between
The love You have for me.
I could lay my head in sheol
I could make my bed
At the bottom of darkness deep
Oh but there is not a place I could escape You.
Your heart won’t stop, coming after me
– John Mark McMillan “Heart Won’t Stop”
I’m here to tell you that this God you are searching for, is running after you too. I’m here to tell you that no matter where you are- in all things God can be found, finding you.
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