I Can’t Find My Faith

It is a truth universally acknowledged that moms can find stuff. My mom is a finder (she’s also a keeper), and most of my memories of petitioning her help to locate something beloved involve her patient searching and questioning (“Where did you last see it? Have you checked your brothers’ room? Do you think Presley (our dog) could have gotten it?”) rather than exasperated guilt trips. This also applies to shopping for outfits–we searched all of our favorite stores for my high school graduation outfit and spent hours trying things on, and my mom kept going with me. She even stopped for Sonic. That woman is patient.

My mom has also helped me find some intangible things. When things are going terribly and life is over and I’m thinking of moving to a dark hole under a rock, she asks about good things we can find in a bad situation. This is a practice I remember doing as a little girl with her, and it still happens when I call her complaining and seeking pity. She helps me find solutions to everyday problems (“We’re out of cream of tartar! What is cream of tartar again? Oh, it’s a useless ingredient produced by The Man to make our lives complicated? Great, thanks!”) and listens politely as I seek advice. And sometimes she doesn’t even give advice! Sometimes she says, “I don’t know what to tell you, baby girl. That’s something you’ll have to figure out yourself or with JD or with Jesus or with your sensei.” The nerve of that woman.

But through my mom, I have seen how helping people find things that are lost is an act of love. It’s a communal, I’m-with-you act. Because if we find it, we can rejoice together. If we don’t find it, we can grieve together. There is a significant difference in a burden’s weight when someone else is helping you look; there’s a sigh of a relief, a renewed sense of purpose, a feeling of togetherness.

Thinking about this idea has reshaped how I see some stories of faith. Growing up, I hated the story of Peter walking on water. It was terrifying for many reasons: 1. He had to try and walk on the sea (for a person who can barely swim, there is no way I would do that), 2. He sinks and begins to drown (my worst nightmare), and 3. Jesus chastises him (“O, where is your faith? Why did you doubt?” Um, Jesus… He’s walking on water… was he not allowed a little doubt leeway, a learning curve, perhaps?). I never understood why that was such an inspiring story… it was just another story proving that we would fail at faith. And that Jesus would be mad at us and roll his eyes.

This story was brought up a few weeks ago at a dinner with friends, and I can’t remember what else we were talking about, but as that question that Jesus asked struck me: “O, where is your faith? Where is it? Where did it go? When is the last time you saw it?” tears filled my eyes. I had it all wrong.

“O, where is your faith?” was not a question that implies “How could you lose it?” but rather “Let me help you find it.

Jesus wasn’t an accuser, He was a mother.

To My Sisters in Iraq

You’re my sister.
Here’s my hand.
Your hands are dirty with dust and grime and blood.
My hands are dirty with ignorance and indifference and shame.
You live in a shipping container.
You’re trying to survive your ninth birthday.
I remember my ninth birthday. I ate popcorn with a friend.
Your friends wish they didn’t have a ninth birthday.
ISIS doesn’t make popcorn. They don’t throw birthday parties.
They steal from you. They kill your family. They destroy your life.
They’re coming.
What will you do?
Your dad is dead.
It’s my dad’s birthday today.
You cry tears I can’t understand,
But I can hear you;
I can hear your mom wailing.
Your tears are coming down from the sky today.
You’re my sister.
Here’s my hand.
It’s open to catch those tears,
To clutch your hand,
To tell you we’re coming, too,
Because you’re our sister.
We hear you.
Here’s our hand.

Inspired by Ann Voskamp’s charge to the North American Church.

You can help restore the lives of our Iraqi sisters by donating to Preemptive Love. Love first, ask questions later.

Woman

A few weeks ago, I stood in front of the church, on a Sunday morning, in front of the congregation, unapologetically female, and read Scripture.

I had been in front of the church before to pray, read Scripture, and talk about communion, but that was with JD at my side. This time, though I didn’t realize before I got up there, was different. I was by myself.

I had seen countless women get up and do this before, and after the first Sunday we were there, I didn’t really take note of it. It was normal. But then. Me.

As I read, I thought about the power of that moment. I read from Acts 2:36-47, an assigned reading, but two words resonated from the pages into my heart–awe and all. Awe came upon the souls of the believers as they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, the prayers, and sharing meals. Awe came upon my soul as I stood there, reading the word of the Lord in front of my brothers and sisters.

And the word all is repeated throughout that passage–all who believed, all things in common, distributing the proceeds to all, having favor with all the people. And here was I, part of the all, part of the whole, taking part in corporate worship. By myself. A woman.

In a culture that has so long put women in the nursery, in front of a children’s Bible class, behind the men, I felt as though I were being transfigured. Or perhaps the church was. It was like the Kingdom of God had slipped under the world’s curtain for a moment and was peeking through, filling me with joy and wholeness and peace.

The Church has so often held on to traditions and looked backwards for cues, but the Spirit moves where it wishes. The Kingdom of God is not a ping-pong match between today and 100 AD. While we learn from our roots and gain from looking back at who we’ve been as a people, we have to move forward. Time is propelling us, and the Kingdom of God is all around us.