What do I mean by that? Well, there was a time if you go back in the archives where I would pray nearly daily. I would fast once a week. I would read the Bible on a daily basis. I would connect with God. And, life was good.
But, and I'm not exactly sure when, I just stopped all that. And, over that time, my connection with God has suffered. I haven't felt as blessed as I did when I was talking to God daily. Old sins have gotten the best of me again. And, though I knew I shouldn't be doing this or that, I did it anyway. What's worse is that I recognized my behavior for a while and I'm just now getting around to refocusing.
During that time, I've really felt that God wasn't there. In my heart, I knew he was there waiting for me to walk with him. No, he was there. I just... didn't want to walk at the time, I guess... Heck, I could faintly hear Him calling to talk to me, but I wasn't in the mood to listen. At church, I felt more and more distant, like I was going through the motions. I digress.
Yesterday, I started to take a step in the right direction. After another Sunday at church feeling like I don't belong there, I starting thinking about why I felt that way. Part of my problem, I think, is that I'm a little disenchanted with the Crux. While I love the message and the way it's given, to borrow a friend's description, it's become too much like a rock concert. Granted, the first thing that attracted me to this church was how different it was from the traditional Catholic show. Now, I like the new pastor a lot, but once I learned he was once apart of the lead pastors old Christian rock band, something felt... not wrong... but not quite connected. Add to that, I still struggle with feeling like anyone knows me there. Among the congregation, I could probably count on my hands the number of people I feel close with. Closer than, "Oh hey, you're name's ML right?" Despite the church's effort to built a community, I think my age and life experience are so different from others that we have trouble relating. Now, I'm not attributing my sins to the Crux. I am responsible for my actions and I am asking God's forgiveness. I'm just explaining how during this time the feeling of not belonging has maybe pushed me away from God.
Additionally, three of the people I felt the closest to in the congregation are no longer apart of the mix. God called them to work for him somewhere else. So, my best friend and his wife are moving and, really, I'm happy for them. God's got great plans for them. And, the person who pretty much brought me to Christ's party is moving, too, as God has called her to work for Him somewhere else. I'm not doing well losing their physical proximity. I plan to make every effort to keep these people in my life because, whether they realize it or not, they have done so much for me. In fact, their leaving made me realize that I might for the first time since coming to Christ be alone in my walk with God. By that I mean, I don't have someone in my local inner circle to lean on and talk to about faith. I don't mean I can't talk others in my inner circle about it; we just haven't really talked about it and connected on that level. See the difference before you get offended. So, in that sense, I feel like I have to stand and walk on my own for bit while I develop other relationships. And that scares me...
It's hard for me to socialize. I say I'm going to talk to someone new and just be a friendly person, but it's hard for me to do that. "What ifs" talk me out of it. This is not a way to live. If I'm standing next to you and I'm not saying anything, know that I'm probably trying really hard to come up with an icebreaker that doesn't sound like I'm hitting on you or sounds really stupid. Like recently, I wanted to tell someone I liked the color of their toenail polish, but where do you go after that? Oh, hey, yeah, lovely shade of ice blue on your toes. Where'd ya get it? Oh, no, it's not odd for a guy to like pretty toenails and wonder where you purchased that shade. Really, I'm not a freak. Don't walk away. Damn. I've got a million deadend icebreakers.
Didn't expect that rant, but there ya go... Anyway, I've been wanting to buy The Message Bible. Some people will say that they can't trust the Bible, that it's not the word of God, because it was written by man. I tend to disagree with that because it's not the words that are in the Bible, it's the message you get from God while you read it that's important. And, this particular version, from what I have been exposed to, exemplifies that notion. So, I finally picked on up yesterday. This is a special edition called "Pause." Basically, it's the Message Remix in a "read the Bible in 365 days" form. It starts in Genesis 1, then skips to John 1, back to Genesis, etc. It picked this version because I felt that the fact that it was written to be read daily would help me do just that.
I was reading about Cain and Abel after they offered their sacrifices to God. He was pleased with Abel's, but not so much with Cain's. God tells Cain:
"Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won't you be accepted? And if you don't do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it's out to get you; you've got to master it."Well, you could have just about called me "Cain" after I read that. That's what I need to do - get back to mastering my sins.
And that's just what I intend on doing. I am going to start seeking God again. I am going to start praying daily and reading the Bible daily. I am going to start fasting again. I am going to seek the life God wants for me. I am going to start holding myself to higher expectations and morals and develop my character. I'm going to live more transparently and chronicle my experiences here. And, I'm going to start hugging more people. Hugs are good. I need them. So do you. Hug me.