My wife was a high school math teacher for 6 years at Wichita West High School. One of the classes she taught was math applications in which they have to apply the math they use into real life situations. In one project her students had to create model homes out of foam paper to size. One student in particular had a pool in his back yard. Part of assignment was adding the costs for the house and building materials. She noticed a really high price for water so she asked further about how they came to that price. Her student had calculated how many 20oz water bottles were needed to fill the pool at the rate of a 20 pack of water. It's funny to think about it this way but those in the class had no idea of other ways water could be accessed to fill the pool.
I tell you this story because sometimes how we think about our current faith journey's, church, abilities, etc. may not be the only ways to think about them. What if there were other possibilities out there that may make it easier for us and fit our needs better? What if a new perspective could further our journey with the divine?
Check out this short video by Minister T.D. Jakes specifically talking about the stories we tell ourselves and how it impacts our lives.
Sometimes we are walking our faith journey doing everything we are supposed to be doing and come across a feeling of just not feeling right. We change, grow, and develop and suddenly the faith we once knew doesn't fit our worldview. For some reason we expect our faith to stay the same when everything around us changes. This expectation is just unrealistic and puts unwanted burden on our spiritual life. God wants us to continue to grow into who God is calling us to be. Sometimes that means we regress back trying to get back to where we were. Unfortunately this neglects a part of your journey which is now a part of you. That part has changed you and that needs to be embraced just like God embraces it. Other times we have certain people helping us navigate the waters of change to develop new perspectives about ourselves and our faith. Often others have different opinions and perspectives then our own. It is in that communication where we learn and process how it impacts our own stories.
It's important that we are always seeking that relationship with the divine in our own personal lives. This means we might need to read articles that challenge our point of view, talk to those that are on a different faith journey, or seek wisdom from those people we look up to. As far as reading materials go, there are some outstanding articles out there providing insight into our spiritual life. Shannon Crane writes a beautiful piece titled "Balancing Faith and Perspective". Another article titled "Changing my Religion: Processing Thoughts about Faith" by Charles Lee is a reflection of his experience in evolving form the faith he once new. These are just a few of some wonderful articles out there.
Think about your faith journey. Where are you filling the pool with filtered water? In what ways can you grow or change your perspective?
I appreciate everyone following along. We have slowed some of our blog posts recently but still plan on bringing you wonderful content when we can.
This week think about your faith journey and what you can do to help bring other perspectives into it different then what you know.
As our social distancing and self quarantining continues fear continues to be prevalent among us. It’s a scary time right now. Our routines have been dismantled. Anxiousness fills our minds. Fear about our loved ones and day to day lives moving forward stays on the forefront of our brains.
So how do we focus on hope when fear abounds in our daily life? It’s important to note that we are not the first ones to have a life changed and occupied by fear. There have many historical events that changed peoples lives. They have all brought an opportunity to identify what really matters to people.
Often in times of great struggle or uncertainty people turn to find God. This is because our relationship with God is more important then we usually tend to acknowledge. Our daily lives get overrun with responsibilities and obligations. In this time we each have this opportunity to seek God in the midst of chaos.
So what do we do with this fear? How do we seek God during this time? How do we deeply connect with the divine? Let’s explore further.
Acknowledge Your Stress, Worry, and Fear
This chaotic time is something we have not known. But most likely you are feeling some level of stress, worry, or fear. Often we may not even recognize our stress. Other times we run from it and eventually get to the point where it is too much. Stress can come out in many ways.
Here are some things to look for:
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Change in eating and sleep patterns
- Constant fear and worry (checking phone for new updates constantly)
- Increase use of alcohol, drugs, etc.
- Health problems worsen or unexplained headaches, etc.
- Irritability, anger, short tempered
Know you do not have to bear these emotions or the emotions of your household alone. Take this opportunity to sit with your feelings and start on a path of resilience. Be vulnerable and acknowledge your feelings. This will not only help provide some relief for you but give others opportunities to support you as well as share their own. Being real with ourselves in these moments puts us on the journey to figuring out how to manage them. With any loss of life there is a natural grieving process we go through. This in particular is challenging because we are a part from the people we connect with on a daily basis.
Its important you take care of yourself during this time. There are many ways to do this. It's important you connect with others through text, phone, or video interface, exercise and take care of your body, and talk with others about the facts. Faith can also be a major resiliency factor in these times. Faith provides hope in times of uncertainty and calms our fears. There are some ideas of how you can find your faith during this time below.
NAMI provides some wonderful ideas of taking care of your mental health in this article "Mental Health Coping Strategies." You can also check out the CDC's recommendations for "Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event." Hang in there we are all in this together.
Remember fear only has a hold on us if we allow it to. Lets end this section with a famous quote from a Kansan.
“I am not afraid of tomorrow,
for I have seen yesterday and I love today.”
- William Allen White
Avenues for Faith
People are using unique ways to connect their faith groups. I have seen virtual worship's, a car drive up worship, family church time, or even neighborhood get togethers (with distance). Now is exactly the time to try something different! Some people are anxious and stressed and need the comfort of knowing God is in their lives.
Online Worship - There are various churches providing online worships through interfaces like zoom, skype, Facebook Live, or live streaming services. I encourage you to check out these options. This last week Midlands Mission Center hosted a Thursday night connection group via zoom to worship and dialogue together. If you are interested in joining next week go to our contact us page and submit a request and I will get the information to you. You can also check out Community of Christ Online Ministries for more options.
Spiritual Practices - I have heard many people say this last week has really helped them draw away to spend time with God. Finding a spiritual practice that works for you is essential. Spiritual practices are acts that help us connect with the divine in a deeper way. Check out our past blog posts on spiritual practices for more insight. Practicing kindness, prayer, exercise, meditation, silence, music, knitting, scripture study, etc. can all be forms of spiritual practices. Find one that works for you and do it.
Out of the Box Ideas - Be creative in expressing your faith. People are sewing face masks for hospital staff. Others are creating scavenger hunts in neighborhoods and cities you can do in your car. Some are asking elderly neighbors to get groceries for them to ensure the most vulnerable are isolated and safe. Faith in action is using love to think of others. Use your creativity!
Connecting to God
Connecting to God is about searching your heart and seeking something greater than yourself. Holding the understanding the gospel is not about me. When we move out of the way and focus on God and others we see with different eyes. I encourage you find a quiet place, close your eyes, and search your heart and mind for God in this moment. God's spirit is all around us and through us. God is in our suffering in these dark hours. God's spirit breathes in you! Allow love to come forth and there you will find God. There you will find hope amidst the fear.
This is a challenging time. I pray we will be led by our faith and that fear will be wiped away with hope. May you all stay healthy and well.
Find time to connect with God this week in whatever form you see fit.
In March or April if you drive along the Kansas Turnpike you will most likely see the Flint Hills on fire. Thousands of acres are often lit creating a smoke filled landscape during the day and an eerie red light at night. At nighttime it almost feels like you are driving through the depths of hell. The blazing fires are controlled burns to improve the health of fields and prevent unwanted growth. The ashes provide extra nitrate to the soil. When the fire dissipates everything is dead creating a sullen, black landscape.
Amazingly within a few weeks the same area transforms into a beautiful living, breathing sanctuary of green fields. The new brightness of the plants covering the landscape speaks to the spirit of God that is in all creation. A spirit that boldly, says the divine is present and here with us. A spirit asking us to be cocreators in this world ensuring that nature is taken care of. The act is also a reminder of how through death new life is waiting to vivaciously spring forth.
Sometimes it this through the fires of our life where we find new life. It hurts. It's painful. It changes us. But the new creation that emerges is bold and beautiful living with a new understanding of the preciousness of life.
What fires have you been through and how did it impact your faith? Are there obstacles we are avoiding because we fear what we do not know? Our faith is a part of us and is affected by what we encounter and live through. So what role does faith have during these life experiences? Let's explore this further.
Trials and tribulations are scary. We often fear certain events and avoid moving forward. Unexpected situations devastate us, and can tear us a part. However when we walk through the adverse situations of life somehow we emerge stronger, better, and more capable then we ever have been before. Adversity make us grow as people and makes us seek something greater outside of ourselves. It is through these acts that hope emerges. Faith develops and goes deeper as we seek and find understanding for the events that transpired. It is in faith and understanding where we develop hope for the future. Hope for ourselves, hope for others, and hope for life in general.
The video below is Nick Vujicic who was born without arms and legs speaking at Telford State Prison about his life and the hope we can have through the difficulties of life. Nick travels around the world speaking and inspiring individuals. This video is quite long but if you have time to watch some of it I am sure you will be amazed and find the message of hope emerging through him.
Refining Ourselves Through Adversity
Refining usually refers to separating the impurities out and purifying the substance. But something has to be placed or go willingly through the fires to be refined. Adversity also refines us. However often when adversity strikes it is hard to stay positive. Staying hopeful in the midst of adversity is a skill. You can check out the article "How to Stay Hopeful and Resilient Through Adversity" by Joe Wilner for some ideas. The article "Refine Your Life" talks about the life cycle and how growth and development are cyclical. It gives some great ideas on how to figure out where you are in the cycle. One important aspect I want to draw attention to is reframing obstacles. The article indicates we need to ask these questions.
1. What can I learn from this?
2. Where else in my life is the same obstacle showing up, and how has it served me?
3. What can I do to address it?
4. Where is my opportunity to stretch?
5. Am I ready to let this obstacle go?
Asking these questions changes your perspective to be focused on development and life balance. Too often we feel powerless with adversity but we actually have a lot of choice in how we respond. Faithfully responding to adversity by choosing to seek positive growth is powerful. This does not mean we cannot feel dejected, hurt, etc. These are important feelings that should be acknowledged and felt. They are part of the process but at some point we must choose to reframe our thinking. We must choose to overcome our adversity.
Whatever you are walking through know there is hope. New life is waiting to vivaciously spring forward in you its just a matter of time. Go through the process at your own pace, reframe your perspective, ask the questions that matter to you and move forward. Allow the divine to guide you and may you find faith in the process.
Thank you for all those that follow along each week! We appreciate all the positive feedback and support.
This week ask the questions above about a situation you are facing?
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting.
They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation.
They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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