Looking in the places where no flowers grow
Looking for to fill that God-shaped hole ..."
- Mofo by U2
Oh how true. How alarmingly true, particularly the last line. As some of you know, I've been having troubles with faith lately. Those of you newer to my LJ may not know much at all about my faith. All I ask of you is that, if my beliefs clash with yours, please respect mine, and I will respect yours (though this is no "I will only respect yours if you respect mine" rubbish: I respect other beliefs anyhow). I've been a Christian for just over a year (long story can be found at http://www.geocities.com/amakaxver/mytestimony.html for anyone interested), and I've been struggling with faith since April. Not in a "I'm doubting Christianity and may give up on it" kind of way - nothing could be further from the truth. It all began back in April when I visited my Dad in NZ. One day, he was giving me a bit of a lecture (or having a bit of a talk depending on whose version of events you go by), and the topic of faith somehow came up, and by the end of the conversation, my faith was considerably rattled, and by the end of the trip I was at the point of telling God to get lost. Second I walked away from Dad and onto the plane, things suddenly felt better, and the doubts were washed away ... temporarily. When YTF went down, that's when the doubts returned and I began to feel very weak again. This didn't happen BECAUSE of YTF going down, it just happened at the same time, and I imagine you could probably draw some kind of connection. Since then, I've been struggling with weak faith. I firmly believe God exists, but I've really felt distant from Him, and I question if He really cares, and I don't know what to do to get back that wonderfully strong faith I once had. I still enter into theological (particularly eschatological) debates with vigour, and have no problems with talking about faith, and I imagine things seem quite rosy if you look at the surface of things; you'd never guess I'm having these problems. But I am. I'm having great trouble feeling close to God and knowing what He wants of me.
Now this is something I'm sure I've been told before, in fact I'm certain I was on YTF, but I only really came to fully realise and understand it for myself while down in Melbourne. I was thinking about prayer and how sometimes, particularly before I go to sleep, I will pray out of this sense of duty, thinking that I have to and such. But then I realised that that's a load of codswallop. Prayer isn't something I have to do - salvation is based on faith, not works; God needs no works such as prayer every night - and nor is it something I need to do for God - He can function perfectly fine whether I pray or not; He may like me to, but He won't stop functioning or damn me to Hell just for not saying a prayer before I go to sleep. Rather, prayer is something for ME. It's a means of me communicating with my Lord - and if you believe in God, that's a bloody important thing to do - of humbling myself before Him and confessing my sins, realising He is much more awesome, powerful, and loving than me, and realising that He can solve my problems, heal my troubles, and I basically need to be in communion with Him, talking to Him. It's something for my benefit, building up my faith, making my requests, offering thanks, asking for forgiveness, and also, in a way, it's for others by my praying for them. It's something I need to do for myself, not for God, and thus praying out of some sense of duty is utter nonsense. Then it's not for me, and that completely defeats the purpose.
So I've realised this, and that's helping me along in things. I want to return to feeling close to God, to being comfortable in my faith, to "fill[ing] that God-shaped hole" of Mofo. I feel this is the first step on that journey, and that's good.
Completely different topic now. I was watching the news today, and what were the headlines? "Family of five dies in light plane crash; six year old burns to death in house fire; baby left home alone for three weeks in America while mother was in jail." How delightful. I'm sick of such depressing, saddening news like that. I could barely stand to watch the coverage of the plane crash; I wanted to cry. They were only little kids! It's AWFUL. I'm sick of such terrible things occurring. I don't battle with questions like "Why do bad things happen?" and "Why does God allow evil to happen?" - I've answered those and I can live with it - but what I do battle is that it occurs all the time and I just can't stand it. I want some happy news, something that can make me feel warm inside. They say good news doesn't sell newspapers, but why not? Isn't it a sad comment on society when people only want to read about bad things happening? They may be more sensational, but I don't want to be bombarded with death and destruction and mayhem every hour of the bloody day.
Also, I need to get into shape. Thus, I am planning on going swimming of a night. I hate swimming with other people (or at least people I don't know/like) around, and I hate putting sunblock on, but swimming at night certainly solves the sunblock problem and generally solves the people problem, because it's rare for other people to be in the pool at night. This will, if I get my act into gear, start tomorrow night.
And, considering the date, this is a very appropriate song.
Written by Bono Vox, performed by U2
And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care?
And kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on ... and on ...
For a very short song, there's actually some good messages in there. And if the 'you' is meant to be capitalised, even more so.