This month’s Friday Favorite will include about my newish morning routine. When doing Last 90 days this go round, I committed to getting up an hour before I normally do and used this for quiet and prayer time. This new gift of time has led me to a few different Bible studies – sort of a new thing for me. If you hang around HALF much you know faith is a huge part of my life. There are so many different reasons for that but the biggest one has really been desperation. Really inspiring huh? Inspiring or not its just the truth – to get through life I have needed faith and what I have come to find is the more you need it, the more you dive in, and the more you dive in, you realize the further you need to go. It is an endless source of wisdom, comfort, strength…. I could go on and on. But over the last year as I have continued to dive deeper it has lead me to the bible.
Mass, adoration, sacraments and journaling to God have been my biggest sources of strength, however as I have literally thrist for more information, I found my way to the Book. Now it can be pretty overwhelming to just jump into the Bible (which I tried), so instead I am taking it in bite size pieces with Bible studies. Ya’ll it is amazing, you can find a Bible Study for just about anything – which really just means, the Bible is applicable to us all. For someone who spends a ton of time on their faith and conversing with Jesus you would think I would not have been so shocked by this reality. Of course the Bible is for everyone…. but truly it sorta came as a surprise. These stories of Noah and the ark or Daniel and the lions’ den, or Mary the mother of God I have heard for my whole life. I felt I knew them inside and out – but what Bible studies have helped to do for me is slow the story way down and sorta take it apart. By doing this you begin to understand the stories that we rattle off are actually way more detailed then we may have initially thought. Some of them last YEARS, some of them really showcase how human we have humans have been since the beginning of time – so suddenly when you hear about flood preparation or going to be in a lions’ den you sorta do a double take. This person in the Bible was struggling with their path in life or trusting God’s plan, so God asked them to do something crazy and it led them closer to Him? When the rest of the world was telling these folks they were insane or had it all wrong, and yet God led them to peace and beauty? Do we all not know that feeling so well? We are so darn lost and God calls us to something that seems counter to EVERYTHING we know…. and it actually sorta works out? Maybe the Bible isn’t so overwhelming after all…. just maybe it is actually very familiar.
After this realization, I started to really dive into the characters of the Bible. I loved how when you start to really pay attention you see how to relate to them. And you know what? A few of them that had front row seats to God’s plans in action, some even had God’s ear… and you know what they would do with that? Complain, tell him the they are afraid, be mad with God….. I have LOVED this discovery. God is literally telling us – BRING IT ALL TO ME! I want a REAL relationship with you and a real relationship is messy! This season of my life I just have so many questions for God. I want to know why Danny is not better? I want to know why our journey to parenthood is so painful? I want to know why I can be so heartbroken…. yet blessed with food and a warm home and some people have nothing! God doesn’t promise me a why…. but it still doesn’t mean my heart won’t ask it. So I am drawn to people that want to know why or just feel a little lost. And that is how I found Anna.
Presentation Day is the story of Mary and Joseph bringing Baby Jesus to the temple. There he is presented to the high priest and there is also the mention of Anna who holds the baby. In the world of infertility this is a day that honors those walking through this struggle. The ideas is that it is similar to how we honor parents on Mother’s/Father’s Day by recognizing them. So this day is to recognize those struggling with infertility or adoption and honor their journey. The concept of this day: an opportunity for people to present their pain and journey to the Lord, just as Mary and Joseph presented Jesus, is really beautiful, but when you dive into the Bible that is just the tip of the iceberg on this story.
This year I learned the story of Anna: widowed 48 years prior to her mention in the bible and never having had a child, she was truly alone. At that time a woman who was without a husband or child to take her in was truly left to her own demise – literally she was forced to wander in hopes of kindness of strangers and a community, since no one was required to care for her and women could not get their own jobs. This is not what Anna pictured for her life. And its not like things just didn’t work out and she never found her way to a marriage or had the chance to try for family… her journey had led her to that point and then it was all taken from her. Her response is very human – confused, frustrated, lost and likely in pain emotionally, mentally and perhaps even physically. But its the other part of her response that takes her humanity and uses it – God has laid out this path for her to walk and since it is not what she had planned for her life, she does not like it – so she makes a commitment to show up to God since this is his doing. She can’t make heads or tails of it… can’t care for herself because of the culture…. and God left her alone??!?! Just great…. well then she is gonna go to His house EVERY DAY to require that he takes care of her.
I don’t know about you, but initially when I pictured people showing up for God in the Bible it was to worship at his feet, give thanks for his gifts, and for even a few to literally talk to Him. This was actually not the case with Anna – in fact there was likely a little anger: “Ok God, you did this so I am just gonna come to temple every dang day and force YOU to care for me”. She become a perpetual worshipper and not always because she was so happy with what God had provided. This passage made me feel like I was reading about myself. My faith is a constant in my life, but not always because I am so thrilled with where God has led. However I refuse to give up on Him. Anna’s story is described with a very deep longing. We don’t know if it was for her husband, a child, companionship, or for an answer. All we do know is she felt an emptiness and as the story concludes, this emptiness was completely filled because as a perpetual worshipper she was at the temple the day Jesus was presented and was given the chance to hold the Baby Christ. That simple action filled that part of her that had been struggling, for likely years, with everlasting peace.
Now still as a human we may read that and say “peace – really?? That is all she needed”….. in fact I said it to myself. A few moments with Jesus for a lifetime of loss? Does it really work that way? But the more time I have spent pouring over this story I have come to realize we can have EVERYTHING but without peace, without the ability to feel whole it will never seem like enough. We will always be searching for that answer ….. and so this story gives us such a human person to identify with and then the example of true peace: surrendering to God and the gift of his presence in our life that will calm our hearts and quench the thirst of our spirit.
As I write more and more about my faith there is a theme that continues to pop up over and over again. Come to God no matter what…. come sad… come angry… come lost… Prayer doesn’t have to be a list of gratefulness or intentions. In fact it is so much richer as a relationship – and relationships have good, bad and everything in between. It has struck me as so odd for some reason that you still come to God, even angry- yet my life has seen the fruits of giving that time to him no matter how I felt when I presented it. And the second theme that I have a feeling will continue to be a big message this year (especially as I focus on HOPE), the humanness that has us full of emotion and questions and confusion – it can be the exact thing that brings us to God and allows Him to use our lives….. so we have to share it with him. And we might just be surprised that if we focus on constantly coming to him, what may happen unexpectedly in our lives to bring us the peace we crave.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!