I was cleaning my room today and found a piece of paper hiding in my desk. It was a piece of paper from my November Young Adults in Global Mission retreat with the other Argentina and Uruguay volunteers. At the retreat, Krystle, our country coordinator each gave us slips of paper to read out loud written by one of our group members. The responses were to a the prompt we had more than a year ago in our YAGM applications: How would you articulate your Christian faith and how does this faith inform who you are? As we went around the circle, reading one another’s answers, I was blown away by the profoundness in everyone’s thoughts on faith. The one I read, I ended up keeping, because every time I read it, I feel inspired.
“I believe in the impossible grace that’s been impossibly used on me. In the Trinity there is a community of persons and still individuality. In the moments when I feel closest to God, I also find myself feeling more like me and less like anyone or anything else. I revel in that free grace- given to me freely, and somehow freeing me to love and serve others. There is a call for justice and healing. One day all will be right and in right community, but should there be suffering in the meantime? Jesus didn’t put off healing, but did all he could for all that he touched, even while in the process of something far more glorious. We can do no less than what we can -right now- for those around us. I do my best. Faith is a dynamic relationship. I feel God’s presence around at all times -in my unbelief, He is who I call out to.” -Elizabeth Thomas (published with permission)
I think so often, we think faith is a personal thing, and while that is true, it is a very very communal thing as well. Communal in the sense as something to be shared in community (however, not in the sense of discriminatory hate-based legislation).
In that moment, as we shared each other’s faith statements, I realised how many conversations I had yet to have- the many topics that could be explored -and the wisdom that I could gain by listening to the perspective’s and life experiences of these people I knew so well (and other people too!). But, the thing is, I haven’t really taken advantage of opportunities to do that. While I don’t think it is a very helpful thing to force a conversation about faith with someone who does not want to talk about it, I personally really appreciate it and find it refreshing when other people bring up the topic of faith in conversation.
I think we are so worried about offending others that we clam up, because we all know people (or are someone) hurt by those who have ‘shared’ their personal religious beliefs not out of of a place of love and humility but rather self-righteousness and arrogance. I frankly don’t like talking to those people anymore than you probably do. However, by avoiding the topic completely, we devalue the importance of it in our lives and lose opportunities to learn, grow, and share.
Even when we disagree, we learn from one another, and are compelled to probe deeper into why it is we believe what we believe. It is good to ask hard questions, to talk with and be friends with people that believe differently than we do. It helps keep our faith from being stagnant. I believe my faith in Jesus is, as Elizabeth described it, “a dynamic relationship.” Relationships aren’t destinations. They are part of our day to day living and need to be actively engaged with in order to thrive.
Thank you to everyone in my life that has played a part in my faith journey. Truly.
Yours in Christ,
P.S. I would love to hear from you how you would respond to the YAGM application prompt.