Guest Post: Faith Like a Child
Kate is a Nashville, TN biologist who has recently turned into a seminarian. She is a lover of Christ, all things science, working for equality and mutuality in the church, a good cup of coffee, very short hair, laughing until crying, humanitarian work, and the triathlon. Though sometimes she can barely work a toaster, she enjoys writing about it and the joys and pains of the journey of life; she prays for a few traveling mercies along the way. She blogs here and tweets here.
Faith like a child is a curious thing. A precious thing, which fills a need, something deep and persistent as we develop through infancy, toddler-dom and childhood. I needed to know that I was loved, cherished, and made for a purpose. God was the source. The loving household I was reared in was so full of love because of God’s first loving us, then my parents loving each other, and finally, them loving my brothers and I. It was easy for me to see that God is love because I experienced such tangible love from my family. As I matured through childhood, I began to perceive that there was another part of God, one that required perfection, which was unattainable, thus a sacrifice was needed. Learning from my church, I began a complex relationship with God in which I viewed God as a commandment-driven, to-do list juxtaposed concurrently with an intimate, loving relationship.
Maturing through my teenage years, God was presented in a very patriarchal manner, which never sat well with my spirit as I was a budding feminist in the buckle of the Bible belt. In my spirit, God’s expression to me was intimate and equally available for all regardless of any defining characteristic.
As my spiritual journey has progressed through the years, God’s expression has grown into a very deep, personal experience. It is not an experience that I was taught rather, it is one which has evolved alone, which I think is the biggest spiritual shift that I have experienced since my childhood. God is, to me, a life-giving entity. One which makes dry bones come alive, one which is grieved by discrimination and inequality, one which teaches me to speak from my scars and not my wounds, one who does not punish with floods and earthquakes, one which makes beautiful things out of us. I know so little about this God… except that I know I desperately need this expression of the Holy in my life.
God’s work is done by God’s people. I have come to realize that though my experience of God is personal, God is also revealed communally. When a fellow sojourner weeps when I am weeping, laughs when I am laughing, bears my load with theirs, holds my hand firmly reminding me of the meaning of grace and peace, God’s countenance is shown, visibly and powerfully. The love I see when a community surrounds each other, refusing to give into despair, stubbornly singing alleluia through violence, uncertainty, and pain, makes me certain that the Holy is present. And I can only experience God in this way in a communal manner; it is a miracle to love unselfishly. From this I learn that perhaps this is the mission Dei of the Holy in my life… that I learn to give radical hospitality, loving especially in inconvenient times, that I hold my brothers and sisters hands through life, knowing the Source of purpose, strength, and love.
I am thankful that my faith like a child experience was one in which I experienced God as love well before I was taught about the God of exclusion and conditions. So in some ways, the expression of God in my life has changed dramatically, but in others, it remains unchanged. It is alive and sustaining, intricately mixed with doubt, grace, beauty, and pain, and I need it like I need the new life of spring after a long, bitterly cold winter.