A Meaningful Prayer

Sorry for the delay in updating. My husband is out of town on business, and it's hard to find the time to write anything when you're home alone with a 16 month old 24 hours a day with no help.

I took the baby to the mega-church on Sunday after dropping my husband off at the airport. Because of the time change, there was no way he would have lasted through the 10:15 AM service at the Anglican church. That's naptime. So we went to our old church, and what do you know, we scored one of the four days a year (or so) that they actually did communion! I really felt like God was looking out for me and honoring my desire to worship Him by partaking of Holy Communion in addition to attending church and reading/living His Word.

Anyway, there's nothing much happening on my spiritual front right this second (ed. note: famous last words, part II) because I'm too exhausted to do anything but pray right now. But on the subject of prayer, I came across this beautiful prayer that someone calling him/herself "Knitting a Conundrum" posted here after contemplating the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector:

Forgive us, Lord,
For all the hours of speculating
on the mechanics of your grace
instead of living as salt and light,
your beacons to a dark and sinful world.

Forgive us Lord,
for all the hours we argue
about the right method of prayer
instead of praying,
humble and grateful.

Forgive us Lord,
For all the ways
We cut those who are different than we,
Instead of seeing them as beloved by you,
and deserving of our love.

Forgive us Lord
For all the ways we try to decide
if a person is deserving of our help
instead of seeing him
as sent by you
so we can act with the love you taught us.

Forgive us, Lord,
for all of the petty ways we subvert your word.
Fill our hearts,
cleanse us of the darkness
that keeps us from you,
from being your tool
this day and always,



We had a talk

The baby is wreaking havoc in the living room, so I'll make this quick (yes, I know I said "naptimes and after dinner" -- forgive me). I talked to my husband last night, and it seems like the best course of action for now is for me to attend a weeknight communion service at the neighborhood Lutheran church (Jezebel notwithstanding) and we will begin a new search for a church together on Sunday mornings.

It's a compromise, but one I'm more than willing to live with. I was feeling very convicted yesterday when some dear sisters in Christ gently suggested that he might feel a tad bewildered and left out by my charging full speed ahead in a new spiritual direction. I was making decisions for our family that I had no business making, and for that I have been duly chastened.

I will write a nice letter to the vicar of the Anglican church I've been attending. If he's worth his salt as a pastor and man of God, he'll understand. Maybe we'll still end up attending there, I don't know. But God will have to lead my husband there. It's His job to lead my husband, not mine.

Jezebel -- Back And Better Than Ever!

Touchstone Magazine reports that Fortress Press, the publisher owned by the ever-evolving (yeah, that's the word) Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has released a book called The Jezebel Letters, making a feminist case for Jezebel as a strong, positive female leader.

Apparently, the Fortress press release stated that the book "transforms the stereotype of the notorious biblical queen into a more historically based portrayal of a powerful, literate royal woman."

Uh huh. Because just making things up is way more "historical" than believing the "stereotypes" of the Holy Bible.

The sound you hear? That's me, banging my head on the keyboard, lamenting the dizzying spiral into apostasy of the church I grew up in. Or it might be Luther spinning in his grave. One or the other. Sigh.


A Wrench in the Works (Famous Last Words)

My husband grew up Roman Catholic and left that church a year or two before we met. He joined the same mega-church that I did when I moved here, and we met there at an event for singles. He has always seemed quite happy at the mega-church when we show up, but since our baby has been born, we have been less frequent attenders for reasons of logistics as well as issues with the church's handling of families who want to worship together (Hint: they'd prefer you use the nursery.).

Lately, as I've posted before, I have been attending a small Anglican church on my own that I truly enjoy -- I grew up in a liturgical tradition (Lutheran) and I find that if I set my mind and spirit to it, I can glean a lot from that format. I also like that in a liturgical church, the congregation participates! The readings, the prayers, the hymns, communion . . . you really have to pay attention and do your part to make it into a real worship experience. At our mega-church, all you have to do is show up and be entertained. You could literally sleep through a service and no one would notice because absolutely nothing is required of you in the way of participation.

So, for the past two weeks, my husband has agreed to accompany me to the Anglican church to see what it is all about. On the one hand, he "gets it" about small church vs. big church, spiritual vs. life application, and participation vs. passivity. On the other hand, he is really struggling with the idea of going "Catholic lite" instead of Catholic. He wonders why we don't just go to the Catholic church since the Episcopal/Anglican church is nearly identical in format. He keeps saying "How can I justify going 'Catholic lite' when we could just go to the real Catholic church instead?"

I keep trying to explain to him that they are not the same thing, because the beliefs differ! There are some major, major disagreements between me (and the Lutheran and Anglican traditions) and the Catholic church (and in my opinion, between the Bible and the Catholic church). There's not a whole lot of differences numerically, but the several that are there are HUGE. I'm talking veneration and devotion to Mary, infallibility of the Pope, transubstantiation, praying to saints . . . these are not small issues, they are salvation issues to me! I see these things as idolatry. I realize the Roman Catholic church disagrees strongly with me on that, and that's fine, but it's the reason I cannot in good faith attend a Roman Catholic church!

Please understand that I don't think Catholics are going to hell. Not in the least. I know they believe in and worship the same Christ I do. But I do think their church is teaching a flawed understanding of these (and other) issues. Since I believe I have been educated with a correct understanding of these issues, I think it would be sin for ME to overlook these wrong teachings and join the Catholic church anyway.

I keep trying to explain these things to my husband, and I'm just not sure he gets it. It's literally like it doesn't register. For him, attending Catholic church would be a simple return to the tradition of his youth, requiring little effort and gaining much approval from his mother and siblings (who were, and are, absolutely scandalized by his break from Catholicism). But for me, it would require conversion. Going to RCIA classes. Getting confirmed. Turning my back on what I have always known to be true. If I failed to do this, I would never be able to participate in communion, which would be horrible for me because I do believe in the Real Presence (just not transubstantiation -- I believe in consubstantiation, and to explain the difference would take so much space as to be a whole other post for another time). Not to mention the fact that my parents would be appalled -- maybe even more so than my husband's mother already is. These things, were I to find The Truth in the Roman Catholic church, would not be insurmountable problems, obviously, since Christ said the Truth would divide even families. But seeing as how I don't believe in the Catholic church at all, I really don't think any of it would be appropriate.

All this time I thought my husband had the same fundamental differences with the Catholic church that I did. Now I'm thinking that might not be the case. He told me last night that he left because he wasn't "being fed." He didn't elaborate and getting him to explain himself is like pulling teeth.

I'm about ready to give up on my search for a more challenging spiritual environment and stick with the mega-church if all the liturgical church is going to do is send my husband back to the Catholic church. I really, really don't want our family to be spiritually divided, and it would be if that happened, because I am not going to convert to Catholicism anytime soon. (Obviously if my husband, as the spiritual head of the household, decided he really wanted us attending the Roman Catholic church, I'd go, but I couldn't in good faith participate! And so we would be divided, and it would be horrible for our marriage and horrible for our son.)

So today, I am wondering if we should just stick with the mega-church because my husband is getting fed there, even if I'm not.

I told him matter-of-factly last night that I think we at just very different places in our spiritual walk right now. That's not good or bad, and it doesn't mean one of us is "ahead" of the other -- it just means we're unique. I guess our job now is to figure out how to stay unified in our uniqueness. Pray for us.


Happy Are Those Who Walk in the Law of the Lord

By the grace of God, I did it! I set the coffee machine to make me a fresh pot at 7 AM, went to bed at 10 PM, and while I missed my mark of waking and showering before 7, I did get up happily as soon as the baby woke me and got in some Bible time, too.

Since I have been reading a chapter of Hebrews every night before bed, I decided to read some Psalms this morning to put me in a good frame of mind for the rest of the day. Usually I read the shorter, more vague and generic, feel-good kind of Psalms because they make me happy. Just a few short verses about how faithful the Lord is, how much He loves us and has mercy on us, and how He saves us from spiritual death. What better way to start the day than by contemplating such things?

But this morning I decided I was up for a challenge. There is one chapter of Psalms I have never been able to force myself to read all the way through, and that's Psalm 119 -- the 176-verse long monster of a love letter to . . . God's law?

God's law, the law I break and/or ignore on a routine basis. The law that is ever nagging at the back of my mind as I live for my wretched self. The law that I would go to hell for breaking, had Jesus not, in the Father's infinite mercy, been sacrificed to pay for my redemption and forgiveness. That law. Goody.

So I opened the Bible I keep downstairs, which is a New Revised Standard Version (favored by Catholics and Anglicans), and the first verse, as worded in the NRSV, just about knocked me out of my chair. "Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord." Suddenly I was seeing this verse with new eyes. It did not say "Saved are those who walk in the law of the Lord." It did not say "Righteous are those who walk in the law of the Lord." It didn't even say "More loved by God are those who walk in the law of the Lord." No, it said "Happy." Happy are those who walk in the law of the Lord.

All at once I started thinking the author of this Psalm wasn't the holier-than-thou, unattainable saint I always thought he was. He wasn't condemning the reader to a life of unworthiness for failing to keep God's precepts. He was telling us how to be happy. God's law isn't a death sentence -- it's an instruction book on how to have a happy, fulfilled life. Happy are those who walk in the law of the Lord.

I went upstairs and opened my trusty NASB, supposedly the most literal English-language translation available. Since I don't speak Greek or Hebrew (yet!), it would have to do. The more literal translation is apparently "Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord." Again, not saved, righteous or loved, but "blessed." Well, the word "blessed" is such a uniquely religious word that it was no wonder it hadn't spoken to me as a sinner in quite the same way as the more human word "happy" did in the NRSV. "Blessed" is a word that has always been difficult for me to grasp. I usually think of it as having been given things -- health, family, love, prosperity. There's a part of me that knows the word means much, much more than that, but it has been hard for me to deepen my understanding. But coincidentally (yeah, right -- I don't believe in coincidence, especially when it comes to God), I have been reading Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen, and the chapter I finished last night was called "Blessed."

According to Nouwen (and on this point I will have to take his word, since I do not speak Latin, either), the word "bless" in Latin is benedicere and the word "benediction" literally means speaking (dictio) well (bene) of someone. So a blessing, in one respect, can be an admission of worthiness. When God blesses us, He is saying good things about us and calling us worthy. Is it any wonder that those who keep His laws are blessed?

But paradoxically, it's not because they've kept His laws that they are called blessed. After all, none of us are capable of keeping God's laws without His divine intervention. We are flawed creatures, doomed from the start, and it is only God's grace that allows us to do anything good at all. The reason that those who follow God's law are called blessed is that He loves them. He has cleansed them and made them worthy, just because He wanted to, and because it glorified Him. It is not under their own power that they have kept His precepts -- no one can do that but for God's grace, grace, grace. And under the Old Covenant, when this Psalm was written, surely only the grace of God could have saved a person, just as today, since it would have been impossible for any person to keep every one of God's laws without His direct help.

So what does this mean for believers today, since we are no longer under the law of the Old Testament?

Jesus came to fulfill the law and free us from the Old Covenant. It is no longer by the law that we are saved, but by His sacrifice. So those who are in Jesus, who are in the New Covenant in His blood, are part of a covenant in which the law is fulfilled. By the blood of Jesus, every jot and tittle of the law has been honored and fulfilled for those who love Him. How much more are we who give our lives to Christ blessed than those long ago who relied on the law and grace to save them? How well does God speak of us who are part of a covenant in which every law is fulfilled? And most of all, how very happy should that make us?

I still haven't gotten past verse 25 of Psalm 119, but I'm no longer afraid of it. On the contrary, I am looking forward to savoring it over the next several mornings and gleaning beauty and truth from all 176 verses. I already have more I want to say, but I'll save it for another time.



In the interest of accountability, I am posting my goals, spiritual and otherwise, for tomorrow and next week.

1. Set the coffeemaker every night to have a fresh pot ready for me at 7 the next morning.
2. Rise before 7 AM, shower and read a chapter of the Bible over coffee. Pray.
3. Do at least one load of laundry every day.
4. Limit my computer use to the baby's naptimes and after dinner.
5. Go to bed by 11 PM each night.

Yes, it's simplistic. But I have to get a handle on the simple stuff before I can begin tackling the hard stuff.

No one said it would be easy (notes on discipline)

Why is it that I expect my Christian walk to come naturally to me? Why is it that I use my natural "bent" as an excuse for not doing what God asks of me, when God is the one who made me this way in the first place?

There is an issue in my life that may seem trivial in the great scheme of things, but really, it's not. The issue is this: I am so NOT a morning person. I mean, useless-before-ten-A.M., talk-to-me-after-I've-had-my-coffee, please-for-the-love-of-God-just-ten-more-minutes NOT a morning person. It is actually painful for me to wake up in the morning. In my working life, I was fortunate (or perhaps not-so-fortunate, in the bigger picture) to have a series of understanding bosses who let me keep a 10-to-6 schedule rather than discipline me for not being there by 8. My new boss is 16 months old and not nearly as permissive. He rises at 7:30 on a good morning, 5:30 on a particularly hellish one. I am invariably still deep in Dreamland when his call comes over the baby monitor. If the hour is too early and the world still dark, my husband gets up and tries to put the little guy back to bed. If it's a good day, I get up, carry the munchkin downstairs, stick him in the high chair with some fruit and a piece of toast and hope that he doesn't notice I'm still asleep.

Why is this important? It speaks to a larger lack of self-discipline. Proverbs 31 speaks of the excellent wife and mother. She is, above all else, disciplined. Working late into the night and rising before the sun, she attends to the needs of her household and her community and her family calls her blessed.

Right now at my house, there is a mountain of laundry waiting for me in the basement. Toilets need to be cleaned, junk sorted through and donated, and dishes unloaded from the dishwasher. I woke up at 7:30 this morning with the baby, it's now 10:20 and all I've done is give him breakfast, take a bath, give him a bath, and surf the internet. I could have accomplished much more than that in 3 hours, but I didn't feel like it. How ugly! How lazy! How sinful!

I often rationalize my lack of self-discipline by telling myself that those who are successful homemakers are probably natural neat freaks and early risers. It must be easier for them. But who ever promised me it would be easy? I'm called to serve God and my family in an honorable way if it kills me! Literally. It being "easy" or my even wanting to do it doesn't matter a bit. Was suffering on the cross easy for Jesus? Was watching Him die easy for His followers? Right now, my ministry is my home. And while it may seem to pale in importance to the work of Christ, in a way, it IS the work of Christ. What I do here and now will largely determine the fate -- spiritually, emotionally, relationally and otherwise -- of my son, not to mention my marriage. Do I want my family to call me blessed? Do I want to honor my Lord and my God? Then I need to stop expecting "easy" and come to relish "hard."

I've got to go -- hard work (and much joy) calls.


Life of the Beloved

So, I'm reading this amazing book by Henri J.M. Nouwen called "Life of the Beloved." The subtitle is "Spiritual Living in a Secular World." I originally bought it for my husband because he works in an office filled with completely secular, anti-Christian people who give him a hard time about his faith and morals constantly. I do think it will help him in that regard -- not to "win" the argument, as so many books for the Christian "in the world" tend to teach, but to be Jesus to these people. Unfortunately for him, he's not going to get anything out of the book for a couple of days because I won't put it down.

I'm only on page 49, but so far, I have been both convicted and uplifted. Nouwen, a Catholic priest, wrote the book as a love letter of sorts to a secular Jewish friend who kept asking him to explain the hope he had. I believe the letter, while completely appropriate for the audience it was intended for, speaks even more loudly to those of us with a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ.

Nouwen speaks of self-rejection and the traps of success, power and money as one and the same -- the former being the impetus for people to seek the latter in a futile effort to alleviate the pain. On page 35, he says:

"Aren't you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don't you often hope: "May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country, or relationship fill my deepest desire." But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death."
But, he continues:

" ... you and I don't have to kill ourselves. We are the Beloved. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children and friends loved or wounded us. That's the truth of our lives. That's the truth I want you to claim for yourself. That's the truth spoken by the voice that says "You are my Beloved."
Friends, we ARE the Beloved. God knew and loved each of us before he formed us in our mothers' wombs. He has a plan for each of us, and a plan for all of us, together. He knows us, and loves us, right where we are at this very moment. He loves who we're going to be. And that's where our worth comes from. Not from striving or success or figuring it all out. Just from being created and loved by God. Praise Him for His mercy!


A Beautiful Faith

In the wee hours of this morning, when it was still dark outside, the phone rang. Everyone knows that can't possibly be good news -- that only happens when someone has died.

Sure enough, the caller ID displayed my parents' phone number in California. I answered the call in abject terror, worried that my beloved Dad, with his many health problems, had suddenly passed away. I was simultaneously relieved and chastened to hear that it was not my father but my grandmother on my mother's side, the last of my surviving grandparents, who had passed away.

In a way, the relief went beyond knowing that my Daddy was fine. The relief was also a sense of joy and thankfulness that my grandmother had finally gone to be with the Jesus she had devoted her entire life to. For years, she had been little more than a prisoner in her own body. Her mind was unreliable, her body compromised, and she could participate in none of the things that had made her life worth living since her husband had cruelly left her so many years before. In September, I had done all but move heaven and earth to see her with my sixteen-month-old son at the rest home where she resided in California. I knew full well it may be the last time I or my son would ever see her, but the reality didn't hit me until it was fully true, at 6 this morning, whem my Mom told me Nana had gone to be with Jesus.

But oh, how happy I am for her! This is a woman who spent her entire life serving others for His sake. When I think back to my childhood, so many of the best memories are of times I spent with my Nana. She tried so hard to pass on her strong faith to us. Hours were spent watching Bible stories with her on video, attending Church with her, and participating in something her church called Pathfinders, which was like a scouting program for boys and girls.

By the time my little sister and I were born, she had already given all of her financial resources to send our older cousins through private Christian school and college. So she packed up her things and moved two hours north to the town we were raised in so she could be there for us. And oh, how she was. So many hours were spent swimming with her at the pool. While my mother, ever self-critical despite her supermodel looks, sat on the pool deck fully clothed, my 5'2", 200 lb. grandma would jump into the pool with us in a bathing suit and swim cap. We swam with her, walked with her, dined with her, camped with her in exciting locations! I don't know what her relationship with my older cousins was like before we were born, but I think that if they got the money, and we got her time, attention and love, then we got the better end of the deal, without question.

But Nana is gone now. Gone to be with the Jesus she loved so much. I hope he is reassuring her now. She was a Seventh Day Adventist, and I know she was concerned that my mother's, my father's, and us kids' salvation was in jeopardy because we didn't keep a Saturday Sabbath. I hope the Jesus I love, and she loves, will tell her now that we love Him so much, and we love her so much, and we will see her in heaven one day.

In the meantime, enjoy heaven, Nana. You've waited your whole life for this. I hope you were filled with unspeakable gratitude and joy when He said to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment that I realized how shallow my faith truly was. I just know that God started leading me again and again to verses and commentary and thought that highlighted what Jesus said in Luke 11:28 . . . "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."

Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.

The words began reverberating in my mind constantly.

Had I observed, kept, and obeyed the word of God since my conversion more than ten years earlier? Of course I had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God -- we all do, every last one of us (Romans 3:23). That's why Jesus died on the cross -- to forgive our sins. But I came to realize that I was guilty of a far greater sin -- the sin of omission. Not only had I read God's instructions on what not to do and failed to stop myself from doing those things, but worse than that, I had read God's instructions on what to do and completely ignored them. I had not cared for the widowed and the orphans. I had not loved my neighbor as myself. I had not even managed to love God above all other gods -- self and security had served me just fine as idols to devote my life to.

In the process of trying to rid myself of outward sin, I had completely neglected the inward sins of laziness and apathy. Whatever fire I had in my heart for Christ when I thought about His love for me and His sacrifice for me (because it's all about me, right?) was surely in danger of being extinguished by the lukewarm water of my Christian witness. What had I really done for the Kingdom of Christ? I had spoken against sin, surely. I stood up in my community for morality and obedience and wholesomeness. Fine, even the Pharisees did that much. But when was the last time I had fed the hungry, ministered to the sick, befriended the lonely outcast? I was increasingly embarrassed to realize that the answer was, "I can't even remember."

Thank God that He had the mercy to hold this mirror in front of my face while there was yet time to fix the deformities. I can only give glory to Him that I even noticed my ugliness, because in the fundamentalist protestant culture of the United States, I am sorry to say, I fit right in. Sadly, I was like one of the pigs in that old Twilight Zone episode where they were giving the beautiful woman plastic surgery. So surrounded by ugliness was I that I had come to think of it as beauty.

This is not to say that fundamentalist Christians are all this way (not by a longshot), or that there is someting inherently flawed with fundamentalism itself. But the way it is increasingly being practiced here in America, with churches commercializing themselves to attract membership and preaching mostly "life application" with very little spiritual application is a recipe for a self-centered, self-serving body of Christ.

So where am I going with this? Is it just a rant? Is there a point to this story?

That's the funny part -- I don't really know. I started this blog as a way to work through my spiritual issues as God continues smacking me upside the head with His truth. You can follow along if you like. For right now, I have left the fundamentalist mega-church I've been attending for five years and have been taking communion at a small Anglican church on Sunday mornings. It's not a divorce with the mega-church, it's more like a sabbatical. There's too much wonderful teaching there to leave forever. But for me, the sheer size (10,000 members) of my old church made it very easy for me to sit on the sidelines and never do a thing. No one ever called me on it because hardly anyone even knew my name. After a just one month at the Anglican church, most of the congregation knows my name, my spouse's name, and my son's name. It's not likely we'll be able to sit in the back and be lazy now. I'm also there for the spiritual application teaching. I don't just want to know how to apply God's word to my life anymore -- I want to know how to internalize it, become it, and apply it to the lives of others in a way that blesses them. So far, the Anglican church is challenging me on that.

As for the crisis in the Episcopal/Anglican church at large, I'll be covering that on this blog, along with the problems in the Lutheran church of my youth and some of the very different, but equally frustrating problems in the fundamentalist/evangelical church at large. Don't worry, though, it won't all be bitching. As God leads me down this new path, I expect there to be blessings and epiphanies, and incredible joy as He leads me to a new understanding of what following His Son really means.

So read if you like. Comment if you want to. I welcome additional perspectives as I try to find God's beacon of light through the fog that men and our traditions have for so long created around it. May God bless and forgive us all as we stumble like clumsy babies toward His truth.


Ten miles wide and an inch deep

So, I've been thinking a lot lately, and realizing my faith is not what I thought it was. In fact, I have come to the terrifying realization that I actually have no idea what it is that I believe. Sure, I know the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed inside and out. I believe every word of them. I know that I am a sinner, that Christ died to forgive my sins, that He rose again and now sits in heaven with Our Father God, where he will one day judge us all.

What I am suddenly unsure of is what any of that actually means.

No, I haven't lost my faith. In a weird way, I feel closer to Jesus than ever. It's just that I've suddenly come to an understanding that my faith has been ten miles wide and an inch deep, and as a result, has weak roots and some seriously unappetizing fruit.

I was baptized Episcopalian by my parents shortly after birth, then they church hopped until we settled in a Lutheran church when I was five. We remained there until it was almost time for my confirmation, then moved to another nearby city. I signed up for confirmation classes, but I can't remember whether I ever actually attended one. If I did, I don't recall learning anything. Ultimately, I started attending a Baptist church in my new city with a school friend, and learned what it meant to be Saved. I gave my heart to Jesus at a weekend retreat for junior high school students, when it occured to me that while I had heard the message of salvation every Sunday at the Lutheran church, I had never actually internalized it -- I had done plenty of praying to God for things I wanted, but I couldn't recall ever asking forgiveness for sins, or thanking Him for His blessings and/or sacrifice. No one, it seemed, had ever even bothered to tell me how very important this was.

I will be eternally (pardon the pun) grateful to the Baptist church for saving my soul. My soul needed saving, for sure, even at the tender age of 13. But this fundamentalist congregation was my introduction to a faith far wider than it was deep. Soon I could quote chapter and verse the difference between right and wrong and tell you the bare minimum essentials for salvation in my sleep (no works necessary!!!). I could tell you exactly what was wrong with Catholic, Mormon, Jewish and Muslim theology. I could wax poetic on "the fruits of the spirit" or "the signs of the end times" or "the ACTS way to pray." Anything with a clever acronym was easy to remember and whip out in conversation as needed. I became fluent in "Christianese" -- the spiritual shorthand believers use to communicate. I was "on fire for God," never going to "backslide," focused on my "walk." I justified things I wanted to do by convincing myself that God had "put them on my heart." And maybe He had. But when High School came along and God was putting certain boys "on my heart . . . " well, let's just say that didn't always turn out so well.

At any rate, it didn't take very long until I became the most dangerous sort of person -- the type of person who knows a little bit about everything, and a lot about nothing. My faith consisted of soundbites, catchphrases, and a deep conviction that I had found the Truth. And it stayed that way for years. I went to college (Lutheran), moved across the country, joined a mega-church, met a wonderful Christian man, got married, had a baby . . . life was good. And then God shook things up.

Contemplation (emphasis mine)

1 entry found for contemplating.
Main Entry: observant
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: alert

Synonyms: advertent, alive, arrect, attentive, bright, clear-sighted, comprehending, considering, contemplating, deducing, detecting, discerning, discovering, discriminating, eager, eagle-eyed, heedful, intelligent, intentive, interested, keen, mindful, obedient, observative, penetrating, perceptive, questioning, quick, regardful, searching, sensitive, sharp, sharp-eyed, submissive, surveying, understanding, vigilant, watchful, wide-awake

Source: Roget's New Millenniumâ„¢ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.