Friday, March 16, 2012

What is your testimony?

Earlier this week, I got a raise. We (my friend who is also my boss and I) got a new client. Great work and a lot of it. Although, our family mostly lives within our means, the additional income was going to afford us many opportunities. To pay off debt. To come close to our EFC--for those of you who haven't sent a child to college, that is the ridiculously exhorbitant amount of money the government figures you have stashed under your mattress to contribute to your child's college expenses. But with this additional income, oh the things we would be able to do.

But, I considered this raise a gift from God, so before I started spending it in my mind, I started praying. God was giving us this additional income, so He must have a plan for it. Whatever He put on my heart, that is what I would do with it. Well, after cutting down that tree, and paying off some bills, and a few other things that were top of mind.

Unfortunately, before I got an answer from God or cut down a tree or even got a check, the client chose a different direction, and the raise vanished. I don't consider myself a particularly materialistic or superficial person, but I'm not gonna lie: I was devastated. I cried. And cried. And questioned and reasoned and grieved this money I never had. I prayed that God would take away the disappointment and anger I felt, and I listened to my husband as he reassured me that we were fine without the money, and we would continue to be fine. Grieving money. Crazy, right?

An hour after receiving this news, in that frame of mind, I trotted off to my growth group, anxious to be around people from my church. Positive, encouraging, good Christian people. I wanted to soak up their faith as I sulked in my own disappointment. As it turned out, most were missing, but I was grateful for the small group environment. It was calming, reassuring, and nourishing. Until one member asked me, "What is your testimony, Mary?" I don't know. I wasn't sure how to answer. I have listened to many people talk about the day, the hour, the moment they were saved. I have heard amazing stories of Jesus' entering people's hearts and completely transforming them. I don't have a testimony.

Does that make me not a Christian? I don't really know. I've prayed many prayers. I've read lots of books. I've given my heart and my life to Jesus, and I continue to do so on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis. But I don't have a testimony. I don't have a date or a time. I have never really bought that you could just pray a prayer and ensure yourself eternal life anymore than I bought that you could go to confession on Sunday, treat people poorly the other six days, and spend eternity basking in God's splendor. I don't judge people who believe that; I just cannot wrap my brain around it. I believe that you have to try hard to follow Jesus as well as accepting the gift He gave us. That's what I like so much about our church; I feel people there are really trying to follow Jesus. I feel like a better person after spending time with them. And I want to be a better person to spend time with them.

Plus one of the pastors, my brother in law, is my role model as a Christian. He is one of the best people I know. Literally. Kind, caring, generous, loving, fun, non-judgemental. He knows more about the Bible than anyone I know, but he doesn't Bible-thump people. He's a goof ball and a cut-up, but a good person in every way. So, I have to ask him about this whole testimony thing. I'm feeling really inadequate about not having one. And I'm feeling pretty bad about the fact that money knocked me off my feet the way it did.

8 comments:

  1. I been baptized, Reverend, I been baptized.

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  2. yeah, but does it count? being baptized in the Catholic church? it's all just pomp and circumstance...

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  3. I was quoting The Searchers. As in "Mose, how far's the river?" "I been baptized, Reverend, I been baptized." "Oh, you old fool!"

    But, since you feel fit with yer fancy new evangelicization muscles to question the legitimacy of my baptism and, by extension, my religion, I will say that I believe that it does indeed count. Given the belief in original sin, the Church would be almost criminally negligent not to administer infant baptisms.

    Does an adult baptism "count" more because a person chooses it? I don't think so and the very idea of placing competing values on sacraments to me goes against the very idea of God as love and reduces faith to a competition which I feel would make the baby Jesus projectile vomit.

    Your antipathy towards Catholicism has always seemed to me one rooted not in church doctrine, but rather as an extension of a lot of other issues with specific people and how they practiced - or didn't practice - their Catholicism. Well, that and the lack of snake-handlin'. I know you luvs you some snake-handlin'.

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  4. I was not questioning the legitimacy of your baptism; rather, my own. You have found, in Catholicism, a faith that feeds your soul. I, on the other hand, have not. Regarding baptism, does a person perhaps more interested in molesting my brothers--and yes, that is a fact--than saving my soul dumping water on my head count?

    It all was too contrived for me. The Latin, the rituals, the insense that stung my eyes and upset my stomach. The hypocrites, the repetitious prayers that seemed nothing more than a bunch of words that didn't make sense to me.

    I have no doubt you know more about the doctrine surrounding Catholicism and any other religion than I. Nor am I trying to flex any muscles. I am trying to find a relationship with God, through Jesus, that focuses on following Jesus and practicing kindness, compassion, and love, not on judging and condemning others who don't fit into OUR, not God's, defininition of what, and who, is right. So please forgive the critical tone of my question. I asked seeking knowledge, not attempting to incite argument.

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  5. My dearest and favorite little sister, I would suggest that your path to enlightenment and inner peace with the baby Jesus will smooth out once you manage to work out this residual anger you seem to bear like armor; this anger that still taints even your purest desires.

    Far be it from me to question your facts - oh wait, it's not far from me at all and, in fact, I relish doing so! - but I am curious as to which proven molestor of your brothers (the construction of that sentence with "facts" being "perhaps" alleged given your own seeming insight into another's soul being curious at best and libel at worst) so callously assaulted your innocent head. Or was it the mere fact that it was a priest - by nature all priests being pedophiles?

    This is not arguing, m'dear. You and I argue with cutlery as we always have. This is mere debate; a philosophical discussion as it were.

    I notice - as a general rule and not as specific to your own Catholic hatred - that people who have chosen to separate themselves from something, be it alcohol, cigarettes, religion, animal flesh, candy, sex often seem to have an almost pathological need to demonize that which they have abandoned. I wonder if this is out of a fear that should they allow themselves to see it as anything but some pure form of evil that they worry that they will again succomb to its siren call?

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    1. I was referencing John Warner, our parish priest and family friend, who drank beer in the sacristy with preteen altar boys and had them do pushups with their shirts off when they made mistakes. Those are facts. He also allegedly molested some other young boys, who didn't share our dna.

      I am not trying to demonize Catholicism, though I do not feel any draw to it. I analyze and overthink nearly everything. Although our views on most things are vastly different, I find you very intelligent and knowlegdeable on most topics. And often, gulp, I value your insight. And hey, thanks for the psychoanalysis! Did you go back to school in all your free from twitter and facebook time?

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  6. Ah, well. Talk about putting you on the spot. What if you did have a "date and time" testimony and just didn't feel like sharing it?

    (Just for fun, I Googled "Testimony." I was on the verge of copying/pasting wikki's definition and running with that for a minute, when I noticed a couple of other definitions and then... "Learn how to write a Christian testimony with these easy steps, both long and short, written and spoken.." I have to say that is way more complicated and formal than what I remember about testimonies. Course that was back in the olden days, before the internet.)

    If you are dancing with joy and the music suddenly stops, I don't think a girl is out of bounds, or hopeless materialistic or without faith, to find herself somewhat discombobulated. You recovered. That's all that matters.

    Maybe your "This is when I came to believe everything you believe" story doesn't exist. The exploration of your faith, the things you believe to be true .... are at least partially here in your blog. What's your testimony? "Overthinkingadventures.blogspot.com."

    Big loves,
    Vickie

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