Friday, February 15, 2013

Over-spiritualizing?

I was listening yesterday to someone talking and it struck me that one thing I am really enjoying about my present church involvement is the lack of what I call "constant over-spiritualizing".

What I mean by that is a constant flow of chatter that brings every event of every day under scrutiny as to what involvement God has in the way things happen; analyzing each daily word and deed in an attempt to find a spiritual meaning. 

For example: (and I am not kidding, this question was really asked of me once and it is typical of what I hear in some church circles) What did it mean in the spiritual realm when I got soaking wet in an unexpected rain storm on my way to the grocery store?  What was God trying to teach me? What should I learn from this experience?
Weeeeelll, perhaps it wasn't actually God's intention to teach you anything here, at least nothing particularly spiritual. Perhaps what you need to learn is to check the weather report before you go out walking under grey skies?
How about this possibility:  it didn't mean anything.  The rain coming down was simply rain coming down.  It is just what happened in the annual weather cycle.

I remember a fellow my husband worked with once.  He truly wanted to be the best disciple of the Lord he could be.  He prayed before every move he made every day.  Nothing wrong with that.  However, when he began praying after every coffee break on the job site as to whether or not it was God's will for him to return to work at that exact moment, my husband informed him that the end of the coffee break time was indeed the time to return to work if he (and God) wanted to keep his job.  No prayer required in order to figure that one out. Sometimes the deep spiritual analysis isn't necessary.

The constant flow of "what is God trying to say to me through" this, that and the other thing became a bondage to me in former years as I sought my way through the maze of church denominations.  This kind of constant analyzing, figuring, guessing, wondering about every small detail of life and conversation nearly drove me crazy.  I am not criticizing Christians, or any other spiritual people who live out their spiritual lives in this way, it simply doesn't work for me. Looking for God's will and plan under the lid of every coffee pot, worrying that I am paralyzing God in my life if I miss it, isn't good for my peace of mind. 

I admit I don't think God really has any particular special plan for me in my choice to wear either my black or my brown winter coat when I go out to shop.  I trust him that should it be important on any given day that he is quite capable of guiding my hand to the coat of the proper colour. I don't need to know ahead of time by some sort of divine revelation so that I don't make the wrong choice. When God is involved is isn't all about ME any more. 

It seems that when we are constantly freaking out over what is and is not God's will in the course of living our daily lives we are putting ourselves into the terrible bondage of fear that says if I myself do not figure out the will of God in every instance of my life then somehow God will be incapable of guiding me....in other words, without ME discovering in advance every detail of what I am to do and say God is powerless in my life. God then is not omniscient.  God will not do his will in my life unless I first figure out in every small detail what his will is.  Without my brain and analytic powers being actively engaged and aware of all of his will all of the time I am doomed to failure.  God will condemn me.  At one point in my own life I realized that if I heard the expression "the centre of God's will" one more time I was going to scream.  What would happen to me if I was actually living "off centre" sometimes and what did that expression "centre of God's will" actually mean anyway?

It also seems to me that when we are constantly stressed over whether or not we are following God in every way every day we are simply trying to regain control over our own lives.  To me it seems often to be a subtle grab at taking back the power of God to lead us and restoring our own ability to decide what should and should not be going on. Constant concern about whether or not everything I do and say is in Gods exact and perfect will does not give me peace...it wakes me up in the middle of the night with upset stomachs.  God has promised to guide me and for me that means unless I am deliberately choosing to be disobedient to what I do know he wants of me then he is able to do so whether or not I understand all the details with my human mind.

Are we so distrusting of our Christian circle of friends that we feel they will criticize us if every conversation together is not directly centered on the will and moving of God in our lives?

It is certainly difficult sometimes to trust a Heavenly Father we can't physically see.  Sometimes it would be wonderful if every detail on life's path was set before us in an understandable way.  But if that was the case there would be no need for the faith we Christians claim to be so hep on.  My own opinion is that if God claims to be trustworthy in his ability to guide us into what he wants and big enough to overcome our mistakes when we miss the boat, as we often do, forgiving enough to still love us when we are deliberate in our disobedience, then I think I can trust him to lead me even if I am not conscious every second of every day of what is going on in the spiritual realm.

Some people thrive on constant God Talk.  They truly blossom spiritually when they can chat happily away about how God is at work in the rain and their coat colour and the and the and the....  No worries my friends. Go for it.  But I personally do not thrive in that kind of conversation.  I am not offended by it, I simply can't participate in it for hours at a time.  It stresses me out.

I enjoy my church congregation who can talk about God and his will but who can also just take the rain, when it comes down on their coats of whatever colour, as simply what happens to be going on at the time.  Not every detail of every day is a big spiritual issue for them.  There is an automatic assumption that God is involved in the universe and in their lives.  There is no need to prove it with a never ending stream of God chatter. They are at peace with life and what happens or doesn't happen.  This is where I personally fit as far as church life.

There is still lots to mull over in the course of seeking God's will in various circumstances of course, obviously I still have a lot to learn about God.  I just find it less stressful to be able sometimes to discuss the things of life from the perspective of "just because it did" without the ongoing spiritual colour commentary.

I am at peace these days......at last.

1 comment:

chris e. said...

Yes yes yes and an enthusiastic high fiving Amen to this one!!! I'm just wondering how long it would take me to copy it as a needlepoint sampler to hang on my wall!