My “drifting years” ended in my mid-twenties when I started getting this sense that I my life wasn’t quite right. I began to question my purpose, and I missed that calmness I had when I accepted Christ as a child. There had to be more planned for me than working entry-level insurance jobs (not using my Bachelor’s degree). I took several insurance classes and earned an insurance designation, but the feeling didn’t go away.
When we found a church that felt comfortable, I explored volunteer opportunities, looking for whatever was missing from my life. I’m not skilled at social interaction (as explained in I’m Better on Paper) so I felt awkward and out of place. Eventually, I quit the committees. I wished that God would play the Hot/Cold game to help me find my purpose in life because I didn’t know how else I’d figure it out.
There have been periods of time where we haven’t gone to church. I don’t think a person has to go to church to believe in God, but for me, going to church forces me to look deeper into scriptures that I don’t read on my own. The act of worshiping God through the music makes me feel closer to Him – much like weekly visits or conversations with my parents strengthens my bond with them.
The absence of church didn’t cause my personality to drastically change. To the world, I imagine I looked the same, but I felt different; distant. Looking back, I see why I felt this way: I didn’t make any attempt to build the relationship on my own time, so it never stood a chance.
The need to evaluate my spiritual life (or lack thereof) surfaced soon after my grandma passed away in November. It was just before Thanksgiving and my family came together at the hospice building. We were all grieving and tired – not just from the day, but from the roller coaster of emotions from her illnesses. (She was in congestive heart failure, had fluid in her lungs, and Alzheimer’s was getting worse by the day.) I was relieved to discover we had a mission; something to keep my mind occupied.
My grandma had written her funeral and burial wishes in a family Bible. Based on her memory of the book as she saw it in the early nineties, my mom described it as best she could: large, dark covered and with a family tree near the beginning. I like to write mysteries, so I imagined myself as one of my characters searching for a crucial clue.
We entered my grandparents’ house, which had been uninhabited and eerily untouched since my grandpa’s death five years ago. There were stacks and stacks of Bibles. I didn’t count them, but there were easily forty of them. Some were old and tattered; others were newer with fancy covers. All of them had handwritten notes, but none were “the one.” We searched through shelves of study books, inspirational textbooks and guides but left empty-handed hours later.
What I saw in those heaps of books was a lifetime of devotion to God. A life spent studying, learning and building a strong relationship with Him. I realized that although I am a believer, I have done nothing to walk closer with God. The two Bibles on my own bookshelf had not been opened in years. Never had I considered purchasing books to assist in my understanding of His word. I had to admit that if I showed this lack of initiative in an earthly relationship, it surely would have withered and died.
This, I think, is one of the elusive signs I had been begging for him to reveal to me for several years. It’s possible that He gave me the message before, but I was looking the other way. I’m paying attention now and my first reading is Know Why You Believe by Paul Little.
Why that book? It was one of three book titles mentioned by our pastor in a Sunday sermon. I normally don’t take notes, but my hand was compelled to reach into my purse, pull out a pen and scribble them onto the program.
What I find even more interesting is that this sermon was on October 31st, nearly a month before my grandma passed away; four weeks before I first recognized that my spiritual life needed attention. I looked up the books online so I could budget my purchases and then tucked away (ignored) the paper. I made my first purchase in mid-December.
Yes, I admit that I am a bit blind, but if the signs are obvious enough, I might see them.