When Good Faith Goes Weak

As I sat down to write this post, my mind refused to focus on “me” and my spiritual growth (or lack thereof) this week.  Half Most of my attention went to what I needed to pack for the scout camping trip, what bill I forgot to pay, whether I signed off on my kids’ homework, another mental note to clean the fish tank…

Okay, the fish tank is clean, so I reclaimed a small space in my mind.  But you get the idea, right?

I get so caught up in the little things that I lose sight of my whole self.  I become defined by the things I do.

The time I set aside to explore God’s word and His ways is borrowed to clean the floors “just this once” and before I know it, that time is regularly spent doing other things.  Life’s obligations and commitments are sneaky that way.  In fact, they are so crafty that if I didn’t have this self-imposed mandatory weekly check-up, I might not even realize this time theft happened right under my nose.

I’ve seen what happens when neglect causes strong faith to falter.  Years of not feeding faith left incomplete believers.  Now, in a time of need, they struggle on their own to cope.  Doctors, medications, and support groups have not brought peace.  I wonder if they have prayed about it, or if they even pray anymore.

Witnessing this scares me because it could easily be me in twenty-five years if I don’t make nourishing my spiritual self a daily habit.  I don’t want to suffer with anguish because I forgot how to ask God for direction.  I don’t want to feel abandoned because I forgot to look for God.

I can’t get rid of all the little things vying for my time, but I can pray for myself and my loved ones, and even for strangers who might be looking for a sign that God hasn’t left us, even if we have strayed.  I do pray that hardened hearts will soften and accept God’s grace and lost souls will find comfort by allowing God to carry their burdens.

I don’t know any of the prayers recited at some church services, but I can speak from my heart and I know God can hear me just the same.  I can do this during my commute to work, while I shop for groceries, or when I reflect on what I am grateful for each night.

Life is hard, but it’s more bearable when good faith stays strong.


What If…

What If…

What if prayers fell

Instead of tears?

What if I placed

My worries at His feet?

What if I handed Him

My darkest fears?

What if I saw the world

Beyond what is “me”?


Now that I’m on the other side of this past week, I see my shortcomings center stage with a spotlight on them.  For most of the week, I was “stressed out”, irritable and generally a joy to be around for those who dared approach me.

Why did I put so much pressure on myself to have it all together?  It didn’t even occur to me that the Cub Scout motto, “Do your best” would apply to me, too.  Why didn’t I pray for guidance before the pressure I put on myself brought me to the point of breaking?  Because at some point, I forgot how to share my burdens with God.

I was planning my first Webelos meeting as a Den Leader.  That meeting was part of the Forester and Naturalist activities and the leader book informed me that it was normally done as a field trip.  Since the meeting would be held in two days, a field trip wouldn’t happen.  The book provided some ideas for activities:

Tree survey:  select a small area with several species of trees, have the boys collect fallen twigs and leaves and count how many species were found.  It seems the desert isn’t prime territory for clusters of varied kinds of trees.

Is that a tree or a shrub?

Leaf Identification Contest:  Mount 20 different leaves on a large piece of cardboard and have the boys identify them.  Same problem as above.

Find a Tree Game:  “Play this game outdoors where there are plenty of trees.”

I stopped reading here.

This is also the moment where panic began to set in.  I didn’t want the first activity to involve sitting at a table writing for thirty minutes.  I’d need a miracle to find an activity to meet a badge requirement.  I read through the list again, eliminating each one because of the lack of “action” or the lack of trees in our area.

I whined muttered a quick prayer for God to help me and I read through the list again.  Where I had stopped reading at “Make a poster,” on my previous scans, I finished reading the entire requirement:  “Make a poster showing a tree’s growth rings or examine the growth rings of a tree stump. Explain how the rings tell its life history.”

That was it.  I remembered two weeks ago, my parents cut down a Mesquite tree that had gotten too unwieldy for their yard.  They saved some of the wood for us so we could use it for campfires.  I ran to the backyard and peeked inside the wood bin.  I discovered that we had several trunk pieces – not just branches.

I had the boys try to guess what kind of tree it was based on what the bark looked like, texture and smell.  None of them guessed it was a Mesquite tree, but the adults suddenly craved a Mesquite grilled steak 🙂  They examined the wood pieces and ventured guesses on the tree’s age (11-13 years).  They studied in pairs and seemed to enjoy it.

It could be coincidence that after I said my informal prayer, I noticed the tree stump study – and happened to have tree trunk pieces handy.  I choose to see a deeper connection.  In preparing a lesson for the kids, I was reminded of a lesson of my own:  If I step outside the restraints of my own burdens, I am free to see what was there all along (but I was too focused on “me” to notice).

Psalms 55:22 – Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I won’t ever fail or make mistakes – I will.  But sometimes those mistakes are valuable lessons, too.

Speaking of mistakes, the next Cub Scout meeting activity involves soil, earthworms and glass jars.  Sounds like a recipe for recipe for dirty disaster, doesn’t it? Or, maybe it’s a perfect situation for learning – even if the experiment doesn’t go as planned.

Do problems ever seem to swallow you?  How have you learned to free yourself?

All About Plateaus

When I decided to make a conscious effort to focus on my spiritual side earlier this year, I imagined steady growth and learning.  If my journey were charted on a line graph, the line would only move up.  Instead, my progress looks more like a depiction of stock market fluctuation – minus the extreme highs.

Grand Canyon – Kaibab Plateau

I’ve written about my lack of progress before, but have stayed on the path and continued to explore God’s word and my own soul.  This week, I can see for miles from the plateau I’m lounging on.  I can look back and see that I have travelled a long way.  I can also see ahead, that I have an infinite distance in front of me that I can explore.  Whether I rest on this plateau or dust myself off and keep walking is a choice that’s all my own.

This week, I didn’t read any scriptures.  I didn’t spend time reflecting upon my life.  The bigger concern is that I fell into my normal rhythm of worry and apprehension and chose to carry the burden on my own without once thinking to say a prayer for relief.

I’m not one to ask for help, even when I need it.  It’s a character flaw that results in some teasing from friends.  I guess I would prefer to shoulder all the responsibilities and become grouchy and tired.  I’m sure my hubby adores this trait in me!

I haven’t shirked all of my spiritual responsibilities, though.  I have said prayers, but not for my own relief.  I have uttered simple prayers for the safety of a blogger friend’s nephew, a friend’s speedy recovery from surgery, and the safe-keeping of another friend’s father who is dying.  I prayed that God would breathe enough strength to keep him warm until she was able to arrive and comfort him in the end.

This week, I rested on a plateau.  I’m aware that I could easily stay here, so I’m asking God for the will to carve out time for reflection and the strength to share my burdens before they get too heavy.  If it’s not too much, I’d also like to encourage others as I have been encouraged.  Oh, and a pony.

Okay, scratch the pony; I have a small backyard.

Do you ever feel like you’re just living life instead of learning it?  How do you find deeper meaning?