Christianity is filled with phrases like, “Give it to God,” “Don’t fear, “Trust Him,” “Don’t envy,” and countless other “do’s” and “don’ts.” For the most part, they’re noble, well-meaning suggestions, but difficult to wrap my mind around. I find myself questioning what they look like in 3D, in the world I live in of going to work, eating supper, spending time with friends, blogging, or reading.
What does “Give it to God” look like when it has bones and muscle and skin, all the parts that put the words into true action that shapes how I live my life? I can’t physically remove my uncertainties and doubts and place them in a helium balloon, watching them float away into the sky.
And when something ugly has begun, when I am fearing and envying and any other number of things, how do I begin to get rid of them? It’s not like a vegetable garden, where I can get down on my hands and knees and rip the weeds out. When something dark and sinister takes root in my heart, I can’t buy a shovel and dig it out.
The correct Christian answers here are to read the Bible and pray. Those are absolutely necessary for any sort of spiritual growth; it’s not that I don’t believe in the point of them. I do. But sometimes they don’t feel like enough. Reading some Bible chapters and saying a prayer often don’t feel tangible in the face of daily realities, with real people and real lives and real messes.
Maybe it would be nice if I could hold a prayer in my hand, a touchable, 3D thing. Perhaps it would shimmer a bit, a white wisp, and as I spoke the words off it would float, and I would be able to see my prayers for just a moment.
Instead, I suppose it’s an element of faith to believe that these intangible practices will manifest themselves in tangible ways; that my prayers and Bible reading will be given bones and muscle and skin in the way I work, eat, talk, blog, or read, and the weeds will be unearthed and replaced with something good.
Til next time…
p.s. Are there parts of Christianity you struggle with because they don’t seem tangible enough?
13 thoughts on “(In)tangible Christianity”
yes, yes, yes! I so feel you on this, Brianna. I think this is a big part of why I feel “more spiritual” when I journal about faith or sketch while listening to worship music. if I write it down, it feels like there’s more of an impact, I think? and when I read the Bible, I have to read it out loud. if I don’t, I either get distracted and miss the point or I can’t seem to comprehend what I’m reading. it definitely helps to hear the words being spoken.
So glad to hear you can relate, Natasha! I love the idea of reading the Bible out loud–I should definitely try to do that more often.
Enjoyed the exploration of this post. We are all so human. We do envy. We do human things. And you share how we can terminate such activities.
Thanks for reading!
Great insights! I sometimes write my prayers; these “tangible” prayers sometimes emerge into my awareness when I need to pray them more than I did when I wrote them.
Yes, I’ve started doing the same thing, and it does help a bit. Writing helps me make sense of my thoughts sometimes, and I’ve definitely found that to be true when writing my prayers as well. Thanks for stopping by, Michael.
I have totally contemplated these same ideas for years! I love how you point out all the christian phrases and platitudes used in the church so often…“Give it to God,” ”Don’t fear, “Trust Him,” “Don’t envy,” and countless other “do’s” and “don’ts.”
It’s interesting because although they are good in their intent I think that sometimes using these phrases can hurt others as well. I wrote an essay on this (http://horcruxesheroesandharrypotter.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/failure-redeemed-responding-to-those-in-pain/) and would love to hear your opinion…no pressure though.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They are very insightful.
It’s so true–I think we’ve all been hurt by someone saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, even when they’re trying to be helpful. I really enjoyed the way you use a scene from Harry Potter to examine the way we do that (I’m a big fan of the series). Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share some thoughts, Aspen.
I just wish we were taught (or that we taught others) at church how we could better respond to those in life shattering circumstances…and…how to identify when to use different responses.
I think that prayer can be a very tangible thing that tangibly orders walked, talked, felt, and lived life. The collects in the Book of Common Prayer, the Creeds, the Lord’s Prayer, the Magnificat, the Church Calendar these things make one’s life of prayer felt and routinized with profound effects on one’s daily living out of the Christian life.
I have grown to really appreciate the Book of Common Prayer, though I can’t say I use it with strict regularity. Perhaps that’s something I should take up. Thanks for reading!