For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

"I Didn't Know...."

That I am Catholic?

That's because I'm not.

So why do I attend mass?

Because I find it rich with beautiful worship.

I was raised in a "Protestant" church. I hate that term because I have not protested any faith. I do not know Martin Luther. We did not attend religious protest rallies together in college where we burned the extra books of the Bible that King James left out. However, for sake of clarifying theological camps, I have to give names, and while I like George and Harold personally, they seem a bit too non-descript to be helpful. Therefore, I will refer to Catholics as Catholics and everyone else and NC (not-Catholics).

As I was saying, I was raised in an NC church. I was taught that Catholics were going to hell, that they worship the pope and Mary instead of God, and (God help us all) they even drank beer. Drinking beer was enough to send a soul to hell but to worship the pope and Mary and not God, well, what can one do with that except avoid it like the plague? And I did. Until last fall.

The truth is I've grown tired of the modern NC church culture. I'm tired of the ridiculously loud music that gives me a headache and makes my son sit in the lobby for most of the service. I'm tired of pastors who are so busy keeping the business going that it is impossible to actually connect with them unless you are part of the in crowd. I'm tired of the entitlement mentality that pervades the church and is fed with regular doses of "God has good plans for you" and "nothing can separate you from His love" and a lack of personal responsibility and no real mention of the sacred or holy. And I was raised that the sanctuary is God's house, not a coffee bar and donut shop, and should be treated with respect, not like a cheap restaurant. So, yeah, I'm struggling with NC churches.

So, I thought I would try something I had never tried before. A Catholic church.

One Sunday morning I slipped into a pew beside a friend of mine, who looked at me and asked, "What are you doing here?" I gave him the only answer I had. "I'm seeking."

That is me. I'm a seeker.

I'm not seeking a religion. I'm not seeking a theology. I'm not seeking a philosophy. I'm not even looking for a place where I agree with everything. A place like that won't stretch me, but that is another post. I'm seeking more than a good sermon. Several church I've attended have the benefits of good sermons.

I'm seeking God. I'm seeking intimacy with Him.

I'm seeking worship that forces me to really think about Him, who He is, who I am in  Him. Who I should be in Him.

That is why I attended mass last week. I wanted something NC churches don't have. I wanted the crucifix, Christ on the cross, the King who  came to serve. The Servant who teaches the only way to truly live is to die.

Now, I'm not saying NC churches don't teach about Jesus' sacrifice and death. They do, but it is a whole other thing to look at the cross hanging high above my head with the broken body of Christ on it. It is easy to hear about God's love and good plans and great gifts and get the idea that we are really something, that we are the important ones, that somehow because of how loved and  valued we are God owes us. It is easy to hear how hard God works to reach us and get the crazy idea we are somehow entitled to the blessings.

So I go and sit and look at the battered body of a perfectly innocent man hanging cruelly on a cross and try to imagine the lashes pulling flesh off my back...but I can't. I have no concept of that kind of pain. So then I try to imagine holding my body up for hours by simply holding onto a beam with my hands or pushing off a small piece of wood with my feet, and I can't. I've never been pushed to the kind of physical pain or exhaustion. But then I try to take it a bit further and imagine that I'm not holding onto that beam, but my bones are lying right against those nails, and my feet aren't pushing off a piece of wood under them  but a spike going through them. There is nothing in me that can fathom that kind of pain.

Then I let the reality of His dying and my idea of dying settle over me, and I let myself be uncomfortable with my shallowness. I let myself be ashamed of what I thought was hard. I let His death show me the better way to live.

And, friends, that has nothing to do with being Catholic or non-Catholic. It has everything to do with seeking Jesus. And I keep seeking.

copyright 2016 Jerri L. Kelley

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