stop trying to prove God exists

If you’re around Christianity for any amount of time, you’ll notice that Christians love to try to prove how God exists. So much so that there’s a name for it–“apologetics”– and there are books and training courses on it. It never sat too well with me, and now I think I know why.

Feeling the need to prove God exists assumes that you can’t see him clearly in the day to day. That he’s up there somewhere and you have to use logical arguments to get to him.

But what we miss is that the power lies not in arguments, but in definition. God is life itself. He’s fate. He’s order. Everything that exists came from him and is sustained by him. If he were to somehow retreat from our universe, it would shrivel and disintegrate into nothingness because doing so would literally remove all life and substance from everything.

So, how do I know God exists? By the very fact that I’m alive, that that apple tree outside my window is alive, and that the cat sitting on my bed looking for birds is alive.

Truth is, no one knows what it looks like to live apart from God.

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the things winter teaches

Connecting to the earth in the winter is just as healthy as connecting in the summer.

By “connecting to the earth,” all I mean is allowing yourself to be swept up in its rhythms. I’ve talked about this before, so I’ll be brief. We humans like to think of ourselves as separate observers of nature, but we are just as rooted in that savage beauty as trees, spiders, birds, or horses. We’re part of it, it’s part of us. To neglect that connection is not only foolish, it’s harmful.

This year, I have been learning (very slowly) what it means to accept and live into that connection. I learned a lot when the weather was warm and I could go outside a lot. But then winter came and pushed me away.

I was working on a post a few weeks back about how hard it is to connect to nature when that nature is cold and dark, but since then, I think I’ve started to get it.

The problem wasn’t with the earth being too cold and dark; it was with me expecting that it is supposed to be accommodating and friendly all the time.

While winter has a lot of pleasant beauty, one of the most important things this season teaches is that nature doesn’t live to please you. You must learn how to experience and accept it, even when you don’t get your way.

I’ve only scratched the surface of all winter has to teach me, I’m sure. So, even though I’m cold and I wish the days were longer, I’m excited I still have a couple months to learn from it.

Evolving Relationships

I wonder if we are supposed to be continually moving in relationships the way we move in favorite songs and routines.

I was always under the assumption that people make friends early and then those are your friends for life. Maybe you add another here and there, but your core friends remain the same.

But life does not seem to work that way. People move on, their routines drift away from yours, and you don’t see each other any more. For lack of better words, friends drop off. And I’m starting to think that maybe that’s okay, maybe that’s natural as long as you are continually adding new friends. The problem only comes when you are drifting away from friends and not making any new ones to replace them.

I still don’t know 100% what I think about this, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot as a young idealist in the post-college professional world. Maybe the changes in relationships I’m experiencing aren’t a warning sign, but just the way things are.

 

Admitting I’m Human

Hi guys, long time no see!

Lately, I’ve been trying to reconnect with nature, as was suggested. I’ve been sleeping with my curtains and bedroom windows open (Just a crack, since it’s been getting colder. Also, I live out in the country, so don’t worry. It’s safe). I’ve also been driving with the window open and I try to go outside more often during the day. All this has been helping me feel more connected and healthy, both physically and spiritually.

I’ve also been trying to be more honest. I’m not a particularly dishonest person, but I do exaggerate, I tell people I like things when I don’t actually like them, I pretend to know actors and movies when I don’t, I tell people I’ll be at their party when I know I won’t.

My excuse is that it’s all for the sake of making conversations easier and avoiding conflict, but what it ends up doing, to me at least, is it creates a wall between myself and those around me, where I don’t know how they’ll react if I gave my true opinion because I’ve never given it. Which makes me feel anxious, bitter, and misunderstood.

It’s a lot of work to give my honest opinion without thinking too much about the consequences, but what I’ve found is that honest opinion shows trustworthiness and realness, and overall, people respect that more than politeness.

Both these ventures have been helping me accept myself more. Being in nature reminds me that I’m human and that what happens in nature does still affect me. Being honest with people forces me to be honest with myself. I’m not the life of the party, I like jokes but I’m usually the straight man, I’m quiet, distant, cynical, and I just can’t force myself to get on board the hype train for most things.

Being honest with myself isn’t the same as accepting everything about myself as perfect. There are definitely things I am trying to change, but being honest in the meantime is therapeutic, because I realize everyone is “in the meantime” of their own stuff as well. And that creates a kind of misfit camaraderie.

Planning Your Way to Enlightenment

I’ve been trying to manage God.

I want enlightenment so badly. I want to merge and disappear into the Holy Spirit so much it’s almost a physical ache. So I had been trying to plan out how to achieve that, keeping a strict eye on the horizon to make sure that I’m staying on course and that I’m progressing fast enough. As though developing a relationship was as simple and linear as reading a book. But it isn’t.

The only way to achieve intimacy and enlightenment is to do as that old Christian song says and let Jesus/the Holy Spirit drive the car.

The only way to take the next step is to let go. We are finite and we don’t know the path to enlightenment. God does, and he wants us to reach it even more than we want to reach it ourselves.

So do what you know is good for you (ex. pray, meditate, learn, practice), but do it without keeping an eye on your progress.

Trust that if you go where God leads, he will lead you where you are meant to go.

American Church and the “Real Christian”

I’ve been going to a new church with my friends and it is unlike any church I’ve been to.

We lovingly call it “hipster church,” but jokes aside, seeing a church thriving that holds different cultural views than the ones typically associated with church is refreshing. It’s nice to see a church that is quite liberal and still just as serious about seeking and knowing the truth as the conservative ones.

When it’s come to Christianity, I’ve been disheartened by how pervasively sticky culture becomes, how it saturates what we call truth and is then spread around with it as universal, objective truth.

It has been a mission of mine, by spending times outside my culture, to see what in Christianity is purely cultural, and what is true no matter where you go. The two are very different.

There’s nothing wrong with the cultural aspects to religion, but they shouldn’t be welded irremovably to each other. When they are, churches start creating oddly specific sins, saying things like “Real Christians will boycott Disney for this or that reason.” They end up making the price to enter too steep, so eventually people stop entering.

Never mind that God has already invited everyone to know him deeply, even those who like Disney.

Loose Lips Sink Ships (Mainly Yours)

Words have the frighteningly strong power to change our reality.

I didn’t used to believe this, and so I used to speak more flippantly. But recently, I’ve been curbing what I allow myself to think and say, because I’ve seen what harm a loose mind and lips cause.

The reason for this probably has many layers. There may be a spiritual layer, of course, of us putting out whatever energy is moving through us at the time and letting whatever’s strongest ping back (usually negative, honestly).

But another reason our words and their root thought patterns are so important to control is because, most of the time, we haven’t made up our mind yet on how we feel and we wait for our words to solidify it.

We receive stimuli all day. It comes in, and then our brain must make sense of it. Some of it is obvious. “I haven’t eaten, therefore I’m hungry.” But other times, it isn’t as cut and dry. Most things in life are nuanced.

For example, maybe someone at your office never greets you in the morning when they walk past your desk.┬áThere could be many reasons for this and while a small part of your brain is a little irritated over it, the rest of it is reserving judgement for when you have time to decide whether this continual breach of etiquette makes your coworker a “bad” person or not.

Your irritation makes you want to complain about their behavior, but here’s the catch: the moment you complain, your brain makes its mind up, because words are inherently concrete. We can’t really express a half-baked thought through words. ┬áThe moment they’re spoken, that etherial thought takes form.

In this context, your brain decides to follow your words and suddenly, your whole being has decided that, yes, your coworker is a bad person for not greeting you. Which then determines your behavior and attitude towards them.

Instead, if you catch this irritation early enough, you can choose to give them the benefit of the doubt, or to even just decide it isn’t important and reserve judgment indefinitely.

Mental and emotional flabbiness are dangerous to entertain. When we give in to speaking negativity on a regular basis, it hurts us most of all.

 

Your Body Knows

Last night I had a chocolatey treat that I haven’t had for almost half a year: a single-serving brownie in a cup with melted chocolate chips.

I used to eat these almost every day, but when I went to Japan, the supplies for them were either extremely expensive or nonexistent, so I stopped.

Now, having it again, it’s too much for me. Like, WAY too much for me. Too much chocolate, too much sugar, too large a serving. I started to feel bloated and headachy and in the end, I wasn’t able to finish it.

As I washed out my brownie mug, I realized that I used to feel this way more often than I do now. I just never registered that maybe it wasn’t a natural way to feel.

Our bodies know instinctively what is good for them and what isn’t. But sometimes their sensors get warped from being flooded with toxins (too much of a good thing is bad, but too much of a bad thing is worse). More often, we hear the alarm but we just don’t listen to it.

I believe our spirits have the same alarm system. We just have to know what to listen for.

 

 

Brief but Meaningful

The elemental in the far woods (see this post) has not spoken to me since I’ve been back home.

I’ve visited their forest several times, listening for them, but I don’t even feel them anymore. And I don’t know enough about spirits to know why, or what might be going on.

Did they leave? Have they gone dormant for a bit? Has something changed in our relationship that makes them not want to reach out to me? Or has something changed in me that is preventing me from sensing them?

It’s frustrating and a little sad, but I’ve decided not to dwell on it.

For all I know, maybe our relationship wasn’t supposed to last forever. Maybe they had some knowledge to impart to me and now that I have received it, they have moved on to do something else, somewhere else.

I hope they come back, of course, but only if it is what is best. Sometimes things are only meant to last for a short time.

Religion vs. Spirituality

It seems to me that, while religion and spirituality go hand in hand, they are not the same thing.

Spirituality, in the broadest term, is the conscious recognition that things exist in this world. Whether you believe in a spiritual realm or whether you believe that the physical is all that exists, everyone has their own spirituality. Everyone understands that the world has many facets and that these facets work in a specific way.

Religion, then, is the practical application of this understanding. What do we do with this knowledge? What is the healthiest way to live, taking all of reality into consideration? What is the balance of discipline and relaxation that best allows a person to live to the fullest?

That is the real question. There are probably a few objectively right answers in there, but not nearly as many as people think.