Janet Trevino-Elizarraraz of San Antonio, Texas is Anabaptist at heart and in mind, yet her journey has moved her to seek the Kingdom where the church is absent. She walks this path of solitude with her husband, Roberto and their four beautiful children, ages 7 and under. As one of our regular convention bloggers, Janet invites you to open your heart to God’s Greater Kingdom. If you would like to respond to this post, feel free to contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know I’m not alone when I say this: organized religion has really missed the point in a lot of ways for my generation. The Spirit has been bringing people into my life that have done all the right things and worked hard at giving all they have, but they’re still left short when it comes to themselves. They’re exhausted. They grieve a loss they don’t know how to describe. They’re spent and done and usually find themselves lost on the journey.
Today I spoke to a friend as she shared her life with me. She spoke of the large responsibilities of caring for dependent, adult family members, and, as a good Baptist, she “followed all the rules.” She did everything “right,” had everything anyone could ever ask, but why did it seem that it wasn’t adding up for her?
For her, and really this story is also about me, it came down to the fact that we both had created a world where we were in control. We acquired all the knowledge to understand what was required and we worked hard to make sure we were obedient to that standard. The rules were written… even better, we were told that they were given to us by God to follow, and all we needed to do was to just do them, say an occasional prayer, and we’d be set for life. We’d have everything we would need.
To maintain church life, it’s easy to see how this is what faith ends up becoming for many. But something is missing. We want more, but we feel naughty for even considering it because it could be outside the boundaries of what we’ve been taught. What if… what if it takes me away from God’s protection, or if I break a rule I know was created to keep me safe? Will I be all alone?
But what if it’s those rules themselves — the static, lifeless list of “to-do” and “do-nots” — that is keeping us from walking with the true and living Source of all? For people like me, the prescribed way of living is really a mask for control. I no longer need faith because I know exactly how to live… the Bible tells me so. This is the scary place of religion.
So my friend and I spoke of what it would be like to let go. To release all the rules… even the ones spelled out very simply, and to release the pressure of holding onto the rules with its illusion of greater blessing and worth.
What if we walked daily asking for guidance from the Spirit near to us and expecting to receive it?
When we’re awakened in the night, what if we’d expect to hear the small, still voice sharing with us its love and vision for our life?
What if we allowed ourselves to make mistakes to truly experience it and learn from it… the hard way?
What if… what if we stepped into the realm of both light and darkness and saw darkness for what it is… without fear… in its power, but knowing that the darkness is a choice and we can walk away from it? It has no power over us.
What if daily we committed to walking into the light because that is where You are? Not because we’re afraid of the dark… but because we truly choose to live with You?
Above all… finding the sweet, tender, warm love that God has to offer us. I’ve been learning to experience it literally in my body… my heart. We won’t find it when we are trying to be the best. We’ll find the presence of God when we choose to simply be: getting out of our heads, surrendering all the weight we carry, and handing over our hearts.