Saturday, September 30, 2006

It's in my nature.

There are times when my faith seems as easy as breathing... Times when reading my bible isn't a chore and worship flows naturally. There are other times when I struggle to even know why I believe. In those times I feel so cut off from God that I start to wonder if He has deserted me. What makes the easy times easy and the hard times hard? I know it can't really be that God has moved farther away from me so it has to be something I am doing... Or something I am not doing. Doesn't it?

It has never occurred to me before that my soul is built in such a way as to make intimacy and worship easier in some circumstances and harder in others. I've taken all kinds of quizzes about my ministry style and personality style and communication style... You name it, but I don't think I've ever seen one that asks me to think about ways of approaching God that come easily to me. Anyways, I took one I found on Randall's site and here are my results:


Becky - Based on your responses to the Sacred Pathways Assessment, your temperament favors a Naturalist approach to worship.
Intellectual 14
Contemplative 18
“These Christians seek to love God with the purest, deepest, and brightest love imaginable. Healthy contemplatives will understand that rich human relationships are a way to enjoy God's love, just as is solitary and intimate prayer... God can reveal Himself to us just as much in a conversation with a fellow believer as He can when we are on our knees in prayer.”
Enthusiast 18
“Excitement and mystery in worship is the spiritual lifeblood of enthusiasts... Enthusiasts are inspired by joyful celebration... Let them clap their hands, shout ‘Amen!’ and dance in their excitement, that's all they ask... They don't want to just know concepts, but to experience them, to feel them, and to be moved by them... The necessity of maturity will probably lead virtually every enthusiast through (the) canyon of unanswered prayer, where expectancy runs dry and the only mystery seems to be where God is hiding.”
Caregiver 17
Activist 12
Ascetic 13
Traditionalist 12
Sensate 12
Naturalist 30
“Where we worship can have a profound impact on the quality of our worship. The naturalist seeks to leave the formal architecture and the padded pews to enter an entirely new “cathedral”, a place that God has built: the out-of-doors... The Bible is meant to be read outside... The phrase “river of life” seems quaint when the words are projected up on a wall; but its power is nearly overwhelming when you stand by a swiftly flowing river... The mending and binding so necessary to heal our stress filled lives may flow through creation. For the spiritually oppressed or the socially injured, a pleasing or quiet natural environment can help provide a spiritual release. Resting by a clear, free-running river or sitting on a sunny slope in blooming desert grassland can bring peace and joy into very clouded souls.”

Even if this quiz, or any quiz, can't completely sum up the way my soul best connects with God I have to say this is pretty accurate. I've noticed in the last few years that I get depressed in the winter when I'm stuck inside most of the time. I just figured the depression was causing me to feel spiritually dry, and not the other way around. I never thought about the fact that I feel most connected to God out of doors. I just thought I liked it outside... A lot. (Want to see what I mean? Look at this and this and this... And this.)

If I think back to a few key moments in my faith when I felt most closely connected to God the ones that stand out are almost all outside.. (And the other involved a very emotionally intense worship service where I know I heard God speak to me personally... I guess that's where the contemplative enthusiast part comes in.) It never occurred to me before that maybe I am built that way. Maybe my soul needs to be outside. Maybe the reason I struggle with going to church isn't because I am a bad Christian but because my church, in many respects, does not reflect the way I long to approach God.

Now, I'm not planning on moving to the mountains and living in a log cabin so it can be just me and God and nature... Although that does sound nice, doesn't it? It's just good to know where my strengths and weaknesses are. It helps me to understand that just because sometimes I struggle to really worship God in church that doesn't mean God isn't near. I might just need to take myself off to some field and do some dancing. (I've done it. It was fabulous.) Maybe some of the times when I think I'm really struggling I'm just in the wrong place. Should I stop going to that place because it feels wrong? I don't think so. Life is about balance and I think I could probably do some work finding balance in this area.

3 comments:

  1. nice post beck... i took the quiz and it turned out that i was strongest in the naturalist faith too... i can totally see it too... your post was thought provoking... not just about how i connect to God, but about what and how i believe... it made me think of that time we were talking on msn, and just joking around (at least i think we were just joking around) that we would call ourselves jesus followers from now on... now... i'm not trying to start a big huge battle on your blog or anything, so i will post more on what it means to be a jesus follower on my own blog... look for it by tomoorrow... but anyways, i think that i truly am going to be a jesus follower from now on.

    thanks for the post beck... it was a gooder

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  2. This is so amazing and I'm really glad you posted it. I took it too, and like you, I thought it was pretty acurate. Shockingly actually, and presented some ideas to me about why I am the way I am.
    My mom-in-law said to me, when I was stressing about someone who I was really praying would hear God and didn't know how that could happen, "God made us, he knows how to speak to us in ways that we understand." It doesn't have to make sense to Christianity at large.

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  3. that anon there was trav... btw and fyi

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