November 14, 2015

Felines and Faith: Cat Sweater + Thoughts on Spirituality

how to style a cat sweater
Sweater, Rosegal | Skirt, China | Shoes, Amazon (a sad DIY spray paint attempt) | Bow, China

It was a Sunday, I was a child, and I was sitting in a cardboard box in my living room. 

The box was actually quite comfortable and as roomy as cardboard boxes get--I considered it my own little space, furnishing it with blankets and pillows, decorating the outsides with colorful swipes of a marker. I often retreated there to rest, or to waltz with my runaway imagination.

But today was different. For some reason or another, my family had elected to stay home from church. I was appalled--so I scampered to the bookshelf, plucked my red, well-loved children's Bible from the shelf, and plopped down in my box to read.

When I was younger, we rarely missed church. The seldom occasions we did, I considered it my solemn duty to make up for this transgression by studying the Word on my own. My guilt was a puddle, and I soaked it up by soaking up Bible verses.

Flash forward. I'm a sophomore in college. I can count the number of times I've been to church and Bible study this semester on one hand--to be exact, two fingers. 

I'm not sure what compelled me to be so devout as a child--was it true devotion to my faith, or was it my desire for routine and order? Maybe it was both. 

But it is this same drive to control my life that keeps me from church as a young adult. I want to stay on top of my work, so I stay home and do it. As a junior in high school, Sunday mornings meant practice SATs. As a senior, college apps. As a college student, problem sets and papers and readings. 

I still feel guilty. They say, put God first, and the rest will follow. But I know my work won't do itself. They say, live in a way that glorifies God. But how can I glorify God if I shirk my responsibilities as a student? They say, you have time for what you make time for. But that's only true to a certain extent before you have to sacrifice sleep.

But maybe, deep down inside, I don't want to make time for church because I haven't resonated deeply with the sermons in a long time. I find it all too easy for my restless mind to wander as the preacher speaks. Or in Bible studies, as we pick passages apart, I begin to question every little detail, and feel even more lost. I can't deny that I take issue with some beliefs of the most active Christian group on campus, and even some of the laws set forth in the Bible itself. 

I feel lost, so I explore on my own. Last year, I began journaling each night, writing letters to God, since I found it too easy for thoughts to fly away in traditional prayer. Then, I began reading a passage of the Bible each day, to try to grasp the holy word of a faith that I still call mine. I've found my personal reflection time effective and resonant, but I still wonder: do I write and read out of routine, or am I compelled by a deeper force?

Does failing to attend sermons and Bible studies make someone a bad Christian? Does not praying before meals despite thanking God throughout the day make a believer irreverent? Does questiong some aspects of the Bible, particularly the verses on homosexuality and attitudes towards women, make me sacrilegious?

I don't know. But I do know that I'm tired of feeling guilty. I'm tired of feeling like a bad Christian. I have no resolution for the moment, only the determination to live a pure life--in tune with myself, my surroundings, and the big guy up there.

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