‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hi. My Name is Keri, and I'm a Follower

How he sees me.
Those of you who bristle at the mention of anything spiritual might want to move on. To the rest of you, I need to share.

I have always considered myself a spiritual person, but not always 'religious' in the classical sense. It has only been in the past three years that I have really truly 'come home' and find myself having an honest-to-goodness relationship with God. In fact,  I would have to classify it as a romance. God is wooing me. I can feel it. Despite the endless let-downs and losses in my life, I feel Him drawing nearer. As close as breath.

I went to an evangelical college. I felt like somewhat of a black sheep there. I was raised an Irish Catholic, but I also attended Hebrew School for a spell as my best friend was Jewish. My dad made me read the history of all the world religions during 7th grade as some kind of punishment, though I forget for what. It was easily a thousand page book, with photos. I think my Dad thought it would exasperate me. But it just deepened the desire I had to know who God was and how He worked in this world. All my journals, from age seven on up, are filled with painful pleas to Him to reveal Himself to me as He truly is. I didn't care what lead me to Him, I just wanted to get there.

In my twenties, I abandoned God completely, in my pursuit of what the world had to offer. I went through a short period where I must honestly classify myself as a complete atheist. But God woos and courts us like the deftest lover. He doesn't give up. He calls and calls until we can't help but answer. At least that is what happened to me.

Three years ago I went through a bout of depression that nearly ruined me. I thought I wouldn't survive it, and the only thing that kept me hanging on was my love and commitment to my daughter. I was in a dark unknown place and I couldn't extricate myself. I wept on the phone to my mother nightly. I cried out to God. I wept out every last ounce of energy I had during that time. I thought I would never surface. But one night I heard a voice. The voice comforted me and called me Little One. With this divine visit, the despair was wiped away in an instant. An instant. There is no explanation.There was even a physical sensation -- like a warm oil was being poured over my head. And I was enveloped in a feeling of complete and utter unconditional love. It was the most vivid experience of love I have ever had.

 I lived a charmed life for a few months after that night. When I would pray, I would hear the voices of others joining me. I could distinctly hear my father's voice and sometimes the voices of my grandmothers. I began attending Mass again. I went every single day, not just Sundays. I felt a burning desire to be there, on my knees, communing with Him. It felt like a glorious fever that I didn't want to be rid of. Sometimes I would hear the voice, and it would tell me I was loved. It would call me Little One and Sweet One. Sometimes it even sang to me, a hymn.

Some of you might think I'm crazy, but I honestly don't mind. I feel an urgent 'nudge' to share this tonight, and I'm happy to do it for Him. God has reached out to me in such tangible ways even this week, that I couldn't possibly ignore that He is here, among us. Beside us. With us. And boy, does He love us.

I'm not a religious freak. I don't even feel comfortable sharing my beliefs at all, if I'm honest. I positively hate stepping on people's toes, and I have an immense respect and awe for so many different faiths. I have friends of every religious (and non-religious) persuasion there is -- Atheists, Agnostics, Evangelicals, Jews, Pagans, Wiccans, Muslims, Pantheists, and more -- and they would, every one of them, describe me as probably the most spiritually-accepting person they know.  But I need to own what I, myself, believe -- for my own integrity's sake. I don't ask you to believe it. I'm certainly not proselytizing. I just want to be true to who I am. I want to say my truth out loud, and unafraid.

I am a broken, willful, stubborn, contradictory little soul. But He loves me. The Maker of All Things, The Speaker of the First Word, The Lover and Creator of All Things loves me. And I want to love Him back in all that I say, all that I do. And in all that I am.

So, friends,  this is my  my 'coming out' speech, as a follower of Christ. I will not call myself a 'Christan' but a Follower of Christ. Christian has way too many negative connotations these days and turns people off before you even open your mouth.  But I am a follower of Him who has made Himself known to me, and I want to be like Him. (He was, after all, a Rebel!)

The Nicene Creed (and my creed, too)

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, 
 maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
 We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, 
 eternally begotten of the Father, 
 God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, 
 begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father. 
Through him all things were made. 
For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: 
 by the power of the Holy Spirit 
 he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
 For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
 he suffered, died, and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
 he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, 
who proceeds from the Father and the Son. 
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. 
He has spoken through the Prophets. 
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. 
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. 
We look for the resurrection of the dead, 
 and the life of the world to come.  
  Amen.


18 comments:

  1. God heals, even when we don't seek Him. I believe that it's often when we're at our lowest point that we're finally ready to hear Him. My journey hasn't been as rocky as yours, but I can identify with a great deal of what you've said, and I thank you for sharing it.

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  2. Amen. Thank you for sharing! :) Keri, I think that is the only time I have ever seen the Nicene Creed outside the context of Mass. How powerful to sit here and just read it, with nothing else going on around me.

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  3. My name is Kari and I am, too. :-)

    I'm glad you listened to the nudge, you write beautifully about your faith.
    ~Kari

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  4. I am amazed at how similar your faith path has been to mine, except I ended up Methodist (my family are Methodist and Southern Baptist - no Catholics).

    Thanks for the bravery it took to post this!

    Mary in TX

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  5. That was beautiful. As a "cradle Catholic" I too had a similar journey and have returned to church after a 20 year absence. I hope you faith continues to carry you throughout your journey.

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  6. Kari, this was beautiful and moving. I am a fellow Follower of Christ and also don't like telling people about my faith, per se, but LOVE sharing God stories!

    I am assuming you have read Anne Lamott--if for some reason you have not, you must! : )

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  7. YOu need to get the book A Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge. After reading this post, I think you will love it. I too am a follower of Christ. God Bless you on your journey!

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  8. Well, then. That means you are my sister.

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  9. Oh, you dear [though distant] friend! What a bond I've felt with you lately, that is even stronger now. Thank you so much for sharing this. Thank you for, in these last couple of months, sharing what a loving person can do, with God's help! You are remarkable and God is doing great things through you!

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  10. That was beautiful :)

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  11. Oh, geez. I meant Keri. : )

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  12. Remember when you awoke from a dream where Jesus was singing Elton John "How wonderful life is, now you're in the world!" (How very true, I must add.) I think of you every time I hear that song and I hold a little tiny sliver of hope that an All-Knowing All-Loving God exists. I'll never buy the all-powerful, but I love that you do. I root for your side every day.

    Beth T.

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  13. I do I do! and he was playing an acoustic guitar!
    THank you sO MUCH for reminding me of that dream of too many years ago! I love you FK/BT

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  14. well said.
    I hear you on all sorts of levels there and I found it really interesting ( given your connections to the East) that you identify with the Nicene Creed rather than the Apostolic Creed as the Nicene is the one that Eastern Orthodox/Catholics use rather than the Apostolic which is the one Roman Catholics use most of the time.

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  15. Anonymous5:26 PM

    Keri,

    I love your beautiful writing. I don't often get time to read your entries, but I'm always moved and amazed when I do. I also love your beautiful relationship with God.

    On another note, I didn't realize that you were an unschooler/homeschooler (I think that was a different blog entry that I read today). I'm amazed at the parallels that I am finding in our lives, especially since there didn't seem to be that many when we were kids and spending a lot of time together.

    I'm curious to know who your Jewish friend was. I don't remember you going to Hebrew school, but then again there's a lot I don't remember.

    When you, Nastia, Anya, and only God knows who else, return from Siberia, I would very much appreciate if we could spend some time together.

    Love,
    Wendy (Graffam) Plunkett

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  16. Beautiful post. You are so right, Christ follower is so much more appropriate a term, lover of God . . .I went tghrough what is sometimes called the dark night of the soul myself in the past few years, it is amazing to emerge whole on the other side. Thanks for sharing this.

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  17. Simply...I love You!

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  18. Keri, I missed this the first time and just linked from a recent post. Thank you for sharing this, my friend. I knew pieces from conversations we've had, but this post is just beautiful.

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