Faith Column: Grace of God worth the time it takes
Trying balancing five classes, a part-time job, three writing gigs, a Twitter presence and a social life is strenuous — to say the least. It’s undoubtedly a global-north problem, but it still gets my blood pressure soaring.
Being religious can tip that whole balance over the edge.
The commitments required to maintain some semblance of devotion to one’s faith — which in my case includes attending church, praying, reading my Bible and a meeting with a small group — can take up hours throughout the week.
So when the American satirist Andy Borowitz tweeted last month that “not being religious is such a time-saver,” I had to laugh. He’s unquestionably correct.
I began to muse I’d likely read twice the number of books if I weren’t a Christian, as I wouldn’t feel as compelled to wade through the oft-boring pages of the Bible. My manager could likely roster me for another shift at the café, and more importantly, I could start doing productive things on Sundays instead of sticking to this strange thing called Sabbath.
So I decided to give it a shot. It wasn’t nearly as intentional as that sentence suggests, but as the pressures of school and life began to escalate over the past two weeks, I found myself cutting back on a lot of the ties that typically define my Christian experience. Papers replaced church. Sleep overtook reading the Bible as a priority. My small group was cancelled as articles had to be written.
The result? I feel like shit.
Some might blame the stress levels that naturally arise with the arrival of mid-term season, but I’ve been through four rounds of this and have never experienced such a reaction. After a month of more-or-less halting the core practices of my faith tradition, I feel awfully distant from the God I believe is real and at work in this world.
My patience with people has diminished. My commitment to telling stories of importance has almost disappeared. The amount I complain about school has shot up. Classmates have noticed too and have mentioned how I seem more agitated then usual. “Yes,” I tell them. “You’re right on the mark.”
I somehow found the time to read a little bit of the Gospel of John: specifically, the account of Christ’s interaction with the Samaritan woman. In it, Jesus approaches a woman who was by all accounts the most discriminated person in the land. As she draws water from the well for Christ he tells her, “whomever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.”
Pondering that notion brought some much-needed revelation. I’d successfully ignored my relationship with God for almost a month, but felt completely dry and in need of this eternal water Christ alluded to. Whether religious or not, I think you’ll be able to see the wisdom in this account.
Finding peace and rest in whatever you decide is your God, philosophy, or church is essential to maintaining some semblance of grounding. For me, that comes through my church, Bible and prayer.
In those things, I’m reminded there is a greater perspective to be found than what the present may suggest. Sure, it might not get my paper done for me, but it’ll allow me to proceed into writing that paper with some love, peace and grace around me.
Easier said than done, but it’s worth a shot.