Faith Column: Faith bolognese
Everyone’s spaghetti is different, so why can’t faith be different too?
I love spaghetti. I don’t know about you, but pasta makes my heart sing.
The other day, one of my coworkers gave me some of her leftover spaghetti and it really got me thinking. No two people make spaghetti exactly the same way. Is your sauce tomato, or tomato with ground beef, or meatballs or chicken? What kind of noodles do you use — whole wheat, white or enriched white? Do you even use spaghetti noodles? What about penne, gnocchi, rotini? Do you put on parmesan, or some other sort of cheese? Is it fresh grated or Kraft brand?
If something like one dinner entrée can be so diverse and personalized, why not our faith? Each person on this planet is so unique. Our genetics and our daily experiences shape the people we become. As much as there are certain fundamental truths that separate each belief system, the way these are expressed is as individual as a fingerprint… or a plate of spaghetti.
One of the barriers to faith can often be a hesitation to give up personal identity and freedom. Nobody likes being told what to do or how to do it. I could give you dozens of examples from people in my own life, but I think you already know. I bet you can think of that friend whose parents were incredibly strict, which made them subsequently rebel later in life. You know that one partner who tried to tell their partner what they should and shouldn’t do, only to have them leave. It’s in our nature.
One of the fears is that you might lose all of your freedom by giving control of your life over to an almighty being whose nature you might not really understand. Or a religious leader will make you assimilate to their way of worshipping or serving. What if they tell you to change who you are? Do you have to stop having fun?
I’ve been reading a book recently called Spirituality for the Extrovert by Nancy Reeves. Let me tell you, it has been a breath of fresh air. I am a loud person. I love people; I love being in front of people and I love talking. For years I’ve been struggling to be super spiritual by everyone else’s standards. “You need to have lots of silence and solitude,” they’d say. “Don’t forget to sit alone and read your bible and pray.” Granted, I think there is a lot of validity to these practices, but they aren’t everything and they didn’t always help me. This book taught me to turn daily conversations into spiritual experiences and to draw closer to God in a room full of people. What a relief it is to know that my faith doesn’t have to look exactly like anyone else’s! Me, my pastor, my roommate and even my bible college professors can all have their own way of growing in faith.
I think faith could be so much more awesome if everyone saw it as a new opportunity to create a beautiful piece of his or her identity, instead of thinking of it as some life-sentence. We would have much more vibrant faith communities if everyone took what they love and got faith to enrich those areas, instead of turning them off. It might take a few tries — but eventually you’ll get your pasta cooked just right.