Sunday, November 11, 2012

It Is Well With My Soul

Today at church we sang the song “It is Well With My Soul” and I’ve been thinking today of what that means.

The longing for love was what drove me to seek God in the first place.  It’s hard to understand what real love is when you’ve never known it.  I knew that people always let me down, and trying to find love from worthless relationships only ended in pain and abuse. But how can I sing the song “It is Well With My Soul” and mean it?

            Although I went to church as a child, when I started going to church again as a young adult, it was all about the acceptance in a faith community.  The emotional “high” in singing worship songs in “one voice” with a congregation, or in a choir was fun, but my understanding was pretty shallow. I spent time reading my Bible; for that was what one was supposed to do as a Christian.  Then there was all the time spent at Bible studies, hearing what other believed about passages of Scripture, and the importance of learning Bible verses, memorizing them to recite when things went wrong in your day, to be a sort of portable encouragement.

            For years, I claimed to be a Christian, but there really wasn’t any change in me.  I was working so hard trying to please everyone I didn’t have time to change.  Church was ok as long as it didn’t annoy my husband…after all, the churches I went to told me I had to submit to my husband, so pleasing him came first.  But when things got worse for me, and there was no one that seemed to care, I stopped going to church. I figured it was all God’s fault for the troubles in my life.

            But many years later, after much abuse, grief and emptiness, sitting on my sofa alone, I apologized to God.  In other words, I repented.

            At that point I felt nothing, but there must have been some outward change for the next day a co-worker asked me what was different about me, and when I confessed my belief in Jesus to her, my life really began to change. (Love you Tamara!)

            I had been a reader all my life, and of the Bible as well; but it seemed like it all just “made sense” now. All the history, poetry and art came together. I started seeing things with different eyes.  No longer was I looking for love from others, but I was now able to give love, or that I was learning how to let God love others through me.  I was able to explain to others that this book, the Bible, is an integral part of history, and that there really was a Jesus of Nazareth, and historical markers point to an empty tomb, and over 500 eye-witnesses that saw him alive after his horrid crucifixion at the orders of an actual Roman Procurator named Pontius Pilate.

            Church was no longer just a fun hangout on a Sunday morning. It was about worshiping God in thankfulness for the gift of love, salvation, healing and peace. I began to study to understand what the writers of the Bible meant, to understand the history of Christianity, concepts of theology which deepened my faith, and changed how I thought. If all truth is God’s truth, then I needed to do more study and thinking about what I was reading.  So with all of my study and thinking, this led me to study philosophy. Somehow, the “Mustard seed” faith I was given in that gift of grace has begun to grow into a huge tree of learning and knowledge.

            This walk is not an easy one.  I’ve had to sacrifice a lot, but the abundant life I have now is amazing.  I am honored to have remarkable friends, both Christian and non-Christian alike.  And to deepen my understanding of philosophy, I am now surrounded by some truly great professional philosophers who are interested in me learning and growing. It is a true gift from God to be invited to a philosopher’s home, to sit at the dinner table enjoying amazing discussions ranging from world travels,  philosophy of religion, and even symbolic logic, and I am not only allowed to comment, but I feel like my comments are welcomed.

            There has been a lot of darkness and pain in my life, and I feel as if I am finally walking into the light. I don’t know if what I have written here has answered the question; but yes, it is well with my soul.

Why not listen to the story of how the hymn It Is Well With My Soul came to be written.

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