Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Personal fact: I did not grow up in a charismatic church. I grew up in a church where people might start to get uncomfortable if you raise your hands during praise and worship. It was a good church, just not a dancing in the isles kind of church. I have really had to work hard to stretch my understanding and acceptance of what worship is and can be to different people as I've gotten older. I feel like I have come a long way. That being said, John grew up in a very charismatic church, by my standards. I used to feel very uncomfortable when I went there with him while we were dating and I'm sure I asked him more than once if he was part of a cult. Everything, except the gospel message, was different from all that I had known my entire life. It evoked a lot of conversations and some disagreements between my future husband and me. I was very narrow-minded and I can admit that now. We had to visit many churches once we got married to find one that was a good mix of both of our desires in a church.
Last Sunday we went back to John's family church to listen to his dad give a sermon on the Grace of Giving (which you totally knocked out of the park dad, if you were wondering). I stood in the back rocking, hushing, and pacing with an overly tired, sickly Norah who refused to go to sleep in my arms until the last 5 minutes of the service. The head pastor mentioned at the end that he was leading and challenging the church to begin a 40 Day Negativity Fast. Basically 40 days of not complaining, not whining, not nagging, not fighting, not pouting, not overreacting, not nit-picking, not gossipping, and not saying nasty things or thinking nasty thoughts. It is not 40 days of ignoring problems or becoming a doormat to everybody else, but 40 days of recognizing when a negative thought surfaces, and giving it directly over to Jesus and focusing on His love, His grace, His forgiveness, and His contentment in our lives. My ears perked right up and I was anxious to join in on this church's challenge. Lord knows I tend to dwell on the things that aren't going right in my life much longer than I work on seeking out the positive and amazing things that God is doing for me. To me, this will truly be a tough challenge. I've noticed already in the past few days that I've had to bite my tongue often and that I'm a lot quieter than usual. John may feel like he has won the marriage jackpot. No nagging? Cha-ching!
The book called "Igniting Faith in 40 Days" is supposed to be used in conjunction with the fast. It is a short 40 day devotional book that focuses on claiming God's power over your life. And I have to admit, even this book feels like a stretch for my innermost beliefs on the Holy Spirit. But as John regularly reminds me, it is OK to be uncomfortable. God desires to stretch us and grow our faith, not by keeping us in the safety of our own net, but by asking us to step out on a limb. We have committed to reading it every morning during breakfast for 40 days. 2 days down so far, 38 to go. Eli awoke early today and I read the devotion as the 3 of us sat at the counter eating cereal while he repeatedly asked "why are you reading that?" and finished with an "amen" at the conclusion. Hopefully something will somehow sink in for him as well.
So, if you hear me being a Debbie Downer over the next few weeks, please kindly remind me to zip it. And I encourage you to join me in this quest to conquer to constant negativity in our lives.