Why not how

June 29, 2010

I could not even begin to count the number of conversations I have engaged in with others on church, ministry, faith, and spirituality.  Some of these conversations, sadly, in the past became intense as we discussed  “how”:  How to believe?  How to pass on the faith? How to do ministry?  How to pray?  How to engage in a relationship with God?  How to best reach others?  How liturgy should be done?  How adult faith formation should be done? 

I have participated fully in these conversations.  I have voiced my opinions on all of the above topics.   Lately, though, I find myself emphasizing and reflecting more on the “why”.  Why do I choose to go to church on Sundays?  Why do I seek to learn how to pray?  Why do I want to pass the faith onto others?  Why do I choose to do ministry? 

The bottom line for me is because I believe in God, and I have experienced God at work in my life.  At times I get too wrapped up in the “how” that I forget why I believe in the first place.  I believe because of how God has shown me love through my family, my friends, and even strangers.  I believe because of those moments in nature where I cannot put words to the beauty and sacredness that I am experiencing.  I believe because of the moments that I am empowered by something that I cannot touch or feel to move in directions I never dreamed of. 

The challenge for all of us is to remember why we believe in the first place.  As we struggle some days to go to church, we have to remember why.  As we watch the institutional church make choices we do not agree with, we have to remember why.  For those of us in ministry, our challenge is two-fold:  we must, not only, remember our own experiences of God, but we must also focus our ministries on helping people remember their experiences of God.  

“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.  Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;  in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2: 19-22)

It is through Jesus that all is held together!  I know I can benefit from remembering this. 

When has the “how” inhibited you from remembering “why” you believe in God?
What does remembering the “why” do for us?
What area in your life do we need to remember that it is “held together” by God? 

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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