Connecting Faith to Life: What works for you?
When a certain friend of mine is asked, “Why do you go to church?” she responds, “It works for me.”
For some reason, this response has stuck with me. It seems such a wise way of standing up for what you believe without being defensive, putting others down, sounding pushy, or getting into an argument. As we all know, there is enough of that.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about how this response could fit in so many areas of our lives…parenting, school choice, where we go to church, workout preference, political leaning.
Most people have preferences about the way they do things and the products they use, whether it’s related to how long the pacifier stays, the perfect way to grill a burger, or light or dark roast.
Similarly, most people who go to church go where they do for a reason and think their congregation is a good place to be.
However, the unfortunate tendency – or temptation even – is to start to think that our way is the right way or that our choice is the best.
Most of us are just trying to be helpful when we share a tip or advice or recommend something to someone else. But even though we don’t mean to sound like we have the corner on the truth, sometimes we can begin to sound that way.
That’s why I think it might be a good idea to start by saying, “This is what works for me...” when offering our tips, tricks or advice to others. If we do, it may soften the way our words come across.
It may help us remember that we are all individuals – with different personalities, perspectives, and backgrounds – but that we also have something we can learn from one another.
In thinking about this, I’m reminded of a verse in the book of Philippians, where it is written, “Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.”
All too often, it seems, gentleness is in short supply. Of course, exhibiting gentleness does not mean letting people walk all over you. But a gentle spirit is one that realizes that there is a whole lot of variety in this world that God created and loves.
A gentle spirit recognizes that there are some people and ways of doing things that I relate to better than others, but that just because someone does or sees things differently, they aren’t any less worthy of my respect.
And it seems to me that a gentle spirit is one that is most able to experience “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.”
I know that’s something I desire. But, I should add, that is what works for me.
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Kari van Wakeren is a pastor at First Lutheran Church in Alexandria. She can be reached at kari.vanwakeren
@firstlutheranalexandria.com and blogs at hiccupsandsomersaults.blogspot.com.