Sharing My Faith in Memoir

Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler

“Faith is walking to the edge of all the light you have and taking one more step.” Author Unknown

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Photo Credit: Faith & Hope by A Perfect Heart/ Flickr Creative Commons

Some Thoughts On Writing About My Faith…

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A few weeks ago Memoir Authors and teachers, Annette Gendler and Shirley Showalter posted a discussion on their blogs about sharing faith in writing. It made me stop and think about how little I have shared about my own faith despite the fact that a main theme in my own memoir-in-progress has to do with my spiritual journey,the awakening of and growth in my faith in God through my life challenges.

Although this post was written before the tragic events in Newtown, CT, it has taken on an even deeper meaning for me as l grapple with the devastating events. In my mind, I feel God will find a way to turn our sorrows into blessings if only to draw us all closer to each other and to Him.

For as long as I have been blogging (2009), I have been talking about my memoir-in-progress being a story of the power of hope through my faith in God. You are probably wondering what all that means. I haven’t really spoken about it in any great detail. But, the deeper I get into my own story, the more I feel the need to share my faith with you so as to disclose a main theme in my memoir.

Shirley had this great suggestion, “when writing about our faith, we should imagine ourselves on a plane ride, falling into conversation with the person sitting next to us.”

Thank you, Shirley and Annette for your prompt.

I also want to thank my friend Linda K Thomas of SpiritualMemoirs101 for her continual inspiration to me through her own faith-sharing.

So here goes…

As a” cradle Catholic”, I was born into and brought up with all the traditions and ceremonies of the Roman Catholic faith. I have, by conscious choice and deepening desire, remained true to these beliefs and teachings,except for a period in my twenties when I questioned and even rejected them.

As is often the case,my faith did not deepen until I had to face several life-altering as well as life-threatening events. It was then that my religion became my faith and my spirituality, the source of comfort and meaning in my life.

Therein lies my story.

In the course of having Memoir Writer’s Journey, I have met many wonderful people, including you. When Memoir Author Pam Ritchards emailed me requesting an interview about my faith on her blog, Candle to the Sun, I initially felt a little uncertain.

Faith is such a deeply personal topic and my biggest fear was others might feel like I was trying to preach or convert them when I really just wanted to share the influence these thoughts and beliefs had on my story.

No matter which way I look at it, my faith is a big part of the story I need to tell.

I’m a true believer that modeling Christian behavior has more impact than just saying the words.

Show me, Don’t tell me.

I’m glad I said yes to Pam’s request because as soon as I started answering her questions, I felt connected to the beauty of my faith, and free to share it.

No strings attached.

Here is the original interview on Pam’s blog, Seeds Born to Light:

Miracles in Memoirs

Pam to Kathleen: What unique contribution to faith do you see women making today?

Kathleen to Pam: In my experience, women are the nurturers in the family and are often the ones to plant the seeds of faith. My Great-Grandma Rose did that for me. Widowed at the age of thirty-three with seven children to support, she lived in poverty. Somehow, she made do with her strong belief that God would provide. As a Roman Catholic, I have a devotion to The Blessed Mother that was instilled in me by Grandma Rose. She was always praying the Rosary and asking me, “Katarina (my name in Italian) you wanna be a nun or you wanna get-a married.” It made me nervous as I figured she had some pull but my Mom reassured me that if God wanted me to be a nun, I would feel the call. I was relieved as I knew I could serve God in other ways.

But the vision of that tiny woman with her unwavering faith came to me in whispers and glimpses throughout my entire life as I faced my own challenges. She is still with me when I pray the daily Rosary.

Faith is a gift given to me and nurtured in my childhood by Grandma Rose.

Photo Credit:”Rosary” KatyBate/Flickr Creative Commons


Pam to Kathleen: How has your faith influenced you in your career?

Kathleen to Pam: I felt called by God to go into nursing when I was thirteen years old. I was sitting in my eighth grade classroom study hall, reading a book, Anne Snow, Mountain Nurse. My heart started pounding and I had a
feeling of excitement as I read about Anne Snow riding on horseback in the hills of Virginia to care for poor families as a Community Health Nurse. From that moment, I knew what I wanted to do. Of course, I didn’t realize it was a calling until many years later. At the time, I just knew it felt right.

My faith in God has guided me throughout my entire career as a nurse and nurse practitioner. Every morning on my way to work, I prayed that I would remain open to being God’s servant in caring for the ill or in carrying out whatever role I happened to be in at the time- clinician,educator, administrator. I often prayed with or over patients with their permission. I said many silent prayers for those who were not comfortable. I also prayed for the strength to deal with whatever I had to face- a dying patient, a difficult family/coworker/physician.

Jesus is the Divine healer and if Jesus is in me then I am  a vehicle for carrying out His work.

Pam to Kathleen: How do you see miracles working today?

Kathleen to Pam: A miracle is something beyond human explanation. On December 19, 1996, worsening shortness of breath and a dry cough had precipitated an early morning trip to the emergency room. As I was pacing near my stretcher, waiting for the results of a CT scan of my chest, realizing something serious was happening, I cried out in desperation, “Dear God, please give me the strength to do whatever it is I need to do for this is the battle of my life and for my life”. A peace beyond understanding flowed over me and stayed with me throughout my eventual diagnosis of Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and my two-year treatment course which included chemotherapy, radiation and a peripheral stem cell transplant. I allowed myself to be open to accepting help from others-meals, gifts, prayers. God had answered my plea to “do whatever I need to do” to fight the battle.

Allowing myself to be vulnerable enabled me to accept God’s love, grace and healing. I believe He sent me many angels in the form of family, friends and caregivers on my healing journey.

Simultaneous to the cancer journey was my young adult son’s spiral downward into alcoholism. The cancer was easier to deal with than watching my son’s descent. At least I had options for treatment for the cancer and felt some sense of control. I had no control over my son’s choices and behavior. So I prayed and learned to lean on God. I learned to hand my son over to God and to let go of my need to control. And I never, ever gave up hope that God would heal me and my son.

Grandma Rose echoed in my ear “God will provide” and He did. That is the miracle of faith in my life.

Pam to Kathleen: What kinds of events or incidents have helped you understand God best?

Kathleen to Pam: Having walked through these challenges has deepened my faith. Having been through a life- threatening illness and the terrors of loving and letting go of an alcoholic son has forced me to dig deeper to find the treasures of my faith within. But now that I am on the other side of these challenges, I see God every day in the people I love, nature, all the little things in life that matter. All my challenges have given me the gift of perspective about what really counts in life. “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

Pam to Kathleen: Hope is one of your favorite themes. How have you held on to hope in your own life?

Kathleen to Pam: My favorite quote is “Some things have to be believed to be seen” by Ralph Hodgson and two of my favorite scripture verses: “Three things last forever-faith, hope and love-and the greatest of these is love. Corinthians
13:13 and “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11. They have guided me through my dark moments when I faced my own mortality and when I was filled with despair over my son’s life.

I also have a mantra that gets me through the tough times: “My faith is stronger than my fear.”

Photo Credit: “Searching for Faith” Umberto Fisterol/Flickr Creative Commons

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* Addendum: It was December 19, 1996- 16 years ago this week- when I was diagnosed with Stage IV Non-Hodgkins’ Lymphoma.

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How about you?

How do you feel about sharing your faith or spirituality, however you define it?

How do you feel about me sharing my faith on this post?

 

Announcement: Congratulations to Cyd Madsen!  Your name was selected in a random drawing of commenters to receive Juanima’s inspirational memoir, The Invisible Storm.

 

This Week: I’m also over at Susan Weidener’s blog Women’s Writing Circle with a guest post: A Journey of the Heart”

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Next Week:  Merry Christmas! “Christmas Hope: A Memoir Moment”

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Kathy. Wow, what a surprise. I’m thrilled to win Juanima’s memoir. What a lovely treat to wake up to. Can’t wait :-)

    Faith is a difficult part of life to share but so important. I wish more would share their faith with the gentle hand you have. When we first moved to this area described as the tongue of the buckle of the Bible Belt, we saw Casting Crowns in concert. Of course it was fabulous, but the surprise was the “sermon” they gave about the dangers of religion and making the distinction between faith and religion. I have to keep reminding myself of that distinction as my faith is constantly tested by the harm I witness done by fundamentalist religion in this region. Before we came here, I was signed up with Lincoln to go into youth ministry at my former church. Now I wouldn’t go anywhere near it. I’ve had to rethink everything. Actually, stop thinking and start experiencing my faith. My husband and I do our “worship” each weekend by hiking this beautiful and rugged landscape, and keep our mouths shut about God, faith, and religion. Careers are built or lost here if you don’t toe the line. Their line. Religion’s line, which I’m beginning to see as disconnected from faith.

    Yet again I find myself in a Dark Night Of The Soul, full of doubts, unwilling to share or speak about my faith, but confident this deconstruction of belief is a darkness in which I’ll find a deeper and more meaningful connection with the one whose name can never be spoken. It can be terribly lonely sometimes.

    Your sharing of faith has been a gentle boost and a reminder of the power that protects and guides us all. Thank you for sharing during a time when so many are questioning if there really is a loving God. It’s nearly impossible to wait and wonder and understand how any of this makes sense. But that’s the essence of faith, isn’t it–holding faith when all proof is absent.

    • says

      Cyd, your comment strikes me profoundly. As brave as it was for Kathy to reveal the beauty and challenge of her own faith, I’m almost touched more by your willingness to criticize organized religion. Sometimes it’s better to stay beneath the radar. For example, in my large, very Catholic family, it’s hard to be agnostic. I have to hide it, and remain silent in the face of proselytizing so as not to hurt these good people who fear for my afterlife. And it has to be said: in this beautiful country, good people have been drawn into false battlegrounds based on religion by those who would pit us against each other for political gain. In my mind’s eye, I see you, me and Kathy sitting together, talking about our faith with 100% tolerance. Would that the country might follow our lead.

      • says

        Hi Lynne,
        It’s always good to hear your sharp-eyed, honest perspective on issues. I appreciate you sharing your story and can add that I have experienced the other side of having family members or close friends challenge my beliefs and leave the Catholic Church due to their own discontent. I think the most important thing you say here, is that you, Cyd and I “could sit together talking about our faith with 100% tolerance”, most likely all benefiting from varying views but able to agree to disagree. I agree, wouldn’t it be refreshing if “our country” took our lead. Thank you,as always, my friend for stimulating thought and conversation about such a sensitive issue. I love that we can stay connected :-) xo

    • says

      Hi Cyd,

      You are so good at these piercing insights! I think there is a clear distinction between faith /spirituality and organized religion. I,too,have experienced the discomfort of those who,in my mind,tend toward fanaticism when it comes to expressing their views. The denomination doesn’t matter as I have experienced it from people within my own church family. I also have experienced being in the minority in the “Bible Belt” of Missouri and Kentucky so I appreciate what you are saying. Our little Catholic mission church paled in comparison to the elaborate Baptist and Protestant Churches in the small town I lived for three years. I learned to steer clear and we pretty much lived in peaceful co-existence. For me, the gift has been experiencing my organized religion as a faith/spiritual journey. I have felt God’s presence in my life in a very real and meaningful way. It doesn’t mean I don’t have questions or issues about some of the doctrines so the element of searching for deeper meaning is always there. I had written this post before the Newtown tragedy and find it interesting that it was posted just when such an unthinkable event has hurled us all into a quest for answers. For some, faith will be renewed and strengthened and will most likely be a source of consolation. I respect how others find their way through process and am happy we can have this conversation with open minds and tolerance for one another’s struggles and beliefs. Thank you so much for kicking off this dialogue by sharing your thoughts and struggles. It prompts us all to think about where we find our own sources of comfort and meaning , especially at a time like this.

      And, yes, congratulations on winning Juanima’s wonderful memoir. I assure you,you will not be disappointed :-)

      Blessings on your journey and keep coming back!
      Kathy

  2. says

    This is lovely, Kathy. Thank you for sharing. For me, my faith has always been centered in the story of Christmas, Jesus’ short life of preaching and, finally, his death and Resurrection. This is not just because I was raised an Episcopalian, but because the New Testament is so “perfect” and makes so much “sense” as we travel this journey called life with all its ups and downs, its beauty and magic, its pain and loss . . . its darkness and light. As Christians, we learn that Jesus shared stories with everyone in large and small gatherings, teaching us by example that the truth of our stories is perhaps the greatest and most generous gift we can give one another. So with that, I am going to stop . . . and simply wish everyone Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, and, perhaps, urge everyone to take a moment . . . to stop and really listen if someone shares with you a moment or meaningful time in their lives. Oh yes, and please stop by and read Kathy’s guest blog on the Women’s Writing Circle. It is sure to inspire!

    • says

      Hi Susan,
      Thank you for sharing your beautiful testimony and reminding us all to sit still long enough to “listen to each other and hear what brings meaning to our lives.” And thank you for the wonderful opportunity to be featured as a guest on your awesome Women’s Writing Circle Website. It is a treasure of writing resources and I hope everyone checks it out. Holiday and Christmas Blessings to you and yours as well _:-)
      Kathy

  3. Christina says

    Kathy, as always, well done. I was a bit surprised when you told me that you were going to write about your faith for the first time. I feel as if you have been doing that all along. Your strong faith is such a part of you that it shines through you and whatever you do or write. I especially liked your telling of your surrender prayer while waiting for test results, then the immediate gift of peace.
    How do I feel about sharing my faith? I am past the apprehension that I will be seen as a nut. The more I share, the more I learn of the Lord from others when they then share their amazing stories and experiences.
    Great guest blog on Women’s Writing Circle.

    Christina

    • says

      Dear Christina,

      I believe it was you I heard “Yay, God” from, years ago. You have never been shy or quiet about your faith and belief in God, bordering on a child-like wonder and consequently have been a source of great inspiration to me in my own faith journey. You were one of the dear friends who prayed with me and accompanied me to doctor visits during the cancer treatment. Your testimony helps me to be strong in my faith when I need it the most. I love how sharing your faith has helped you to connect with “the amazing stories and experiences of others.” Thank you so much for sharing and for accompanying me on my journey.:-) xo

      Blessings,

      Kathy

  4. says

    Thank you for sharing your story. Yes, challenges can lead to a deeper faith. I am glad you are on the other side of the challenges and with faith intact. It is hard to realize that we need faith first then we see – I come from Missouri – the Show Me state. God says Now Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen – Heb 11:1 – My pastor describes that as getting a ticket from the Post office saying there’s a package waiting. You proclaim I got the >>>. But you really don’t have it in hand. You are believing by faith that the package is waiting for you at the post office. Once you get the package there is no more need for faith.

    I especially liked your line that now, after going through these things, you see God everyday in these people. I spent years angry at God for not stopping my parents’ abuse. At the age of eight, I gave up on God and didn’t speak with him for forty years. He didn’t give up on me though :). Now that He and I have a relationship, I look back at my past and see that He was always there, just not the way I expected Him to be. Some ways are awesome like Him being my imaginary mother and father, other ways not so awesome, but He was there. Sometimes God is in the “nots” in what did not happen. He was in a lot of my “nots.”

    I am enjoying these testimonies of faith.

    May you have a Blessed and Merry Christmas.

    • says

      Heather,

      I have nothing to add to your heartfelt and meaningful testimony except to thank you for sharing such profound, life-altering insights about how God has been present to you in your life, “He didn’t give up” and “God was in a lot of my “nots” I feel so enriched and challenged by all these thoughts and testimonies and am so happy you took the time to share yours.

      Christmas Blessings to you and yours as well,

      Kathy

  5. says

    I grew up in a fairly plain vanilla protestant congregation, though we didn’t affiliate with any church until I was in elementary school. Ours was a small church that I found isolating — our youth group consisted of a dozen girls who basically had nothing else in common with one another and one boy nobody wanted anything to do with. I longed to belong to one of the large protestant congregations with huge youth groups, but when I visited those groups, I found them full of cliques with nobody inviting me “inside.” I emphasize protestant because my parents would have locked me in my room rather than letting me go to any events with the Catholics or Mormons — the other large congregations. Since my third-grade potential best friend’s mother made it abundantly clear to me non-verbally that I was not suitable company for her daughter, I didn’t feel welcome at Catholic events anyway.

    That early in my life I was aware of the divisive power of organized churches.

    My personal faith was more connected to nature than to groups of people and mandatory services. I was fascinated with Indian rituals and traditions down in northern New Mexico. They resonated on a deep level I couldn’t begin to understand, but I longed for closer connection with them. I didn’t learn the term “Cathedral of the Pines” until decades later, but their majesty sank into my soul and I felt closer to God as I knew him in the woods than anywhere else.

    As a young mother in the late sixties, I became traumatized by the gloom and doom of Zero Population Growth, writers like Alvin Toffler with Future Shock, dire predictions about being buried under landfills, and other social chaos indicators. This made me easy prey for radio programs with all the horrors of the End Times and Apocalypse. I tried, but was not able to free myself from the quicksand of a totally FEAR-based Church with rigid stringent adherence to God’s Laws and the promise of being saved in The Place of Safety as one of God’s Chosen People. They talked about the love of God and judged the stuffing out of everyone, mostly The World, but also each other. I had an Unconverted Mate and a college education, so I was always suspect, always aware of being scrutinized and judged more harshly, and always aware of whispers and averted glances and social cliques that never included me and seldom my children. But painful though that was, I was afraid to leave!

    Fortunately that church shattered and spun itself off into splinter groups with many of us waking up and discovering what love is all about. Truth pulled itself inside out and took on new meaning. Truth showed me that those people, sincere as they were, were sincerely destructive, at least to me, but they meant well and they were scared witless too. Today I see organized religion all over the world separating people into warring camps of one sort or another, whether it’s a microcosm within congregations, inside the borders of the USA or around the world.

    But I also see hope and love just beyond our current storm. I take great comfort in discovering that all religions have visions of the Eternal City, of peace and love ultimately prevailing. I have faith now that the current “fire” is serving a purpose and as chaotic as things are, all people are being refined and purified by heart-by-heart resuscitation. As we reach across boundaries of difference with open hearts and inquiring minds, listening to and sharing stories from hearts, small islands of connection begin coalescing into larger masses.

    Today I realize that I have signed on with The Church of Story, a growing tribe with no walls, requirements or formal membership, that’s spreading around the globe. I understand organized religions as forms of Story, ways of explaining life and the world to give hope and comfort to believers in that shared story. Ultimately I do believe that whether inside one of those shared stories or hold to strictly personal stories, we will all find ways to link our stories together around a core of love and acceptance that allows for individual variations giving sparkle and richness to the tapestry of our species.

    Thank you for this prompt Cathy. I’d actually never articulated this.

    • says

      Wow, Sharon! I don’t even know what to say to such an honest, articulate, thought-provoking summary of your journey except, Wow. Throughout it all it seems you are finding your way through all the brambles and bushes to a place that works for you. I love your “Church of Story” metaphor where we “find ways to link our stories together around a core of love and acceptance that allows for individual variations giving sparkle and richness to the tapestry of the species.” These words are”gold nuggets” of your own truth that resonate and prompt much thought. I think you should package this as a personal essay and market it. Beautifully written and conveyed. Thank you so much for sharing from you heart :-) xo

  6. says

    Kathy, thank you for writing about your faith. I enjoy reading/hearing about other’s journeys of faith.

    It’s difficult for me to write about my faith, though I do it sometimes. Organized religion was not good to me when I was growing up, especially for someone like me with OCD that included religious scrupulosity. I left my faith for many years, and now I feel like I’m inching along, growing in faith a little at a time.

    • says

      Oh Tina,

      I think you speak for a lot of people who have not had a positive or nurturing experience with organized religion. Like Cyd said earlier, we need to find our own way toward finding meaning in our lives, a connection to a power greater than ourselves. Some people call it “the Universe”, some call it nature and others choose to participate in organized religion. For me going to Mass does not represent my faith as much as living my life in union with the God of my understanding. When I go the Mass with that spirit, Mass is Heaven on Earth for me. I choose to go to Mass as I feel receiving the Eucharist brings me into a closer union with God. My choice and my way. I think we all need to find our own way to that deeper connection. I understand and I feel sad for anyone who has had to endure difficult experiences because of “religious scrupulosity.” I wish you many blessings as you “inch your way” toward a faith that will bring you peace in your life. Thank you so much for sharing your brave testimony.

      Kathy

  7. says

    Now I understand where you get your strength and inspiration, Kathy. What a testimony of how profound faith has not only helped you endure, but also to shine your light on others. The women, too, in my family instilled the seeds of faith.

    • says

      Hi Pat, Yes, my faith is truly a gift that I am very grateful for. Thank you so much, as always, for encouraging and inspiring me with your words and ongoing friendship. Remember we are “Hope Sisters” :-) xo

  8. says

    Kathy, what a beautiful story, and how readily I identify with it! As a fellow “Cradle Catholic,” I, too, learned the practice of my faith from my elders and the good nuns in parochial school. But, like you, it was only when I was “ready” to be purified that God touched me in a personal way. I read through the entire Bible (something you know Catholics never do!), began regular devotions, became more involved in my church through choir and lectoring, and met with other Catholics to discuss various topics and grow together in our faith. Now, my faith totally sustains me, keeps me strong, makes me a better me. It gives me hope in the darkness, hope in the eventual goodness of mankind, and a deep trust in my everlasting outcome. They say faith is a gift but we have to reach out and take hold of it. “Organized religion,” for me, is just the tip of the iceberg; I can have faith without organized religion, but Church provides a way for me to express my love for God. Hope that makes sense!
    As for how I feel about you sharing your faith journey, why, I can hardly wait to read your memoir — get that thing finished and published, my friend!!

    • says

      Debbie, I didn’t expect to see you so soon but truly appreciate you taking time during your break to share your beautiful testimony. Yes, it makes perfect sense to me. It feels like my faith deepens with each testimony. I really like your idea that though faith is a gift , we have to reach out for it. It reminds me of the saying”Pray to God, but keep rowing to shore.” Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing. Yes, I do need to get that memoir finished and published and I know that will take more than faith :-)

  9. says

    What an amazing exchange of testimonies here, and every one obviously respecting the others. It sounds as if most of us have been reticent about speaking or writing openly about these matters, for fear of offending, sounding like a lunatic, or perhaps further widening the gap between self and others. This is exactly the sort of acceptance, respect and warmth I always longed for and a hallmark of what Jerry Waxler refers to as “The Memoir Revolution” and I referred to earlier as “The Church of Story.”

    Many thanks to Kathy, to Shirley Showalter, and to unknown others for cranking up this thread of discussion. How eerily appropriate that it should be taking place on the eve of the solstice ending this last foreseen Mayan age … which will surely pass as any other day, but may mark a turning point as increasing numbers of hearts continue to open and flower, whatever their core story.

    • says

      I wholeheartedly agree, Sharon. The conversation has been rich and inspiring and has offered me much encouragement. I love that we can gather together and share our varying beliefs with one another. You leave us all with a powerful message of hope that we may be at “a turning point as increasing number of hearts continue to open and flower, whatever their core story.” You are a poet at heart:-) Thank you for sharing.

  10. says

    Wonderful post Kathy. It truly resonated with me. I also believe that the many hardships we face, it really does strengthen our faith.

    I have no qualms sharing my faith with others, my spirituality is a way of life for me. It’s what helped me overcome all of my obstacles. I accept that some may accept and others don’t but I will not change who I am.

    Please continue to share your faith, it’s an important part of your journey Kathy. Reading the post brought goosebumps.

    I’m so glad that you are healthy 16 years later.

    • says

      Thank you, Andrea for your testimony and your kind words. Having just finished your memoir, Dramaville, I can see how your faith helped you to overcome so many obstacles and become the empowered woman you are today. I appreciate your encouragement to continue sharing my faith. I am so grateful every day for my health. Health is everything and I’m thrilled to be able happy to celebrate it with you today!
      Blessings,
      Kathy

  11. says

    Kathy, thank you for so generously sharing your faith with us in this post. You have shown us that you have truly experienced the power of God in your life, and that you have been strengthened by your faith in Him.

    I think you know that my faith is extremely important to me. But others may not. I grew up in the Methodist church but was influenced by my grandmother’s church, Missionary Baptist, and other family who attended the Church of Christ. Also remember I grew up in the South so in the Bible Belt. Based on my mother’s militaristic way of raising us, there were no if’s, and’s or but’s about attending church on Sunday morning, Sunday night and again Wednesday night.

    When I went away to college, it was to a Methodist sponsored school in the heart of southern Tennessee where the Ku Klux Klan was founded. It was here my eyes were opened to the injustices of discrimination against not only African Americans but women. My parents paid good money into a school that denied a young African American woman the right to live in campus housing and forced her to drive 86 miles one way to obtain her college education. Neither was she allowed to accompany our college chorus on trips because “she might have to stay the night in white folks’ homes.” When I questioned my parents, the response from my mother was: “That’s just the way life is. Don’t bother yourself with asking any more questions.”

    Here my faith faltered and I began to search for other ways of worship. But I kept coming back to the Christian faith I had grown up with but I wanted more. What I didn’t realize was that i had no personal relationship with God. My faith was superficial. It was years later after a failed marriage, health problems, a new marriage and stepchildren to raise along with my own son, and a variety of moves because of job changes that I truly felt that I was on sound footing with my faith.

    I now find joy in everything about every day. It doesn’t mean I don’t ask God “why” or “please, don’t let such and such happen,” which some would equate to questioning, but I believe he wants to know our questions. But he is also a great comforter and healer, just as Bob and I are experiencing in our lives right now.

    I could go on, but that gives you the gist of what I find to be so wonderful about my faith and the gift of God’s love. I couldn’t resist writing . . . this is my first “long” piece since before 11/15/12. I guess I do still have it! Or maybe it was God typing my story? :)

    • says

      Sherrey, You are telling my story with different details but a similar ending- the road from a superficial to a deep and soul-nurturing meaningful connection through the “Dark Night of the Soul.” I am so thrilled you have put pen to paper for the first time in a long time to share your heartfelt story. I cringed at the details of blatant racism and injustice you witnessed and that you had no outlet to deal with it. Thankfully you found your way “home” to where you needed to be.I hope your words and sentiments will continue to flow. Tt’s so nice and comforting to have you”back.” Thank you so much for sharing. Continued blessings and healing. xo

  12. says

    Oh, Kathy, you and the others have written a symphony! I am touched by everyone’s journeys and stories. I feel terribly sad about some people’s harsh experiences within organized churches, but I do know what they are talking about and have experienced it myself, even still today. That makes my heart very heavy. The older I get the more I realize how totally human we humans are–in other words, we just are not perfect. On the other hand, I believe that in writing our memoirs (and in daily conversations with others) we can find much to praise God for, to praise Him for who He is and what He does.

    Kathy, I am so blessed to know you. Thank you!

    Big hugs,
    Linda

    • says

      Linda, I am in awe over the outpouring of heartfelt testimonies from everyone here. It seems my faith gets affirmed more with each person’s unique story. It doesn’t matter that our beliefs may differ. It matters that we can honor our stories by being witness to each other. It truly is a symphony and I’m so happy you joined in. You have been a key player in inspiring me to share my own story so let me thank YOU. Blessings for all you do to guide us in sharing faith. xo Kathy

  13. says

    Kathy, you have ignited spiritual fire on this page. Thank you for the shout out to my blog. As I read about the experiences of others with religion, I am reminded that one of the things I love about memoir is that it allows for the complete spectrum of human emotions and experiences. They are all valid because they have happened that way to the person writing the story. If the tone is wide and not preachy or whiny, we will listen to any story. And a devout person can touch an atheist and vice versa. I too am blessed to know you, Kathy. We all are. Merry Christmas.

    • says

      Shirley, I’m loving all these rich metaphors for describing what’s been happening here,..”spiritual fire, symphonies”! You and Annette actually were the ones who lit a spiritual fire in me to share this story. Your comment about “memoir allowing for the complete spectrum of human emotions and experiences”resonates. I think we are all blessed to know one another. I feel so grateful for all of you in this amazing community and all we offer one another. Merry Christmas and thank you for your ongoing encouragement and support, as always :-)

  14. says

    Hi Kathy, What a poignant piece. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable once again by sharing your faith. I love the quote: Some things have to be believed to be seen. I am going to steal it if I may. :) It will be the impetus for my next blog post.

    I think we all, whatever denomination we ascribe to, need to have a sense of knowing that we are not alone on this vast earth. That there is a benevolence that far exceeds our limited vision. You express this so well here.

    I’m so glad you made it through your cancer. It seems we all have some ginormous cross to bear, don’t we? The silver lining is all of the wisdom we learn along the way.

    Cheers, dear friend. I hope your holidays are most blessed.

    • says

      Hi Grace, I appreciate your thoughts here about needing to have a sense of knowing we are not alone, whatever our denomination is or isn’t. And I’m very happy that you did not feel pressured or preached to. The last thing I want or need to do is try to get others to think and feel as I do. Live and let live and be there for one another. I’m loving this vibrant and varied exchange of thoughts, ideas and beliefs. Hodgson’s quote is a favorite and has guided me through a lot. I’m thrilled it prompted a post and will hop on over to your blog to check it out. Thanks so much for weighing in and for your good wishes. Yes, we all have our crosses, and,hopefully,also have a source of strength and solace to deal with them.

      Best wishes with your memoir launch and contact me when you’re ready to tour.

      Christmas and New Year’s blessings to you as well!

  15. smita jagdale says

    Hi Kathy, I just read your beautiful article about faith in God. I enjoyed the feedback from other writers too.
    I was always taught to pray to God at home and at school. When I was five years old I used to go to the nearby temple of Shiva with a neighbor’s six year old daughter.It was winter and our tenants would not vacate our place which we needed as my parents decided to have a steady place for our education.We would take a bath with cold water, take a special round tray with all the items (for pooja) to the temple and pray to the Gods.We would offer flowers and milk with sugar to the main God and share it. One day we got our place back and that made my faith in God stronger than before. When my one month old baby got very sick overnight, we were in a bush in Africa.(I had to give orders and guide the nurse to deliver my own baby). I showed my daughter’s room and closet to my neighbor, threw the house keys at her, held my sick baby, and started running to catch the helicopter as soon as I heard its noise–taking us back to the children’s hospital 400 miles away. My husband had to go back to be with our daughter–I was all alone with my dying baby. After the Dr’s round,I would stay in the church for an hour or so and pray hard. The Dr.did not give me any hope for next three days, I kept praying. I pray everyday to my Devi and a couple of other Gods as well as my older relatives including my parents who taught me so many important things and took good care of me.Sometimes I pray to my Gods as many times as I need to, which gives me strength. In my practice, if a difficult OB patient would come in, I would pray to God so that everything would be alright and also I would not get involved in any malpractice problem–that worked. I still ask my Goddess to pass on Her strength to me and help me to develop some objectivity to take a right decision. I think it is working.

    • says

      Dear Smita, Your stories are so precious and reflective of the strong faith foundation that has guided you throughout your whole life. Thank you so much for sharing. I remember your stories from our workshops together and they always touch a chord in me of how much you have endured and how resilient you are. May your faith continue to sustain you. Keep writing and sharing. I’m so happy you stopped by. Wishing you many blessings in the New Year xo

  16. says

    Thank you again for the interview, Kathy! Your faith story is so compelling. I felt drawn to the warmth that has nurtured your spirituality. You asked how I feel about sharing my faith. I have the classic double-mindedness that goes with being raised in one very rigid way, and having the opposite life experiences. As a result, sometimes I have to take a deep breath and pull back from my life to see what’s really important. It seems we are tested by the fires in our lives so that we can separate the gold of faith from the impurities caused by our own confusion.

    We had a spiritual exercise today–everyone chose a tiny wrappred gift that had one of the “gifts of the Spirit” listed on a slip of paper inside. Faith, Hope, Love, Wisdom, Teaching, Apostleship. . . Kathy, you will smile when I tell you which “gift” was given to me–”Working of Miracles.” Of course, like the rest, this gift is something God does. When we have the privilege to witness the miracles God has done, it only falls to us to be faithful and share those experiences so others can gain from them.

    But I was not raised to look for miracles, so I often have to fight my fears of being thought foolish and remember why I was given the gift in the first place–to pass it on.

    I was not raised to look for miracles, but as an artist, I was raised to find beauty around me and share it. Sometimes I have to remember how beautiful God’s miracles are, and discover in that beauty the courage to share my faith.

    • says

      Pam, Thank you for sharing your powerful insights-”It seems we are tested by the fires in our lives so that we can separate the gold of faith from the impurities caused by our own confusion.” I’m not surprised your “gift of the Spirit” was “Working of Miracles” :-) I think miracles are all around us but only seen if we are open to them. I remember looking around outside and hearing the birds chirp one spring day while undergoing chemotherapy. It was a time when my prognosis was uncertain but I was filled with hope. I realized I had never really noticed the birds chirping before but , in that moment , it sounded like a symphony-a symbol of all the beauty and life surrounding me. Perspective is a gift. I am so inspired by your faith sharing and looking forward to your guest post in January. Blessings for the Holiday and New Year :-)

  17. Ray Evans says

    Yes, it is difficult to share one’s faith, especially for men., it seems that we learn early on to hold such things private. It gets easier though as we go along. “There’s no athiests in foxholes”, as the old saying goes! It takes a few bumps in road to bring most of us to our senses.

    It’s much easier now that I find myself on the wrong side of eighty! TOG, (the Old Geezer from Geezerville)

    • says

      Nice to see you here, Ray. Thanks for adding your seasoned perspective to the conversation. I agree, the older I get, the more comfortable I feel about sharing personal values and beliefs. I appreciate you stopping by and I hope to see you again!

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