Why is faith such an important part of our lives? We here at the Casa are not people who dogmatically ascribe to a thousand and one rules and follow them precisely. Yet, that is such the opinion that so many have about religion and our Catholic faith most especially. I will tell you right now - I am not good with rules. While I am a "rule follower" to a great degree, anything with too many rules loses me faster than Tom Cruise had Renee Zellweger at hello.
So again, why is faith such an important part of my life? Catholicism certainly has with it many "thou shalt nots" and other prescriptions regarding right behavior and wrong behavior. What gives? It boils down to this. Faith is a lens by which I view the world, and in particular, my Catholic faith. It is a relationship with a living person, the person of Jesus Christ who invites me into an intimate relationship with Him. Jesus invites me to see the world through His eyes, and to aspire to live in the world as He did - with His heart, His eyes, His ears, His love, His obedience to the will of the Father.
To help me get there, He set in motion a collective of people who would create the structure that we now know as the Church to keep me from wandering too far astray. These rules are not simply "thou shalt nots" - they are words of love much like those we speak to our children. We set down rules and boundaries to do our best to keep our children from serious harm. God does the same. We hope one day our children will see the world through our eyes to understand our love for them. God does the same.
When I see injustice in the world, I'm not outraged because of some political motivation. I am outraged because Jesus weeps. I am outraged because He came to call all of us to the heart of the Father and we continue to tear each other down and apart. I am outraged because God intends better for us. I am outraged because I know I am part of the problem.
When I see people shackled by their sins and failures, I want to help set them free. I know I am right alongside them, whether anyone else sees my chains or not. I choose every day whether to tighten the cuffs or to live in the freedom God offers us. I want people to know the freedom that comes from renouncing our sins, from renouncing the ways in which we turn away from God and the "rules" He has set in place for our protection. There is such great freedom in leaving those shackles behind and walking in step with God. There is such great peace in knowing that when the chains start to wrap around us, when we fall because we haven't completely let go of them, Jesus is there to extend His hand and pull us out. I want the world to know that by seeing the world as Jesus does, I see the possibility of freedom instead of the gloom of condemnation.
When I put on my Jesus specs, I begin to see every person as precious to God, even the jerk that cut me off in rush hour traffic or the lady that stole my parking spot - every.single.person. Regardless of where they are in their journey, regardless of what they have done in their lives, regardless of how unforgivable I think they are or how far they have fallen, regardless of how very much they annoy the daylights out of me - every single soul ever created is precious to God. Every single soul is redeemable.
When I wear my Jesus specs, I begin to see my mistakes (and everyone else's) as impermanent. I begin to see how God has worked tirelessly to take those ashes where I thought I had burned a bridge and create out of nothing a beautiful road back to Him. I begin to believe that God came for us, God gave us Jesus, not because He expected us to be perfect, but knowing we were far from it and we would need a new vision, a new heart, a new Spirit in the midst of our suffering, pain and sin. I begin to believe that there isn't a thing I could do to separate myself from the love of God through Jesus Christ other than to turn my back and walk away. Even then, I know He would chase me until my dying day.
I didn't always have a faith in Christ. I didn't always have these Jesus specs. I was lost. I was lonely. I was looking in all the wrong places to find where I belonged. I gave my heart too easily. I escaped my pain instead of dealing with it. I put myself in compromising situations that could have led to disaster but didn't only by the grace of God. I gave myself to the wrong people, believing I would find love. I tried to earn love. I tried to earn friendship. I tried to earn worth. I wanted to be loved, never realizing I was already beloved.
It took me some time to adjust to these old Jesus specs. My world and my vision didn't transform overnight. To tell the truth, I still forget my glasses a lot of the time. The difference now is that they are always there waiting for me. They are there to restore in me a vision of truth - the truth about who I am and to whom I belong. They are there to restore in me a hope in humanity - the hope that we will one day see in each other our belovedness. They are there to restore in me a confident knowledge - the knowledge that good has already beaten evil, whether we see it now or not.
So tell me, how do you see the world? Wanna give these specs a try? I guarantee there is nothing on earth like them!
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