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Thursday, July 29, 2010

What is Spirituality?

I talked to a friend on the phone yesterday and as she chatted about her life and what she was doing, I did some multi-tasking as I was at work and had some urgent projects that needed done. With my mind focusing on my task at hand and my ear half-listening to my friend talk away, it took me a few moments to realize that what she was talking about was exactly what I needed to hear.

"So you see, it's different, witnessing to friends down here, in this Adventist suburb. I have some friends who don't want to go to church, they see people being hypocrites and they have a hard time with that. So I told them, they need to decide for themselves if they believe in God; it can't be their parents' religion anymore. They need to realize that God loves them and would never do anything to hurt them."

As I listened to her simple words that I had heard over and over in my life, for the first time it started to sink in and really make sense. My friend was more than ten years my junior and yet God was using her to speak to my heart and remind me that He was a loving and caring God. Tears came to my eyes.

The world looks at people and judges them immediately based on appearance, silver tongue of speech, their connections or lack thereof, their monetary value, and their presentation of spirituality. Those who measure up to an unwritten code are held up as the standard for others to follow. I have found, however, that often the people who minister to me on a heart level are the ones who others may not consider stellar witnesses. The people most genuine in their spirituality are often not the ones you would expect.

I had a very good friend once. Her name was Melissa and she had a very generous heart. Devoted to her friends, she loved to spend time with her closest girlfriends, watching a fun movie, eating junk food, and staying up till odd hours of the night. When I think of Melissa, I think of someone who tried and kept on trying to live a genuine life. She didn't hide anything, even her struggles, and she was always ready to share her joys with others. If she passed a homeless person on the street, she would hand them a $20 bill without a second thought. She was ready to go out for a meal or hang out at the mall and readily offered to drive everyone there. I remember birthday parties, giggles and laughter, the guilty chocolate brownie, arguing over music to play in the car (she wanted Avril LaVigne, I wanted Celine Dion), talks about guys, and living life.

When I heard that Melissa passed away at only 28 years of age, I couldn't believe it was true. I still have her cell number in my address book, and I can't bring myself to delete it. I feel like one day she will show up and pop into my office, make herself comfortable on a chair, draw her feet up under her knees, and say, "So. . .what'cha been up to lately?" in her confident way. We would catch up on old friends, gossip about guys, and reminisce about college, laughing at our memories. But that won't happen now.

Melissa loved God. So does my friend who called me this morning. While they may not have known how to convey in polished tones and manner the precise method of how to walk the narrow way, both of them gave me the gift of their genuine friendship and love. Each of them, and others I have had the blessing of knowing, was able to share God in their own unique way. They did not present a perfect sermon neither did they attempt to pound me over the head with counsel. They did not sit in judgement or attempt to convey what they perceived God's will should be for my life. They just shared their love.

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