Faith (R)Evolution

As a child, my faith was simple and unconflicted. As I grew, it became less so, but I knew that was alright because I have always believed that faith without questioning isn’t really faith at all. So I question, but I believe.

These last several years, though, have really affected how I feel about organized religion–particularly Christianity. And not for the better. Far from it. In fact, I’m pretty sure some of my early Christian education instructors would be rolling over in their graves if I told them about my faith’s evolution. How it has evolved to include all the people that we were taught needed to change who they were or they couldn’t be a part of the club. How I believe so many people in the club should be slapped upside the head and made to see that their actions are the hypocritical opposite of what Jesus taught us. (You know–Jesus, the brown-skinned, undocumented immigrant who believed in paying taxes…) How I believe that the man-made church is built on a patriarchal system designed to deny equality and manipulate scripture to retain power. Or how… well, you get the idea. My faith is no longer that of a six-year-old.

The truth is, if it wasn’t for my current church, I’m not sure I would still be attending one anymore. I am grateful for the people in it and the open heart and mind that shapes all that our church does. So when my pastor asked me if I would write and share a perspective of mine “from the pews” for our church blog, I did.

I’m sharing it here in case you might be interested in taking a peek. It’s just a simple little story of how my family has literally left our mark on the church!

2022—A Year to Begin Closing a Gaping Agape Hole?

My faith needs bolstering these days. In general, it feels like Rocky after a few rounds with Clubber Lang…taking quite a few hits and finding itself on the ropes, hoping for the bell to ring to end the round and catch its breath before it keels over.

It is primarily my faith in people that is so wounded, after these last years of division and vitriol. We have siloed ourselves and shouted in echo chambers and across social media platforms to tear each other apart with little thought of impact or consequences.

“Us” and “them” is deeply rooted in our psyches, and I am weary from it all.

In those initial, scary weeks when the pandemic struck, I hoped that maybe a tiny positive byproduct of it would be its common enemy status—that we would come together to fight this invisible villain in order to save lives.

We did not.

While we may rise to the occasion…we fall to the everyday.

Yes, people come together in times of crisis. When Harvey ravaged Houston and people drove around in boats rescuing anyone they could find, they noted how it didn’t matter what your politics were—just get in the boat. Moments of coming together? Sure. Continued, concerted everyday efforts? Well, that’s unfortunately a different story.

Consequently, my faith is wobbly from the heart punches it has sustained and the loss it has witnessed…and I long for a way to renew it. I think that is why, as I wondered if a word for 2022 would find me, as it has for the last several years, the word “faith” was knocking on my heart.

But then bell hooks passed. And Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined her. And as I looked for my next thing to listen to while I do my morning exercises, Bishop Michael Curry’s Love Is the Way presented itself to me on my audiobook playlist. In listening to his Morgan Freeman-esque voice, my word for the year fell right into my heart: Love…It must be. Because it is only through love that my faith can regrow in the fertile soil of agape, and not just for me alone.

Agape, one of the seven words to describe love in the Greek language, is defined by Bishop Curry as a “sacrificial love that seeks the good and well-being of others, of society, of the world.” And in our current times, it feels like there is a gaping hole where agape love should be firmly established.

what the world needs now…

People like Curry and hooks and Tutu have lived lives dedicated to teaching that love is THE gamechanger. It is a verb—an action—that, heals, redeems, and brings about true change. It is a choice we make daily. It is what Jesus made plain: My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:12-13)

So…with love determining itself to be my word of the year—what exactly does this mean for me? After all, it’s not exactly a newsflash. I know love is the way.

It feels more like it is to be a recommitment.

And since agape is manifested in action, I will need to recommit to…act more. Learn. Listen. Serve. Share. Pray. Give. And more that I have yet to know.

But please do not see this as a New Year’s resolution. I am in no way thinking that with this guidance for the year—and my life—that I just need to keep at it like any other “goal.” Oh, no, no, no, no…no. This is a reminder for me to continue to wrestle with the call to love one another and live a life of love. It’s a biggie. There are those who are easy to love, and then there are those who…are not easy to love. And the call is to love the whole smash. And live it out in action. A tall order. Something that I must practice day in and day out.

And in my wearied state of wobbly faith, I don’t approach it glibly. But I do know that love wins, so even in my weariness, I must recommit to doing my best to live that love. Because otherwise? Otherwise, not only love and faith are at risk but hope, too. And where do I go from there?

I do not want to know.

So here is to 2022 being a year that plants seeds of love that develop into generous, thriving gardens of faith, hope…and more and more love.  


To love, my brothers and sisters, does not mean we have to agree. But maybe agreeing to love is the greatest agreement. And the only one that ultimately matters, because it makes a future possible.
―Michael B. Curry, Love Is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times

The choice to love is a choice to connect―to find ourselves in the other.
bell hooks, all about love

Your ordinary acts of love and hope point to the extraordinary promise that every human life is of inestimable value.
―Desmond Tutu

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
―John 13:34

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
―1 Corinthians 13:13

Feeling More FraGEElay

This Christmas will be different for us. Partly because of life’s twists and turns, and partly by design. Life has brought us the first Christmas without my mom. It has also brought us a much smaller gathering around our table. This will most definitely result in a quieter day, and I’ve chosen to embrace these changes as a new way to experience Christmas rather than focusing on the differences as purely loss.

I’ve never had a Christmas where I wasn’t entertaining a group, and so I will cherish the opportunity to stay in my PJs longer and not rush to get things ready. Instead of trying to be the “hostess with the mostess,” I will strive to be less stressed and more relaxed. It’s all in the perspective, right?

And that perspective is also mindful of the fragility of life.

It’s true my mom is gone. But at 92, she had “the opportunity of a lifetime” and many years to experience—and now she is at peace. It is still a loss, but there is a sense of “normalcy” to her passing.

And then there are times when the fragility of life sneaks up on you in an instant and nothing will ever be the same again. Recently a beloved member of our church died at the age of 45…leaving behind her husband, two young boys, and many others who loved her dearly. In the span of less than two weeks, she went from not knowing she was ill to…dying. Just like that, she’s gone.

It may be cliché to say that our days are numbered on this earth, but the reality is that some of us, like my mom, have a number around 36,000…and others have less than one single day…or maybe more near 17,000, as our church friend had. And that may seem like a big number…until you run out of them.

We don’t know our number. At least I don’t know mine. But our days on the earthly side of this life are finite.

Life is fragile. We are fragile.

And so with our days numbered, we ought to be gentler to one another…and ourselves.

We need to choose kindness, grace, and service over hatred, ineptitude, and selfishness.

We need to forge a way, especially in these painfully divisive times, for love to win.

How we choose to use our days is all we have to work with in this fragile life.

My “fraGEElay” run began six years ago with this post. And while I have let this blog slip through the cracks of life, I am moved to once again wish you Christmas blessings…And if life, as it so frequently does, is not treating you gently, I pray you have people in your life who love you and stand alongside you…helping you pick up the pieces and create your own Kintsugi.

Merry Christmas, friends.

ALL PHOTOS ARE USED WITH PERMISSION.

Yo, Joy…Please Pull Up a Chair and Make Yourself at Home

For the last five years, a thematic word to help guide the year has pretty much magically appeared in front of me anxiously raising its hand like Arnold Horshack crying, “Pick me! Pick me!”

Each year it has made complete sense to me as to why this word this year, and…this year is no different.  Continue reading “Yo, Joy…Please Pull Up a Chair and Make Yourself at Home”

Fra GEE Lay 6.0

Wow. Six years ago was the first time I wrote a Christmas Eve remembrance to be gentle with one another. Hard to believe so many years of this tradition have passed already.

And in this surreal year of 2017, it certainly bears repeating that…we need to treat one another with kindness and love. Continue reading “Fra GEE Lay 6.0”

10 Things I’m Thankful for Every Day 3.0

Last year, I didn’t write a “10 Things I’m Thankful for” post. I think I was too overwhelmed from other occurrences in that dark month. But gratitude should remain even in the darkest of times.  Continue reading “10 Things I’m Thankful for Every Day 3.0”