parkdale united church

429 Parkdale Avenue, OTTAWA, Ontario K1Y 1H3

Being in Love

 

It was several years ago that I first heard the expressions ‘being in love with God’ and having an ‘intimate relationship’ with God.  Of course, it is also often said that ‘God is love’, and love is a relational term that is meaningless outside of relationship.

With that in mind, I began to reflect on my own Christian spirituality and relationship with God.  I remembered back as a preteen when a close friend invited me to a summer Bible School and I recalled how much joy my relationship with God brought me at that time.  It was indeed an intimate, all-embracing relationship. 

As I passed through adolescence and young adulthood, however, I didn’t actively steward or strengthen my spirituality and my ‘joy of being’ waned accordingly.  I attended worship only sporadically and I was somewhat passive in my Christianity.  Over the decades, my journey of faith progressed steadily but slowly.

Then, in 2006, I was asked to chair Parkdale’s 75th Anniversary Planning Group.  I knew that it would be a wonderful challenge, but I had not counted on the ‘faith factor’.  I had not realized how exponentially a person’s faith increases when we live out our faith by being involved in one of our church’s ministries.

I realized that it was essential to reignite my spiritual development, and decided that it was time to take personal responsibility for my journey of faith.  As Stephen Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) put it, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

I also wanted to know and understand more deeply the primary written source of my faith, the Bible, and so I began the long journey of reading it cover to cover (I own the King James Version so the reading is much slower than the New International Version).  Supplementary readings included devotional books and a few church websites. 

As well, I began to pray more regularly.  The more I opened my heart to God in prayer, the more my prayers seemed to uplift my daily life.  Later, in autumn 2006, I attended the wonderful Christianity 101 workshop (a great refresher) and formalized my long-standing relationship with Parkdale by officially becoming a member.

It has been said that the deeper our spiritual journey, the easier it is to hear God’s message.  I found that the increased presence of God in all aspects of my everyday life supported my daily decisions to trust God with important matters and challenges, turning my worries into faith and my anxieties into peace.

Thus far, my journey of faith has been a humbling experience.  The more I read, hear and learn by attending worship each Sunday, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn and experience.  I have come to realize that stewarding one’s spirituality is a lifelong commitment.

Finally, as someone who studied sociology, I was also interested to read recently about the psychosocial benefits of spirituality – the hopeful attitudes of people of faith and the support/fellowship that one finds in the community of church worship – both contributors to a person’s well-being.  Of course, the true benefits of Christian spirituality are that we find meaning in our life and experience the Spirit in a way that will help to enable us to live out God’s purpose for our life.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Barbara Hennessy

Chair, Stewardship Group