Welcome to the first Pause in Lent, 2014! I was grateful for the reminder about this annual event, as I've not had much time for blogging recently, but it's really good to be joining with you all to take the time to think during Lent. Please use the list in my sidebar to visit the other Pause in Lent bloggers, and to find out what others are doing.
As I said in my first Advent post last year, I had the most unexpected of setbacks last year - a quite significant loss of faith. I think it went beyond doubting, and into atheism, for a while. Your comments and your own posts which were sparked by that 'confession' were really helpful and interesting, and I hope I can spend Lent thinking about why I have held on to faith rather than rejecting it, at that point when it seemed unlikely that there was any reason to remain faithful to my previously heartfelt Christian beliefs.
I've listed the things that made me hold on to faith, and here is the first one: other people.
I asked myself, when I was identifying most with atheist/agnostic friends and writers, if I actually wanted to be like them. Who are my role models, I suppose...
I like my atheist/agnostic friends - they are super people! But oddly enough, my role models were all committed Christians. Interesting, I thought to myself. They have something more, something that I really want.
The first person I realised I want to be like is someone that most of you know. She's going to get embarassed but the rest of you won't be surprised. An important role model for me is Ang
. She's real, she's believable, she's larger than life despite being tiny, and her vibrant faith makes her 'go the extra mile' for an awful lot of people. The combination of faith in action and believable humanity is very compelling. I realised I would be happy indeed to be like her.
After that I thought of a few other people I actually want to resemble. There's my mum, whose pared-down faith seemed a bit simplistic and lacking in theology to me when I was an opinionated young adult. Yet her faith was real, humble and sustaining through her prolonged final illness, and at her memorial service I met so many people who wanted to tell me about how she had quietly helped them through difficult times in their own lives. She kept her faith in God's love and strength when others might have felt abandoned. It wasn't a crutch, it was power.
Finally, there are two of the most cheerfully embarassing people I've ever known, now no longer with us. Ken and Lorna were a couple in their early seventies when Ben and I knew them - we were in our early twenties. Ken would look tearfully at Lorna and say to me, 'I love her more every day, even after all these years'. Embarrasing indeed, but incredibly admirable, too. Ken and Lorna never lost their enthusiasm for each other or for Jesus. After decades of rather conventional Christianity, they experienced a kind of renewal and just couldn't stop praising God and talking to other people about him. Well, it was embarassing but it was genuine and it was passionate and enthusiastic. What a great way to be when most people would be slowing down!
So, I thought - it's not time to throw Baby Jesus out with the bathwater just yet. You still think that the most impressive people you've ever met are those inspired by their love for Him.
Blogging is full of movement and change, and one great blogger who's been a popular part of many of our festive Pauses in Advent has just said 'Goodbye' to blogging. Vintage Vicki
has decided that it's time to move on to other things, and if you haven't yet read her goodbye post then do pop over and I know that you'll understand her reasons. I'll miss her blog, but am awfully grateful that I'll be able to keep in touch with her in other ways.