You’ve seen them. Maybe you’ve even been them.
They are who I call the “SUPERsaved.” They spiritualize everything. And when I say everything… I mean, errr-thang.
It rained today? “God sent the rain to stop my husband from speeding.” (No, He didn’t.)
That extra five dollars the cashier accidentally gave in change? “The Lord knew my need.” (Lies you tell. Give it back.)
A former pastor of mine used to say “some of y’all are so spiritually minded you are no earthly good.” And it’s true. Even Facebook and Twitter posts are evidence. Instead of getting on the phone to their congressman or senator, the super-saved will post something all witty-ish like, “Unlike the government, God never shuts down.” And no, He doesn’t. But really?
And yet, on the other other hand, I totally get it.
No judgment (and only a smidge of snark) here. I mean, what’s the point of having faith and believing in someone greater, higher, and stronger; someone who is a redeemer, if we can’t apply that faith to the everyday circumstances of our lives, right? (But you still don’t get a pass for that five dollars. Give it back.) In fact, nowadays, we all need to encourage ourselves. We all need to remind ourselves that God is. Period. This is especially important when the not-so-great effects of life and living come knocking at our front door.
Confession: There have been many times when something I’ve written on social media or on my blog was less about offering some insightful thought or perspective to readers and really more about helping me “get through” my own pains and issues; a way for me to manage my feelings about the foolishness (Yes, I’m looking at you, Washington) happening around me.
So yeah, I get it when some of us manifest our faith in this way. But I wonder…
Are the words and even prayers we say, really only that…words?
Do we really believe that God never “shuts down?” Do I really believe that God bottles our tears and uses them to refresh and restore us? Or does it just sound good in the moment?
“How often have I rattled on with God and said nothing at all? Relying on cliches, throwaway phrases, and high language I’d never use in everyday conversation. I took prayer for granted and lost sight of the wondrous opportunity to draw close to God.” — Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck
I’ve been teaching my daughter to pray for the last year or so. We say the standard “God is great, God is good…” before eating and our own remix of “Now I lay me down to sleep…” before she goes to bed. I do this because I believe in the power of prayer and I want her to get in the habit of seeking God. But if I’m honest, many times the prayers feel rote. Just rehearsed lines said out of habit instead of the heart. And maybe at her age, that’s okay. She’s learning the significance of things via routine and repetition.
But how do I explain my own words and prayers having this same kind of thoughtless feel to them? Truth be told, there are so many times when I’m not even thinking about what I’m saying when I pray or when I write something about my faith. Or worse, I’m thinking too much about WHAT I’m saying; trying to find the right words instead of allowing my heart to speak freely.
Oh the risk we take when this happens!
Doing this traps us in a life-long Sunday School recital where we memorize all the right words for our momentary “performances” but afterward, we immediately forget the details. Nothing ever penetrates our hearts and therefore, nothing really helps us or those with whom we are sharing. We become drones and robots of the Faith; useless and inauthentic.
Lord knows I smile just as big and cheesy when I hear my daughter say her grace or put her hands together for prayer before we go night-night. But I think it’s just as important that when someone at school hurts her feelings, she knows she can go inside herself and pray about that too. Or when she gets frustrated because she cannot tie her shoe, she knows she can pray for peace and guidance. Or even when she makes an “A” or the winning basket for her team, she knows she can rejoice with words and prayers that have meaning.
And yes, in the event that when she gets older, the government shuts down, she won’t just post “God never shuts down” because it’s cute or witty or helps her deal with what’s happening in the moment. She’ll believe those words to be true in every moment to come.
Tracey Michae'l is a writer and educator based out of the Philadelphia area. She is a wife to William and a mother to a beautiful two-year old little girl. You can find her on the web at www.traceymlewis.com.