Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Everyday God

I think it is natural for us to call on God in the highs and the lows of life. We celebrate him at our happiest moments, after successes or triumphs in life. We also call on him when we are feeling lost and/or afraid. Indeed, many people first develop their faiths at times like this- when God is needed in the picture- after a death or disappointment or during some life trial. During these peaks I know I find myself praying more often- I felt very intimately close to God during the deaths and major breakups I have experienced. I also have felt close to him during the peaks of joy in my life- those times where I am witnessing beauty or love in action- those times that make you want to sing or shout or say hallelujah!

Recently I’ve been asking myself however about faith in every day. How do we connect with God on the unremarkable days? When the emotional fuel isn’t there for us to call out to him in some sort of exclamation? And how can we turn the normal days into those where our relationship with God flourishes? I remember thinking the other day- my days are so busy, how am I supposed to fit God in?

I have heard the following declared of Buddhism- “Buddhism is not a religion it is a way of life.” I could spend a lot of time comparing and contrasting Buddhism and Christianity, and why in recent decades the two traditions have melded for many Western believers (see this link if you are interested in reading more about this ). The point of bringing it up however is more to reflect on what it is to have a faith as a ‘lifestyle’. In the Webster dictionary, lifestyle is defined as:

“A way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group”

Christianity for me has historically not been a lifestyle. I went to church and confirmation, but otherwise I would just keep on living my life my way. I didn’t know what it really meant to have God in your everyday life or to live out your faith. God came up in prayer, on holidays and in church, and that was it. It took me going to St. Olaf to really learn what it was having God being a part of your daily life- he was with me in the chapel, in discussions with my friends, in class, in the music, in the wind chimes, in the trees, even abroad.

For modern day Christians who also struggle to resolve their faith being a part of their regular daily life- I believe WWJD movement was a brilliant solution. Too bad the bracelets became cliché and now are a thing of the hippies J.  However the concept is great: have something on your person, reminding every day to live your life in a way that reflects your values, faith and the bigger picture. What would Jesus do if he were me and were here right now? That is a profound question, as I think it recognizes the human/divine relationship brewing within all of us. And ultimately- I think recognizing “who Jesus was” is to turn outward and have compassion and affinity for those around us- family, friends and strangers alike. Ultimately, I see the “What Would Jesus Do?” drive as a reminder of simply doing good. Another way to say this is having your “Faith in Action”.

Another angle of having God being a part of daily life I believe has to do with prayer. Prayer is our communication portal with God- it turns faith from a conversation with ourselves in our heads to a conversation with God. My pastor a couple months ago did a lecture on prayer for our church’s small group. One of the things he said that struck me was- “I would much rather you prayed 4-5 times a day for a minute than 5 minutes at the end of the day.” This struck me as a very different experience of faith, because instead of communicating with God at the beginning or end of your day in a time of silent reflection, you rather would be sharing with him throughout the busy-ness of the day.

I will say in this regard we Christians may have something to learn from Muslims, whose culture revolves around setting aside 5 times during the day for prayer. The call to prayer in a Muslim city is a beautiful and eerie sound- I wrote an essay about it once titled “Turkish Dawn” if anyone is interested in it. The noise and the dust swirling reverberates in you and seems to whisper ‘God is here! God is around us! Remember him!” Again, a deeper discussion would be needed looking at whether five 10-15 minute prayer sessions a day is really necessary/ideal for faith (I don’t know the answer to this), but again- this practice really does bring God into the everyday life.

So far, this leaves me with two possibilities for bringing God into the everyday and regular. One: regularly considering my faith and letting it seep into my every day actions and decisions (simply put WWJD). Two: pray and meditate in multiple spurts throughout the day. Take prayer out of the bedroom, and have it be a part of my everyday life.

I think there is one more method worth mentioning of having an everyday relationship with God. And that is the act of celebrating. Another way to put this is to practice finding joy in life, or rejoicing in your circumstances. Try this: any time a complaint touches your lips or filters into your mind- stop. Breathe. And then consider “How can I rejoice in this situation?” Here is another method my dad recently recommended to me in practicing joy- stretch your hands above your head and look up for AT LEAST 30 seconds. Honestly every time I do this I can’t help smiling at the end, despite my best efforts.

 I know several people in my life who are exemplars of really finding joy in life and embracing what comes at you. My father, Jim Running, Lydia Pfotenhauer and Nate Bloomenshine are a few that come to mind. These are the type of people who regularly say “This is great! Isn’t this great?!” or even when they are disappointed are able to see a glimmer of good in the circumstances or what is to come. And from appearances at least, these people are really those who I would point to as examples of those who are living out their faith daily- as they have made it a habit to celebrate living and God.

I think there are many ways to celebrate life every day; whether through artistic expression, singing in the car, hugging someone, just even smiling or looking someone in the eyes or doing something ridiculous like yelling wohoo! out loud. And by celebrating our circumstances and life, we are directly celebrating God and what he has given us. It is part of why one of my new year’s resolutions is just going for a walk once a month, and reveling in the world God has created and its beauty. We show love to him by rejoicing in our day, circumstances, others and surroundings.

Ultimately for me, the point of having an everyday God relationship is to make my faith authentic and real. As much as I love talking about faith and going to church, it would feel hypocritical to me if that was the majority of my faith. I want my faith rather to be a lifestyle- a way of walking more than a way of talking. And although the starbursts of faith in the highs and lows of life are important (and sometimes life changing)- I want to develop the habit and muscle of having my spirituality be a genuine part of who I am and what I do every day.
And I imagine having God in your everyday doesn’t have to be a lot of work, or effort, it doesn’t have to be a huge sacrifice of time or energy. Rather it is just simply including him day to day by doing good, praying and rejoicing. This everyday relationship will take practice, and as with all habits a mental muscle will need to be built. But in the end I believe this type of faith really would lead to a very different type of life- and faith that is really a lifestyle.


  1. Awesome Kelsie! I should really read more of these. Your thoughts are super sweet and well articulated.

  2. Sometimes it's a bit cliche citing Webster's definition of something but this one is so spot on I love it. I really want my life to reflect the attitudes and values of Jesus: something so easy to say but so hard to practice. I guess that's where living with God every moment and praying all day long come into play. Great post, Kelsie.

  3. Spiritual disciplines are ways to practise and acknowledge the presence of God in your every day life. Churches and small groups help so much in this regard ... we can't do it alone! God speaks through the significant others in our lives, those who seek to live a life of faith themselves and who are transparent enough to reveal their own struggles rather than a shiny veneer.
    I have found that regular Bible study is essential in this regard. Staying in God's word and studying it will reveal endless insights and spiritual nourishment as well.
    Desiring God every day means opening oneself to the still small voice that speaks beneath the clamor and glitter of the every day culture and world. To some, even to admit that every day you desire God, would seem strange and off-putting. However, the gift of faith has been given to you; this desire to know and love God with all your heart and mind and soul. This is a priceless pearl, greater than all gifts. It is not a gift of self accomplishment but of grace. So press on Kelsie, stay on the path that is being revealed to you in your searching. Christianity calls us to a lifestyle, but it is not coerced with a religious template as it is in some faiths. Rather it is a lifestyle we freely choose because of our desire to know and love God as fully as we can in this life.

  4. It is the idea of "praying without ceasing" that I find the most helpful . . .I try to take the "voice inside my head" which is telling me "okay, mail that letter, get the girls hair brushed, call your mom, drop Sky at school" and give it to God--it is a slight twist, taking your inner thoughts and inner voice and turning it into a prayer, so that you are talking to God instead of just yourself, so that you are questioning Him in your heart and mind as you go about the everyday details of life . . .you are reaching out, including God in your thoughts and that way he becomes part of your activities. "Dear Lord, thank you for helping me to get Sky to school on time, and may this letter bring peace and joy to my friend who needs both right now. Help me have patience in getting the girls ready today, and be with my mom, I hope she is having a great time in FL and I can't wait to hear how it is going." It required practice and it does not by any means happen all of the time, but I find when I concentrate on the ideal of "praying without ceasing" I live a far more meaningful life and feel far more connected to God!

  5. Thanks for sharing Kels! I love reading what you write, you always have a unique and inspiring way about words. Also, this ties into to what we're discussing in my bible studies class about religion being a lifestyle and when you say you're a Christian, Muslim etc. you're declaring something very profound about your way of living, your morals, and your perception of the meaning of life. I really appreciate how your post brings the lifestyle into action. There is an obvious difference between declaring what you believe in versus consciously living in it and acting through it. And Id forgotten about the 30 second stretches! I do enjoy those. Additionally, we've been reading excerpts of several ways of interpreting various Bibles, one of the lighter reads being "The Year of Living Biblically." Its a silly book which gives a different and entertaining perspective on making your faith and Bible into a very literal instruction for living and acting. Maybe you've heard of it. Just thought it was funny :)