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 http://buddhist-christian.org/ ). 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”
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.
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 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.