What's the point of God when you're not sure you believe?

I’m not sure what to make of Jesus. Or the Bible, or Christianity in general, much of the time. And that’s ok. Yet, here I find myself, in this mostly Christian culture, in a country that still usually means the God of Christianity when it uses the word God.

And we are deeply divided in this country on what is even going on with Christianity. To many, it means love and trustworthiness. And to many others it means the exact opposite -- it means judgementalism and hypocrisy and, seriously, something to be avoided at all costs.

Even many Christians are wary of what someone means when they say they are a Christian.

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How to Admit Defeat: Letting Go of the Search for the Perfect Spiritual Practice

It’s all too easy to think that in order to have a spiritual practice, the FIRST thing we need to do, is go online and buy a meditation cushion. Then we need to set up an altar, preferably with crystals, and little objects that are special to us, or holy images. Then get a prayer bracelet, or learn some new prayers, or start chanting. You’ve gotta have the right incense and a clean and quiet house and the right amount of time.

But none of this is true.

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How to Feel Better When You Want to Die

Depression is characterized by hopelessness and low energy. Depression is the low-low-low energy that makes it feel like I should just sleep forever and then maybe just cease to exist. And people in our lives don't know what to do with it, so they give us advice that often sounds more like judgement. 

You need to exercise! You need to cheer up! And it's like, no sh*t. Don't you think I know that? I would if I could. Dang.

The problem is that this advice comes almost exclusively from people who have never been truly depressed. They have felt sad, circumstance-induced, appropriate sadness. They have not felt the terror at seeing that nothing is "wrong" and yet still you feel like dying. But I have experience with this. So, one depressed person to another, here's what I did to help myself come up out of depression. 

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You don’t owe it to the world to be delighted all the time.

Thanksgiving is here. Some of you may be feeling so grateful for all you have, looking forward to the turkey, the family visiting, the stuffing. You may be delighted that Thanksgiving is starting off a whole holiday season, full of parties to go to and presents to wrap and unwrap. Others of you may be, well, not so much. This article is for you.

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How to Do To-Do Lists Better

For a few months, I have been “pushing through” my to-do list. But that posture is failing me, lately. And what I find is something interesting underneath: Self-acceptance.

I used to make these long to-do lists. When my best friend moved in with me at one point, she had this raggedy notebook she carried around with her from room to room. When I asked her what it was, she answered, My to-do list. 

Her to-do list was not a page in a spiral notebook, mind you. It was the whole notebook.

It stressed me out just looking at it.

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How to Really Love: An Interview with John Pavlovitz

From John Pavlovitz: "The heart of the bigger table for me, it’s not built on doctrine. It’s built on these four non-negotiables, these four table legs - hospitality, authenticity, diversity, and agenda-free relationships. And that’s the one that most people who grew up in a strong evangelical background have trouble with because the goal was always a relationship to save you or to get you to Jesus.

For me, the table is about being story learners and listening to stories. So there is no expectation that you’re going to convert someone. You just share life with them.

So when people don’t read the book because I’m a pastor or because I’m a Christian, that’s not what this is about. What this is about is when people met Jesus, they left with their dignity intact. If we can’t do that, it’s not about what our doctrine or our theology is. So that’s what the table is to me: You are received as you are."

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4 Exciting Spiritual Writers Daring Us to Love Better

The most exciting spiritual teachers writing today are reclaiming religious traditions from legalism in favor of a love that can reconnect us with ourselves and with the world around us. It's no surprise that in a society as deeply divided as our current American landscape, spiritual teachers who argue the case for an unruly divine love over self-righteous dogma are met with cautious optimism, great relief and outcries of criticism and heresy. Here are four of the most exciting writers considering spiritual teachings today.

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Good News: God Doesn’t Care - Success, Failure, and Unconditional Love

First, the fear.

I’ve been struggling with a project lately, really TRYING to “make it work.” But I’ve been slogged down, not exactly unmotivated, but afraid of failure and equally afraid of success. Paralyzed with fear. When I feel like this, I look to God, to my Higher Power, to my own internal guide. Whatever we call it, it's there, ready to help.

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Look for the Good in the Midst of the Bad

I went to church a couple weeks ago for the first time since the spring and found I couldn’t stop crying. My husband wasn't even with me, so it was just me, crying in the pew by myself, trying to make sure my mascara didn't run. Weird times.

Something about church, and prayer, just showing up, ready and willing, listening for whatever, can bring things to the surface - stuff I didn’t even know was there, don't even know what it is.

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Meeting God in the Disaster of My Life

When I was 31, I needed to stop drinking. I really, really, really needed to stop drinking.

I was blacking out four times a week. I smelled bad. I had given up on luxuries like sheets or box springs. Instead, I slept wrapped in a blanket on a sweaty, bare mattress like I lived in a flop house.

Only it wasn't a flop house, or at least it didn't look like one on the outside. I lived in a beautiful vintage apartment in Chicago, with dark wood around the windows that looked out on treetops. And I was cute! I was in art school, one of the best graduate schools in the country! I was fancy.

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Michelle Tea: Punk, Parenting, and God

Michelle Tea is a dynamo rockstar who you are either totally amazed by or have never heard of.

She was an early DIY riot-grrl, so it’s not surprising that her approach to God, the Divine, and her spiritual life, has been pretty DIY, too.

Recently, I got the chance to talk to Michelle about her spiritual journey. Here’s what she had to say:

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The Hazards of Talking to Anyone, about Anything

On Monday afternoon, I found myself sitting in my car on the side of the road in Nashville, crying, and wishing I could just spend a few relaxing days in a mental institution. I imagined the green walls soothing me. Someone else picking the tv shows. Me in a chair, not expected to talk. Just eating canned corn and apple sauce and taking a little dixie cup of pills then lying down for a nice long nap.

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Disappointing Ourselves and Coming Back to Center

We disappoint ourselves in two ways. One is the usual small disappointments - failing to follow a new food plan, or a workout schedule. We don’t work hard enough, or we work too much. In these small disappointments we’re basically refusing to accept our own humanity. We want to be perfect and we’re disappointed when we fall short.

But there is another disappointment, when we make truly shocking mistakes born of not knowing ourselves, when we find ourselves to be a surprise, a mystery to ourselves. A bad mystery. And we are scared then, wondering who is doing these things? Is this who I am?

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What to do when you fall through a spiritual hole: Back to basics

Earlier this week, I fell through a spiritual hole, and found myself emptying the bathroom garbage, thinking, Maybe I won’t go out with my husband tonight, and instead I’ll just stay home and research ways to kill myself.

The bottom had dropped out for me. Maybe you, like me, find yourself falling through a hole sometimes and wonder how exactly do I get out?

Before you start emailing me the suicide hotline number, I need to tell you, this is something I’ve dealt with for a long time – these feelings are familiar to people who have experienced developmental trauma, or the trauma of experiencing addiction. I’m grateful that I’ve learned a lot of strategies to intervene and to help myself reconnect, with God, with people who love me, and with myself.

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I think I owe you an apology

I heard from a reader who took issue (in a very kind way) with the tone of my writing – she said, basically, that I write as if I have something and you, the reader, have nothing. That I’m going to offer my something to you, and that I’m going to help you. She asked me some really clear questions, from a place of immense generosity, and she also specifically took issue with the idea that I was going to help.

So, I need to apologize.

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Perfectly Imperfect: Good Enough for God

I’ve felt out on a limb lately. For months now. And it feels good sometimes – exhilarating, but then it feels crushing at other times. You know, for some of us, it feels crushing just to be seen. 

I make this mistake and I think I need to get myself together before I can be seen. I need to lose weight, I need to be younger, I need to be smarter, and better read, and have better taste. Really, I just need to BE BETTER.

This feeling that it’s unsafe to show up in the world as I am is a clue that I’m feeling unpresentable before God, too.

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