Struggling

I’ve been struggling with how to start this blog. Since my sudden burst of active Bible study a couple weeks ago — after a long, depressing rebellion of doing little more than showing up at church and asking God to forgive my tendency to swear in my head — I have been steamrolled by amazing, earth- and tradition-shattering thoughts and insights. The Holy Spirit is moving around the furniture in my mind; dusting away the cobwebs, redecorating, and airing out the rugs.

This has been a month of revelations, y’all.

And I’ve had NO ONE to talk to about them. (Until my husband came home from a long trip last week, that is. Even then, I was afraid to bring it up right away, for fear of his reaction.)

I’ve sat in front of this blank screen, trying to figure out how to even BEGIN to reconstruct verbally everything that I’ve learned that has turned the theology I grew up with completely, utterly, irrevocably inside-out. Because I needed to tell SOMEONE. I needed a place to parse these thoughts; get them out in the open so I don’t go crazy keeping them to myself. As my husband so wisely pointed out after I gathered the courage to talk to him: Whether or not I’m right, the conversation needs to be had.

You see, I’ve been a member of the Church of Christ all of my life. It’s where I’m most comfortable, because I so easily subscribed to all the theology preached at me since birth. Most of it made sense . . . until, suddenly, it didn’t.

It didn’t start out like a revelation, though. Some things began to chafe as I grew older. Some things didn’t make as much sense when brought to light and faced with logic (which God also gives us, and, indeed, supports faith because we are reasoned beings), but what could I do about them? I have my dad’s ear most of the time, him being an elder at the church we attend, but my complaints ran counter to his (and my mom’s) beliefs. It was heartbreaking that he could no longer be my [earthly] spiritual mentor or guide.

It truly was that heartbreak that prompted my immediate, frantic, desperate search for Big-T Truth, in hopes that I could finally have a clear explanation for my recent spiritual malaise and disappointment over the beliefs I grew up with.

My search began with instrumental music in worship. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer an a capella service over an instrumental service; I always have. I have just never been happy with the explanations given for why we insist on it, even to the point of believing instruments are sinful.

It led me to this post (scroll down past the broken picture link) by Patrick Mead, a Church of Christ preacher. (He has since taken down that blog, and I haven’t yet found an archive, so I am forced to use Google cache. The blog post linked above is the second in a series, but the first one I read. Here are One, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, and Eleven. They are worth the time it takes to read them.) [UPDATE: Those links are to cached sites that are no longer available. His blog has moved so many times, mainly because of servers he’s used, that it can be hard to track him down. Sadly, those posts aren’t available anywhere anymore, BUT! you can read his more recent available writings at patrickmead.net.]

Long story short, my mind was blown. Blown.

My study might have been prompted by the Church of Christ’s reasoning for instrumental music and the so-called “pattern” of worship that somehow makes us acceptable to God and makes or breaks our salvation (I won’t get started on that now; it’s a topic for another time), but I had more or less firmly held beliefs on the subject of women’s roles in the church — that is, I had talked myself into settling on what I’d been told. I had nothing to fall back on, I “knew my theology” on the subject, and knew I wasn’t ready to pursue any kind of changes because of my inability to be comfortable with the idea of a woman communion plate-passer, let alone a preacher or song leader. Even if I didn’t agree with Paul, because of our culture, I had to agree with the practice. I just didn’t have a better answer. I guess it was just what God wanted.

Or DID he??

After reading Patrick Mead’s posts, my eyes were opened to Junia; Phoebe; Prisca (whom I knew about, but had always been led to believe was secondary to Aquila, despite the name order in the epistles); the countless women who basically ran the home churches in the first century, because they ran the homes; Philip’s four unmarried daughters who prophesied; the fact that when Paul talked about head coverings, he basically condoned women praying and prophesying in the assembly (how did I miss that??); the “elect lady” and her “elect sister” in 2 John (whom I’d always been led to believe was code for a church congregation); the use of “anyONE” not “any MAN” at the beginning of the descriptions of elders and deacons; the honest, researched truth behind the cultural significance of the verses the church uses to keep women out of leadership; and on and on.

Most importantly, Galations 3:28 was brought to my full attention. I cannot say but that the Holy Spirit revealed the true meaning of that verse to me, and what it is really telling us when applied to the “fulness of scripture”. The way I suppose I’ve always read it has been,

“There is neither Jew nor Greek [racial equality], there is neither slave nor free [social equality], there is no male and female [gender equality, except where leadership and certain spiritual gifts are concerned], for you are all one in Christ Jesus [at least, your salvation is — as long as you “do church” right].”

But, really, it’s been this all along:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free — but male and female roles are subject to change based on context, for you are mostly one in Christ Jesus, as long as women don’t try to teach baptized male believers or go anywhere near the pulpit on a Sunday morning. But don’t worry! You can be baptized and saved just like men!”

It is not very easy to envision the culture of the first century church, especially if you’re not much of a history buff. I thought I knew about first century culture, but I did not! It IS easy to sit at this end of history and judge the culture, looking through the lens of our own culture, and make decisions based on that — which is what has been done with the favored verses the churches have been using for centuries to keep women out of whole-church leadership. However, I did some research (which didn’t take long!), and learned enough to turn my view on those scriptures completely around.

I also discovered, thanks to Patrick Mead, that the movement to equalize gender roles in the church has been A Thing for quite some time! I had no idea!! I listened to the sermons from “A Community Without Barriers”, the podcasts from “Half the Church”, read the mission statements at 1voice4change.com (and borrowed their logo), and it went on and on from there.

I bought a couple books from Amazon.com: “Ten Lies the Church Tells Women” and “What Paul Really Said About Women”, which I haven’t yet gotten around to reading, because I was reading what I’d checked out from our local library: “Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time” (EXCELLENT read! Very engaging and eye-opening!) and “The Lost Apostle: Searching for the Truth About Junia” (which I am still working on). I also want to get my hands on “Junia, the First Woman Apostle” and “I Suffer Not a Woman: Rethinking I Timothy 2:11-15 in Light of Ancient Evidence”. Right now, the prices aren’t right, so I’ll search for them elsewhere for a while. I’ve got plenty to keep me busy right now, especially with the research on instrumental music and the “pattern of worship”.

I also have stuff to work through — to get past. Long-held presuppositions and prejudices to wipe out. Resentment over lost opportunities to mollify. That niggling fear that I’ve got it wrong to pray unceasingly about. The bigger fear I need to face, of being a very small female person in my rather large church, and swimming against the current — and against my parents.

Let me tell you, that is the scariest fear of all. The only thing that steels me against it is the fact that I trust the Holy Spirit’s working in me, and I do not trust a works-based theology that keeps me in fear of my salvation. Their hearts were changed once, a long time ago. I think they can be changed again. But I also keep in mind Matthew 10:37:

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

This, of course, does not mean I will love my parents any less. I will just hold God higher — and challenge them because I love them and want them to see truth.

When I made this discovery initially, my heart did some flip-flopping, but mostly it sang for joy! I felt this intense freedom and empowerment (which was why it was so hard to not have anyone to talk to about it). Of course I questioned, but at some point I have to have faith that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the new-covenant law written on my heart and mind by God could not steer me wrong on this issue.

For now, though, with the exception of this blog and conversations with my Sweetie, I’m keeping quiet about it and devouring everything I can get my hands on. I have not been this On Fire for the Gospel since . . . Well, since studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses a couple years ago, and the Mormons several years before that.

It’s liberating! I still believe the Church of Christ is my favorite denomination, if I were forced to choose, but I don’t feel enslaved to a works-based theology anymore that is in addition to believing, being baptized, and remaining penitent and faithful. I feel more at peace with the good parts, and strengthened to speak out against the wrong parts. But with love. And tact. Because I love these people, and, really, that’s what it’s all about.

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23 Comments

Filed under Research and Education, Women's Roles in the Church

23 responses to “Struggling

  1. I have found that (modern) Protestantism’s “allergy” to the Virgin Mary leads many Protestants to wander, to feel lost, to always “look” for a differing co-Protestant model that at first seems to fill the gap that a Mary-less paradigm provides. Unfortunately, many simply choose another one of those Mary-less paradigms, feel “enlightened” (because it’s “new”), yet in a short time find themselves in just another Protestant denomination that is equally allergic.

    You mentioned women in your post, but you did not mention The Woman. I understand that the subject of Mary is tough for non-Catholics (I too grew up in the churches of Christ!), but she is the mother of all Christians and she always directs Christians towards Jesus. I think you would benefit greatly by adding some books to your new reading list that are about Mary (and that are written by Catholics, not Protestants, of course)! I’m happy to help you with a list!

    Peace to you and your family,
    Pat

    • Thank you for your fascinating perspective!

      I must respectfully disagree with your stance, however. I hesitate to elevate Jesus’ mother to such levels of divinity, because there is never mention of her role past the first chapter of Acts. Indeed, Jesus denied her as more important than any one of this followers in Matthew 12 (vs 46-50). And she had many children after Jesus, nullifying her “virgin” status. There is no theology relevant to the first century churches that required God to turn her back into a virgin for our sakes. In fact, I’d contend that Paul warned against very similar Gnostic teachings that were confusing early Christians and drawing them away from Christ (thus the need for 1 Tim 2:11-15).

      We see a few other Marys mentioned in the Gospel accounts and in the epistles, but not one mention of Mary-the-mother-of-Jesus’ importance among them. In the Old Testament, we see many many prophecies of Jesus but nothing about how his mother would become as important as He. In fact, we see other women hailed by Paul as doing good work for the church, and none of the Marys mentioned are denoted as being so important.

      Mary is often elevated to mediator between humans and God in the Catholic religion, but I must treat this as a falsehood, as well, since Jesus is supposed to be our one mediator (1 Tim 2:5) with the Holy Spirit as translator/testifier (Rom 8:26). Christians are brought to Christ by Christ and through Christ, as in the verse in my header: John 14:6. Otherwise, wouldn’t Jesus have mentioned his mother, as well?

      The only person I pray to is God, in Jesus’ name. The importance of Jesus being born through a woman — not just manifested as an adult or through different divine means — gives credence to the “men and women are equal in nature” found in Genesis 1 and 1 Corinthians 11:12: Woman came from man, but man must be born of woman (not “THE Woman”, just “woman”), but all is from God, who transcends gender.

      So the main problem I have with the “protestant” Church of Christ is not that we do not elevate women (or any particular woman), but that we do not include them in practices that are given to us through equal footing with God.

      Thank you for reading! 🙂

      • Well, Catholicism does not “elevate Mary” to any “level of divinity”. Pretty much all you just wrote reveals that you do not understand Mary or what the Catholic Church teaches about her.

        This is why I suggested you learn about her! If you do learn about her and what the Church actually teaches, then you won’t rely on the myths that modern Protestantism circulates. So, please, realize that you don’t know what you’re talking about, and admit that there is a lot you could learn!

        Pax,
        Pat

      • deltasierra47

        Well, you got me there. I have very many Catholic friends, and my dad converted from Catholicism as an adult. So I must wonder, then, what this practice of praying to Mary is, if not elevating her to the level of Christ — or at least the Holy Spirit, which is the only thing Jesus told us we will have as an interpreter in our need.

        I say the following with all gentleness, and no anger or disdain: If the Catholic Church can give me any good reasons why I should…

        -Pray to the dead saints instead of to Jesus (when Paul refers to the saints as living members of the church)
        -Pray for Mary to pray for us, instead of the Holy Spirit (when the Bible says that Christ is our only mediator and the Holy Spirit is the comforter and interpreter)
        -Answer to an earthly priesthood and men who call themselves “father” (when the Bible says that all believers make up the priesthood and the only religious father we should have is God the Father — once again, no mediator other than Christ)
        -Believe that Church Tradition (aka “Catholic Law”) is as important to my faith and salvation as the teachings of Christ (who fulfilled the law and marked the beginning of a new covenant where we have a relationship, not a lawful obligation)

        I *might* consider Catholicism to be the “right” teaching. But since it offers a Gospel different from the one taught by Jesus, I consider its theology suspect, and must consider Catholicism the “myth” and “Protestantism” the attempt to return to Christ.

        But I think you and I read a different Bible, so it may never be possible to reach any equitable solutions.

      • Thanks for your “gentleness” but it is clear that you might “know” Catholics, you don’t know Catholicism; and it is clear that you don’t want to understand it.

        Yes, the saints are living! Do you not ask your living relatives to pray for you? Then why not ask the saints who are closest to Jesus to pray for you? There is nothing about Christians who pray to Mary that threatens your personal theology, and nothing about it that is against the Bible.

        Also, the Church does not teach a different “gospel” as you assert. Yes, it has teachings that are different than what you want to believe, but it is not a different gospel than what the Apostles taught.

        But I’ve also noticed that you refuse to ask my initial question! Why, pray tell, are you quick to mention other women of the Bible but not Mary?

      • deltasierra47

        Oh, I thought I did answer your question. I’ll quote my first reply:

        “[T]here is never mention of her role past the first chapter of Acts. Indeed, Jesus denied her as more important than any one of this followers in Matthew 12 (vs 46-50).”

        ” … We see a few other Marys mentioned in the Gospel accounts and in the epistles, but not one mention of Mary-the-mother-of-Jesus’ importance among them. In the Old Testament, we see many many prophecies of Jesus but nothing about how his mother would become as important as He. In fact, we see other women hailed by Paul as doing good work for the church, and none of the Marys mentioned are denoted as being so important.”

        ” … The importance of Jesus being born through a woman — not just manifested as an adult or through different divine means — gives credence to the “men and women are equal in nature” found in Genesis 1 and 1 Corinthians 11:12: Woman came from man, but man must be born of woman (not “THE Woman”, just “woman”), but all is from God, who transcends gender.

        “So the main problem I have with the “protestant” Church of Christ is not that we do not elevate women (or any particular woman), but that we do not include them in practices that are given to us through equal footing with God.”

        (And I’ll edit those last two words, because it isn’t right. It isn’t equal footing WITH God, but equal footing through our salvation.)

      • Also,
        If you actually mean what you wrote (that you “might consider Catholicism…”), then why are you so afraid to learn about it? Why won’t you take me up on my offer and allow me to give you a reading list? Why are you so unwilling to learn about a subject that you only pretend to understand?

        So, again… if you would like to read about the Mary I will give you a list of books that are written at the popular level that should help you.

        Pat

      • deltasierra47

        You can offer a reading list, I won’t mind. 🙂

        And you can clear up some of my misunderstanding if you wouldn’t mind answering this question, from the Catholic point of view: How do we obtain forgiveness and salvation from God, and then maintain it?

      • Well, it is clear that you are only playing games and refuse to answer my initial question.

        You should ask yourself why, really, you’re so afraid of thinking about questions and learning about how the Church has approached Christianity for 2000 years.

        But how does a Catholic obtain forgiveness and salvation from God, and maintain it? Through faith in Christ Jesus and remaining in the light as He is in the light. No secrets here, and no mind-reading of unwritten CofC theology. Just the truth as delivered to the saints.

      • deltasierra47

        You should have no trouble with my views, then, because I, too, believe in faith in Christ Jesus and living a penitent life of faith.

        To whom does one confess one’s sins in the Catholic Church? Why does a church need a Pope?

      • FIRST:

        I never said I have a problem with you, and the Church considers you a Christian; but not in full communion. In other words, you have shortened yourself. My initial comment shows that I was simply urging you to grow in your understanding, and a proper Mariology would help you with your “struggle”. You are the one who had a problem with me, accused me of idolatry, and misrepresented or libeled the Church.

        SECOND:

        We confess to Jesus. The priest acts in persona Christi. You can see this in John 20:23: “If you [(priests)] forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” In other words, the Catholic Church has not broken the “pattern”, and the CofC has 😉

        • Jesus was given all authority by the Father, note #1
        • was sent by the Father to offer forgiveness of sins, note #2
        • gave His authority to the Apostles, note #3
        • to forgive sins by the authority given to them. note #4

        (notes)
        #1. cf. Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-22; Catechism of the Catholic Church #553, 1444.
        #2. cf. Matthew 9:6; Mark 2:10; Luke 5:21; Catechism of the Catholic Church #1441.
        #3. cf. John 13:20; 17:18; 20:21; Catechism of the Catholic Church #852-62.
        #4. cf. John 20:23, Matthew 16:19; 2 Corinthians 2:10; Catechism of the Catholic Church #553, 730.

        THIRD:

        The Christian Church needs a pope because a prime minister under the King is the King’s intent. Consider all the Protestant sects that have turned into thousands of “true” “churches”. The lack of a pastor has led them to division; the pope is what unifies the people of God.

        That is the reason. Are you interested in knowing where the Bible supports this? (Keep in mind, the Petrine office existed before the biblical texts, so the texts would reflect, not mandate, the office. The Church pre-dates the Bible.)

      • Patrick, I find it very interesting that you would call her (as a Roman Catholic) ” Christian not in full communion “, because a true R. Catholic cannot say that with authority. Has the council of Trent been changed in such a way or tossed out so that ” anyone who claims to be saved by grace through faith must be anathema ” is no longer true? You can’t be a good R. Catholic and not follow all the rules from the Pope.

        In my experience, there are many levels of R. Catholics. There are liberal ones, high holiday ones, average ones, epic ones, and Irish ones, just to mention a few. When you boil them down, they’re exactly the same as the Pentecostals and Charismatics. It’s all works based, theology of glory. Trusting in something other than the Bible, over and beyond the Bible.

      • Charly,

        1) Trent addressed the Reformers. Why do I suspect you know only about one sentence from Trent…
        2) The CCC describes Protestants as Christians not if full communion, and I have not overstepped any boundary.
        3) Your telling me “You can’t be a good R. Catholic and not follow all the rules from the Pope [sic]” makes no sense; and I, again, have not overstepped any boundary.
        4) So what if you’ve known Catholics?
        5) Catholicism is not works based.
        6) The Bible teaches that Sacred Tradition (the Church’s teachings) is on the same level as what she wrote (Sacred Scripture); logic demands it as well. So, in other words, it is most “biblical” to regard the Church as authoritative, and your position is not biblical.
        7) Feel free to respond (not react), and I’ll give you more of the attention that you seem to crave.

      • If it truly (doubtful) only specifically addressed the reformers, I’m doomed 😉 Lutheran chick, here, bwahaha! If I am attention seeking after only 2 posts, I wonder what that makes you?

        I am convinced that regardless of your claims to logic, you are not able to use logic on it’s own terms. You make many assertions and though you quote many verses, I must wonder if you have ever read any of them in context. You are merely attempting to bludgeon her with your pet Mary statue. If you are really concerned for her soul, you might take a kinder route. Pray for her and let God do the heavy heart lifting. That is what the Word is for. It is clear from her original post that she is, indeed, in deep study of the Word. I do not agree with her fully (her original post) but I have been at that exact same piont in the journey and the Word brought me through it alright. The Holy Spirit works through the word of God. It is sharper than a double edged sword. Do you have so little faith in it to accomplish its purpose?

        She has been very kind and more than fair with you (she is much nicer than I). This would be a good point to show a little grace and drop it.

      • Charly,
        If you read my initial post, you will see that I was addressing her “struggle” and how a proper mariology could help. You, however, came to argue.

        Oh… and I’be been kind. I did not call her an idolater, and I have not mocked your “pet” religious tribe. Too bad you don’t honor Mary as your tribe’s founder honored her;)

        Your victim mentality is coming through loud and clear!

      • Ack! You wound me! I feel sooo . . . martyred! Lol!

        You started out fine, I did not say otherwise, but you are taking it too far. If she won’t say so, I will.

      • I give up. I was hoping that someone was able to have an intelligent conversation. All you’ve done is insult an act like a child, and your pal is unable to respond to a simple question. What a mess.

      • deltasierra47

        This conversation is probably over, because we could try to compare CofC to Catholic theology till we’re blue in the face, the cows come home, and all the clichés are used up, and we will never come to an equitable conclusion.

        My basis for not being a Catholic is certainly not that I am ignorant. A “good mariology” will not save me, nor will it “fix” what I am struggling with. I am not seeking to *leave* the church of Christ for another, more established religion. I’m gathering, Patrick, that you did not actually read my post at all — or my answers — because you are offering me the exact OPPOSITE of what I am trying to break free from. I am not upset that the Church of Christ deviated from any pattern — I’m upset that they think there is a pattern at all. And that deviating from THAT pattern means their soul could be lost!

        You’re probably not even reading anymore, and that’s okay. We must agree to disagree, because I will not be converting to Catholicism anytime soon. You didn’t accuse me of idolatry, but you did accuse me of libel for daring to disagree with your stance. We clearly cannot debate when one of us is going to be so sensitive.

        Thank you for the reading list! I’m sure they will be good resources for when I do research on why Catholics believe what they do. I do find it fascinating, but I don’t find it truthful. I’m sorry, but I am not so easily swayed in your direction.

      • Reading list:
        The World’s First Love – Sheen
        Hail Holy Queen – Hahn
        Mary Mother of the Son – three volumes – Shea

        From there, you can go to:
        Daughter Zion – Ratzinger
        Mary, the Church at the Source – Ratzinger and Balthasar
        Mary and the Fathers of the Church – Gambero

        Enjoy!

  2. Well written! It sounds to me like you have stumbled upon what Lutherans call “Law and Gospel”. (We have names for everything [I suppose that’s what happens when you’ve been around as a denomination for this long], I wonder if there’s a Lutheranese to English dictionary somewhere O_o) Law and Gospel was the biggest ah ha moment when we joined our Lutheran church. If you look for teachings on Law and Gospel, I’m sure they’d help you solidify what you’ve hit upon. It’s grace, and it’s um, AMAZING! (Har har, I know) I believe St. Augustine also preached a lot of Law and Gospel, though he didn’t call it that. Actually, it’s everywhere in the epistles when you learn how to recognise it. Blessings on your “quest”! The only thing that I would caution against is putting too much trust in your feelings rather than a clear word in the bible. Not that I think that’s what you’re doing, but with my Pentecostal background, I have learned the hard way just how detrimental to one’s faith that can be.

    I’m always praying for you, love you!

    • deltasierra47

      Thank you! 🙂 I really appreciate having a “real life” friend to talk about these things, too, especially since you came from a tumultuous church background that has spanned pretty much the entire spectrum, and you understand the “quest” aspect. 🙂

      Fortunately, the way I grew up won’t allow me to rely on my feelings too much. I have to test them against all the information. I used to think that if I’d had it to do over again, I’d be a Bible major instead of a music/science major, but now I’m kind of thinking that the scientific approach to information has actually helped this search. Having faulty data and a presupposed conclusion is what got my denomination where it is today. Pulling together even more faulty data based on the opposite view of the presupposed conclusion is just as bad. (The most glaring example of this being the instrumental/a capella debate. Those who debate that God didn’t say we couldn’t have instrumental music often presuppose that it means we NEED to have instrumental music, instead of just arguing on the premise that even though instruments might be “lawful”, they are not always “beneficial” (1 Cor 6:12) for everyone, and by my forcing a church to use them when others still believe they may be sinful (whether or not they’re right) is wrong, because I am not treating those people like I would like to be treated — the most important commandment Jesus gave us. Of course, reason can get us only so far in that debate — love must take over for unity to be possible.)

      It’s unfortunate that so many people think that because God gave us a moral “law written on [our] hearts” (Heb 8:10), we can just shut our brains off and let our feelings do the work. Paul’s writings were all about reason alongside truth — which is why I appreciate him so much. My morality can be a guide, but my brain is there to do the heavy lifting — even if, at some points, its job is to determine that faith is the only answer available. I rely on my “gut feeling” when I have to make that leap of faith — and I know grace is there to catch me. 🙂

      I expect a lot of our theology is similar, because the longing for that grace and comfort in Jesus is the same. This will be fun! 🙂

      • This is good to hear. It shivers me to my core whenever anyone speaks about the prompting of the Spirit or have received a “word from the Lord”, or anything resembling those two (among others). I know that’s a bit oversensitive of me, but those phrases are usually stemming from a warped christian-ish mysticism rather than a true understanding of the Bible. You have put my mind at ease. =)

      • deltasierra47

        LOL! My biggest danger, honestly, is *overthinking* things. I haven’t been able to trust my gut for years and years — mainly because our church pushes intellect over feelings — but understanding love, acceptance, and community is an emotional leap of faith for me. (Not *practicing*, but *understanding*. You know firsthand that it’s REALLY hard to get rid of me once I’ve decided I like you. 🙂 But it’s hard for me to understand how that works in the other direction, especially when I feel so selfish expecting it in return. Does that even make sense?)

        Oh, and I do have to add that I, too, have a skeptical reaction to people saying, “God told me this,” because, while I believe the Holy Spirit can help us find the right words, or be a guide, comforter, and interpreter, it’s very difficult for me to accept “direct messages from God”. I will often give the speaker the benefit of the doubt, but it does bother me, too.

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