Faith in Nature
I have been attending church for about two years now and it has without a doubt changed me. We baby-stepped our way into going to church, often prioritizing almost anything over going to a service on Sunday. There were many weekends that I would claim “going into nature is my way of honoring God” as an excuse to be skiing or camping or just playing. Fast forward to now, when we went camping four hours away and were both excited to try out a branch of our church before our Sunday activities. Not surprisingly it was incredibly welcoming, warm and a great experience! Over the past two years we have started attending regularly and started digging in deeper to the community the church has to offer. At first it was an attempt to gain some stability in our decision to stay in Utah. I knew if we were going to successfully stay we would need a good group of friends and a more solid connection to our community instead of running in any direction the wild would take us every weekend.
I started by joining the MOPS group to connect to other moms with small children, and at first the childcare was the biggest benefit. I was uncomfortable talking to adults already at this point, only two years into being a stay at home mom and I was terrified to say almost anything at our weekly meetings. I stayed in that place of non-participation for a while just sitting and sipping coffee without RM crawling all over me, and that was enough. When it was time to sign up for the next semester I almost passed on the opportunity, luckily I let Jeff talk me into going one more time. That semester my table completely changed and I was slightly more comfortable with the idea of being there. I was always greeted with warm smiles and people that I could tell genuinely wanted and appreciated my input in our weekly discussions. They were loving women from all sorts of backgrounds and it was lively conversation between people with different points of view. I was officially hooked. The next semester I eagerly signed up and am now part of the leadership team in an effort to make all mothers feel as welcome and at ease as possible every week.
From there I was led into a bible study, and women's retreats, and the idea of small groups. Our church heavily believes in the power of community within small groups that meet weekly, and I never understood why until we started attending one. Attending a small group somehow quickly evolved into us hosting a group of amazing families at our house every week. It is absolutely a highlight for us every week, and we really miss the connection if we cannot attend for some reason. We have been hosting this small group for about six months now and our lives across the board are more richly blessed. We have moved from the nerves of hosting something so far out of our comfort zone, to playdates and mom and dad nights out with these friends. We are all learning so much from each other and our eyes have been open again to new perspectives and more understanding of the Gospel.
Having the opportunity to not only hear the sermons every week, but also discuss how that plays into our lives and affects how we parent our children, show up in our marriage and live our everyday lives has been a huge adjustment for our family. It is like we are starting to emerge from a fog that we thought was having tiny children, but now I am believing was a lack of Christ in our lives. He has never left our sides, and our lives are richly blessed, but now I am starting to appreciate all of the little things he has done for me and ways he has led me and it has become impossible not to see his glory. Now that I am recognizing it, I am thirsty for more knowledge. My next step is to read through the entire New Testament so I can grow in my understanding.
I am now seeing why I love nature so much. I view it as one of the most grand gifts God has given us, a visual reminder of his glory. I do not deny that spending time enjoying that gift is indeed a way to honor His gift, but I see the bigger gifts now. Looking at nature and thinking that alone is enough to gain a true relationship and understanding of God is short sighted at best. Nature, especially on a grand scale, is God’s version of Instagram, it is a highlight reel of pure beauty designed to shock and awe. Absolutely it is something to be admired, but it is not to be confused with God’s word and a relationship with our creator. There is so much more to Him than a mountain scene, much like there is more to your favorite Insta-celebrity than their color-coordinated, perfectly planned feed.
I am just beginning to understand the power of His grace and being saved by His son. The depth of the sacrifice that happened on my behalf is beyond comprehension. I need to be surrounded by others that can teach, inspire and grow with me and I aspire to build a community that shares a love for both Christ and Mother Nature. I have found myself feeling a fear of articulating my beliefs with my outdoor lovers for fear that they will think less of me. I read this yesterday, and I could not be more grateful for the timing.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human being, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” - Galatians 1:10
As a natural people pleaser, that was a gut punch. I needed the reminder that the only reason I am able to enjoy all of this beauty is because of Christs sacrifice for me, and who am I to deny His glory for fear of status?
I feel like my two loves have been standing in opposition to each other, and it has caused a lot of tension internally. Then I had the lightbulb recognition that there is no way I am the only nature lover out there that is also a believer. I had to laugh because I do know a few people already in my outdoor world that are also believers and I was given hope. I sought to find a community built around both of these things living in harmony, but since I am not the best Goggle-searcher around, I could not find it. Hence this creation, this blog that you are reading right this minute. I am determined to find the community I am searching for, and I know that through sharing my experience with you, that will happen.