Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Jesus Just Called My Cell: goTandem & a reflection on faith

I grew up in a really Catholic family.
My dad's Irish and my mom's Filipino.
It's like a sandwich of holy faith.

I was really disciplined about it growing up and loving God and my faith.
I went to CCD on Wednesdays at St. Mark's Catholic Church with some of my best-friends
and mass at St. Mary's on Sundays.
My mom would hold prayer services at our house and it's a Filipino tradition to pass a statue of Mary to different households so the Mother Mary can look over your home

However as I got older, I realized that maybe being Catholic wasn't for me.
I went through the entire process, even through Confirmation.  
I just strongly believe that I was meant to have a different spiritual journey and relationship with God.

So it began a journey of me trying to figure out what that meant.

College really opened up opportunities to explore my faith (and my political beliefs)

I went to Greek InterVarsity Conferences
Christian groups aimed toward the Greek community on college campuses
which were fun and I love the Madison chapter
but I did notice that although our program focused a lot on acceptance and exploring our faith,
other schools were far more critical and judgmental.
I remember one session talking about the sins of sex and here I was a sexual health educator at the University of Wisconsin
talk about awkward

I also went to the programs on our campus.
I loved certain ones for the worship (I love to sing) and then others for the deep connections I felt.

Back in Madison, I went to Blackhawk Church and I loved it!
The sermons were fun, interactive and worship had these mega screens.
Their choirs were bands and going to church was fun.

I had never seen anything like it.  I was used to opening song books and reading Bible verses along with priests.  This was way more modern and contemporary than I was used to.

I think what I like the most about it was that it focused more on cultivating your relationship with God more than anything else.  I hadn't really experienced that in the Catholic masses that I grew up with.  Don't get me wrong, there were several Catholic teachers and leaders that affected me profoundly.  Those were the people that taught me about growing in a relationship with God and I think that's so important.
Check out this article about Nuns On A Bus.
I always thought that Nuns were awesome folks.
I prefer a spiritual journey that focuses on acceptance and love, above all else.
I like having conversations with Jesus more than sitting on my knees on a pew.
Disclaimer: there's nothing wrong with that, I've just found in my life when I need Jesus, it's time to pray. 
You don't need the physical building, just the relationship.

So I got really excited when I was redirected to a website called goTandem.

We are a group of researchers, artists, tech wizards and writers – people who are willing to walk arm-in-arm with you on the journey. We're a lot of different ages and from a lot of different places, and we are committed to spending every day becoming more like Jesus. We’re probably a lot like you, actually. We have our ups and downs, and we have a hard time engaging the Bible every day. But after our research experts proved that daily Bible engagement is the absolute best tool God’s given us for our spiritual journey, we decided to create something that could come alongside people to help them engage the Bible – throughout the day, every day. And that’s how goTandem was born.
In its festive orange, white and black colors, I was drawn in.
I've been trying to engage more with the Bible for awhile now.
I'll be honest, I take it with a grain of salt.
However, I still believe that there are many things that can help someone on a spiritual journey.
It's a book of guidance
I greatly dislike it when people use it as a hammer of judgment.

So here's how you start with goTandem:
Take a Quiz
say whaaat?

It's a quiz about you, silly!
It also helps them cater a program to what you're looking for.
You can receive a phone call, voice messages, text messages, or e-mails- whatever you'd like
and they focus on different Bible verses that are personal to your life.

This is one message that came on my goTandem dashboard and I really liked it:
“Don’t get in the habit of thinking the worst of people.”  Somebody said that to me last week. Honestly, I was a bit jolted. Hardly ever do people tell you things without mincing their words. Hardly ever do people favor truth to laziness.  I could see the pattern in myself. Cynicism. Aloofness. Roadblocks of self-defense. Sabotage mechanisms lest anyone perceive me as weak, lest anyone dare to take advantage. Preempting the possibility of being hurt or disappointed.
What a terrible way to live.
Abe Lincoln once said that the surest way to feel secure that your house would not be robbed was to be sure never to rob anyone else.
I like this because of two things: 1. It highlights our unavoidable vulnerability. In the end, people can hurt us and lie to us and take advantage of us. They just can and they probably will. 2. It reminds us that we still have a choice in how we’re going to live and how we’re going to feel while we live.
You might as well.
You might as well be a person who believes people, who loves people, who gives to people. You might as well laugh hard and greet your friends with enthusiasm. You might as well be a little too eager. A little too forgiving. A little too.
Why isn’t it pure insanity to live with grace, grace, grace and love, love, love? Because we have been given permission to die to ourselves. I say it like this because it is a very liberating thing, to be able to hold your own interests at arm’s length, in favor of loving the people around you.  You are.  I am.  We can be free to love freely.
“'…love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.   …Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these'" (Mark 12:30-31).
Love your neighbor as yourself. 
No other commandment is greater than these.
Such profound words and something that should be worked on everyday.

What officially got me hooked and made me thoroughly excited to start this program was this video:

In The Blood from gotandem on Vimeo.

I'm sure there are folks that will dismiss this right away but if you're looking for something to explore a relationship with God in an accepting way, check out goTandem.  I'm still new to it myself and it's always fun to try new things.

All in all, I believe that people should love people, because we all deserve to be loved,
to see the good in others,
& it's not our place to judge others because they sin differently.
We're just people trying to get on in the world.
Hey, you never know, you might get a call from Jesus like I just did on my beastly hill run.

[Check out Back East Blonde's post on what religion means to her]


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