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Spiritual coasting

Dee Tian | Sunday, January 22, 2012

We have all experienced spiritual highs, times when we feel so close to God and are confident in his love and plan for us, and spiritual lows, when we experience doubt, frustration and even anger when we don’t understand God’s ways.

Some people are fair-weather Christians.

Some are, what I like to call, storm-weather Christian. Many Christians find it easy to love God, praise him and be thankful when everything is going well in their lives. However, when they encounter hardship or injustice, it becomes difficult to love God. Other Christians love God most in their suffering, leaning on God for support during their pain. Then, when things clear up, they push God aside and focus their energy on friends, family, work and so forth.

I believe I belong to this latter group.

When all’s well, I pray, go to Church, and read my Bible. But there’s no desperate need for God in my life. I don’t frantically crave His love or cling to him for support. To me, this is a problem. I want to insanely love God whether I’m on top of the world or when I’ve hit rock bottom.

The best weekend I have had at Notre Dame (including my 21st birthday and all home football games) was when I attended the Notre Dame Encounter retreat. NDE’s theme of “Making God Known, Loved and Served” really hit close to home for me.

It was a chance to speak with fellow students who struggled with similar issues, hear inspiring stories of students overcoming challenges and suffering and really examine my faith and relationship with God.

I left the retreat with a sense of calm, feeling at peace with myself and the world. Yet, I also left with this incredible high, a bliss in feeling so close to God.

Unfortunately, I think I’ve been spiritually coasting for a while now, cruising at a “spiritual middle” altitude, a sort of complacency that’s difficult to escape from.

I ask myself, how do I reach a spiritual high again? I mean, I follow most of the rules good Christians should (Of course, as a college student, it’s difficult to stay away from the sins of excessive consumption of fatty food, cheap alcohol and the danger of extremes).

However, following rules may lead to religion, but not to faith. As one of my favorite songs by Jason Gray goes: “It’s gotta be more like falling in love, than something to believe in; more like losing my heart, than giving my allegiance.”

Many of us were raised thinking that if we believed in God, and lived more or less moral lives, we would be okay. But shouldn’t we ask more of ourselves? Many of us want to have a personal, close relationship with God. But we don’t know how to do this. Our Heavenly Father must be a priority in our lives. If we examine our to-do lists and planners, we often see what our priorities are: study for an exam, work on this paper, go to the gym, have dinner with friends, spend time with the boyfriend. Where is God in all of this?

In order for God to be omnipresent in our lives, we have to make room for him. But this may require a complete shift in paradigm and lifestyle. How can I love God when I’m taking shots at Fever? How can I love God if I skip Mass because I have too much homework?

I should be willing and ready to give up excessive drinking and partying in order to live a more holy, Christian life. But I don’t think I am. And that speaks volumes. Are you?

Dee Tian is a senior marketing major with minors in philosophy and

anthropology. She can be reached at ytian1@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.