God doesn’t make cookie cutter hearts

by Kristin on January 19, 2010

in Belief, doubt & hope

Photo by Kristin Tennant

On Friday I wrote a post about how helpless I’m feeling about Haiti, and my anger toward Pat Robertson’s take on the disaster. How does God want Christians to respond to the overwhelming needs of hurting people? How does God want us to respond to a fellow Christian who piles more hurt on the situation, and (in my opinion) misrepresents the God I know?

On Saturday, Jason and I were at a retreat with members of our small group from church. We each shared something we’ve been reading, thinking about, and in some cases wrestling with. One of the topics we grappled with for a while was death, but I didn’t feel a sense of peace or answers when we were done. I was left wondering “How does God want us to think about death, and heaven? And how little faith must I have if I can’t get to that ‘right’ perspective?”

An understanding of God that resembles an anxiety dream

I was completely stuck in that place where I’ve spent too much of my life—a place where there’s one right way, one correct answer, and it’s my job to find it and adhere to it. The whole scene resembles an anxiety dream: You’re sitting in a final exam that somehow will determine your future—happiness or misery, life or death. And you’re looking at a question that seems so foreign, but you’re sure you must be able to dig the answer out of some remote corner of your brain, so you try and try and try, panic increasing as the minutes tick by.

Thankfully, I’ve woken up from that dream and realized that’s not at all what life with God is about. I woke up from the dream in a big way almost five years ago, when I was on the verge of deciding I didn’t need God or church, and I woke up from it again this past weekend.

Why do we spend so much time trying to figure out exactly what God wants from all of us, as a collective whole? Why do we think there’s one right answer, one right way? Why do we puff up with pride and judgment toward others when we think we’ve landed that “right way,” and why do we beat up on ourselves when we feel like we haven’t?

There might be one truth, but different responses to it

Here’s something I’ve learned: God didn’t make cookie cutter people—he certainly didn’t make cookie cutter hearts. I think we each have a response to Haiti and to Pat Robertson that is right for us, as the individuals God created us to be.

I think we’re wasting our time trying to determine whose response is right, and whose is best, and who got it all wrong. Instead, I should be focused on knowing the heart God gave me, and you should be focused on knowing the heart God gave you. We should each be praying and listening, and following the spirit moving within us.

After this revelation was once again firmly rooted in my head, it was further solidified by a blog post about how we should respond to Haiti. Listen to this:

I urge you to use this opportunity to develop a relationship with Jesus. Talk or pray with him to find out what you are supposed to do right now and take comfort that whatever that may be is enough even for something as overwhelming as this.

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  • http://BlueEyedEnnis Philomena

    Brilliant post. I am right there with you.I have been feeling the same way !! As soon as I put any thoughts down it seems useless and then there are always the God haters and sceptics that rubbish any idea of prayer being a sufficient response to the Haiti disaster and shout out Just Give your money -words are just words and I know that money is one response but that there IS A POINT in prayer. But then I get despondent because I know these people are not prepared to listen anyway and I go round in circles . Finally I say to myself – let them go, !! People do need prayers and I also belive what Jung said : Invited or Uninvited : God is present !!

  • http://davesfaithblog.blogspot.com Dave

    Amen Kristin!
    We have been individually blessed and blessed together in Christ because we shared it! Where it goes from there is his. And that’s the way it works.
    “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard..” (Acts 4:20).
    Keep praying!

  • http://bridgeout.wordpress.com/ Wendy

    I am so grateful God does not make cookie cutter hearts, or take a cookie cutter approach to us! And today I thought of #thelovelist as I posted gratitude that my partner does not take a cookie cutter approach to loving me.

  • Pingback: Talking to my kids about death

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com/ Kristin T.

    Philomena, I love that Jung quote. And I’m glad, in some ways, that human beings are so complicated and impossible to please. If they were easier to please, perhaps we’d feel some satisfaction in just that, but instead we’re driven again and again to God’s consistent grace.

    Dave, yes! The tricky part, though, is for each of us to really search our hearts, and not just go with the easiest response. I don’t want to give a bit of money then excuse myself, or say a prayer for people in Haiti and think I’ve done my part. It’s a fine balance, between not being lazy and not burdening ourselves with the guilt of how “we could do so much more.”

    Wendy, you’re right—not only did God create each one of us differently, but he continues to walk with us differently. The constants are there—love, grace, forgiveness—but they come across to each of us in different ways. Amazing.

  • http://themoderngal.blogspot.com The Modern Gal

    Wow, this times so well with one of our readings at church this past Sunday: First Corinthians, chapter 12 … it’s the passage about how the Holy Spirit gave us each our own talents. Separately we might just have gifts of healing or of prophecy, etc., etc. But each of us makes up part of the Body of Christ. What would the Body of Christ be without a foot or an eye or a finger? God needs us all to be different.

  • http://davesfaithblog.blogspot.com Dave

    Once again I agree Kristin! It’s about developing an ongoing relationship with Jesus that guides our actions daily.

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com/ Kristin T.

    Modern Gal, I love it when various things I’m thinking about/reading/hearing about line up. And then when they line up with what someone else a few states away is thinking about, it’s even better. It’s funny—I’m so familiar with that chapter in I Corinthians, and it’s such a clear metaphor, but I don’t seem to really take it to heart. Maybe now the connection with sink in.

    Dave, yes. Thanks for bringing it back to a relationship with Jesus.