What do I do with faith? A few weeks ago, I was asked why I did not have articles or columns on faith in our publication. My answer was that I did not want us to be a religious publication. I wanted us to appeal to everyone. Being kind, and being positive, are practices that anyone can practice.
The irony of the “ask” was that it came from a person who is not religious and stated to me early on that they “hated religion and politics.” I told them I was an area church leader and had been for over 30 years.
I was taken aback.
Over the last few weeks, I thought about what I had been asked. I decided that I needed to do this. I am not sure what that looks like going forward, but I will work to figure it out.
My personal spiritual journey did not begin as a child. When I struggled with addiction, I did try “God,” but a well-meaning church leader told me he did not think “even God could help me.” Many wanted to get me to embrace the realities of God, but honestly, I struggled. I could not see clearly.
I struggled with who I was. I struggled with addiction. I struggled with relationships. Let me be honest. I struggled with everything. And I kept swinging. I did all the good things, but I struggled with everything else. My world got darker and darker.
The closest I could get was walking in the rooms of 12 steps. Even there, I did “not fit.” I was told I was too young to have a drug problem. I read the 12 steps like they were a lifeline. But I could not get past trusting myself and giving that over to God.
My codependent childhood left me adrift. Needing people, but not wanting to and living an adult lifestyle while carrying the pains of a child. Wanting to be okay and knowing I was not. But somehow, my spiritual journey was jumpstarted. I began to read everything related to the topics of religion and self-help. I wanted to know more.
I got educated, but I did not make the connection. In retrospect, I know that God is everywhere, but He did not show up the way I thought God would. I crashed, I burned, and then I repeated the process. Attempted suicide, divorce, marriage, loss of businesses, and more.
And then my newborn daughter was in the hospital. Born weeks early, she weighed but a shade over a pound. My spiritual journey escalated. Many folks from every area of religion and spirituality visited me over the next few months.
Because of her birth and where she would be (The hospital. I did not know it would be for the following year.) I moved to be closer. Having a child in the hospital in those days often was moment to moment. Good one moment, “we are not sure” the next moment. I was forced to give up my real estate publishing, giving it to my partner then.
I became a street vendor on the sidewalks of Hanover, selling jewelry from a friend. I was in survival mode. Where was God? Where was my higher power? A year went by rapidly, and I brought home my daughter and her baby brother, born just days before. Living in a campground in the middle of Vermont, I was on my journey.
I gave my street vending operation to a man who lost his premature son and bonded over our grief. (Nearly 40 years later, we are still connected. ) My journey to find spirituality, “God,” and more escalated.
A few years later, I was in a grocery store, and during a terrible time, I sensed the presence of who I now call God. Peace overflowed. “What is going on?” I told my friend at the cash register, and he smiled.
My life changed in a moment. I can not or will not try to explain. Life did not get “all better.” But I did. I started to attend a church fellowship. I saw things change in me and those around me.
What could I do to help others without restrictions? How could I help others find their way out of misery, depression, self-loathing, and hell on earth? In a few years I became a minister. I opened my home, my business, but mostly…my heart.
Over the years, I have learned a lot of things. My questions have not gone away. I still have wonder in my life. My journey still needs to be completed.
Why was it so hard for people like me to find even the concept of God acceptable? I realize that so much of what I heard about God and higher powers did not reflect the love, peace, and even the joy that I found. I do not fault them for their beliefs, for each of us walks our journey. But let us walk after goodness and be kind.
I have come to where I am because many exhibited the fruits of the spirit, including love, patience, and longsuffering. Those who persevered and held out hope when I could not find my own.
To those who are broken, meek, and lost, there is hope that addictions can be stopped, marriages saved, and heaven on earth.
Faith without works is dead. Live in love.
Expect less, prepare more.
Judge less, respect more.
Complain less, thank more.
Regret less, smile more.
Let us join in our collective faiths and make a difference where we live and with those about us.
Lee Johndrow is the senior leader of Abundant Grace Fellowship Church in Keene, NH. He found this season of his life in August of 1989.
Links to other pages…
- I Could Do That! Let’s Hear You Stand Up And Shout
- Thinking ahead
- PN4U INC. Your Donation Page & Our Nonprofit
- What Is Positive News And What Are Common Factors?
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