I used to hate part of the meaning of my name "Allison" which is "Little truthful one." I didn't like the "little" part so much growing up. Ironically as I have gotten older I have come to cherish it in the context of my relationship with God. I am God's little one, sometimes taking myself too seriously and being worried when in the end I am so small and it has been a delight to reflect on what it means to be less or small in relation to God and His life.
More specifically, recently I have been reflecting lately on my relationship with God over the years in light of a culture that has become increasingly more hostile towards God and what He stands for. Honestly, it is not so simply a detached culture out there, but those we love. For those of us millennials who are left, we recall friends from youth group who have long left the faith. I am blessed to know many who still love the Lord and are connected to His people.
There are many long complicated reasons for why people leave the faith and yet others don't amidst those same reasons. Sometimes it takes various tragedies some that leave you crippled or mangled physically and/or emotionally and seeing others trying to fill voids with gods of their own making to realize that beyond everything "yes, beyond my failings and imperfections I love the Lord with everything that I am and that His love will carry me into eternity." I never doubted my salvation or feared giving it up, but sometimes it takes the bad things in life to bring out how you really feel (it's nice when it is a good thing).
I've always admired God and His character. Someone who had also had an unusual encounter with God's light (literally) still found something was missing in his life, something those who trust God have and he didn't. I told him it was a relationship with God. It truly is a relationship one where the love of God transforms our character to be like His and we become more truly ourselves. In my dad's words "our best selves." We become truly human when we reflect the love we were created from and with. It is painful to think about those parts that are not yet complete because we want so fervently to return the precious gift we cannot truly repay with our lives, but are comforted to think the sun of God's kingdom is rising and changing all it touches. In Ephesians darkness cannot exist when it is exposed to light and to me this is either a comfort or dread for people.
Maybe initially people turn to God--even all of us in little ways--because life is so painful or empty or as a last resort, but after a while, something changes and you realize you could lose everything because you don't love God for what He gives you and You are in love with Him. You could spend eternity in a hell (a contradiction) if only He would be there. There are St. John of the Cross' dark nights of the soul when you search and search for Him and His presence and cannot find Him and are devasted because you know who He is and that He is right there. Then you see those around you leave Him one by one and you are one of a few left.
There is no understanding the world without culture or paradigms but God flips our perspective and we see the world and ourselves through Him. Questions surrounding sexual ethics, how we should treat those who hurt us, and whether we are centered around ourselves come out of a personal experience and interaction with God over a lifetime as he walks with us. If we really are our best selves--our true selves--when we are connected to the life-giving God, what does it mean when we choose ourselves over God or worship a mute god that is a mere projection of ourselves? What is lost? The insidiousness of what is called "idolatry" is that we lose ourselves in worshipping projections when we could gain ourselves by surrendering to God.