Sunday, April 16, 2017

Honest Lent: It's Okay Not to Read the Bible

Drawing of a man in front of Jesus' tomb saying, "As long as the tomb is closed, Jesus is both alive and dead!" Caption says, "Saint Schrodinger, the forgotten disciple." Image source.
Hi everyone, happy Easter! He is risen~ So I've been doing this series called Honest Lent, but for the past week I haven't posted anything about it, and that's fine. I've been busy, and also I wasn't really feeling inspired by any of the passages on the list. And that's totally okay.

I used to read the bible every day, just like good Christians are supposed to. In college, I set my alarm and got up early so I'd have about 40 minutes to an hour before classes, to read the bible and pray. I did it because I loved God, yes, but there was always this feeling like "if I miss a day, I'm being bad. God has done so much for me, the least I can do is set aside a little bit of time every day for him." If I missed a day, that meant I was ungrateful and I didn't value my relationship with God.

There was one day I slept through my alarm and didn't wake up til the afternoon. (Being a college student, I was constantly so incredibly sleep-deprived.) I had already missed several classes, but I decided to skip another one so I could read the bible. Because that was the most important thing. I trusted that if I put God first, God would make sure I didn't face any negative consequences for skipping class.

Years of living that way, putting all that guilt on myself if I missed a day, and the result is that now I can hardly read the bible at all. It causes so much stress- I feel like I have to read it, I have to spend time and focus, no distractions, I have to find some inspiring message, some positive truth that will help me as I go about my day, I have to like it, I have to pray, every day I have to treat the bible with the attention and respect it deserves. Or else I'm bad- I'm a bad Christian, I'm putting other things before God, God loves me so much and I can't even stop for half an hour and spend time with God, I'm so bad and ungrateful.

But Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath." Religious activities like reading the bible are meant to be good for us. They're not meant to be a huge burden that causes mental illness. And right now, the healthiest thing for me is to NOT read the bible, and to know that it doesn't make me a "bad Christian."

So when I decided to do Honest Lent, I was very clear about how it did NOT mean I would be reading the bible every day. I would only read the bible when I felt like it, and I would only write blog posts about it when I felt like it. And during Holy Week I didn't feel like it at all, and that's okay. I didn't "fail" at Honest Lent. There's nothing to feel bad about. I wrote a lot of good posts, I enjoyed writing them, and it was healthy and not stressful. Just because I didn't read the bible every day and I didn't write anything for Honest Lent during Holy Week doesn't mean I've done something wrong. The goal was never to read the bible every day- the goal was to read the bible in an amount that is healthy for me. And I did that.

Because I really do like the bible, and I want to read it more, but right now the only way I can do so is if I explicitly reassure myself that it's okay not to read the bible, and it's okay to not like certain passages, and it's okay to feel whatever feelings I feel- I don't have to be "inspired" and "fed" and learn some nice things about God or whatever.

The Sabbath was made for us, not us for the Sabbath.

Anyway, it's Easter, I'm not going to church and that's okay. I love Easter, and I believe in resurrection. Yes, I believe in The Resurrection, but more importantly, I believe in resurrection. Not just that it's a thing that happened one time 2000 years ago, but that the whole world looks forward to resurrection. Resurrection for everything and everyone.

Happy Easter, and remember, it's okay not to read the bible.

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