Readers, I’m so happy to introduce you to my friend Charity Singleton Craig. Charity is a writer-buddy of mine who is a big blessing in my life! Along with her day job, Charity edits for The High Calling, writes for TweetSpeak Poetry, and crafts great essays on her blog (CharitySingletonCraig.com) and other places.
Charity, can you tell my readers a bit about yourself?
I am a writer who tells stories of grace and hope. I recently got married for the first time at age 42, and I’m also a step-mom to 10-, 12-, and 14-year-old sons. My life is all about transition these days.
This month we’ve been exploring how we can experience the presence of God. What’s one way God has “shown up” in your life recently?
It’s not a new way, but he has been showing up in His Word. With all of the transition going on in my life, I haven’t been experiencing devotions or quiet time at the same time each day like I have in the past. Instead, I reach for the Bible app on my iPhone when I can’t sleep and find Psalm 127, or I listen to a sermon while I am running and hear about Moses’ impossible calling, or I read to our sons out of the Teen Guys Bible Devotional at dinner. I am not just finding truth in those instances. I am finding God and Him guiding me precisely in the way I need in that moment.
We often tend to think of amazing spiritual moments when we talk about experiencing God’s presence – but we can also encounter him in “little” ways. In normal life. In regular circumstances. In average experiences. Do you agree? How have you encountered or interacted with God in “normal” life?
Lately, my encounters with God have all been in normal life. Recently, I was pulling weeds in the flower beds for the sixth or seventh time this summer. It feels so pointless, pulling the same weeds over and over. In that moment, God appeared, reminding me that sin can sneak up if I am not continually rooting it out of my life, teaching me that caring for things or people requires leaning in close and getting dirty, and calling me to persevere when life feels tedious. All of that, right there on my knees in the landscape.
You’ve journeyed through cancer. What encouragement would you have for readers going through similar difficulties for ways they can experience God’s presence during fear, pain, or heartache?
Cancer created a level of worry in my heart that I had never experienced before. Even when I am doing great — like now — I can easily be overcome with fear of the future and the unknown. I have had to lean hard on a few truths from Scripture: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” and “Don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow has enough trouble of its own” and “Cast your cares on the Lord because he cares for you.” In other words, I have to preach mini-sermons to myself so that I am believing what is true about who God is and who I am. I also have had to be vulnerable enough to tell my husband or a friend when I am believing lies, so that they can remind me about the truth.
Sometimes we “feel” God’s presence. Sometimes we don’t. Feelings can aid our spiritual life – but they don’t always align with what we hope for. How do you navigate the ups and downs of emotions when it comes to faith?
To be honest, I’m not sure I always navigate the ups and downs of emotions very successfully. It’s easy to follow my emotions down a road of unbelief if I let emotions lead the way. Someone told me a long time ago that I need to let truth, or what I know, direct my actions, and that eventually my emotions will catch up. That seems to be my experience, too. Just yesterday, I was discouraged and down, and I wanted to come home and go to bed. Instead, I came home, talked to a friend on the phone about it, and then started dinner. I was wallowing in self-pity, and I could have followed my emotions and neglected my family. But by confessing to a friend how I was struggling and then doing what I knew I should, eventually, I started feeling better and thanking the Lord for His provision. By the end of the night, I was relaxed and happy. It doesn’t always happen that smoothly, and sometimes, I make the mistake of just wallowing. Jesus comes looking for us there, too. He just doesn’t want us to stay there.
What practices or habits have been particularly helpful for you in your own spiritual journey of connecting with God?
Meeting God in His Word has been a lifelong practice for me, though exactly what that looks like has changed dramatically over the years. Also, meeting with other believers for corporate worship and teaching has taken on new significance for me in the midst of so much transition. And finding Jesus walking alongside me in normal life, as we talked about above, is essential. I think being a writer has trained me to be more aware of my surroundings and to notice the minutiae. Jesus inhabits those places with us.
Charity, thanks so much. I’m truly blessed by your friendship and writing encouragement!
Readers, I hope you were also blessed by Charity’s words. You can read more of her beautiful insights at www.charitysingletoncraig.com.
P.S. Stay tuned: Starting next week we’ll spend the month of August exploring justice!