I grew up in a home that taught respect, love and care for each other. We were taught to trust our intuition, stand up for ourselves, and never give up.
At my father's memorial we knew the preacher would share memories of our father, but we didn't know the details of the service. He shared scripture from 1 Thessalonians 4, and focused on the following verses, "9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."
My dad was not a rule follower, he often strayed off the beaten path and did his own thing. He struggled in life with depression, extreme grief and finding confidence in himself. He was raised Catholic and always looked up to his parent's faith. He and my mom raised my siblings and I in the Presbyterian church, and I'm very grateful for that. He was not the ideal Christian, and never claimed to be.
I think as Christians we get caught up in rules. If you do this, you will be good enough for God. If you go to church every Sunday, then you've checked it off your list and you are a better Christian. Yet often we lose our passion, our heart, our desire for the Lord. Wait, why are we praying at dinner? Because we HAVE to or because we WANT to? I've seen first hand what a life full of rules with no passion can lead to....it's terrible and heartbreaking. It can push others away from knowing Christ. We have to constantly ask, what is pleasing to God? Yes, God set up rules for a reason and we need instruction, but we fail and that's OK. I'd much rather lead a life of passion than a life of obedience with no heart.
This is not me saying, you don't have to go to church (although we've only been a few times this past year), but what I am saying is that Jesus in our heart comes first, not laws and rules. Focus on him and you will naturally live a life pleasing to him.
Now that my Dad is gone I look at the life he lived and I see Christ. My dad wasn't perfect but he humbled himself always, stood up for the little guy, served his friends and family, and loved others so much he would physically feel ill. He worked so damn hard his heart couldn't take it anymore. We tried to tell him to slow down, but he was a stubborn cowboy.
Instead of living a life based off of rules, such as how many times I've attended church the past year or the amount of meals I've prayed over, I pray the actions I take , the way I love and serve others, and the words I speak will be pleasing to God.