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Finding the sacred in everyday life
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Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. ...
Simply Faithful
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. Every day I got to listen as people told me about the things that were most important to them, the things that were sacred. But the newspaper industry was changing and few papers could afford to have an army of speciality reporters. So, I moved to cover the suburbs where, as luck would have it, they have plenty of religion, too. Eventually, children came into the picture. One by birth and another two months later by foster care/adoption. I struggled to chase breaking news and be home at a decent hour, so I made the move to what we journalists call the dark side: I took a job in public relations. (Don't worry. I work for a great non-profit, so it's not dark at all.) When I gave my notice at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, the executive editor asked me to consider writing a column on a freelance basis. She didn't want the newspaper to lose touch with its religious sources, and she still wanted consistent faith coverage. I was terrified. It took me about 10 months to get back to her with a solid plan and some sample columns. And so it began, this journey of opening up my heart to strangers.
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For the 24-year-old who went and got that four-year degree and now works retail with $46,000 in student loans.
For the 44-year-old whose business is doing better than she ever imagined but still doesn’t feel like her house is big enough, her car is new enough or that she is good enough.
For the 64-year-old with an overstuffed closet, a packed basement, a cramped garage and a nagging sense that there is something missing.
For all of us scrolling through our Facebook feeds and noticing how perfect everyone else’s lives are – for all of us struggling to be content right where we are – I chose “Satisfied” by Jeff Manion for the Simply Faithful book club.
Manion is a pastor at a large church in Michigan called Ada Bible Church. He started to notice that anytime he preached or taught about being content with what we have, he would get an avalanche of responses. It seemed to touch a nerve.
And with the collapse of the housing market, shifts in the manufacturing industry and upheaval in the financial world, that nerve seemed even more sensitive.
So, he wrote about the dangers of comparison and about finding our identity in the one who created us. He spent a chapter on generosity and another on the power of serving others.
9780310328353_imageThe deeper into the book I got, the more I dog-eared pages and marked up passages with purple highlighter. I can’t wait to discuss it with you and to experience it as a community.
The book is divided into six sections. We’ll read one a week starting Feb. 10. There are questions and projects for each section, so let’s keep in touch at simplyfaithful.com each Monday because this is a conversation worth having.
“If a person believes that more is enough, then more is never enough,” Manion said. “It creates a cycle of repeated disillusionment.”
And feeling like you don’t measure up is easier than ever, he added.
“Twenty years ago I compared my reality to your reality. Now I compare my reality to your image projection.”
People post pictures on social media of themselves at their thinnest, at fabulous dinners and at interesting events.
“It’s really a highlights reel,” he said. “You don’t post pictures of me sitting in my cubicle and then me sitting in my cubicle again the next day.”
Generosity and humble service are powerful antidotes for dissatisfaction and comparison, though – and we all have something to give.
Serving others trains the heart that it is not all about me, Manion said, and giving money and other things away reminds the heart that “this is not my God.”
Still, contentment can be fleeting.
You can enroll in the school of contentment when you are in your 20s and just starting out with your first place, Manion said, and then sometimes, when your circumstances change or your wealth grows, you need to re-enroll in the school of contentment.
Whatever stage you are at, will you enroll with us?
If you host
We’ll have a Facebook chat with Jeff Manion at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 25, on the Simply Faithful page.
We’re asking people to volunteer their homes, their places of worship or their favorite coffee shops to host friends for the Facebook chat. (The first 10 people to agree to host get some free goodies to share with their friends!)
If you are looking for a group to join that night, stop by Alpha and Omega Parable Christian Store, 1601 Penfield Road in Penfield, NY. (I’ll be there starting around 6:15 p.m.)
More about the book
“Satisfied: Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption” just released in January and is available online and at local bookstores. (Alpha and Omega Parable Christian Store is offering them for $11.97 if you mention you’re reading it as part of the community book club.)
To learn more about Jeff Manion, visit jeffmanion.org. Also, the church where Manion serves is studying the book and has sermons available online at adabible.org.

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