I challenge you to go onto Youtube and type in ‘religion’. You’ll find a million videos on the sensitive, almost ever changing topic. They all create a case for their faith and what they deem as ‘their absolute truth’. Most have been taught to us throughout history, and have ancient doctrine and instruction. Others tap into the electric energies of the soul, and are intrinsically beautiful. I am most passionate about the subject, and will be expressing my opinion as a Christian. Yikes right? That word these days carries a lot of weight. Weight that I have recently shed.
I claim to be a follower of Christ. Can I quote scripture? No. I can’t. I wish I could but I’m not one to remember the book and verse very well. My daughter catches onto the memorization more than myself. She’ll have to help me out in that area. Do I drink alcohol? Yes. I most surely do. When I bump my head on a cabinet, I curse a few times. I lose my patience very easily, and often let anger get the best of me. I have a divorce on my record that’s nice and fresh, and ten years ago I had an annulled marriage that lasted all but 7 months. I have done things in my life that I despise, but I know God heard me in those times. I believe there is heaven and hell, and that my sins are forgiven because Jesus died for me. I know that things happen that we cannot explain. I am but a small part of His creation. My mind cannot fathom why certain things are the way they are, but I trust there’s a reason. He didn’t make me a divine know-it-all….my husband would say otherwise. As we maneuver on earth in these skin-tight soul camouflages, we make our own decisions as we go. As a follower of Christ these decisions are filtered through God’s fingers first. This keeps us accountable, and our relationship with Him a little more on the straight and narrow. We consult through prayer, and biblical references, to guide us toward what is right and pleasing to God. I know that I am saved, but I am also still human. I strive to be a better person because of my faith, but i will not claim to be better than those around me. My sins are my own personal struggles. I have had family stop talking to me because of my past choices with my life. I have had friends judge my situation and cut communication off from me. People at church back-stabbed and gossiped about me when my divorce was going down. Is this what accountability is? Is this what the christian church going culture is now? Is that how we go about loving each other? As humans we tend to look at certain people, and make snap judgments off of their appearance and circumstances (Gays, lesbian, divorcees, baby mamas, guy with tattoos on his face for example). However, they might also be in the midst of their struggle. Be careful where your mind goes because we don’t know their story. It’s none of our business. Loving others is what I believe Christians are often forgetting to do sometimes. I don’t believe it is our purpose to save anyone. Our purpose is to be a catalyst for Christ when the brave ones call out for help. Christians need to stop judging. We go to our big churches, hug our church family, leave feeling good about ourselves, and then forget there’s a world out there that’s looking back at us.
I believe what I believe because of the amount of grace that has been poured out to me. Growing up wasn’t very fun for me at times. I was an only child grasping my way through life in a small desert town (Victorville!). I had braces, 1980 style bangs (even though it was 1998), and awkward teen syndrome…bad. Trying to be perfect started to devour me and my faith. I had questions growing up about what I believed, but really no one could tell me BUT MYSELF. It was my own journey, not theirs. This journey took me all over the place with some choice decision making. In high school I was having sex, drinking at parties, driving when I shouldn’t have been, knocking over mailboxes, I vandalized a golf course, and (yes mother) I smoked me some pot! The guy that shared this lovely weed with me was killed in Afghanistan in the beginning of the war. Now I see us spittin’ rhymes (high as a kite) in the driveway as a hilarious memory. I can rhyme, but at that time it was a crime. I secretly experienced life in the real world away from my ‘only child living’. I was tired of being confined. However, I knew the consequences of each action, and could hear disappointment from my conscious called Christianity. That conscious eventually saved my life.
I went to a Lutheran church in Junior High and High School. Many services were from a pamphlet, and I’m pretty sure my family and I were the youngest bodies sitting in those uncomfortable pews. My best buddies started coming to the church which was great. I was an acolyte. Very important job for a teen. I got to light candles before service while wearing a horrible white robe that was always too short. My friends and I thought it was the coolest thing. Going to class for communion was long, boring, and I had no idea what I was supposed to know before eating bread and drinking my first sip of wine. My actual relationship with God wasn’t there. I just knew that when you believe, you go to church. When you go to church, you learn more about your belief. So on and so on it went. Without knowing God’s character, I didn’t know myself. I just read out of a book, and flirted with those good for nothin’ Lutheran boys.
Things got pretty dark when I lost one of my closest friends to suicide. She shot herself in the head. She left her bible open on the bed to a particular verse, and to this day it’s probably one of the only ones I remember. Those moments that followed I struggled a lot with my faith. The guy I was dating at the time was training to be a Paramedic and called some people to get answers. We found out via phone that she was airlifted, and still responsive. Not long enough to say goodbye though. My prayers were all questions after that. “Did she get to you God? Is she in heaven? She believed in you! I don’t understand!”. My grandfather died the year I graduated to ALS disease. What an awful disease that ravages your being. Watching my grandpa deteriorate from the strong man I knew was horrible. “God why did this happen to him? This is cruel. Make some sense of it.” Then my grandmother passed away, prior to my history teacher killing himself, all within the year or so. My quarterback boyfriend broke up with me, and I was dating one guy after another. I was completely lost at that point. Still going to church though? Yep. I was an empty shell that had no need for religion. I needed to be saved. That didn’t happen until 2006 when I was baptized.
I have been to countless bible studies in my almost 30 years on earth. I’ve cried, prayed, screamed, and been close to ending my life while asking the God I follow to help me. I’ve sat in long church services, and been to many loud and stuffy worship concerts. The best moment of my searching for God was at a women’s retreat in Santa Cruz one year. I took a walk by myself, and man was I ever moved. I looked out over this gorgeous valley in the mountains. The wind was blowing these beautiful purple trees back and forth, and I felt as if God was telling me, “I can move you any way I want. You see?”. A little further up the hike there was a huge cross. My conscious was telling me to let go. I left everything there at the foot of it that day. I felt like I saw a new side of this whole belief thing. I started to hear the word differently. I began to feel something inside that I couldn’t explain. My heart was being refined. It was me and God now. My prayers were deeper, more passionate. I felt that my heart was slowly starting to heal.
My journey will forever be a struggle. I don’t know all the bible stories, nor am I disciplined in going to church all the time. Does this mean my salvation is lost, no. I refuse to let others judge my faith and salvation from the outside. They can get busy with living their own lives. I fail and get angry, but I still know the truth and am thankful. At some point in one’s life, we seek something to believe in. Someone to put our trust and faith in. We realize this life is fleeting, and our time here is short. I’ve known people who have accepted Christ on their death bed, and others who follow practices that fit their lifestyles at the time. I’ve found beauty in religions from worlds away, and appreciate the peace they find in their belief. We are humans. We fall, fail, slip up, and get trapped in some pretty dark places in this life on earth. In my opinion, no matter who you are or what your faith….I encourage you to seek the truth through a real relationship with Christ, and know that you are loved.