I was recently challenged during a class at the Bible teaching church I am attending. You see, they value the story. My story. So, I (as well as some 100 other people) were asked to write our story. My thoughts went to this blog and how it started because I wanted to document what the Lord was doing in my life. I love to write but this is hard. Seeing in black and white some things I am not proud of…looking back at the past and remembering sins I really want to forget…it isn’t easy. But it all is part of my story. Over the next few days, I am going to attempt to capture my story in stages. I pray the Lord guides my words so that maybe my story will inspire or encourage someone else.
The Early Years
I was born December 17, 1980. My parents attended church regularly and they tell a story of their fear of losing me while in the womb. They had asked for prayer. A woman who went to church with them, told them that she was praying. At the same time that I was born, this woman was praying. She saw a vision of a dress. I remember my parents telling me that when they took me to church, the woman came up to them and said I was wearing the same dress as in her vision. My parents had me dedicated to the Lord as an infant. My parents will recall that when I was two, I would raise my little hands in praise of the Lord. So, you see I was raised in the Christian faith from the beginning.
Now, I am not going to go into great detail but I also experienced shame and guilt very early on. In fact, my earliest memory of such emotions happened when I was 5. It was my first experience really KNOWING or FEELING I had a standard to live up to. I recall quite a few bad choices and I remember being very sneaky to get what I wanted. There are beyond numerous sins to count. My Pap-pap died when I was 5 so that was my first experience of loss and grief. I know I described feeling empty inside. Something was just missing.
My parents changed to a different church around the time when I was 6. Memorizing scripture and Bible facts were important. Being baptized (by immersion) was routine. Baptism was typically accomplished by the time one turned 9. You had to be baptized to be saved and you had to be baptized to take communion. I was baptized when I was 8. I remember the pastor coming to our house and showing me a video. I knew it was an important decision but I wanted to be like everyone else too. Looking back, I feel like I chose to be baptized for the wrong reasons. But it was a step in my faith that cannot be ignored. My social life was church. I went to church on Sundays to Sunday school and regular service, Wednesday evening kids programming, and any youth group function. From age 6 to 14, I had a blast in youth group. School wise, I attended various Christian schools from preschool through 4th grade. At this point, God was a list of rules to follow: no drinking, no smoking, no drugs, no sex before marriage (to name a few biggies). The no, no ,no vantage point was something I thought was attainable. I know that by having to always think no, I began to live a fantasy life in so many ways in my play and in my imagination. I really regret the thoughts I had and some actions that followed. It was also during my time at church on Wednesdays that some kids from the public school I had started to attend were in my class. It was evident that we were different in some ways but it was like I held myself higher and it was an odd position to be in because church was my zone where I could totally be me and with these kids there I felt like I couldn’t be myself. It was one of the first times I remember feeling like I cared what people thought of me. It was also one of the first times I felt like I was living a double life: one person at church and one person at school. At this stage, this really boiled down to my personality being more comfortable at church and so I was more outgoing there and participated freely where as in school, I kept to myself and was pretty shy. I didn’t like mixing the two.
I feel like this is back tracking a bit but let me also say that I was an only child until I was about to turn 7. I wanted a sibling more than anything and for whatever reason, it just wasn’t happening for my parents. I am sure I didn’t help by asking them all the time about what the hold up was. I saw all around me teenagers who weren’t married that were pregnant. I prayed for a baby brother and sister and my prayer was answered. I remember that moment as being one of my very first experiences of joy and excitement like none other. We adopted my brother and though he was born with a slight imperfection, he was perfect to me. I felt responsible for him from day one. But it also wasn’t all fun times because I was very used to being the only child and now I had to share things and the people I loved. Sometimes, these people I loved would side with my brother before me. I began to feel a little less loved and jealous. I knew deep down I was loved but sometimes things didn’t seem so fair. I am certainly not proud of how I treated him sometimes especially being older and old enough to know better.
I also experienced a very difficult thing to describe. Even when I was very young, I liked solitude. (Possibly stemming from being an only child for quite some time.) I remember reflecting on God and what He would think of things I thought or how I behaved. In my time alone, I would get goosebumps and chills at the thought of eternity. It was very odd for me especially when I was so young because I didn’t know what to make of it but the feeling happened quite a few times. A sensation of what it meant to live forever with Jesus…a prickle the skin sort of you don’t belong here sort of thing. I could feel myself going into that sensation and try to jolt my way out of it because it was scary to experience. Eventually, I kind of embraced it because I felt like God was sharing himself with me.
I am going to leave off here and will pick up again with Transitioning Churches soon.