Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finding my Faith

A big part of why I wanted to start this blog was to have a place to share with others in regards to faith and spirituality. It's an area where I don't have a lot of experience, but I'm working on that! I figured the best way to get there is to bring others along with me - the ride is always more fun with your friends!

I was baptized in a southern baptist church when I was 13 years old. I grew up in a home where we did not attend church regularly, but certainly attended for the "major holidays" - Christmas, Easter, etc. The church we attended was huge, and fairly impersonal. After my parent's divorce, my father began attending a church in his new locale, and we had to attend when we were with him. I was pretty resistant at first. I knew I believed in God and Jesus, and Heaven and Hell, etc., but I wasn't a big fan of church, certainly not when I could be sleeping.

Over time, I came to make friends within the youth group, and was blessed to have a phenomenal youth pastor who really knew how to reach out to young people. While I wasn't able to attend regularly (the church was about 5 hours away from where I lived with my mother, as my father was relocated shortly after the divorce), I had gotten to a point where I felt more accepted. I was able to attend a number of youth events, and eventually felt led to be saved by the blood.

The next few years were marvelous. I found a church at home where, while I wasn't as involved as the one at my dad's, I was pleased with the leadership, and felt comfortable and well directed. At dad's, I was involved in a number of mission trips and spiritual trips. My faith and understanding were growing and developing, and my role as a Christian felt right.

I'm not sure I can pin a point on when that all changed for me, but over time, it did. Part of that happened when the youth minister, who had been so instrumental to me, was called to serve in another community. My own changing life certainly played a role. As I got older, and more involved in other activities through the school, I didn't commit as much time to the church. I had a falling out with my father over trust issues, and while I still was a believer, I didn't show it so well.

Through that time in my life, I dealt with an unhealthy relationship and any number of seriously unhealthy decisions, moved beyond said relationship and decisions, found the love of my life and father of my children, got pregnant out of wedlock, and generally lived life in a "comfortable" sort of way. I say comfortable because I was! I was not unhappy overall with where I was in my life. I had a great partner, a great job, we were going to have a baby, and I was really comfortable.

I stayed comfortable for a while. I was past much of the upheaval in my life, which was great. We had our son J, got married a few months later, and settled into our new life, and I was content. Then, one day, I got a phone call from a friend. They had a favor to ask of me - would I be willing to play the role of Mary in a church Christmas drama? The girl who was going to do it had backed out, and they knew I had done a lot of theatre in high school. Plus, I had just had E, so I could even provide my own baby Jesus!

I agreed, and went to the church for practices, but still didn't attend services. The next year, I did it again. I occasionally attended a service, but still was pretty lax about it. Then, I picked up a book series- the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins. I devoured it. I couldn't read the books fast enough. I begged and borrowed. I picked up copies from eBay. And I was touched. Moved to tears. Taken to my knees.

So, the kids and I started attending church. I won't lie- this has led to some drama at our house. My husband had some negative experiences with churches growing up. He's not a fan. He doesn't have a faith-based background, isn't really sure that he has any belief in a higher power, and has some serious negative connotations with organized religion. But, I explained to him that I wanted to attend church, and I wanted the kids to go with me. My church is a non-denominational church, biblically based and resting on the salvation granted to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. The foundations are there, but the judgement that comes with so many "religions" are not. So, husband does not attend with us, but does not challenge my attendance or that of our kids.

Here are a few key points for me and MY faith:

My relationship with God is mine. It's personal. HE is the only one to whom I need to be accountable for my spiritual health. I am happy to surround myself with like-minded people with whom I can celebrate my faith, but I do not judge them or their relationship with God, nor do they judge mine.

Religion CAN BE man attempting to set rules based on their own interpretation of God's word, and whatever else feels right to them at the time. While many religions have great guidelines, I do not feel I need to answer to man's interpretations, I will leave my guidance to my heart, which is filled with the Holy Spirit.

There is so much more that could go in this post, but I think I'm going to stop here. Future posts will expand on some of these topics, but I'd also like to have some open discussions with you all on these things! What are your thoughts, and are any others of you dealing with resistance from a spouse?

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