I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember. Probably even before then. I’ve spent most of my life regularly attending church (mostly of the Baptist denomination), despite having parents who aren’t church-goers or particularly religious. Though both of my parents were raised in the church (mother, Catholic; father, Baptist), I can’t say for certain if either of them even consider themselves Christians. I was probably one of the only kids I knew growing up who actually wanted to go to church… every Sunday, no less. In my very early years, my parents attended church with me. And when I was old enough, they would drop me off or let me go to church with family friends. I attended a Christian preschool. I was Christened as a baby and chose to be baptized as a teenager. I was active in the children and youth ministries, and even sang in the choir. I’ve always loved going to church, being in church, being part of the church.
When I was 5 or so, I wanted to be a nun. I had seen The Sound of Music, and was convinced that I, too, could be a nun like Fräulein Maria. I mean, I loved God, I loved singing, I loved dancing – it was the perfect job! My desire to be a nun was serious – I walked around with my head bowed with a make-shift habit on my head (usually a sweater) and my hands in prayer position. It was not a game. Until my father informed me that I could only be married to Jesus did I rethink my calling to life in a convent. I loved Jesus, but not like that.
I cannot say whether or not I truly understood what it meant to be “saved” as a little girl. But I did love Jesus and saw him as a Savior. So much so that I often responded to my parents when I thought they were being unfair by saying, “I’m gonna tell Jesus on you!”
To this day I regularly attend church. It’s important for me to be part of a church – not just as a Sunday worshiper, but a student of the faith and one involved in church ministry. I enjoy being in worship and fellowship with other believers, and it’s important for me to have close relationships with other believers, to grow stronger and more mature in my faith. My faith is also an essential part of my relationship, and will continue to be in my marriage and family.
For all of these reasons I proclaim myself to be a religious person. I have often heard Christians say they aren’t religious but spiritual, as if to distance themselves from the undesirable aspects of the Christian church. But the very act of being part of or following a religion makes one religious, no? Yes, Christianity has it’s painfully obvious blemishes and more than it’s fair share of “wacky” followers, but I cannot deny something that is so much a part of who I am and why I am.
Though I consider myself a Christian, and undoubtedly believe in God’s existence, I have often questioned Christianity and wrestled with certain Christian principles. My personal and political ideals are often in conflict with what is generally accepted in the Christian faith. My beliefs are not all supported by my Bible. I believe in an enormous God who is constantly being forced into small boxes. But I also believe in a God who has expectations and requirements. After all these years as a believer, I still have not reconciled my faith in Christ with the institutional Christian faith.
I think about my faith often – while in church, while at work, while attending life group (bible study), while reading the news, while discussing politics. Considering my faith is often stressful and worrisome for me. As such, through a series of blogs posts, I intend to be transparent about some of my religious struggles and try to articulate why I believe what I believe, despite the large opposition of such beliefs. I can’t be the only one with this struggle. I’ve never admitted these things to people who aren’t close to me, but I now feel compelled to think aloud and work this out through my favorite form of therapy. Besides, confession is good for the soul.
Speculating & Meditating,