As a child, I was taken to church every Sunday unless I was seriously ill. Every church holiday was a huge event that took weeks of planning and preparing for, with Mom yelling at everyone to get this or that thing done, but it usually ended up with us kids getting gifts and being allowed to stay up late, so there was fun in spite of the stress. There were special church events now and then, and when I got older, there was the choir to sing in, so church was just part of my upbringing – it was “natural” for me to believe in God, right?
But this church was one that put more emphasis on making us memorize doctrines and pre-written prayers than it did on teaching us to know and love the God we were supposed to worship. The attitude was definitely that of having to earn your way into heaven by being good enough, and I figured out early on that I would not succeed in being good enough. My mother was the one taking my siblings and I to church, but I don’t recall her acknowledging God outside of church, even though she taught one of the children’s classes, and my dad never went to church at all. So perhaps you can understand why my level of belief in God was about the same as believing in Santa Claus: someone who was okay to believe in as a child, but then you grow up and just get on with life.
When I was in high school, a friend invited me to a youth Bible Study, and since I was willing to go just about anywhere to get out of the house where there was always arguing and fighting going on, I accepted eagerly. It was at this gathering where I first heard someone speaking about God as if He was someone who was real and living…the first time someone spoke about loving God and God loving them in return…and I literally felt something shift in my brain as new pathways of thinking began to form.
I continued going to youth events with my friend, hearing more about God’s love, but still had little understanding of what that should mean in my life. After all, in my family you only acknowledged God on Sundays, and even then, it was more of a duty than something one actually wanted to do. But the Lord had His own plans for me, and He brought them about in His own time.
A few years later, I was engaged to be married to a man who came from a very strong Christian home. He had turned away from most of what he had been taught growing up, but the witness of his parents’ lives was so strong that I was finally able to understand how much God loved me. They showed me that God loved me so much He was willing to allow His Son to die in my place as the penalty for all those sins that would have kept me from earning a place in Heaven. They helped me begin a whole new chapter in my life – that of being a follower of Jesus.
Well, to make a long story short…here I am, some 42+ years later, still following the Lord and still married to the man whose parents made such a difference in my faith. I wish I could say that it has been a long, successful journey as far as growing in that faith and being strong in my beliefs, but the truth is that my growth has been on-and-off through the years. I have had some amazing seasons of learning and strengthening, but I have also had many times when I pulled back in selfishness and fear – and sometimes just in laziness – because following Christ was not always as easy as I wanted it to be. I trusted Jesus to save me from eternal death, but it seems I was too afraid to trust Him with every part of my life. And that is at the heart of why I have started this blog. I want to learn to love my Lord enough to fully YIELD to Him, to EMBRACE His discipline with joy as He molds me, and to PRAY in every circumstance, speaking and listening in an intimate relationship with Him that will strengthen me to overcome my fears.
It’s my hope that the things I learn and share will also be helpful to others. I don’t pretend to have a lot of learning and wisdom. I just know that when I share with others about my beliefs and how they affect my life, it renews my faith and motivates me to keep following this loving God, even when it gets hard. So feel free to tag along as I continue to learn how to acknowledge God with more than my head. I truly want to be a person who deeply, truly savors knowing and serving my Savior, Jesus Christ, and if you are interested in that, too…welcome aboard!