The earliest memories of my faith were as a toddler, climbing in and out of the lap of my mother as we sat on the back pew of the church. I remember little more than a few names that float in and out of my mind and run together as a single face.
As I grew older, the memories become clearer and more specific: photographs taken the first day of Kindergarten Sunday School class as I stood against the bulletin board in my white sundress. Third Grade lessons learning the books of the New Testament on Easter Sunday. A stroll up the aisle holding my mother’s hand as we went to whisper in the Pastor’s ear followed weeks later with a dip in warm waters, all the while never understanding the commitments I had just made.
Years later after my family split in two and I lived with my father, those bible school lessons and class pictures ended. We stopped blessing our meals and started sleeping in on Sunday mornings. We didn’t turn away so much as tune out.
As a young adult, I held faith at an arms length. Far enough to be out of the way, lest I trip on it, but close enough that I could draw it in when it was convenient for me. When asked, I could give the right answers and say the proper words, but the meanings were never relevant in my life. I was doing just fine on my own. My empty faith was never forefront in any major decision I made and it was painfully obvious.
I had many conversations with my middle sister where faith was discussed and dissected. I knew I lacked the strength that I desired and the many nights I spent on the phone with her in council let me to read the Left Behind book series.
On a cool January night as I lay in bed reading chapter 12 where a man watches a video left for the church’s members who were “left behind,” I had the crystal clear revelation of my own that in my mind and in my heart, I believed that if our Lord returned to the Earth that night, that I would be left behind. Tears poured from my eyes as my own sin was revealed to me. I cried for all the times I had put my faith and my Lord on the back burner. I cried for the horrible witness for Jesus I had been. Then I slid off the bed and onto my knees, bowed my head and prayed, asking Jesus to forgive me of my sins. I declared my trust in Him – my belief that His shed blood was enough for my life.
I was 26 years old and my journey was far from over. It took another five years before I would break through other barriers in my life and find a local church to make my home.
I think part of being a Christian is to admit that we are not perfect. To admit that we have difficulties in our lives and deal with real struggle – these things make us human. I stumble all the time. But the difference now is that I have God as my guidepost.