My Faith Story
My story begins in the same place a lot of stories begin. I was born into a Christian family so naturally I was raised going to a Christian church. As a child I had no problems with that arraignment. Most of my friends and family went to church as well so I fit right in. All the Sunday School lessons about God and spectacular stories of spectacular people were just part of the routine. Honestly, I enjoyed church as a child and even flourished there. The climatic moment was when I went forward announcing to the congregation I was ready to be baptized and be a Christian as well. Unfortunately though, as I grew into my teenage years cracks began to form in the foundation of my faith. Those cracks eventually grew into canyons and for reasons I’ll go into in a moment I stopped attending church altogether.
By my late teen years I had moved from not attending to actively disliking church and church people. This dislike came from two places, at least on the surface. First, I saw how the church members treated people different from themselves. I saw the judgement and the hypocrisy and didn’t want any part of it. I’d forgotten all about the messages from my childhood of a loving God who forgives easily, and saw instead only the failings of the body of Christ.
The second place the dislike came from was what I saw as an unwillingness to engage in dialogue about difficult matters. I have always been an avid reader and during my teenage years the immensely popular book, The DaVinci Code, was released. If you were attending a Christian church when that book was released you well remember the uproar it caused. I respected the Pastor of my church a great deal and asked him what he thought of it. The response from him was, “Avoid it like the plague”. His response blew me away and I saw then a body of people who were unwilling or unable to address issues and instead chose to ignore them. If this was how they reacted when a fiction book was released what would they do if a real issue came up?
While it is true that the above two reasons definitely played a part in my decision to step away from the church, there was one other reason that in retrospect was a much bigger part of my decision. You see, when I was 14 something happened to me that I didn’t know how to deal with. What happened? Well the short version is that I fell in love for the first time. I know how it sounds, I even told myself “there’s no way you love her, you’re 14”. Alas, eventually I had to stop lying to myself. You see it doesn’t sound bad but falling for someone that hard at that young of an age changes you. I didn’t know how to deal with the feelings I had, especially when she rejected me. I had prayed and prayed, since that’s what everyone said to do. That was one of the recurring lessons in church, God answers prayers and if you ask it will be given. Of course I now understand it’s not nearly so simple but since that’s what I knew at the time that’s what I did.
Well obviously since she rejected me I didn’t get the answer I was hoping for from God. I’m happy about that now but that doesn’t change the fact that the experience broke me in a lot of ways I didn’t fully grasp for a long time. It also caused the first cracks to form in my faith and, coupled with the other mentioned reasons, led to my eventual falling out with the church.
During my early twenties the above story played out again, though with a different girl. After that experience I fell into a deep depression and I stayed there for almost 6 years. I didn’t notice what had happened honestly, the only thing I knew was that I wasn’t happy. Well that certainly wasn’t a surprise given how my relationship attempts went so I chalked it up to that and went through the motions of my life, though without actually living at all. My story may have ended there, but friends this is the good part. God had other plans for me and none of His plans involved me staying in the depression I was in.
So how did God choose to bring me out of my depression? With a woman of course. I fell for her, and it’s a good thing too since I would never have listened to her otherwise, and even though she didn’t feel the same way I wanted her in my life. God used her to show me how far I had fallen, and He used her to show me how to come back. Through my friendship with her, God allowed me to reconnect with parts of myself I didn’t even remember existed. I slowly but surely found my way back.
I came out of my depression roughly 1 year ago at the time of this writing. It has been an amazing year, though not without it’s heartaches. Through it all though I know now there’s a fire in me that won’t ever be put out. I’m involved in a wonderful church near me and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me next.
Friends, I don’t know where you are as you read this. I don’t know what your story is or what you’ve been through to get where you are. But I know, as surely as I’ve ever known anything, that God has a plan for you, just as he does for me. I am so thankful that I am able to say I’m a Christian. And I am so thankful, more than anything, that God doesn’t lose faith in us, even when we lose faith in Him.