I Didn’t Want to Be a Christian

My Journey to Baptism

I didn’t want to be a Christian. My sister died after a difficult life that included cancer, alcoholism, and drug addictions. She was 25 when she died; I was 16. Our family had been mystified about what kicked off her dependency issues; after her death, we learned that she was sexually abused by a parish priest. The same priest who, two years later, would be on trial for sex abuses against two others, now adults. (Regrettably, this priest escaped justice despite best attempts.)

By the end of my disenchantment, I was “spiritual but not religious.”

My antipathy to Christians extended beyond simply what happened with my sister. I was deep in the worldly culture, and the Christians I saw on tv — namely politicians and televangelists — didn’t seem like the compassionate, caring, rule-breaking Christ I was taught in my Catholic elementary school. Roman Catholicism, too, didn’t always match up against the Jesus I thought we worshiped, and it certainly didn’t mesh with my teenaged cultural values.

By the end of my disenchantment, I was “spiritual but not religious,” a growing statistic in my generation. I believed in God; I believed that He loved me; I believed all religions pointed to the same God but took different paths to find Him; I believed in His omnipresence and omnipotence. I prayed when I needed something. I never read the Bible. I attended church on an “as-needed” basis.

I attended church on an “as-needed” basis.

My life clearly reflected my lack of dedication. I was periodically broke, homeless, an unwed mother to a child with an abandoned father, had two car repossessions, was consistently stressed out at work to the point of nervous breakdowns, and all my relationships were fractured.

It was at one of these low points that a girlfriend reached out to me; she helped me secure a more stable job and she encouraged me to start dating.

God intervened.

What I was looking for in a man was not what I truly wanted.

After a series of mildly successful first dates, I realized that what I was looking for in a man was not what I truly wanted. I changed my search criteria, and came across a man whose photos didn’t flatter him, whose profile reflected a mild innocence (Do you have any pets? “We had a rabbit. His name was Fluffy. He died. We miss him.”), and who was deeply dedicated to solo-parenting his daughter.

On our first date, he was clearly uncomfortable with meeting someone new, yet he pushed through. For the first time, I looked for and found a man with simple values and deep loyalty. It intrigued me, and I agreed to see him again.

Over the course of our relationship, he continued to quietly, gently challenge my stance on Christians. My first warning signal was the fish symbol prominently attached to the back of his car. Next, I learned that his favorite music was Christian music; it was all he listened to in the car.

Yet, he was open-minded, didn’t push his faith on me, and willingly answered even the most offensive questions I asked. (“What would you do if you died and realized that Jesus wasn’t real?” “I’d be disappointed. But I’d rather take that chance then find out that I missed out on him.”)

As our relationship deepened, we occasionally attended church together. I didn’t object to church as a whole, and I believed that Christian values were generally positive and wanted that moral framework for my own daughter.

It was a difficult transition for me in some ways; I was exposed to different Biblical interpretations, which challenged not just what I was taught as a child, but other ideas I’d formed across my life.

Eventually, our family solidified into a single unit and we relocated. Periodically, I looked for a church family for us to join because I knew its importance to my husband. Each experience was unsuccessful, and he finally told me to stop looking.

I decided that if I was to truly reject Christianity, I needed to read the Bible. I needed to make sure I knew what I was rejecting.

Then we had a family crisis, and I found myself at a church on the first Sunday of January, wondering where God was and knowing I needed to reconnect. The pastor that morning challenged us to take the year and read the Bible cover-to-cover.

I decided that if I was to truly reject Christianity, I needed to read the Bible. I needed to make sure I knew what I was rejecting.

I finished reading the Bible in the first week September.

One week later, I was baptized.

I would never have taken the step were it not for my husband, and I know deep in my heart that God set my husband in my path. I would not have seen the man he is if I had not gone through my own trials and pains.

My husband walks a Christ-like path. He acknowledges where people are in their journeys, encourages them when he can, and most importantly, demonstrates unconditional love and acceptance while still offering correction when needed.

The years since my baptism have been intense on many levels as God reworks my heart. I know I am unfinished; I have much to learn and much to do to fulfill my small piece of God’s plan.

God has given me much and healed many wounds

I still take a step back every so often, astonished at where I am, at how deep my faith and love for Jesus is. The first time I handed a Bible off to a friend scared me and thrilled me; it also encouraged me to keep sharing the Good News.

I now live my life by two verses. The first is my life verse:

And Jesus said to them, “According to your faith, let it be done to you.” (Matthew 9:29, NIV)

This verse challenges me to keep my faith strong. To me, it is both a promise and a warning.

The second verse is my action verse:

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Mathew 3:8, NIV)

God has given me much and healed many wounds; it is now my responsibility, my purpose, and my joy to be intentional in sharing Jesus and the Christian walk with others.

I don’t know where you are in your walk, and I pray for you. Where you are weak, I pray He strengthens. Where you are broken, I pray He heals. Where you doubt, I pray He reveals. May God reach His hand over you and cover you with His love and mercy.