I haven’t published a post in a while and the reason is that because I’m not sure who reads my blog, I am afraid of who I might deeply offend and hurt. But, it has occurred to me that whoever reads my blog should know that it is in fact my blog. My thoughts are in it. So I say this: Whoever you are, if my blog is causing you concern for my spiritual life, don’t worry about me. If my blog is boring you or you’re irritated by various grammatical errors, I do apologize, I would love your feedback. But until I get someone who speaks up about my blog to me, I shall simply write what I wish and see what happens.
I’ve recently experienced an onslaught of past memories especially with regards to religion and the kinds of wonderful things I refused to let into my life by virtue of my Christian faith. In experiencing this onslaught, I began to really think upon and explore what Christian means to other people who are Christian.
It does not seem to be the same upbringing that I experienced.
I thought I grew up a strong Pentecostal Christian who believed in God being at work here on earth. I thought that’s all it was, and that, in and of itself, is a beautiful belief system, one of which I’ve become proud over the years to have been a part. However, there is more to the story of my upbringing than I at first believed. I have searched for years for people who understand the pain of realizing everything you believe was achieved in great part by coercion. I have fought against mainstream Christian thought because I thought that is what I experienced and I wanted to protect people from experiencing the same. I have come to see that I was never raised mainstream, but rather, whether it was meant as such or not, I received religion (the music, the dancing, the messages) as one receives a cult. There was to be no deviation of thought and I was inundated with repetitive music and sermons that began to seriously convince me that there could never be any other way than the one with which I was raised.
People used to come up to me in church and tell me they were so impressed by me for having found Jesus at a young age; they lamented to me and told me their own stories of debauchery and sin that left them broken and beaten down until they found the church. I was raised being told I had no reason to search for anything, that I had been born into truth. I loved my church growing up. We were a community committed to excellence and it showed in our truly incredible concerts that we held every season. The leadership consisted of extremely gifted musicians who had won international contests in songwriting and instrument playing. Our church was a family and we were known as the church with the best music in the foothills. We mostly listened to the music written and sung by our own worship team leader. We very rarely sang hymns. To this day, I still appreciate the messages I grew up hearing in her music, but it was a culture shock to see how different Christianity was for so many others.
When I was thirteen years old, I started venturing out of my own church and checking out the Christianity other people were experiencing. It was pretty impressive, but a leader from my church approached me and encouraged me, knowing I was attending another youth group, to check out the new youth leaders at our own church. The new youth leaders came in with a splash. They were spunky and creative and very passionate. The perspective they had about God was that he could speak through even the silliest blip in your brain. Perhaps you randomly thought of a beach ball, it could be God trying to tell you something about you or someone else. What would a beach ball symbolize? Of course, this method could lead to a lot of speculation on things like theology, which interestingly enough, they tended to discourage. I however, at this point do believe that God can speak through anything. It’s why I started this blog. I owe this perspective in part to the youth pastors who changed my life forever by introducing me, and arguably, my church to a new way of approaching God, a way that led us all down a path of cultish experience that I truly believe hurt the mission of my first church tremendously and held me back from getting to experience life as a teenager. I will say, that despite the pain I will recount as I embark on this journey to the past, I am massively grateful for the perspective that God is behind so much of the world. (I know a beach ball is not the world, but I love the notion that God doesn’t have barriers. It really doesn’t make sense that he would.) I also feel that becoming a Christian in the solid, practicing sense that was so heralded in this new youth ministry I was about to experience protected me from a life that may have been a lot more depressed as time went on. So, oddly, I’m glad I went through all this, even though it often hurts, it made me who I am today. I am very proud to be the person I am today.
Soon, I will write more. Currently I’m exhausted but need to publish since it’s been so long. Feel free to comment. I tried to be mindful of whoever might be reading, but this is my story, I’m gonna tell it how I experienced it.