the story so far..
my whole life has been centered on god and the church in some way or another. born and raised in a baptist home i spent the majority of my life growing up in church where i learned the about the bible and christian community. i attended all the bible-drills and was a member of a boys mission club. i went to camps mission trips and was in the church every time the doors were open.
at the age of eleven i realized my need for jesus and acted on it spending an afternoon discussing things with our pastor. the following week i was baptized. throughout the course of the following year i felt god pulling me toward service. i wasnt sure about what that service would include but 1 year later at age 12 i committed myself to lifelong ministry.
and everything was seriously normal.
at 19 i was involved in a college and young adult bible study based in the church id grown up in. though based there it was really its own entity. it was mostly populated by people id grown up with in that church but there were some others coming that had not. the leaders were a group of mid 20 somethings to early 30 somethings from our church that had known me since i was a child. after being involved for a while i started helping to lead praise and worship for the group and teaching a bible study. i was 19 and already in a position of leadership.
through the course of being involved with this group i met a girl who had just started coming who had little or no church background. she was beautiful and only a year my senior so we became fast friends. over the next year we developed a steady friendship and when i returned from my first year of college – writing and calling all along – we started dating. by september i decided not to return to school and we got engaged in october. things were looking great but from the moment we got engaged we had become sexually promiscuous which led to fighting and arguing all the time about everything. this continued until january when she came over one night and in a fit of rage broke up with me.
and i was broken.
i continued to stay involved in the group but she dropped out and quit coming altogether. we tried to keep in touch but we couldnt talk without throwing blame around and fighting over everything so our communication dwindled. she was still in touch with a couple of people from the group so i checked up on her though them.
4 months later i met a girl and started hanging out with her. my ex-fiancé found out and began calling me again but now it was always very late at night and it involved a lot of screaming and cursing. she sank into a serious depression and one night she called and told me not to come to her funeral because i wasnt invited then hung up. i prayed for her for a long time and thought i would go see her the next day. but the next morning my world came tumbling down. she had called the leaders of our church group and told them some horrible stuff about the relationship.
then she slit her wrists.
somehow she survived and at the hospital she told them much more. some of it true but most of it severely skewed. the leaders then went to the girl i had just begun dating and told her everything they had been told. lastly they came to me and confronted me. they told me i had to resign as praise and worship leader and bible study teacher and that i needed to confess before the entire church. they were my spiritual mentors and i was in a wrecked state of mind so i heeded their guidance.
meanwhile they spread their misinformation around the whole group as well as the whole church and over the next few weeks it became clear that i and my family were being ostracized from the church we had been members of for 14 years. with only a couple exceptions everyone i had grown up with and known as friends and every spiritual leader outside of my immediate family turned their backs on us. i was cast away from everything and everyone i had ever known or cared about. this is when i left the church and vowed never to return. i hated god for doing that to me and i hated the church and christians for taking part. i spent the next 8 years despising anything that evenly remotely resembled christianity or the church.
after a few years of reading everything i could get my hands on from every other major religion i gave up entirely and became a deist. i still believed in god but i didnt like him and saw him as far off and just watching the little games we humans played out for him. life moved forward and i went back to college and graduated worked and got married.
then one night about 8 years ago i was standing on my back porch and i got a call that my father had suffered a stroke and was in a coma. we rushed to houston and spent the next 9 months going back and forth to the hospital. he never recovered and when he died in august of o1 i was devastated. once again i shouted my contempt at god but something in the silence calmed me. i cant explain it – i just felt at peace.
over the following few months i began to search for god – praying for him to just let me know if he was there. he didnt but i prayed all the more. i began to spend time opening up my heart to him. i still didnt like christians and church but i was opening up to god like never before. i pleaded with the sky in the wee hours of the mornings when i couldnt sleep and longed desperately for his attention. i looked for the living god – not the god of self-help books or popular culture. i tossed every preconceived idea to the wind and began really studying the scriptures.
and god drew near.
he showed me himself through the scriptures but more importantly he showed me his presence in my life. a peace and joy i had never known began to grow in me and branch out into every part of my life. my family relationships revitalized. my relationship with my wife blossomed. we got pregnant and had our first baby. i began to trust people again and more than anything else i began to trust god and develop a relationship with him. as a result of my growing relationship with god and his spirit within me i began to learn what it means to be still and know him.
i been through some tough experiences and come through with scars but also with a love and faith in jesus christ. i still face doubt and i still have questions that arent answered.
so ive been wrestling with this for quite some time now and what ive found as i peel back the layers of church history and tradition and doctrinal theology is that a lot of the stuff that doesnt add up has been added on and is not reflective of christ or his teachings in any way.
in addition i spend a lot of time studying two other fields which i consider related. mythology and intangible heritage. the cumulative effort has given me great reasons to believe in a god yet i still have so many doubts. not if there is a god – but who god is.
and who he is bothers me quite a bit. i dont understand him very well. i dont know why he does things the way he does. i question him often (which really seems to piss off most the xians i know) i worship him anyway (which really seems to piss off most the non-xians i know) and ultimately i believe that christ was in fact gods son – sent to earth to show the way.
if you ask me why i can give you some reasons but eventually you have to come to your own conclusion. my only encouragement is seek and you will find – but it wont be wrapped up in a pretty little package like so many people think bc god cannot be quantified by catch phrases and bumper stickers. he is a dynamic being. it seems most of the descriptions the church has given him are far from adequate and have turned out doing more damage than good.
i also find it extremely uncomfortable when people tell me how easy he is to understand. in following him the one thing i have found consistent is how much i dont understand him. i converse with him daily. i fast. i read scripture. i study. i read hebrew and greek. i read theology. i have a ba in theology and am finishing off an ma in divinty.
all this and yet i dont understand god. sometimes he makes even less sense than others. the one thing i do with regularity is to curl up at his feet and worship him. i do this bc i understand me fairly well. i know that i need time at his feet. i know that i need to spend quiet moments with him – lifting my whole being to him. i cant grasp why he is the way he is but i can almost always tell when i need to be near him.
i dont know if this makes any sense to anyone but me. prolly not – but this is my relationship with him. its difficult and its taxing and its full of doubt and pain yet theres is a peace in it that i never had without it. so be it. im cool with that.