Yesterday I met for the first time one of the Haute Moms from my mommy tribe at my local library. Before leaving I asked what she was working on and she shared that she has developed a family ministry.
We ended up chatting for a bit and I shared with her that faith is an area I want to develop more on this site and God surely moved this morning to let me know it was time to start.
Let me just put it out there plain. I was raised in church my entire life, but didn’t really know God. I want to share a little bit today of not only how I grew in my faith, but also the journey I took to learn more about God on a whole.
I’ve always been a believer.
I was raised knowing of God as creator of the earth, heaven and hell, and I believed it because the alternative big bang theory just made no sense to me. I routinely prayed at night before bed, said grace over my food, but never really knew how much I didn’t know, until I knew it.
Church was a social event for me growing up. I had friends there, we’d hang out every Sunday, sing a few songs, go to Sunday School, and we knew there was a God and he had a son name Jesus. In the grand scheme of things it was enough to let me know someone was always watching us, even where no human could see, that there was punishment for wrongdoing beyond getting caught by our parents and there were rules or standard which should be followed in life, but we weren’t really learning about Jesus beyond the surface. I didn’t know about his humanity, his expectations (except don’t sin), the tools or power he equipped us with, or how being a christian translated over into my daily living. I didn’t even know what the true goal of being a christian was.
The only thing I knew was that I wanted to go to heaven, not hell, and that if I followed the 10 commandants and attended service regularly, according to my church, I should get there. Seemed simple enough.
So I went to church religiously, every Sunday, for 18 years of my life, almost without ever missing a week, and
for some of those years I also went on Saturdays too, because my grandmother seemed to be torn between being 7th Day Adventist and Episcopalian. Even as a teenager my parents had a simple rule, we don’t care if you party on Saturday until the sun comes up, get your butt up and go to church on Sunday.
I also went to vacation bible school, sang in the choir, was an usher, joined the EYC, wrote for the church newsletter and even preached my first sermon from the pulpit at the age of 17 for Youth Sunday.
Its very hard to explain but the habits were set and the foundation was wobbly laid. I went through all the motions of being a church goer, called myself a christian, understood the basic principles of right vs wrong and doing good to others so you can receive good in return, but didn’t really know what it was to really BE Christian.
Does that make sense? Sure I was christened as a baby, went through confirmation classes, brought my babies to be christened as well, and even gave my heart to the Lord at 15/16 during an altar call while visiting another church for a youth rally, but I always knew in my heart there was something wrong with the structure of church, the way I knew it, in general.
I had a passion for God,
I couldn’t tell you why but I knew the teaching I was under wasn’t solid. I knew there was a lot missing, and I knew that God had to be way more and wanted much more from us. I just didn’t know by how much.
It took a older woman much more grounded in the Lord than me to point out the problem. You have religion Lily, you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus.
I took some time to really dive into the difference of what that meant and my mind was blown. I could recite the entire Episcopal service word for word, I knew the 10 commandants, the lords prayer, the nicene creed, apostles creed and something that sort of resembled the sinners prayer but hadn’t picked up a bible to learn the true words of God, except to read a single isolated verse here and there in Sunday School.
In fact there were no bibles in my church pews, only a hymnal and book of common prayer. Where were the bibles? How could I call myself a christian and not be reading/learning straight from the book inself, in a place that claimed to be the house of the Lord.
Also how could God be so glorious yet follow a repetitious form of worship that had no variety in format or content week after week, year after year? Sure the sermon was there but it was pretty feel good, with one verse of scripture used to deliver an entire 45-60 minute soliloquy.
Needless to say I stopped attending the church I was raised in, but I had no real plan or idea of where I was going and what I was going to do next.
The first thing I did was just start praying more,
I also picked up the bible myself for like the first time ever to actually read it, not just turn to a verse, read it and close it. I can admit that for a long time I was afraid to read the bible. I knew it held the rules for my life and I wasn’t really ready to follow the rules, but I was getting older, knew there was a lack of peace in my life and was looking for a true fill for the void I felt.
I wasn’t attending a physical church but I was watching ones on TV, reading the bible and praying. God started to show me that all churches weren’t created equal. That there was spiritual food out there if you sat under the right teacher.
He even sent a pastor to date me just so I could see how flawed we are as human. How all who preach are not anointed or struggle with their own sins. It was the most eye opening experience I’d ever had because before that I believed all Pastors where the closest thing we could get to God.
I needed someone to talk to about my walk and I started scrolling my mental rolodex for someone who’s walk I admired. An acquaintance from college popped into my mind. (Jesus always leaves a lantern to guide us to him) Keara Richardson. She and I weren’t friends really, but we were cordial and the God in her was always very very evident. I called around to some people to get her information and gave her a call.
Hi Keara, I know this may sound strange, but can you tell me how you know so much about Jesus? What church do you go to? Can I come visit?
That one conversation my friends happened 11 years ago and it opened me up to a whole new world with Jesus.