I grew up in the United Methodist Church. I /loved/ Sunday School. Loved it. Even through out the rebellion years, I loved it. I loved stories about Jesus, stories about the heros of the bible. I picked up on things quickly, as I always did as a kid. I never once doubted the existance of the God of the Bible. Mostly, it was all in my head, not really a part of who I was.
I then went to a Young Life camp -- Young Life being an evangelical program designed to promote bible study, reaching out to teenagers. The July after my 15th birthday, I felt was one of the many times I /knew/ god was around me, part of my life. Every evening we had sort of like a revival meeting where one of the counselors would get up, give a testimony and a talk. That night, they described the weight of Original Sin -- Adam and Eve's disobedience in the garden. It separated us from god... and there was /nothing/ we could do about it. That's where they left us. They had us go reflect on the evening, with those words ringing in our ears. We were separated from God, and there was /nothing/ we could do about it.
Well, this had a profound effect on me. Something stirred within me and I went for a walk, as most people did. I sat on a dock, looking out over one of the gorgeous lakes in the Adirondack Mountains, on a night where no stars shown. It was completely dark. I can see the picture perfectly in my mind. I sat, my legs dangling over a small inlet, just staring into the darkness, when I noticed a single light shining from one of the private camps across the lake. It made a perfect single ray of light in the darkness. Suddenly, it all clicked in my mind and a wave of emotion gripped me. I knew what the answer was. I mean, we all knew where they were going with this talk. But, at that moment, my heart knew what my head remembered stories of. I knew there was a ray of light, a hope. I knew what it meant.
Of course, the next evening we heard the rest. The bridge of the gulf between us and our Creator was in fact, his Son, Jesus Christ, the perfection for our flaws. I committed my life to Christ that week in a way I never did growing up. My heart and my mind meshed with my intellect and I felt whole.
So, from that point I grew fervent in my faith. I had more 'religious' experiences. I had a great pastor, Pastor Jane that helped me develop my faith. She was exceedingly influential in me during High School and even let me organize services, running them as she would, down to delivering the sermons. The only things I couldn't do were the sacrements (Baptism and Communion.) I wanted to be a minister. I /knew/ it was my calling. My second year of college, I switched majors and began my pursuit. It was then things started to go badly.
First, I am a woman. For the most conservative Christians, this means I am Not Allowed to lead a church. There's a 'controversial' passage in I Timothy where Paul says a man should not accept teaching from a woman. In historical context, Paul was warning of these crazy women that were preaching all sorts of false testimony. They used this passage as the reason women weren't allowed to preach. Now, I'm not the most feminist woman in the world, but uh, no. That didn't set right with me. Moreso, that was the first time I really experienced the closemindedness of Christians. Growing up, it was all about treating people right, being nice, loving your neighbor. Even after my conversion, I never really considered looking down on someone who wasn't a Christian -- I just hoped they would come to Christ.
The more I got to know people at school, the more frustrated I became with Christianity. I think I lied to myself for a long time. One of my closest friends (and first loves) that I grew up with stopped coming to church... he said he didn't want to be a Christian, because of the Christians. I understand what he meant. The older I got, the more I saw the closemindedness, the lack of respect for fellow people, the just blind disreguard for free will. I saw people claiming to believe in the Bible, with no sense of what it meant. I grew more disillusioned by denominations and non-denominational air of superiority. I saw everything I didn't want to see as a young Christian and became embittered with it. My first crisis of faith was my Bible becoming a textbook, my prayers homework.
Now, as I'm an independent woman, I discover things about myself that would get me excommunicated from many conservative churches. I don't agree with some of what the bible says anymore. It stopped making sense. This God that I knew, revealed in the bible stopped feeling close to me. I'm bisexual, yet this is a grave sin in both the old and new testements. I don't believe god would condemn half the world's population, good people, kind people... because they don't believe in Christ.It doesn't make sense. The Bible, written by man, but inspired by god... but man chose what books went into it. It just begs for disaster. I don't believe there are all sorts of contridictions in the Bible. I still believe that part of my college courses. But, I don't subscribe to all it teaches anymore.
It all begs the question -- can someone lose their salvation? If you compared me now, to me in my hayday, I am two very different people. No one doubted my salvation in college, even with my crisis of faith. No one doubted my salvation in high school, or even after I moved. But now, this person I am, a bisexual with more kinks than an 80's hairstyle, one who swears more than she should, who loves and accepts everyone, who studies different religions for fun, who feels an affinity for non-Christian religions... if a Christian looked at me now, they would say I was an unsaved Heathen. In fact, I don't discuss these things with my college friends /at all/. I don't know what they would say or think. I'm not the person I was. I don't even feel God working in my life anymore. Am I still saved?
I believe I am. Why? Because I do have some beliefs that have not changed.
I believe in God the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
Born of the Virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate
Was crucified, died and was buried.
On the third day he rose from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father,
From where he shall judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit
The holy universal church
The communion of saints
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body
And life, everlasting.
I know God exists, I know Christ exists. I know Christ's purpose. I believe in a community of believers. I believe we are forgiven and the bridge gapped.I believe in this miracle.
What I don't believe is God's work in our world today. I don't believe in the Bible beyond these truths (and this isn't even in the Bible, folks.) I don't believe God created me to be this creature I am, with these facets of my mind with the intention that I see myself as evil because of them. I struggled for a long tmie with finding women attractive, but feeling the compulsion to make up some excuse, lying to myself about the nature of it. I do not believe God cares about that. I think he cares about our acceptance of his role in our creation and I think he meant for us to enjoy the world he created. I believe in personal responsibility. I don't believe in closeminded thinking. I believe in respect of fellow people. I believe in the world around us and the need to enjoy it while we're here, making the most of it. I believe in something better beyond.
I don't know where to go from here. I feel isolated from my past because of my present. I don't know how to reconcile the two. I miss feeling close to God, but I just don't believe he's active in the world today. I don't doubt his existance, but I just can't believe that he would let me go through what I have, without his comfort. Most people 'find god' when something bad happens. I only really felt him when I was doing well. I attributed so much to him, then took all the responsibiilty for the pain. I don't feel his presense anymore. I think that has made me jaded too. So, my faith quest right now is to find some peace with who I am and the world around me I guess.