My Faith Story: it's a bit repetitious
Jonas and I have been learning about the qualities of storytelling. Every good story has a beginning, middle & end. A well-told story will have characters and a plot, with rising action, a climax and then descending action.
This short story of my life is not like that. There are characters of course. But the plot is completely muddled. It starts strong, but the middle gets really repetitive. And I have no idea where the end is going.
And I’m not talking about the story of my days, I’m referring to the story of my faith.
Beginning: I was born into a strong, loving, grounded family. Being number 4 of 5 kids, I adored my older siblings, considered my parents perfect, and loved the conservative Christian community I was constantly surrounded by. It was only natural to raise my hand when the elderly Backyard Bible Study leader asked, “Who wants to ask Jesus in their heart?” I think I was 6 at the time. At age 10 I was baptized in front of hundreds of people, to whom I said, “I believe Jesus is the way to God and I will follow Him forever.”
I’m grateful for that beginning.
Middle: My faith was first challenged when I was in Jr. High.
I met a boy.
Doesn’t the story always start that way?! He was also from a conservative Christian family, but he was “rebellious”. He started asking me questions about my faith. Questions I couldn’t answer. And, once he became my boyfriend, I decided it was interesting to live in his “world”.
The black nails, clothes and eyeliner were a shocking contrast to the sweet Katie I had been. But, the bigger contrast was my faith. I was intrigued and sucked into this other way of living - getting to do “bad” things (smoking, making out, listening to Motley Crue etc). God was just a kill-joy for such things, so I put Him way on the back shelf.
But, then it got scary.
The friends I had made weren’t just smoking cigarettes anymore. They were doing heavy drugs and getting really messed up. It didn’t seem fun anymore. I wanted out.
So, I repented. I cried a lot and prayed a lot. I cut off all my old friendships and started over. This was ninth grade. I joined the school Bible club (at my Christian school), I became a youth group leader at my church. I went to Christian camps. I was IN.
But, then, I met a boy.
This time I was a senior in high school. I was considered a spiritual leader on campus and was serious about my relationship with God. But, this boy was cute and fun and “rebellious”. Not even claiming a faith. And, I fell for him. But, I was riddled with guilt. I couldn’t enjoy our secret relationship. It was dirty, dishonest and really exciting.
I would purposely push down the voice of the Holy Spirit in me. I didn’t want to hear it. Even though I knew I didn’t really love this boy, and didn’t want to be with him long term, I wanted the secret pleasures of our relationship. But, God didn’t let go of me. He kept whispering.
My months away from the boy at college helped me see how much I actually didn’t want this relationship, so it basically fizzed out. But, I was still pursuing silly things while at college.
But, this other thing was happening to.
I had to take Old Testament Survey. That sounded really boring. But, it became my favorite class. The professor was answering some the questions my Jr. High boyfriend had challenged me with.
I can remember vividly having a question about some theological issue and going up to the professor after class. I don’t even remember what the question was anymore. And it doesn’t matter. Because what stood out to me was the posture of the professor (we called him Book because he was Professor Bookman). He listened to this question from a Freshman girl, and looked me straight in the eye and said, “That’s a really great point. I’ll have to think about that.” I was floored. He didn’t have the answer?! He had a PhD in Old Testament Biblical Studies (or something impressive like that).
I was softened. And I slowly started wanting God again. And by the next school year, I was all IN again. Leading Bible studies, going on mission trips, etc.
And here is where the story gets really repetitive.
I used to wish I could tell you the next part of my story in past tense. Meaning, that I am “over” this part of my story. But, we’ve made it to present tense now.
What I do: I will dive in deep to my spirituality; I will know and deeply love God and the Bible. I will be overwhelmed by His Spirit. And then...a doubt comes in. Or, a passage of Scripture really bothers me. Or I get disappointed with Christians. Or I get really impressed with other paths of spirituality.
So, to take you to the “end”- since every good story has an end.
End: I always thought this faith struggle would end some day. And, maybe it will before I die. Although, it hasn’t yet, and, I don’t have great reason to believe it will.
But here’s the thing. God has never let me go. Despite my efforts otherwise.
It actually reminds me of my relationship with Caleb. You know, marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ and the church. And, that can mean several different things theologically. But, for me, it reminds me of when Caleb and I were dating. Every time I broke up with him, he lovingly took me back. Every time I doubted we should be together - once I had some space - no one else actually did seem better. And, now that we’re married, every time I am frustrating and difficult, he forgives me.
That’s like God. He keeps taking me back no matter how many times I break up with him. The Scriptures, that have caused me so much confusion and frustration, have also brought me the deepest peace and sense of truth.
So, how will this relationship with God “end”. I suspect it will continue to be rocky. I will have new questions and struggles. And then God will have new mercy and grace.
Of course, when my mom died, I felt God’s presence so strongly and sweetly I thought I would never doubt again. But, like the Israelites, I can see miracles, and then forget.
But, I know God will never leave me.
There’s a verse that reads, “Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.” Amen & amen!