I think of my early impressions of Christianity. I was not raised in Christian home, but in my days they were plenty of Christian eccentrics with hair sprayed into a scary football helmet style, preaching a turn or burn gospel on T.V. In that time I think we had about twelve channels if we were lucky. So I spent a lot of Sunday mornings with nothing else to watch. I heard about how the end was near and it scared me. I wondered what would happen to me.
My parents were self-confessed hippies and a gypsies of sort. We moved so much, I quickly got used to saying good-bye to my friends and laying down new roots. I am not sure what turned my parents against organized religion, but they had it a little rougher than me growing up, so I am sure the world had plenty of opportunities to taint the image of God to them.
In all this even though I had not met God, I knew him.
I’d pray when I was scared, or lonely. When I heard my parents fighting. When things in my life crazier then any little girl should have to try to handle. At Easter I knew it was about Jesus dying on the cross, I did not understand why a man would do something like that, but I thanked him for what he did. At Christmas, I would wish him a Happy Birthday, then pray and ask Santa to bring my E.T doll.
I grew up believing Christianity was a birth right. A life you were born into, exclusive. Know one told me this, it was the impression I had formed as a young child. I also thought Christian’s were a little crazy, and felt a bit sorry for them. That they were chained into a life heavily dictated by religion and rules. We called them bible thumpers, I thought they looked miserable when I say their stern faces on the television, but I still loved God.
When I was about eight, I am not super clear on the age, since we moved so much like I mentioned, I can not quite remember what grade I was in, a neighbour started a small bible study on his front lawn. I went, and loved it. At the end of summer we had a party, he made popcorn in an air popper with the lid off and we all scrambled for the treat in delight. In the end he talked about a personal relationship with Jesus and offered to pray with us, to ask Jesus into our heart. I did. Shortly after I ran home and told my Dad about how I had asked Jesus into my heart. I was very excited about my new friend.
My dad, was anti religion, anti establishment (hippie). He was mad, he felt we had been taken advantage of and he went down and talked to my friend at the end of the street. Shortly after that, we moved. I remember feeling ashamed, like I had done something wrong. That was my first encounter with Jesus. Shame.
Later in life in my twenties I was brought to church by a friend. There were three of us there for the first time that night. At the end, when there was an altar call. We put our hands up in the service and I once again met Him.
I have heard often of people being radically saved. People, who in that moment of meeting there Savior Jesus, they experience a complete transformation. Healed from addiction, shame, abandonment, a stutter. I wish I could say that was me. My experience with God has been a little slower. I’ve walked away a few times and come back. Knowing life is not much without him. I’m thankful that every time I have turned back to God, he was there with open arms. Maybe it was my way of testing Him. God, more than anyone understood the baggage that I brought to the altar that night.
I had to face ridicule from some friends, the same ones I made the bible thumper jokes with. I had to figure out what a Christian looked like to me. For a time, I tried to conform to an image that I believed was Christianity. It was pretty silly when I think about it. Conservative clothes, a humble demeanor, and I should not appear to be having any fun, since the whole world could be going to hell around me. I would timidly voice my Christianity in conversations, which would open up religious debates. These I was completely ill-equipped to argue.
Today about sixteen years from that night I met Him, Christianity is just who I am. I gave up the weird image I had of what a Christian looks like. I’m a girl who falls on her face a lot, messes up, and fails bad. Every time, when I pick myself up, Jesus is right there, helping me. I don’t feel like I need to arm myself with my bible in front of me symbolizing my holiness. Instead I’ve learned I just wear Christianity. The more real I am, the more I am willing to share all of me, the more authentic my voice becomes. Sometimes it looks like packing hampers for our community, or visiting seniors. Sometimes it is blowing up balloons in our church foyer. Other times, it is sharing my story. About how He redeems us. About no matter what you do, it is never too much God to handle.
Even though my story was more of a journey, then a “moment”.When I look at what God has done in my life I know, I was radically saved.