I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my heritage as a Christian. I’ve changed a lot over the years. I’ve gone from conservative to liberal both politically and theologically in many regards. It has been easy to dismiss my early years as a Christian, to be angry, poke fun at them, or dismiss them altogether. But that would miss all the ways those years shaped and formed who I am today.
To start out, I mostly grew up in a Christian home. From about age 10 my mom took us to the Southern Baptist Church and I was active in church the rest of my life. Most of my friends and my parents friends either came from church or ended up in church with us.
My relationship to church and to God changed toward the end of my junior year in high school. I got involved in a youth group that brought me to a church camp. The relationship to Alpha Omega Outreach and Harvest Ranch shaped the next several years of my life.
Over those years I experienced a true community that loved me and that I loved. I learned to hear God’s voice and I learned that God cares about me and what happens in my life. I learned that the Holy Spirit works in the lives of people and is active in the world today. All of these things I hold dear and true today.
The faith and strength I found in those communities and in my family would be critical. Later I would begin to question things like the authority of Scripture, the interpretation of Scripture, predestination, evolution. The strength I had found in my faith enabled me to embrace those questions without turning from God. I was able to ask God to show me the truth, regardless of what that meant, without fear. That began the next part of my faith journey, a part that would not have been possible without the things I had learned and developed during my early years of faith.
I regret that the changes in my faith have alienated me from many if those relationships. Rather than bond over a shared love for Christ, we have argued politics or talking points. My own immaturity has played a role in this, though I’m sure some relationships would have fallen just because we don’t share the same values. My hope is to grow, remember fondly, and value the things that have brought me here and lead me forward.