My next Devotional Diary friend is the wonderful Angela from Writer Mom!! She is a kind and lovely soul that I am so honored to know! I am thrilled that Angela wanted to share her faith story with us all, and I am sure there will be many people who have been down this same winding road. I am grateful as always, for her to share her story and her history, and most of all her heart.
My Winding Road of Faith
My Faith story is unique to me, as I’m sure yours is to you. I’ve yet to meet anyone else who has a similar story to mine, and that is perfectly okay! If you find some similarity to yourself in my story that will be okay, too!
My maternal Grandfather was a Baptist preacher. When my mother was young he wasn’t yet a preacher, but they were adamant church goers which I am sure was not easy in a family of 8 children. My mother has memories of not being allowed to miss church for anything short of vomiting and a fever. Because of that influence on her, she was determined to not “force” beliefs on us and rather than taking us to church every Sunday, or having us baptized, etc. she was determined to let us choose our own beliefs when we were old enough to do so.
Whenever we went to visit my grandparents, which was pretty often, we always went to church and saw my Grandfather deliver the sermon. It was not optional. If we were at Grandma & Grandpa’s house, no one mentioned not going to church, or working on Sunday (It’s the Lord’s Day, crops would stand in the field, household projects would go untouched, etc.) drinking, swearing, or smoking. I kind of grew up thinking that everyone had grandparents like mine!
Going to church, for me, meant that at some point in the sermon my Grandfather would reference my cousins and me. There would be an anecdote told about how we had bickered in the morning, or a funny story told about how we played together the day before. My Grandfather was the old fashioned fire & brimstone preacher. He would pound his fist on the pulpit and captivate the audience! Sometimes there would be mention of my Uncle, who passed at a young age from a car accident and we would all get teary eyed. The church was small, the old fashioned country church with the white steeple on the corner of a little country road. When my family was in town everyone in town knew it, and the church’s population would triple for one Sunday morning. The offering bucket would swell, the ladies of the church would usually make us a lunch to eat afterwards in the church basement.
If you have gone your entire life without eating a meal prepared by ladies of the church in a little country church then you, my friend, have never truly eaten home cooked food. These are the women who cook with lard, and measure with their palms, and don’t have recipes written down. If they offer to feed you lunch, pull up a chair.
But I digress…
I remember going to church camp with my cousins, too. It was special! My grandfather was the shop teacher, my grandmother worked in the kitchen. Everyone there knew us, too! “Oh you are Bill & Opal’s Grandchildren!” and we were special. I loved going to church camp for two weeks every summer, it’s the only sleep away camp I ever went to, and I went for several years until apparently I came home one summer and told my mother that I knew we were going to hell because we didn’t go to church. I do not remember this at all, but my mother does and she stopped sending me to camp after that.
I always knew that we, as a family, believed in God. We believed in prayer and we believed that we would see our loved ones again in Heaven one day.
Fast forward to my teenage years, and my parents suddenly became very, very active in church. Just about the time that all I was interested in was sleeping until noon at the earliest. They became so active in church that they actually helped to start a small church in our town. Suddenly they tried to make it mandatory that we all go to church every Sunday. Sadly, for them, they chose to do this right in the midst of my only rebellious period ever. I didn’t go. I hated hearing about it. I thought it was stupid.
I did mention that I was a teenager, didn’t I?
As an adult there were times I would go to church for different things and I always felt like something was missing. I missed having the fire & brimstone approach my grandfather used, I missed how everyone was so excited that we were there and that my whole family was there with me. It didn’t feel like an event, and as a child when we went with my grandparents it felt like an event. Church now was boring.
As a married woman, and then as a parent, I would occasionally mention that I would like us to find a church to belong to so we could go occasionally. I’d like to meet other parents who were trying to raise good children, children who believed in Christ and were interested in learning about prayer, and Faith. My family didn’t have any interest in going, and since that meant we could be lazy on Sundays I went with the flow. Those who know me know that I’m very much a go with the flow kind of girl.
This past summer my family went through a bit of a crisis. I won’t go into details here, but there was a crisis of finances, and a crisis of marriage. Once the roughest part was behind us, I said I really want us to try going to church. Surprisingly everyone in my family was on board with the idea! I thought we would try out a few churches and find one that matched our beliefs. My husband was raised by a Catholic mother, and a Lutheran father, they always went to church with his father so he was raised Lutheran. My children had no experience going to church, they knew they believed in God, and prayer, and Faith, but other than that I’m not sure what they believed. I’m not sure if they had ever thought about it.
We visited a non-denominational church near our house. I didn’t expect to like it because it’s a HUGE church. They refer to the location as their campus. There are thousands of members. I thought that it would seem so far outside what I was used to as a kid that I would hate it. During that very first sermon the Pastor won me over when everything he said had me nodding my head. He talked about our Faith being a journey where there are stages, believing in Christ, learning about Christ, devoted to Christ and finally leading a Christ centered life. I liked that he acknowledged it’s a journey and even that sometimes we may go backwards for a bit before we move forward again. Then he said that finding a home church is like shopping for shoes, you may have to try on a few before you find one that fits you just right.
I’m in such a different place with my Faith now than I was a year ago, or even six months ago and I am kind of amazed by it. Now I am reading daily devotionals, and my children look forward to going to church every Sunday. I have always prayed, but now my prayers tend to be more focused and less “Please God, let this not happen”, does that make sense?
I still think about my Grandpa when I’m sitting in church, while I’m not sure he would have been in sync with the message, or the electric guitars and drums that play before the service. I do think he would nod his head in approval that my family is now regular church goers, and that we are working on our Faith for the first time as a family. I think he would like listening to the Pastor that leads our church, although he probably would think he needs a large wooden pulpit so he could occasionally pound his fist and get the congregations attention!