My Winding Road of Faith

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!

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Comments

  1. says

    I have had moments where I haven’t been so sure about my own faith. One of those times was right after we lost my grandfather 15 years ago. I am Catholic and even went to Catholic school, but I got to the point where I just wasn’t sure what to believe anymore, but slowly I came out of it and then met my husband, whose family is Irish Catholic and very religious. We would go together to church on Saturdays early in our relationship and for some reason I felt more at peace during those Saturdays at church then I ever did in my previous years going to church. I am not going to say it has been a perfect journey here, because after and had my first and she was very colicky, we literally couldn’t take her to church for fear that she would disrupt the whole Saturday mass. Then I had my second so quickly and just couldn’t deal with keeping two little babies quiet for an hour. Recently, my kids went to their cousin’s baptism and now my older daughter actually asks us to take her to church. So, we have decided to try to go back to weekly masses and see how they are with it. I know it sounds like a bit of a cop out, but just the way it is. I still have my faith, but like all I fell off church for the last few years. I pray at home and I do feel like I am a good person for the most part. Loved hearing about Angela’s story today and sorry for the longish ramble about my own here, but quiet Sunday morning and my gang is still sleeping. So, I am able to just think quietly here a bit.

    • says

      Oh Janine, I know Angela will respond in time- but I just HAD to tell you how much I love that you ‘ramble’ and share about your own story/journey. That’s EXACTLY what this is about…

      That time to reflect and perhaps re-assess where we all are in our faith journey. And YOU have a beautiful and quite frankly a very understandable story. I would LOVE for you to share it here. If you are able and up to doing that! I know many would be blessed by your heart. (Just let me know!)

      • says

        Thanks for saying that Chris and I know sometimes I talk and ramble a bit. My husband will tell me often to just get to the point, lol! But would love to share, just need to think it through a bit and will get back to you if that works 🙂

        • says

          Oh girlfriend, I can ramble with the BEST of ’em!! I honestly didn’t even think you were rambling- just sharing your story and it was such an honor you thought a bit about it all out loud here.

          NO time limit or pressure on your faith story post!! As you process it all and in your own precious time- I think the process itself is more important than publishing the finished product.

          YAY! My heart is bouncing inside, just at the idea of another sweet friend exploring and embracing her faith- and the possibility of you sharing it with me and my readers. 🙂

        • says

          I tend to be VERY wordy! Did you see how long my post was? And I feel like I left huge chunks out! LOL Like, I didn’t even mention going to a Catholic school for a year and how that influenced my Faith, or about how hard it was to decide where to get married because I didn’t have a “home” church. See I could easily do my own series on this topic (And no Chris that is NOT a hint! LOL)

    • says

      I don’t think that one has to feel pressured to go to church in order to worship, I believe that we can worship wherever we are. I feel like since going to church regularly I am growing and learning more about my Faith than I did for a long time. Thanks for your comment Janine, I hope you enjoy your quiet Sunday morning!

  2. says

    What a beautiful story, Angela! I thin faith is definitely a journey and it’s harder for some than it is for others. I, too, believe your grandfather would be happy that you are working on your faith with your family. Thanks for sharing!

  3. says

    I love your story, Angela! It’s hopeful and beautiful. And I really do want to eat the food you speak about – cooked in lard and measured in palms!! Actually there is a little church bread bakery out here near the Berkshires and everything they make..well it’s a religious experience!
    I digress.
    Your church sounds wonderful. There’s one up here that is a bit like that – non-denominational and focusing on the journey – and I have been there with friends. I think sometimes about taking my kids there. My husband would be shocked because since I’m Jewish, technically my kids are Jewish. And yet, they’re not fully Jewish. And I do think about embracing all of those parts of their heart and their blood and their cultures.

    • says

      I loved being able to choose my Faith for myself, but I also think it’s important to know enough about all the other beliefs that you can make that decision, even if you choose to follow the religion your parents choose for you. I attended a Catholic school for just one year (long story, striking teachers) and a lot of the students there didn’t know ANYTHING except Catholicism and I felt very much like I was under a microscope. I kind of felt bad for them! Granted, they were kids (8th grade) but I did enjoy learning about their Faith, if only so I could know what I wasn’t. 🙂

      If I had that bakery near me I would weigh 300 lbs and eat there everyday…

  4. says

    Angela, your writing is so beautiful – I felt like I was reading a chapter of a great novel. I really enjoyed the history, the way things came forward into the future. The imagery. I can almost hear the banging on the pulpit!

    I think your Grandfather would be HUGELY pleased to know that the seeds he helped to nurture fell on fertile soil, rather than stony ground. Your new church sounds lovely, and the best thing is that you and your family feel PART OF IT.

    We are made for relationship. The end.

    (Chris, this series is going SO WELL! Love that you’ve done it. You’re such a rockstar 😀 )

    • says

      I agree, Chris is a rockstar. I pity anyone who tells her she cannot do something. 🙂 Blogging about my Faith isn’t something I have ever done! I think that a persons religious beliefs is highly personal and yet when she asked me, I jumped for joy!

      Thank you for the compliments on my writing, that is the best compliment I can ever receive! Writing is definitely my passion, and the way I process everything! (my poor hubby! LOL)

      • says

        I never thought of ANYONE trying to tell Chris she couldn’t do something, and woe betide the person who ever tried. But I’d almost like to be there (in full armour) when it happened, just to see what Chris would do 😀

        If this was the first time you blogged about your faith, kudos to you. You did it so well, with no clue that this was something new to you 🙂

        And you’re welcome. I really loved reading it.

    • says

      You are such a sweetheart Lizzi!!! I am absolutely THRILLED at how well it’s going…. I am so honored to have a place people can come and share something so personal. I want this to go on forever!!

      I pray for every faith and journey and heart to be shared here… The process of really thinking through your beliefs and faith story is profound for many… and I believe putting a voice to it, and receiving affirmation from readers is absolutely fulfilling- EVEN when there is an uncertainty or discomfort in where they are or where they are going….

      I want this to always be that safe place for our beautiful brokenness and our hearts that are longing for something to believe in… I think we all are searching in some way.

      May this be the place to sort through it all… and be blessed by that. 🙂

  5. says

    Thank you for sharing your story, Angela. My husband and I are still shopping around for our home church. Growing up, going to church every Sunday was always something we were supposed to do vs. something we wanted to do. I don’t want my kids to experience that. I have faith we’ll find a place eventually. I don’t think it’s something to rush. Glad you found your place!

    • says

      I really liked the analogy that it is like shopping for shoes, you have to try on a few to find the ones that fit. I would encourage you to visit some of the services on a few occasions, I sometimes think if someone was new today would this sermon really strike them. Like anyone I suppose a Pastor can have an off day! 🙂

  6. says

    So many parts of this story are very similar to my own. I completely understand your parents early on feeling like church had been forced on them.
    Thank you for sharing this story – I go in spurts now with feeling guilty that we don’t take our boys to church very often and then not wanting anything to do with it for a variety of reasons – it is a constant struggle for me.

    • says

      Ya KNOW I gotta chime in here and give you a tiny little (Picture that high pitched voice while reading that!) nudge about perhaps…possibly… processing it all out in writing and sharing it here? 😉 I would be so honored… and I just know many would be blessed by your story and your heart, sweet friend! (NO PRESSURE EVER- you know that right?)

      Okay then. Carry on Angela!! LOL

  7. says

    Thanks for sharing your story Angela. Church isn’t a one size fits all for everyone. I’m glad you found a church your family looks forward to attending. I agree with you that faith is a journey.

  8. says

    Such an incredible story Angela. My girls have recently become interested in going to church as well. I remember it being that for me as I was growing up…kind of like phases I would go through. I do firmly believe that faith in times of crisis is hugely important.-Ashley

    • says

      I was definitely looking for a church that had a lot of activities my kids would want to be involved in. That was important to me. My daughter loves the teen sermon, picture strobe lights and blaring music, and they incorporate a ‘hang out’ time at the end of service for all the teenagers to hang out together. Love it. My son is 10, so he has zero interest in sitting and listening to a sermon, that sounds like school to him! They play foosball, and video games, and he doesn’t even realize the lesson is being taught to him. Thanks for your wonderful comment!

  9. says

    I loved reading about your grandfather, Angela, and about those church basement dinners! That brings back memories! I grew up in a small town church, and was expected to go every Sunday, but I never resented it. My friends were there and it was a big part of growing up. (Oh, and my dad was the pastor. He could pound the pulpit!) My faith is such a part of me that I can’t imagine it not being there.

    I wrote a post a while back about my daughter’s experience as a granddaughter of a preacher. I think both of you will like it!

    http://www.lemondroppie.com/2011/01/granddaughter-of-preacher-man/

  10. says

    I love a testimony! We all have a story to tell, and I find my own faith strengthened when I hear about how God is working in the lives of others. Thanks so much for being vulnerable to share this with us. I’m sure your Grandfather is smiling!

  11. says

    We’re in the process of thinking about looking for a new church because I really want my son to grow up knowing Faith and all of the lessons and stories. We went a few times to one near us, and I liked the church but sadly the child-care volunteers weren’t really prepared to care for my son, so we stopped. I recently heard of a Mega Church that has a wonderful special needs preschool and got SUPER excited but found out from a friend on Saturday that they are ultra-conservative and I don’t like that. So I guess I’ll keep thinking about looking for a church.

    Your grandfather sounds amazing and I loved reading about your experiences growing up. MMM to country food.

    • says

      Hi Kristi,

      That’s unfortunate that they weren’t prepared to help your son. Maybe as they grow they’ll be able to incorporate those needs. Keep asking, and talking to friends and visiting churches. Maybe talk to other special needs parents and see where they enjoy going. It’s important that the whole family be comfortable and you won’t be if you’re worried about him.

  12. says

    I was raised Catholic and attended church until I hit those teenage years. Looking back, I feel bad for my mother, who was just trying to make sure we grew up to be good kids. I’ve been in and out of church, mostly out, for the last thirty years. I love how your story brought you back to your faith and that the time was right for your family to join you. Who knows? At some point I might be right back in there with you. 🙂

  13. says

    I also had a similar journey. Raised in a very devout family, left for college and stopped going to church. Started going again when I had children… but it wasn’t until I went through the crisis of losing a daughter before I really claimed that faith. Now we are in church and involved in the church. I just started doing a daily devotional, and I feel God working in my life. Thank you for sharing your story!

  14. says

    what an inspiring story. i am so glad you found a church community that works for you. i was raised a devout catholic and feel like i’m one of the rare birds who never strayed from the church. i always wonder why that is: was it because my parents were so devout? or because i went to catholic elementary and high school? or because i was surrounded by catholic friends who were all parented by catholic parents? the answer is important to me because i want my child to always know that he/she can turn to God and this wonderful faith if ever in trouble. it’s made all the difference in my life.

  15. says

    Our church sounds similar to yours, and I’m so glad you found a place that feels like home! Thanks for sharing your story–and here’s to remembering those old wooden pulpits 😉

  16. Jess says

    It is true, this is not MY story, but I do find your post VERY relateable. Especially when it comes to wanting so badly to find a church that we can call home, but giving in to my families desires to enjoy, on the couch, often in their pajamas, their one relaxing day a week.

    • says

      Oh those lazy Sunday mornings are so nice, aren’t they? Now we’re enjoying a new tradition, breakfast out (big treat for us) after Church on Sundays. And this isn’t to say we don’t ever skip a Sunday and indulge our lazy sides!

  17. says

    So many memories I had while reading this. My parents had a southern gospel band while I was growing up which took them (and us kids kicking and screaming all the way) to a multitude of little country churches. To this day I detest “dinner on the grounds” and church potlucks. The way to faith and church is so personal, so individual in design. I love the uniqueness of it all. Thanks for sharing!

  18. says

    Hi! Coming by from my SITSDay to say hello and boy oh boy do we have a lot in common! I can relate to the majority of what you experienced throughout your childhood and even the things I may not share directly I definitely understand. It is amazing how parents can impact our lives and especially our future faith. Thanks so much for coming by again and I will definitely remain in contact 🙂

  19. says

    I didn’t grow up with church, but my husband did, and we agreed that our children would grow up in the Catholic faith. I think church gives you a wonderful foundation, but I don’t think those that don’t go don’t have faith…they just celebrate it differently. I honestly don’t go that often for a variety of reasons, but my husband and children do. I know that are a few that judge me for it from our church and that bothers me.

    • says

      Hi Michelle,

      I think those that judge someone else for their church attendance need to relearn what it means to be a Christian especially that whole “Judge not, lest ye be judged” part.

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