No matter what denomination you are, or religion, spirituality can play a major role in everyday life. You bet that is going to be a lengthy article about how my spiritual life started, struggled, and is still developing. You could also scroll down to the Fast Facts at the bottom, but if you read the article too, that’d be cool. All I ask is that you read this with an open mind.
Oh, and I apologize if I offend anyone with my ranting, but hey.
Edit: I’m going back through this and toning down the ranting, but I still want the message to be here.
I have been a member of my church congregation, First Christian (Disciples of Christ) since I was dedicated at eight months old . I lived with my Mom until I was five, and I was active with the church in the nursery and in Vacation Bible School. Being a toddler, I don’t recall any of this time. After that, I was moved to my Dad’s because he wanted back into my life. My father and his mother wanted me baptized in a Baptist church shortly after I was with him, around seven years old. And then, I was baptized in a Disciples church when I was like a young child with my Grandmother; twelve.
Do I recall those days at all? No. I just know that I decided not to get baptized for a third time when I officially joined my church (Disciples) on September 11th, 2011. Actually, I had been a member of that specific church, since 2006. One of my best friends joined the church with me on that day, and we both remember that day we celebrated Christianity in our lives, as Seniors in High School.
I went on to College, excited to see the Disciples church there. When I got there in late 2012, however, I did not belong to that church. I had done small group conversations with churches in Oklahoma, not in East Texas. The church lingo was different. The East Texas church was preaching on values that I was not completely Disciples. I did some research; they were like a blended church with a Baptist church. I also stopped attending that church, because of what I was going through at the time. More on said church in a little bit; its a nice reference for me, spiritually.
Now, before I continue, I think the readers here need to know how I became so stingy on denominations; which is terrible for a Christian. It was because of my abusive father that I did not enjoy the Baptist church. It wasn’t the church congregations fault, I now realize at age 23. Who wouldn’t allow there child to participate in VBS? Oh wait, that’s because his mother took me and my cousin. Or was it that his Brother’s wife took us two, so the men could go out on Halloween, or work really late? That was my bland church life as a youth member. All I had, were the devotionals that I just didn’t agree with or comprehend. And, it just didn’t answer my questions like I wanted ASAP.
Why wasn’t God getting me away from my abusive Dad? Why am I still here? Why am I not allowed to see my Mother right now? When can I go to Oklahoma and visit my Grandmother?
A. I did get to leave my Dad in 2005-2006. Notice I joined my church soon after.
B. I was there for a plan, and now I know why. To explain to people, and my younger siblings how to be fair, honest, and humble.
C. Actually, I was allowed to see my Mother, Grandmother, and Grandfather. No one was in jail, or anything. My father wasn’t always allowing me to visit every other weekend. How pathetic, I say. Every child deserves to see both sides of the family.
D. Oklahoma is home, except I live in Texas. I got to visit Oklahoma every summer, and then move there in 2013. How awesome is that, right?
So, my Mother and Grandmother grew up in the Disciples Church. And would you like to know what else is funny? I am now re-connecting with my ex-step-mother, aka my “Motherrr”, and she too grew up in the Disciples Church. I have many friends in the Disciples world, and whats great is that they have watched me grow spiritually. I know Disciples from local to state to General level, and that’s pretty amazing.
Can we go back to the story now?
Oklahoma knows best
I was lucky enough to attend General Assembly in the summer of 2013, and that was where I made lots of friends and professional contacts. At that point in time, I was frustrated with God…yet again. I was fresh off my Freshman year, but my health was the worry. Why do I keep passing out on the marching band field? Why can’t I handle the Texas Heat? I’m trying to prepare for this upcoming marching band season, but how will I know that I won’t pass out again, and not go to the hospital? How can I cover college?
- It is 2016, and we are still figuring out the scientific reasons why I pass out all the time.
- Hey, you handle the heat pretty well. Just only spend an hour outside in the shade and in the garden, and you will enjoy it more. It’s actually your blood pressure and how it drops when you stand and such that can be tricky.
- While I did go to the hospital twice, I was able to get some fluids back into my system. Stay hydrated like you always do, and you’ll be fine. And hey, taking a few seasons off from marching band is fine. You’ll enjoy it and appreciate it more from the sidelines.
- Oklahoma will be your saving grace.Boomer Sooner!
Again, God answered my questions, and it took me moving in the middle of September, and in the beginning of the semester for me to start seeing his plan. This is where the Sooner State, Oklahoma, kicks in. I withdrew from the University I was attending, and moved in with my Grandmother in Oklahoma City. I then found a Disciples church that I knew, and was proud of. I was there until July 2014; I got to enroll at the University of Oklahoma and God blessed me and my family with in-state tuition. Life was grand.
Norman’s church was fantastic. Because I was so wrapped up in being in college again, I did not attend some church events, or even church, often. I did however, get use to small groups. Remember the church I mentioned earlier from the East Texas town? I had gone to small groups outside of my denomination, and found that some things still upset me. Can you guess what it was?
Yeah, it took me until this Spring to figure out bits and pieces why I wasn’t happy at that small group in East Texas. (Oh, and by small group I mean like 30-45 people). It was the teaching style and method. Now, will it be hard for everyone to speak, and have a say? Yes. But please be careful on how you, the youth leader, are presenting the group and the subject. I am a free spirited person, and I don’t like to be preached at. Not at all. If you do that to me, then it is an instant “mute.” And please, be prepared for people like me, because we may most likely have questions and also have rebuttals, and also have different ways of approaching scripture. Sounds like I’m ranting? Yeah. It slightly is, and maybe that’s because I wish more Christians, across the globe and from different denominations, would realize how to approach things differently.
I was able to stay in the Norman-Oklahoma City area, and still found that I didn’t always agree with different denominations. Sometimes, I will go with my friends to their churches, and see how they enjoy church and worship. Small group is one I do not join in on, because of time constraint. After the event, I would want to discuss some similarities and differences, and sometimes I would feel so spirituality distraught after something said, that I would want to rant, or ask questions. I noticed that I personally, needed space from my friends for a few days to talk to God to learn about what had made me so upset about what was said, sung, or whichever at the service. I live by my emotions, but I am learning not to let them control me. Peace be still.
Since the beginning of this year, I had to relocate back to my hometown. Again, I had questions. Why am i back at home, shouldn’t I be in my senior year in college? Sure, my health is kinda making progress but what’s this whole deal about taking more research tests? Where do I go now?
With patience, I have gotten some of those answers back in a matter of months.
- I have a plan for you, just be patient.
- The tests are in, and hey- we are almost done! Cardiologist is the next step.
- I’m giving you an opportunity to build your relationship with me.
And boy, was he right about #4. I’ll be doing an internship under Disciples of Christ, with a care and compassion organization for ten months. I will get to focus on spiritual discernment, simple and community living. My next blog post will be about how God influenced me to embark on this adventure.
A. Curious about the Disciples denomination? Click here for more information.
B. I’d also consider the Disciples congregation “non-denominational” where all are welcome to worship, and you can dress as you like.
C. I would love to see more joint congregation events between all denominations, to bring together Christianity. I understand we all have different view points, but sometimes we can all come together on one or two things: our love for our Father and his Son.
D. Writing and journaling has helped me grow. Between writing out my prayers, to taking notes during bible study, I have found ways to capitalize on educational learning.
E. I believe differently then my parents and my grandparents at times, and that’s totally okay. Asking what they believe, and striking a conversation, without starting a fight is okay, too.
F. Okay, I am in the process of doing this, but don’t just study Christianity, also look into other religions or philosophies as well.Right now, I am looking into Sufism, and that is taking some time to understand the parables and the teachings. I hope to learn as much as I can, and this is also why I love Education. Learning.
G. I do have complaints about my denomination, attending church, and about my religion. I will post about those at a later time, once I get my resources together and do more research. It could just be me who feels this way, or not.
H. Church of Christ, for example, does not believe in having instrumental music during worship. I recall learning this when I walked up the street to see my local church during high school, and learned that signing hymns was there way of praising, musically. The harmony was great, but as a instrumentalist, that turned me away from that church.
I. Am I perfect? Not in the slightest. I found some errors while editing here, and I can hear my Mom saying “fudge” because she’s trying to cook dinner. Is God perfect? A question that I debate all the time.
J. Yes, it is okay to ask questions, and don’t let some one tell you its not.