My parents gave me the gift of a Christian upbringing. Growing up a PK (preacher's kid), my life was saturated with church life. Sometimes, to be honest, church life did not enmesh with faith, sadly. Church life, as I aged, became something that I resented. Attending worship seemed forced in my young life. I went, no questions asked. The alternative was a stern lecture from one or both parents. My familial role, by circumstance, was to be the good child, the 'obey at all costs or die' child. So, I went regardless of my personal connection to the so-called Christ.
I was baptized when I was twelve with a friend of mine. Over the years I questioned my understanding being so young at what should be a pivotal point in spiritual development. I believed, at least at that time, that baptism was so essential that I'd be damned to hell if I didn't get wet and soon. I knew what I was buying into, but it wasn't my personal faith. In a sense I ate what I was fed, not realizing baptism was only the beginning. Today, I know that my baptism met two ends. I was baptized into Christ, but lacked a true personal connection, much less, a commitment to Him. Secondly, I was also baptized into my parent's faith, and not my own. I try not to determine which end trumped the other.
As a teenager I struggled with semantics between my believing friends. I clung with bleeding fingernails to the pattern of scripture in which my parents taught me. I treasure the lessons from my parents still, but was unable to make the connections in my heart the same way in which they did. The questions came, and the answers I received at the time didn't suffice my need for more.
When I went to college my faith stagnated. I attended congregations that were comfortable and recognizable to me as holy. My one regret from my undergraduate experience was my lack of soul searching. I was in every way the picture of a Christian young lady on the outside. I went to a private Christian university. I went to worship every Sunday. I held to the traditions of my roots. I left questions unanswered and comfortably sat in a bubble of my parent's faith.
I married a minister. I married a minister with a faithless father who loved his son. The stretching and nagging began anew.
Life brought new relationships. Life brought experiences of varying belief systems and traditions. Life brought pain and loss. Life brought questions that demanded answers. Finally, a day came where all that was within me begged for me to decide what I believed. The search, the commitment of my own faith, was born.
I remember the day. I was crying out loud to God for an explanation of why He let a baby die. I bargained with HIM. I fought HIM. I was angry. I knew then that some answers are not meant to be had. Amidst this turmoil I determined that He was there, regardless of my questions. HE IS regardless of our feeble attempt to understand or make sense of life. When all around was chaos, I felt the Rock hold me up.
No longer would I ride on the coattails of someone else's faith.
No longer would I cling to the education of my past.
No longer would I deny my need and longing for a personal, emotional attachment to my maker.
He is God, and I am not. This is a fact all must come to terms with.
In the life of every believer, there comes a day when one must take ownership of their own faith. The nagging questions, the doubt, are part of that; in that, it is human to question. The journey, however, is not the same for everyone. I don't expect everyone experiences life as I have. It is good to note that if one has questions it doesn't mean that faith is not there, it means the option is there for growth. The denial of growth is death.
Some choose to stop questioning and walk away. Having one's own faith is difficult and oftentimes hurts. It means that you can't blame any more decisions on your parents. It also means you are an adult.
Some choose the journey, painful though it may be. Joy and love come, and faith grows. May God richly bless your journey today. May we each come of age in our own faith and make peace with unanswered questions.