So I won’t share my name, but here’s a bit about me.
I was raised on a farm with my two loving parents. It was a subsistence-ish farm. We grew only what we and our animals could eat or use. We had 3-4 cows every year. A couple of goats as pets and a lot of roosters which my Korean surrogate mother stole from a factory she was working in that threw them out. It was a dream of a place to grow up.
My parents were Christian-ish. My Dad was raised going to church and my mother went on her own sometimes, but neither were very enthusiastic. They somehow decided on sending me to Christian school rather than public. They debated on Catholic school, but were uncomfortable that I would need to do the catechism (though the Christian school had it’s own.) I spent twelve years in Christian school. I was home schooled my sixth grade year because the teacher I was going to have was unacceptable to my mother.
In Christianity, we say that one gets saved and I got saved in my kindergarten year. I remember imagining what death would be like and hell and being so terrified that I crawled under my bed and asked Jesus to save me like my teacher told me I should. I suddenly became Miss I’mmadoright. I put pressure on my parents and told them the scary stories too, and they eventually got saved as well. We started to attend church very regularly. We went not only on Sunday, but three times on Sunday, Tuesday visitation, Wednesday AWANA and prayer meeting. I had daily Bible classes, and later attended every youth group meeting and outing. I was quite zealous. But as I’m sure those of you in the Church are well aware, one gets beaten down. I wrote a blog about it called I am a C. I am a Ch. I am a Church Hater.
After graduating, I was very discouraged in my faith and sought to distance myself from it. I attended Goucher College in Maryland intending to major in international relations. My first semester I loaded up on international relations and politics courses, but took one religion course that satisfied a gen ed thinking that it would be easy. I despised the politics classes and loved the religion one, and so I ended up majoring in religion. In the beginning, I was a very quiet student. But one can only hold their tongue so long, and I soon became the most outspoken in many classes and kind of a go to for a Christian perspective. I took every religion class that I could. I’ve studied Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and others. I’ve mediated, prayed, danced for peace (while trying not to show that I was laughing my ass off.) I’ve gone to mosques, temples and churches. And I even studied in China for a while. All the while, I met wonderful people who live their lives full of faithful devotion that I remember clearly. And the whole experience made my faith come alive to me. I didn’t have a stagnant obedient faith that relied on people and tradition, but on God.
Two things that had a most profound effect on my faith were….
Well, first is Moshe the Beadle. He has a very small part in Night, but it was hugely effective on me (just as the book, tiny as it was, also did.). He said that man raises himself toward God in the questions that he asks. So instead of growing angry, I grew curious. I grew to believe that the more questions one asks, the closer to truth and therefore to God one becomes. I mean I don’t remember hearing that anyone else got to touch Christ after he rose from the dead, but Thomas did. The second was my trip to the Islamic mosque. We followed their dress standards and thus I had to cover my head, and we attended the service. I was with the women. I realized many things that day. I realized that there was good reason for the separation of men and women, because of the proximity to one another and the way prayer is performed. And I realized that, as weird as it is, that there are American Muslims. A man from the mosque invited us to eat there. He sat with us, but did not eat as it was during Ramadan. And while we ate he talked about his family in Lebanon, and answered all of our questions. He talked about America’s war and Bush with a loving spirit, but also a somewhat conflicted one. It was an interesting conversation that stays with me to this day.
For four years, I worked as a tss or therapeutic support staff for Youth Advocate Programs. Basically, I worked one on one with kids with axis-1 diagnoses to help them reach self-sufficiency so they wouldn’t get put into placement. It was an amazingly growing job. Patience grew like a weed in my life. I couldn’t be more thankful for all that experience as I become a Mom myself. I look forward to sharing honestly with my own children and even more patience. I swear I never prayed for it, I know better than that! 🙂