About Me: From Afar

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!  🙂

32 thoughts on “About Me: From Afar

      • Sorry, my name is James Chen, I live in Los Angeles. Hi! I also read and experienced and follow the teachings of different religions. For me, I realized my path and work was to transcend any one religion and see a kind of universal religion. A religion that goes beyond skin color, race, people groups, time and place, thought patterns, etc.

        • I’m still struggling with it. I believe that in the beginning of time there was only one religion from which most of the other came, and that their cultures emphasized different aspects of that religion creating other religions. Much like what I believe about how race was created. But I try to focus on the questions on here.

  1. Hi. Your story sounds so much like mine. I was raised in church by parents who were always very faithful. I went through an extremely zealous phase in high school, and then it all fell flat after I graduated and the whole youth group experience evaporated in a puff of smoke. I was wandering and searching for so many years — but it was studying history in school, and Latin, and Greek, and art history, and visiting Rome — it was learning as much as I could, opening my eyes, and my mind, to all the beauty — that ultimately brought me to the path I’m on now. Your blog seems really thoughtful and interesting; thanks for commenting on mine.

  2. You were right our stories are somewhat similar and it is so awesome the you majored in religon and that you learned a lot out of everything you’ve studied what has stood out to you the most?

    • Hm. That’s a tough one. The senior majors and I had a very interesting camaraderie and we all took an “independent” study together. We were all so very different, and yet so very similar. We didn’t have a professor or a syllabus, but spent each week discussing another’s faith prospective and a reading that that person suggested. We developed a way of speaking where we would never interrupt one another and would mirror what we heard the person say if it got confusing or technical. That relationship helped me grow my own faith so much more than any reading. That sticks with me.

      I was taking Buddhist Thought and meditating daily while I was planning my wedding and getting married. When I woke up on the day of my wedding, I slipped into a meditative state of mind and even though a thousand things went wrong I never felt flustered; it was because of that state of prayerful mindfulness. I didn’t miss a second of that day because of stress or because I was numb. That sticks with me.

      And Gandhi. Gandhi brought me faith in Jesus to literal level rather than a religious level. I realized through the study of Gandhi that the Christian church knows less about Jesus than a most Hindus.
      Thanks for asking. And thanks for stopping by.

  3. I really appreciate what you are doing with this blog. Like you I have questioned my faith, struggled with and wrestled with what living is all about. You put it well..similarly I feel that it is ok to doubt because in doubting sometimes we actually grow closer to God.

  4. Fascinating journey. You and I have hit some of the same spots. I totally hear what you’re saying.

    Like you I became grossly disillusioned with Christianity (perhaps even a “church hater”) for awhile. Then, wow, I learned that there’s an entire world out there that I knew nothing at all about: the Eastern Church. I started playing with the Eastern Orthodox and Easter Rite Catholics, and bam, things worked again.

    I’m not saying it’s the answer to all your problems. Of course not. But, if, by chance, you haven’t gotten to know that half of Christianity, I recommend that you check them out. It’d totally be fascinating to you. 🙂

    Best wishes.

  5. I’m really glad you came by my blog, and yours seems very fascinating so far. I especially love your tagline:

    Just trying to ask myself the hard questions and be honest about my answers

    Your story is so interesting. I live in a part of the country that is still fairly homogenous, and it’s so refreshing to interact with those who have a broader perspective. I’ll definitely continue to check out your blog. Take care!

  6. True muslims are fantastic and protectors of sacred knowledge. Unfortunately my first exposure to muslims was in prison, where they were an extortion gang. But then I met some real ones and they knocked me out. Zen Buddhism stuck with me for a while and still does but then I became a hybrid of Zen and Christianity and now I’m just me, with a big dose of gnostic. I still meditate to center myself, but I don’t believe the transcendence stuff, I sit to to practice discipline and focus. i can’t wait to read more of your stuff.

  7. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my post earlier. I have read a couple of your posts and find them to be quite interesting. I especially appreciate your honesty in how you deal with the questions that you have and the answers that you believe you have found. I hope this outlet helps you find the answers you are looking for and that your questions continually drive you closer and closer to our Creator and Redeemer!

  8. Religion and faith are the poetry that hold in balance the brokenness of life and the purity of the spirit. Your story is compelling, and similar to mine. My father is an Anglican Priest and I have spent my life jumping from extremes while slowing landing closer and closer to the middle. I believe that every religion has some truth in it, but when people start using it for personal gain it breaks down. Honesty is what holds us accountable. Thanks for writing this and don’t stop.

  9. Love your blog – and your honesty. It is so sad that those who are merely “religious” regarding Christianity make such a mess of things. I used to be one of the religious. I dumped religion, though, and now enjoy a fun and vibrant relationship with Jesus.

    The Bible promises that we will seek God and find Him when we search for Him with all our hearts. Sounds like you’re on the right road.

    Thanks for sharing.
    \o/

    • Thanks for your encouragement. Sometimes it feels like a lonely path and I get discouraged, but my wordpress community lifts me up. I hope that it is enough to seek with all my effort and to ask in faith that God is big enough to answer.

      Blessings on your journey.

  10. Wow! Your blog is great! I’m super impressed with your content and writing. Keep up the great work! I look forward to mutual WordPress stalking. 😉

  11. Hey there Mike Morrell and I really appreciate your blog, and think you’d be an excellent candidate for our Speakeasy Blogger Network. Do you like to review off-the-beaten path faith, spirituality, and culture books? Speakeasy puts interesting books in your hands at no charge to you. You only get books when you request them, and it’s free to join. Sign up here, if you’d like: http://thespeakeasy.info

    You’re not on any contact lists whatsoever; if you don’t respond, that’s it, and the invitation is open as long as you’re actively blogging. We hope you join us!

    Thanks

    Terry, The Speakeasy

  12. Thanks for dropping by my site and sharing such well thought out comments! I appreciated it. I came over to see what you are posting in return. I really like the title of your blog, and it looks very interesting as well! Your childhood sounds like a dream, and one that would be incredible to live! I am going to browse around your blog a bit more. God bless you and thank you again for stopping by my site! 🙂

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