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Sunday, March 1, 2015

How we come to our faith


I made an earlier post about accepting people where they are.  I believe a corollary to that one is how we come to our faith. It is Sunday morning and my church called off services this morning.  So, I think I will take the opportunity to give attention to my faith and show praise by blogging about faith.   (originally blogged on 3/1/15)

People have different paths to and different speeds at which they come to their faith.  I will share a little about my path and then express how I see the faith of others developing and growing.

My path:


  • Early years-when I was born my mom and dad were going to a Catholic church (St. Sabina).  I don't ever remember going to church there, but I was of course just baby.  At some point they stopped going, but it apparently wasn't until I was at least 2.  I had Guillian-Barre Syndrome at that age and my parents did not know if I was going to make it or not.  I obviously did make it, :), but in the process of preparing for the possibility that I didn't, they had me baptized Catholic.
  • Fast forward a few years later maybe.  My dad didn't go to church and my mom didn't know how to drive.  She went to a church around the corner from our house.  It was a hellfire and damnation church, where you'd go to h*ll for breathing the wrong way.  Literally, I was taught the FEAR OF GOD.  I remember hearing from the minister's family that Escape to Witch Mountain was devil driven.  I call that "uptight religious".  I don't remember enough about the movie so I won't comment too much except to say that perhaps it wasn't 100% consistent with Christian beliefs??  However, I really have a hard time believing a Disney Kid's family fantasy movie is trying to undermine the basis of the Christian faith.  But, I digress.  So, I had my Christian faith "shocked into me" at around 6.  I would figure later that that's what I needed.
  • This below is why I needed that "shock," I didn't have the most healthy environment growing up and I won't go into that as I have previously, but let's just say among other things, from the age of about 8-12 (to my best estimate) I was sexually molested by a man whom my older siblings met at church camp.  He was a "church camp counselor" and became a friend of the family.  So, along with the other dysfunction that had a destructive effect in my life.  I'm setting this up for my later in my story. 
  • At some point my mom stopped going to the church and started going to First Christian Church of Florissant.  I don't remember the transition.  Anyway, my brother Bill and I in the meantime  grew up to become runners in high school.  Both the boy's and girl's cross country coaches were Believers and they ran a chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  The coaches let us know about it and an older teammate invited us to come.  So, eventually we did.  They genuinely cared about the spiritual well-being of their athletes and were there as mentors.  Sometimes, just being yourself you can affect the lives of others for generations to come without really appreciating it, but I digress. Anyway, ultimately this lead to my brother Bill and I going to church with my mom, accepting Jesus and being baptized in our Sophomore and Freshman year of high school, respectively.
  • As you might imagine, life didn't suddenly become easy and problem free at this point.  As a new Christian, I was disappointed that other Christian teens weren't always so accepting and warm towards me. But, at the time, I saw them as non-caring.  Even at times, I saw some people act a certain way on Sunday, but on Monday-Saturday, a different way.  Around that time my dad filed for divorce from my mom.
    • People, especially young, go through their own battles, teen angst, and their own pace of growth and maturity in their faith.  At the time, that wasn't so clear.  I was looking for acceptance among whom I thought were my Christian peers and was 'let down'.  However, there were a couple people that were there, but in my teen mind, it wasn't near the degree of acceptance or fitting in that I needed, especially given turbulence on the homefront.
    • I tend to be very intellectual.  But, at the same time, I have an emotional/passionate side.  So, the disconnect, between behavior and deeds got to me.  I don't know how, but I think God blessed me with a certain understanding.  1 + 1 = 2.  It doesn't matter if everyone around me acts like, 1 + 1 = 3 in their daily lives, the fact is that 1 + 1 will still equal to 2.  In other words, God is God and the truth is the truth REGARDLESS of if others don't live up to their professed faith of it.  What I have come to realize is that if you live a life very inconsistent with your professed faith, it doesn't discredit your faith, but it will make you compromised spokesperson for it.
    • No one can live a perfect life, which I felt awful when I failed, almost hopeless about my faith.  What I came to realize is that forgiveness doesn't end when you take up your faith, it is an ongoing process of trying to be a more Godly person while asking forgiveness when you fail.
  • I transferred to UMR (Missouri School of Science and Technology) and stopped going to church and fell away.  It is easy when you are around those who you know from church and those who might keep you accountable, meaning they'll point out when you are not at church.  But, what happens when you leave that environment?  My faith wasn't strong enough at that point to stay active in the or a Christian church.  
  • Fast forward, I was not happy in my job/life.  Not exactly at a high point.  A Christian coworker, shared his faith with me, I was polite but in my mind, I was like, "leave me alone".   Not that day or not that week, but eventually his words did get my attention.  I was about 26/27 and started going back to church and more actively practicing my faith.  It was it this time, I gave my second major push for understanding why I believed what I believe.  I did extensive bible reading and got a number of books on the foundation, basis, evidence, and rationale for why to believe Christianity.  This was an important push as my point below as will be evident later.
  • Shortly, after going back to church, I had started dating seriously with the intent of eventually finding a mate.  After many disappointments, which I may recount elsewhere one day, I stopped going to my church and went to a girlfriend's church.  Eventually, when we broke up and I felt homeless with regard to a church and I drifted again.  I met my now ex and she not only didn't share my faith, but she didn't seem like she was not open to it as for reasons, I never fully found out.  I'm not one to judge a person's faith walk.  I feel that is up to God, not me, but as it affected me, we were not even in the same zip code in terms of faith and it appeared that there was no path towards sharing a faith.   
  • We moved in together, then got married a couple years later.   This, in hindsight was a HUGE mistake.  I should have waited until I got married to move in.  But, that's a whole different blog on why I think felt like that was a bad idea.   Anyway, so without going into detail, we had a lot of problems in our marriage,  I had not yet got counseling for the hurt, dysfunction and the pain of my childhood.  I didn't practice my faith like I should have.  We were too different to make it in our marriage, but I do have a daughter out of the marriage, so I don't regret the role marriage played in my life.  It was a chapter with good points and bad points, but as a friend said it was a chapter and chapters eventually end.  I strive the next time for a continuing story rather than a chapter, but I digress.
  • Near the end of our marriage, I realized how lost I was in my faith and how I wasn't giving my daughter a chance to learn, understand, appreciate and accept my faith.  So, I asked one of my childhood friends which church he went to.  Eventually that led me to Harvester Church of the Nazarene where I practice my faith today.  Currently, I'm working on sharing my faith with Olivia and hope one day she comes to embraces it in the way that she is meant to.  Anyway, the previous push I made for understanding the basis for my faith was important here as I am better able to reconnect with it and answer questions my daughter has on Christianity.
  • In my life, it was important to have the shock treatment of faith given to me early so that my faith would survive the early turmoil and turmoil over the years.
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So, that is my path to my faith.  It is a long and winding one with high peaks and steep valleys, but in the end, I am working my way to being where I know I need to be.

As with the previous blog about accepting people where they are, people are in different places in their faith or Christian (Catholic) walk.  I believe in God's eyes we are all His children and He is a loving Father.  I am of the belief that He loves all his children and doesn't think one is more important than the other, we just play different roles.  So, I am not here to judge, but I will let that be His role.

I'm probably missing some paths, but this is my initial assessment on paths to our faith  of our adultlhood:
  • Some people grow up in a two parent household in which both parents are serious in their faith and show it in their everyday life.  The kids have a certain luxury of being able to follow their parents initially and the jump to a strong Christian/Catholic faith of their understanding as they get a little older.
  • Some people grow up in a two parent household in which there are deep inconsistencies such as the following or they grown up in a broken home in which both parents practice their faith. They have some appreciation for Christian/Catholic faith but their are obstacles:
    • One parent goes to church another doesn't.
    • One parent strongly practices his/her faith, while the other doesn't.
    • Both parents go to church for apparent show, but during the week they don't seem to live their professed faith.
    • The divorce/separation of the parents is inconsistent with the concept of a strong/loving/united Christian household
  • Some people grow up in broken households or single parenthood in which 'going to church'/Christianity is practiced actively by one, but not by the other (if the other is even present).
    • Child takes the faith of the active one, but there is a disconnect with the missing parent or parent who is in not active in the faith.  This can cause obstacles.
  • Some people grown up in households (single/two parent) in which a Christian/Catholic faith is rarely if at all practiced.
    • There is little spiritual basis in the immediate family for the child to grow up with a strong faith.  
Ultimately, some have it 'easy' to finding their faith, some have it more challenging and some have it extremely difficult.   This also relates to not just having a Christian/Catholic faith, but rather how strong their faith is.  

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Ultimately, it is not up to us to judge where others are, it is God's role. If relating your faith to another is important,  be aware that not everyone is in the same place, nor will they have the same set of beliefs, and everyone has different routes to their faith.  It is important to respect our where each other is and the routes/obstacles each of us has had along the way.