Sunday, September 1, 2013
Am I A Christian?
This past week has been a very interesting one. I have been asked no less than 4 times why I am not a member of the church I currently attend with my family. And to top it off, the sermon this morning had some to do with membership as evident by a subtitle "I am a member". Hmm, I can't help but wonder.
I have also been asked at least 3 times this past week if I am a christian. My daughter is one of those who asked me if I am a christian. I have to admit, all these questions about my Christianity have me a little confused. I don't think I've given anybody any reason to think otherwise. I mean, I'm not a party girl, I've never cheated on my husband, I hardly swear anymore, I've never tried drugs, I hardly ever drink anymore. I live a relatively clean life. I even started doing a short devotion with my kids almost every night. I've been making some good changes in my life. Jackie only wants to listen to christian music now so I only listen to christian music around her. So, I really don't understand why this question has been asked of me so many times this week.
First, I'll explain the membership deal. My husband is an official member of this church we currently attend. So is Jackie. She automatically became a member when she made a commitment to God and was baptized soon afterward. Those are decisions that she made on her own and I am very proud of her. As for why I am not an official member, well, I just have not felt led to become a member. I remember when Tim and I first started attending another (Baptist) church back home in Florida and I just knew without a doubt that was where we belonged. I could feel it deep down inside that I was home. And it was home. It is a very large church but it didn't feel that large. I became involved in a few areas of ministry there; choir, English as a second language ministry, and women's ministry. I had great friends there. I looked forward to going there. I was very sad about leaving my home church behind when we moved away. I miss my church very much. After the Air Force moved us here from Florida, we transferred our membership to another Baptist church local to us. Really, the only reason I agreed to it was because Tim wanted to do so. I was very reluctant, at first, because I thought for sure that we would not be living here for more than 3-4 years before we moved on. (Unfortunately, moving out of Illinois has not worked out, yet). Tim eventually felt that was not the right church for him so over time, we visited other churches. We have been attending our current (Baptist) church for a total of 3 1/2 years now and Tim recently transferred his church membership over to this current church. I did not. I just do not feel right about it at this time and I don't know if I will ever feel right about it. Plus, I don't consider myself a true Baptist even though I was a member of that Baptist church in Florida. I don't consider myself to be of any one particular denomination. I've attended churches of many different denominations.
As for being a christian, yes, I subscribe to the christian faith. I made a commitment when I was a little girl and I was baptized a few years later. Somebody recently asked me about the circumstances around the time I made a commitment. I remember being influenced to do so because of a nightmare I experienced, which cause me to wake up in fear late at night. I was just a little girl, perhaps a little younger than Jackie is now. I remember praying for God to be in my heart. Unfortunately, over time, as a young girl, my religious experiences weren't always positive. That's probably one reason Mother quit going after several years of attending church.(To this day, Mother has nothing to do with religion). I continued going to church, mostly just to get away from home. However, I still often felt judged due to my family situation. I felt judged if I dressed wrong. Even though I was a fairly good kid, I was not a pretty one and I knew I was definitely not as important as the other kids. Really, the main reason I even continued to attend church during my childhood was to get away from home. I entered adulthood very confused about what religious matters. I actually grew up afraid of God. Afraid of doing wrong, afraid of him not helping me in time of need because I sinned, afraid of so many things. I was so confused about religious matters. Over the years, I went to church on and off. I would do good for awhile, then I would falter. I seemed to falter more than I succeeded. And nobody seemed to care whether I was at church or if I faltered. But I still considered myself to be of christian faith.
Lately, my daughter has been my inspiration. She has such a tender heart and is so eager to learn about her christian faith. She loves her Sunday School teachers and she really enjoys going to AWANA. It made Jackie very sad when I stopped attending church for awhile with the family. Jackie has been my inspiration, a reason I have been working hard to be a good christian person. I don't want my little girl to be sad for me. She shouldn't be sad for me. As a young girl myself, I remember feeling deep sadness when my own mother did things that were difficult for me to accept. I don't want that for my little girl. So, I've been working hard to make changes in my own religious life. I've been getting more involved at church. I helped in the kitchen during Vacation Bible School week. I was actually recruited to help and even though I had planned to keep my distance, I am so glad that it worked out the way it did. I was able to make a couple of new friends who genuinely seemed interested in knowing me. I'm helping prepare meals with another good friend there on Wednesdays if I'm not busy. I recently joined the choir but that didn't work out. Perhaps later. I'm riding with family to church most of the time now. Until recently, I would just meet the family at church after they were done with Sunday School. I still don't go to Sunday School but Jackie is so happy that we are all riding together to church. It's the little things that really matter to her.
I've been greatly encouraged in just the last couple of months by a couple of situations in which forgiveness has been key to friendly relationships that had previously been unfriendly between us. All in all, things have been so much better lately and I don't feel as anxious about going to church with my family. I love that my kids seem happy there and have made a handful of good friends. I feel like I'm improving my social attitude there, too. I'm allowing people there to get to know me. Just a few people. (I admit that I can be hard to read). And I'm getting to know some really wonderful people there.
So, will I join the ranks of my husband and daughter and become a member anytime soon? I honestly don't know. After talking to a good friend today about that, she provided a different perspective that I had not thought about previously.
Finally, am I a christian? Contrary to what some people may think, I think I am. I'm no bible scholar though and probably never will be. Plus, in case heaven and hell are real, I'd rather go to heaven!