…and they’re really pretty random. So here’s a look into the insane thought train of one mind belonging to the thing that I call my self.
Lately I’ve been reading this absolutely amazing book written by a brilliant author named C.S. Lewis. The book is Mere Christianity. It’s seriously a must read book… Whether one is a Christian or not, it is very helpful in understanding what I believe to be the very basis (and thus, the important part) of the faith that I call myself apart of. The book has helped me a great deal in sorting out my thoughts since I’ve had a change of self: what that change was, what it means and how it will help me.
It starts way back when I was 6. There was a night at church camp the summer after my 6th birthday where they did the whole altar call, mass commitments to Christ thing (a description which is not meant to be disrespectful in any way). I’ve always believed in Christ’s love and salvation… I’ve grown up in it. But I don’t think I’ve ever had a blind faith; my Mom has always made sure that I know or at least want to know what I believe and why. I don’t remember what the pastor said that night and I don’t know what I prayed. I do know that I didn’t feel like I had to go up to that altar because of any human being… I wanted to; I felt like I needed to. I know that that night I told God that I want to know Him and I want to be with Him. That night might not have had any impact on me if it wasn’t for the actions of one of my fellow cabin-mates. The pastor encouraged the people that weren’t going to the altar to pray for those that were. Well, me and my friend (I can’t remember her name for the life of me but I remember what she looked like and I remember that her Dad had just passed away) went up together. At first we were just kneeling there but then I felt a hand on my shoulder and it was the hand of this little 6 year old girl who was somehow my friend and I knew that everything was right and good. In that moment, this girl and I were in Christ’s love together as sisters. I don’t know where she’s at or if she still trusts in that faith or if she remembers that night. But I do. That moment gave me an immense amount of faith in the power of the Holy Spirit and how safe one is when they are in it. I knew that Jesus Christ was my savior but in that moment, I felt it.
I didn’t go any farther in my faith until I was almost 12. I went through confirmation class and was baptized 3 days after my birthday. Again, it was not something I felt forced to do, it was something I chose and wanted to do knowing fully that I was learning about the church and that, by being baptized, I was showing my congregation that I wanted to be a part of them. Oddly enough this was right before I became depressed because of problems with friends and stuff. I think taking that step was the thing that enabled me to lean on God (as much as I would allow myself to at that point) during my 1.5 year phase of being kind of unresponsive to the world instead of turning away from Him.
During that 1 1/2 year span a lot of things happened and I will always look back at that time sadly because I don’t remember hardly any emotions or joyful things that I’m sure took place. I will always mentally smack myself because the reason I felt so lost was because I wasn’t actually trusting in God. I believed in Him and I was still a Christian but the way I was being a Christian was making it a million times harder on my self (something this book helped me see). During that time my baby sister grew a year and a half older (not writing anymore about that or I’ll start crying)… I went to the Ren Faire for the first time for my 13th Birthday which was really wonderful but I didn’t want to feel anything but despair at the time so I don’t look happy in the videos or pictures; but I was happy… I distanced myself from everybody in my family (again, no more talk on this or I will cry)… I thought I had all of the answers and being a Christian was just destined to be hard and unbearable… My great-grandmother passed away after battling Alzheimer’s for a long long time… I grew close to a girl who I thought would be a very very good friend and, while being her friend ended up changing both of us and was in it’s own way a good thing, it turned out that she was the type of person I didn’t need because she (unknowingly and unintentionally… It’s just the type of person she is right now) made me want to base my life on what others’ said I was and what I thought the world wanted which just distanced me from my family more and from letting God be the only one I leaned on… I also distanced myself from friends who I would have been able to just be myself around and I don’t get to talk to these people very much anymore because we’ve just gone our separate ways and that makes me really really sad. Now, none of the bad things that resulted from all of this were intended by anybody… It just kind of happened and I’m the one at fault for a lot of it (as a result of how I was feeling and what had gone on with friends).
Now, the wonderful thing that happened that I did acknowledge happened a few days after I went to Ren Faire for the first time and a month after my great grandmother passed away. I went to a church camp that I hadn’t ever been to before; the first time I had been at church camp in 4 years. Also the first time I had gone to camp without my Mom and without knowing anybody else there. The Thursday night we did something called prayer chairs. Basically the counselors are sitting individually in a quiet place and the campers go up and pray with them one at a time or in pairs. What I remember is that the other girls cabin (one of which had become one of my only friends there) and I all sat down on the steps to the lodge waiting to go up and pray with that cabin’s counselors. Said young lady and I went up last… So we sat there together as the other 6 girls went up in pairs and came back down and sat with us. I remember singing with them and we were all sitting there together crying and praying for each other. Then my friend and I went up to pray with her counselor (my cabin and counselors had already gone back to our cabin because those girls didn’t have anything they wanted to pray about). That day marked one month since my great grandmother had passed away. I don’t remember really what my friend prayed about (self centered, huh?) but I prayed that my family, especially my Mommy, could be happy again. I just let myself cry… I let everything out and it felt really quite good. This was the beginning of me getting to trusting in Christ the way I am now (3 years later).
A lot of little things have happened between now and then that have helped get me where I’m at and that have helped the defining moments be even more so. A lot of the credit goes to my Mom and her love and influence… There’s also my church and the Ren Faire.
When I broke down this past Christmas, I just started to begin the process of telling God that I was done with fear and having to figure things out… I was done with frustrating my Mom with how I break down over the smallest things. I was just done. I literally and seriously just gave up. From the on out I’ve found an immense peace in being absorbed into Christ and leaning solely and completely on Him.
The latest thing that has changed me and brought me closer to God was a retreat to that same church camp that I went on this past weekend with my youth group. Pretty much all of these people I had met since my last time at camp and so I was an experienced one of sorts… I had memories at this place that the rest of them didn’t. I sat down alone on those same steps and I suddenly felt like everything had come full circle. That I was done with who I was and that I was my very own self now. It began the process I am going through of allowing my self to forgive my past self for messing things up because I was too afraid to just be with God. The next morning (right before we had our last fellowship time together before packing up and leaving) the leader of the retreat (a man that I have a great respect for and who is the youth pastor of another church in a nearby town) asked me something that helped me to really feel as if my faith is actually real and not just me acting or talking to myself (because I have moments when I think it might be… I have this horrible habit of doubting myself). He asked me if I feel connected to God. He said “Because I’ve noticed this weekend that you really seem to and that’s a good thing.” So, I in all of my wonderfulness just said “yeah”. But that’s okay. What he said meant A LOT to me. I had been walking pretty much by myself the entire weekend and staying to myself even though I was still completely participating in and with the group… That’s just who I am as I’ve come to a point in my life where I need to rely solely on God. But I had felt like it was because they didn’t enjoy being around me or something (which is ridiculous because these people are amazingly close to me… They’re like family). But he noticed me… He noticed my connection to God. My only redeeming quality in life is my faith that God has given me and so hearing somebody see that in me meant a ton.
All of this doesn’t even begin to cover my train of thought at the moment but I need to go eat dinner and this seemed like a sufficient stopping point. It tells an abridged version of my story so far so that everything else makes sense.
P.S.- You may noticed that I didn’t really include my Mommy in the ways that I’ve changed spiritually over the past ten years and that could be misleading. My Mom isn’t mentioned much because she’s there in pretty much all of the little moments. I wouldn’t be able to be anywhere near who I am in Christ today without having the Mom I do (thanks, Momma!)