I have always been a constant member of a church, but I haven’t always been connected with God. I’ve felt like I belonged and like I haven’t. I’ve watched others that seemed to have it all together and figured out while I was struggling to find my place in my own faith.
I’ve grown up in church my entire life. Both sets of my grandparents were Pentecostal ministers well loved by their communities. When I would meet someone new I would often hear “oh you’re brother and sister Brand’s granddaughter” or “oh I know your grandparents – brother and sister Curtis”. I have been in church nearly every Sunday since I was a newborn, rarely missing a week.
For the first 11 years of my life our church was a 45 minute drive across state lines. Each Sunday we would drive to church for the morning service, have lunch and then rest in the visiting minister’s apartment the church had in their basement. We would stay and attend the church’s Sunday evening service before heading back home on our side of the river.
Church has been a key factor in all areas of my life. It’s where I learned about God. It’s where I made lifelong friends. It’s where I met my husband. It’s where my love of music and singing started. It’s where I met employers. It’s where I’ve been encouraged by people who were invested in my life.
I am grateful for the heritage behind my name. I am grateful for how I was raised and taught about God outside of just the church walls. I’m grateful for the constant example of the true faith of my family, both intermediate and extended.
When you are a child your faith isn’t yet your own. You go to church with your parents, tell people you love Jesus, but the ownership isn’t there yet.
I remember a moment at our annual youth conference in Kansas City when I was 15 years old. I was sitting in the corner during a time of prayer and I kept asking for God to feel real to me. Up to that point in my life God had been someone I knew a lot about, but there was still so much I didn’t know. And more importantly there wasn’t a connection between us.
It’s kind of like Facebook stalking. I could tell you all the things he liked and wanted, but we weren’t actually friends. Yeah, I would see him around sometimes, but we don’t really talk or hang out. Maybe an occasional head nod and smile.
I sat there in that conference as tears ran down my face, just overwhelmed with a peace I hadn’t experienced. I felt safe and loved and known. For the first time I knew deep in my bones that God was more than just the stories I had read, but he was really real. My faith grew that day, but we have our ups and downs.
While church has always been a large part of my life, faith in God hasn’t.
I’ve sat on pews eager to learn more and I’ve sat on them eager to be dismissed. I’ve felt like a failure when I didn’t know the bible passage someone was referring to. I’ve kicked and screamed when things didn’t go according to my plans.
Thankfully I know that God is strong enough to handle my doubts. He gives me room to have questions and I know he’s not going anywhere.
I’m learning what it means to have genuine faith in God. There’s a difference between believing and trusting. I’ve always believed God existed, but I didn’t always have that faith.
I don’t read my bible enough. I don’t pray enough. I don’t study the history of Jesus enough. Even though all of this is true, I know that I am enough and still loved by God. I’m not a theologian, and I don’t think I ever will be. But I’m learning to lean into the uncertainty and trust God in the process.
Faith is a sacred journey, not a destination.
I find rest in knowing that I’m not alone in my wandering. My faith has evolved and will continue to, but even though I don’t fully know what’s ahead, I know that God is walking through it all with me. Side by side. Hand in hand.
If you’re like me and you’re taking some big steps that require a lot of faith, I hope that you too can find peace in the journey. Even the scary uncertain parts. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.