I'm telling a story this week. I promise this only happens a couple of times a year.
Some people would say that eight years old is too young for a salvation story, but I was there and I know it in my heart to be true. It was summertime, my hair was permed, and I was sitting on someone’s lap when I said my first real prayer.
My eight-year-old self came home that first summer changed in small but significant ways. Unpacking my trunk, I found a pink Precious Moments Bible slipped in by my counselor before we parted. There was a note, and a brand of kindness that would color the next decade.
I continued going to the summer camp for a month every June, and besides being the highlight of my childhood, it was also the only place I received any teaching about Jesus. My parents were not, are not, churchgoers, and though they enthusiastically sent me to a faith-filled environment every year, it was not something that was a part of their own lives.
When I thirteen, a new friend invited me to spend the night at her house and attend church with her family the next day. I had met Melanie at the birthday party of another friend, one who lived down the street from me. I was late to the birthday party because a bee stung my wrist earlier in the day and it had swollen up in a cartoonish way. I insisted on going to the party anyway, holding my hot, embarrassingly large and purple hand at an awkward angle. Melanie went to the only local private school, but also attended the same summer camp during a different term. We hit it off right away and saw each other often after that.
On the Saturday night of our sleepover, we didn’t stay up as late as usual because of the church obligation the next day. I was intrigued by the idea of rising early and dressing for the service. Not that I hadn’t ever been to a church before, I had visited sporadically with other friends to other churches in town. But church always felt very foreign, the ritual of doing the same thing week after week both appealing and repelling. I didn’t understand the terms used or when I was supposed to stand up or sit down or say Amen.
Doing all this with Melanie felt different, though. Preparing to arrive with this family would be another thing entirely. Melanie’s dad was the pastor.
..continue to Have Faith, Part II