I'm telling a story this week. I promise I only do this a couple of times a year. The topic was picked my the HH facebook members and it is the backstory of my faith. You can read Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.
“If you feel it pressing on your heart, sign up for our mission trip this summer.”
But I don’t want to go to a third world country, even in the name of the Lord.
“God just laid it on my heart that you’ve been spending time with the wrong kinds of people.”
But these people are good, strong of character, and they’re teaching me about life in a way I needed to learn.
“You can’t associate with him outside of this space because he’s a man (leader) and you’re a woman (follower).”
We were just talking. I swear.
My parents had worried I would get liberal ideas from my english and philosophy professors, but my need to explore another way of thinking came not from the classroom but from people I knew. My world had become so one-note, with strange sets of rules that didn’t seem cultural or Biblical, that I felt like I was suffocating.
I sought out worship with strangers, driving an hour to go to church in my jeans. I wanted to learn new things and unlearn everything I was discovering all at the same time.
Somewhere along the way I fell madly in love with a man who was called to be a preacher. But I didn’t want to be a preacher’s wife, and marriage was the only direction we were headed, so I broke our hearts with a finality that left us both limping for a long time afterwards.
The problem was that I felt it was the Holy Spirit who was nudging me towards something less definitive.
“But that’s just the Devil tricking you into *thinking* that’s the Holy Spirit.”
It was circles, talking and praying, ‘round and ‘round.
A few weeks before my 21st birthday, at the end of my junior year of college, the turmoil that had been building up inside bubbled up and over onto my outside. For years I had held this legal-limit birthday up as a milestone. I had never had any alcohol before and I told myself that when I turned twenty-one, I could try it and it wouldn’t be sinful. Something the Bible said about “laws of the land.” I was never that great with Bible verses or stories.
While drinking and rowdy behavior had never appealed to me in high school, in my later years of college I did want to know what all the fuss was about. I never watched drunken behavior and thought it made a person cool, but I did secretly think it would be a nice escape. Since this is the worst possible reason to want to drink, my addictive personality is very lucky that once I tried it, I didn’t care for it at all.
I let my two best friends in college (neither of them novices) mix me up something that involved orange juice in preparation for turning twenty-one. I hated it and drank barely a few sips. But for the next few months I tried on the coat of being this wilder, more open person. I did a summer semester in England, free of the shackles of my faith. I was baffled by how un-fun this freedom was, and even more baffled that I suddenly considered the cornerstone of my life to be so binding.
But I did learn a lot that summer in Europe, none of it having to do with the paper on Virginia Woolfe I was there to write. I came back to the states anxious to get out of Oklahoma, curious to see more of what life looked like in a less homogeneous world.
I prayed constantly.
I had never actually been Totally Wild, just Totally Wild for my own standards, which still counted. During my senior year of college, having blown off a lot of my steam and seen a little bit of the world, I was more confident in the way my faith was shifting and I was more than ready to move on.
continue to Have Faith, Part VI...