Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Faith Journey

It was “meet the pastor” day last December (2007)—I guess that’s what it could be called. The new pastor of our church wanted to know about me, and then asked me about my faith journey. Faith journey. That threw me. Maybe it was because it was in the middle of a hard time for me, and I wasn’t myself at all. I was starting to come out of this strange depression cloud, and couldn’t think of some big journey, as just getting through each day seemed incredibly difficult. Now that the cloud has lifted, I’ve had time to think more about this, and wanted to write it down. Here goes…

I honestly don’t know where my faith journey began, and it’s a journey, so it continues. I truly believe that faith is caught and not taught. Otherwise, how much sense does it make that my brothers and I were all raised very similarly, but I’ve had pretty deep faith since high school, my “big” brother is an atheist (currently), and my “little” brother married a Catholic and seems to somehow have developed faith that way? I don’t know if any of it had to do with my grandfather being a minister, baptizing me, passing away when I was only 6 months old, and this being in the back of my mind, always. We grew up switching churches (Episcopal) fairly often, switching apparently to determine the “politics” behind any given church, traveling far distances to attend church, and not going really regularly.

I remember some kind of faith of mine being “caught” in middle or high school, when we attended church in Denver. I decided I wanted to be confirmed, and I don’t really know why, except that we actually went to church more often and I was in a Sunday school class where we walked through Genesis, were given info on other religions, and had an actual sleepover! Yes, that’s what I wanted—a community—all my Catholic friends seemed to have it, and for a brief period of time I did as well. I loved that—I wanted to be involved, without the “politics.” My high school English teacher remarked at some point that I was pretty religious, and I remember being religious on my own, without the community aspect, because my brief “community” in Denver ended. What it meant to me was an overall feeling that this was right.

I chose to go to Kenyon College, which holds ties to the Episcopal church but whose student body is not religious—I was one of very few who attended church. That’s when I began to listen to sermons, and what they might mean. I had never felt the presence of God until I was diagnosed with MS. Then I chose to go talk to my pastor about the why. We talked about the existence of evil in the world, and then prayed with the church secretary. For the first time there I distinctly remember feeling the presence of God, holding me, there. For me that was powerful, and I’ve never felt anything like it. My faith continued to build through college, because by that experience, I listened more and participated in the very small religious community at Kenyon more.

After college, I moved to Minnesota, but my faith wasn’t as strong then, or maybe just wasn’t as much a part of who I was. When I returned to Colorado in 1998, I started searching for a church where my faith might grow, where there was a community of which I could be a part. I kept coming back to Holy Love. There I found sermons that had meaning to me, and the sense of community I wanted. There have been other parts of my faith journey—where God seemed to give me direction—when I got to become a mom instead of participating in a risky clinical trial. There are other times I have wanted direction from God, but maybe needed to consider that choices are mine and I need to instead know that God supports me. And there are times when I’ve hit rock bottom, and God picks me up, dusts me off, and lets me keep going on my way. To this end, most recently after an MS exacerbation, I got flung suddenly into a severe depression. In the midst of this I went to church and found the sense of calm l needed—the feeling that someone was kneeling in the corner helping me to realize I needed help or I would hurt myself. And I did get that help.

That takes me back to where this writing started. And so, my faith journey continues…as it does for so many others.

Thanks be to God.

1 comment:

mdmhvonpa said...

MS and Minnesota ... you'll have lots of company up there. A lot of my extended family resides in that region and we have an unfair share of MS cases!