Maybe this won’t be a long post. This area of my life is certainly long, but hopefully it won’t take me very long to tell about it. (Keep your fingers crossed!)
As a child (and even a baby, but I don’t remember that part), I attended the local southern baptist church in my hometown. (Really, the only choice was baptist or methodist, and after I got older there was a catholic church in the area and a non-denominational one started, but my parents and their parents before them attended this church, so there was really no choice!) It’s a great church, and my parents still attend. I went every Sunday morning and most Sunday evenings (until Youth Group, and then it was every Sunday evening… because they fed us! ) We didn’t do very many Wednesday night services, but sometimes we did. When I was 8 years old, I did the whole go-down-front-and-tell-the-preacher-that-you-want-to-be-saved thing, and I felt better. I had been worried that I wouldn’t get to “live forever” like the preacher said people who were saved got to do. I was worried that my parents would live forever and I’d die and we wouldn’t be together anymore. I was worried that I might even go to hell, and that place seemed awful. So let’s just say I went to the preacher because… well… I was worried.
Fast forward to when I was 13… We were having a revival… a hell-fire and brimstone revival. 13 is a pretty… umm… volatile age, we’ll say. Probably not the best time to make a life decision… or maybe it is. Who knows? Anyway, the revival preacher said these words “If you aren’t 100% sure that you’re saved, then you are 100% lost!” I sat in that seat for 3 nights in a row wondering if I was 100% saved… then… on night four he said the words that sealed the deal for me. “If you are only 99% sure, then you are 100% lost!” Okay… so it was a weird math lesson, and I can see his point now, however, all I knew at 13 was that I wasn’t 100% sure. So down to the front I went again. I told him that maybe the first time didn’t take… or that I was just too young and didn’t really know what I was doing. But I was sure this time! 100%! I even talked them into baptizing me again. I’m really not sure whose idea that was, but in any case, I was baptize again at age 13.
Now… I’m an 18 yr old freshman at college. I had a full-ride academic scholarship to a state university, my plan to major in psychology firmly rooted in my mind, and completely naive about the way the world worked outside of my hometown. I had applied and gotten accepted into the Honor’s program at the school, and I was excited that I wouldn’t have the take the regular old Comp classes because my honor’s class would take the place of that. Until the first day of class. The professor (a lutheran minister) began the year with an overview of philosophy. To say that I knew nothing about philosophy would’ve been an understatement. He began with existentialism, and by the second day of class I was so depressed that I didn’t know what to do. He taught these philosophies as though they were completely correct. As if he WANTED us to believe them. So one week we were existentialist and the very next week we were onto something else. I completely had my mind blown. That’s not even an accurate description of what happened, but I was altered… and back to doubting. During this same time period (the beginning of my freshman year), my mother was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma. It’s basically a non-cancerous brain tumor. Also, I was away from home (nearly 3 hours away) for the first time, and NOT playing sports, so I was gaining weight just as fast as I could. The first time in my life I had to do some real soul-searching.
I’m not sure how to shorten this other than to say… I eventually came home to visit my parents (after brain surgery), and I really talked to them about the doubts I was having and the craziness that was my brain. I wasn’t telling them everything, of course, but most of it. I never went crazy, or did illegal things (I guess I did drink alcohol before I was 21), but thankfully that didn’t lead to anything or cause any issues. So throughout that year, I withdrew from everything. I stopped going to classes because they were early in the morning and I didn’t like them. I ironically, passed both semesters of the Honor’s class, and college algebra (I love math!), but the science stuff (I hate!) and psychology went away quietly. I came home that summer and my parents helped me a lot with the doubting. I still wasn’t really doing the “christian” things… like reading my bible, or probably even praying. But I still felt like I was searching for the truth. I was disheartened because most of the people I knew (except my parents) claimed to be Christians, but didn’t really live their lives with the same values they shared at church.
I transferred to the state university near my home and moved back in with my parents. I lost my scholarship and had to get a student loan. I had to get a job (the third job I’d ever had). I had a couple of hours in between classes for that semester, and I used to go to my car and just sleep. I’ve never been big about sleeping at night. I’d rather my 8 hours of sleep come from 2am-10am, but the world doesn’t agree with me, so I would go to my morning class (with a honey-bun and a dr pepper) then to the car for a nap before lunch and then my afternoon classes. One day someone in my class asked if I wanted to go to the MBSF for lunch because they were grilling burgers. I thought about the crappy sandwich that I was going to have and said yes. We walked over after class to hang out before lunch and I met Rob. He was, and still is as of 2016, the director of the MBSF (Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship) on campus. I didn’t know it at the time, but this man (and his wife and kids) would restore my faith…. in just about everything. When I think back on this period of how lost inside my own mind I was and how depressed I was without even knowing it. I can’t help but cry and be so thankful for Rob and the countless number of lives he has touched. I ate lunch there that day, and nearly everyday after that. By my junior year (still with no career goals in mind, but a did have a major!), I was the president of the MBSF and there all the time. I was in a bible study in 1998 when a hot, bald dude showed up for the study. We were married about 8 months later, and the rest is history!
I would love for the revival preacher to come back and ask me again if I’m 100% sure that I’m “saved”. I’d tell him yes, but I still have a TON of questions. I plan to ask some of those here. Knowing that there is no way they will ever be answered to my satisfaction. And still… with all the unanswerable questions… I’d still stand up and say yes… I am a Christian!
Welcome to my world… it’s pretty great around here!!