Growing Up With Religion
I have been thinking about church a lot this past week. It is mildly odd for me. Since I moved away from home just over 8 years ago, I have been to church maybe 12 times. Before then I went twice every Sunday and once on Wednesday. Sometimes it was more than that too. If they were doing something special, I would go and participate.
Church was a very big part of my life. I didn’t go a whole lot while we lived in California, but my parents, my aunts, or one of my grandmothers would take us at least a few times a year. I enjoyed it, but I was very young and didn’t really understand it. It was that place you went for Easter or Christmas or some such things. There was singing and then you got sent to draw or make crafts while you listened to a story. All in all, not an unpleasant way for a child to spend their day.
We didn’t go a whole lot when we first moved to Oregon either, but then my sister made friends with this girl that attended a local church. My sister started going with her and soon my parents started taking us. I don’t really remember how long we went there, but it couldn’t have been long. It was one of those super fancy types of churches and it was kind of droll. After a while, I think my parents tired of that church but started looking for others.
That was when we found the local Calvary church. Calvary was where my mom and dad had gone when they were younger. It was non denominational and it was far more relaxed. I think the whole family felt more comfortable there.
That was where I really started to fall in love with church. I believed in it and it made a lot of sense. For the the first time in my life, I was actually making friends. I had never had a lot of friends growing up, so it was amazing to me to be in such a happy place with friends that wanted to hang out and do things. It was also my escape. I couldn’t be happy in school with all of the bullying and the severe lack of friends, but at church? They loved me and accepted me for who I was.
We were at that church a lot. We were involved in everything. My parents were very active, going so far as to be huge parts of the different events the church put on. They helped organize food drives for the homeless, a less secular alternative for Halloween that didn’t suck. My dad was even the teenage youth pastor for a while, leading services for us and organizing events and such. It was a really good second home for me and I absolutely loved it. Sometimes I think that if we had stayed there, things may have been different.
But, we didn’t stay. Much to my devastation.
During the time we had been going to Calvary, we would occasionally go to my mom’s best friend’s church, Northside Freewill Baptist Church. It was okay. Small, worn down, kinda grungy. The people were nice enough, but it was largely dominated by two large families that had been attending there since they opened their doors. They were inviting enough, but it took a while to feel accepted. They also practiced a much different form of religion. There’s was much more structured and rule based whereas Calvary was very free and open. The differences were rather large.
I remember the day my parents told us we would be going to Northside from now on. I remember crying and asking why we had to change. Even though my best friend went to Northside, I wanted to stay at Calvary. I was much happier at Calvary. But, it was not to be. Northside was our home now. Eventually I got past it and started to love the church, but I wasn’t the same kid I had been before. That was when I started to change.
The kids of that church were different. They weren’t nearly as into the whole church thing as I was. Quite honestly, they were a bad influence on me. That was when I really started swearing, listening to non Christian music, and really pushing into the secular world. There were still many things I wouldn’t do, but I was doing things I’d never thought I would do. It was the seeds of my rebellion.
I won’t go into why in this entry, but I ended up going to High School at that church at the school they started just for church members. That really didn’t help my love of church either, but I had asked to go and it saved my life. Being there all the time really wore on my desire to even go to church.
Interjection: I totally forgot a huge part of my time at that church. Church Camp. We did it every year. It was one of the few things about that church that I really loved. It was also where I met Anna and where I had my first kiss. I think that was one of the things that actually got me through a whole year at that church. It was rejuvenating and it really spoke to me. That was where I realized I was called to preach. I remember a prayer one day asking anyone that felt called to serve to come forward and pray, and I remember walking up there like I was in a dream. When I got to the front and knelt, I was in tears (the good kind) and then the pastor came and prayed with me and I told him of my calling. He even started taking me under his wing after that. We would talk and he would share his ideas and listen to mine.
Pastor Mike is actually one of the few people at that church I really respected, even if we butted heads at school constantly. He was always open to debate things and talk about different things in the Bible. I couldn’t really see it as a teen, but he was a good listener and was always there for everyone. Though he had his moments at school, he was usually jovial and happy when he was our pastor.
But, as we all grew older and things started happening in our lives, my generation at that church turned away from it. It is only natural for teens to do that, we need that sense of ‘It’s my life, I’ll do what I want’. So, we played that out. Most of my friends found alcohol and weed, but I still abstained. Back then I even stayed a virgin by choice, even though I never really had any opportunities to lose it. But, unlike all of my other friends, I actually valued it and thought it worth waiting until marriage. We were all so foolish, but teens usually are.
I say that I turned my back on the church the day Anna dumped me, but honestly that was just the final nail. I had been drifting away from church for a number of years already. I think that had I handled being dumped better I probably would have gone back to church eventually and become a pastor like I thought, but that is just speculation. I have the life o have now and it is the only one I get. So, it is up to me to move past all of that and get my life back on track.
I think that means I start the look for.a church soon, but I don’t know where to start. I guess I’ll pray and ask for guidance.