This is the first installment of what I think will be a large part of my blog. I plan on telling my life story as it relates to my faith and religious experiences and eventually adding in other posts about my thoughts on subjects that will be touched on throughout. Here is the beginning.
Alright, so whilst my mother was pregnant with me, the last of four children, she had what some would consider a profound spiritual experience. She told me that one day she was in the living room and after having her own spiritual wrestle she kept asking God for a sign. For something to be real for her to understand Him. Then, a presence filled that room, a peace that passed all understanding, a rush of heat, joy, and love all at once entered her heart and mind, and she was convinced. This moment propelled her back into church where she had more similar experiences. She become obsessed with reading the bible, attending studies, retreats, praying, fasting, and seeking out this newfound, tangible, faith.
My dad recounts this as a time of great tension in their marriage. He tells it as my mom becoming obsessed with a new movement. With an emotion more than fact, and something that she tried to force upon him everyday since. He thought her involvement was going too far and she thought my dad was being too oppressive. I’m not sure if this is what ultimately led to their divorce by the time I was 4 or not. My dad says that my mom truly believed that God had someone else for her out there, someone who would share her faith, someone that would love her more. My mom I think was just tired of my dad’s unenthusiastic responses to her growing passion. Either way, they split up and I grew up with my dad having main custody for the rest of my childhood.
My mother’s faith continued to lead her life in ways I only knew as normal. Looking back, it was anything but, however I was still appreciative to her for leading me to God even though she failed at living the way I thought Jesus had exemplified. I remember believing in Jesus as far back as I can remember. I couldn’t even go to bed at night without saying a prayer for the protection of all of my family members. My mother continued taking me to different churches while I grew up, most of which I found kind of boring, but I enjoyed the kids groups and I truly felt a sense of connection to God and that I must go to church. I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it, but it was just part of life.
When I was a little older, maybe around 10, the every Sunday attendance was no longer a steady practice of ours, and my mom was recently divorced from her second husband, Jeff Swain. What replaced the common church services we used to go to were bi-monthly special services hosted around the city that would feature big named traveling evangelists. I was absolutely fascinated at these conferences. My mom no doubt also felt a returning passion. How could you not after hearing their tales of heavenly experiences, seeing angels in the rooms, traveling the world and healing the sick. The powerful songs brought tears to the entire congregation’s eyes as we all felt the power of our great God.
I wanted this. I wanted their lives! I wanted to hear God’s voice as clearly as they described hearing it for themselves, I wanted to be taken up to heaven and experience the majesty of our Creator the way these people said we could. I wanted this so badly, and I committed myself to seeking it until I found it. I decided then that this would be my future, that surely God had put this burning in my heart to follow Him and to tell of his wonders through my life as well.
It was also around this time that my brother, 23 at that time, became a born again Christian. This was a shock to those who knew him as he was a regular party guy who showed no signs of repentance before. I still don’t know exactly what happened to him, but I was very happy about the turn around in his life and from that moment on he became a major inspiration to me. I looked up to my brother, I wanted to be like him and I wanted to spend all my time with him. Unfortunately, I think I was just the annoying little sister more than anything else and our time together became less and less as he grew older and had his own life to live. He still managed to take me to church every once and awhile though and I lived for those moments.
When my brother was in his late 20’s he decided to move to Kansas City for an internship at the International House of Prayer, a christian missions center dedicated to the 24/7 praise and worship of Jesus. I was 16 at this time and was still steadily seeking out God. I had even started going to a catholic church with a friend from school since my mom at that time was not going on a steady basis. Out of the friends I had at this catholic church, I was the one who wanted to join the bible studies, who wanted to attend the youth group outings, who wanted to go ‘deeper’ and experience more that the rest. I think I was frustrated at the rigidity of those around me, but I still felt like I was doing the right thing Soon enough I decided for myself that I must go to this place in Kansas City, it was only there that it seemed like people really felt the same as me. They were people who cared so much about understanding and pleasing God that they gave up jobs and other college plans in order to come and sacrifice their lives for something so much greater.
When I was 17, I felt as though I had fallen further off the path of the straight and narrow than ever before. I had my issues which I will discuss in further posts, but this time it wasn’t a normal issue. My best friend of a couple years came out to me after months of wondering what was going on with her. She was also a christian, and felt extremely uncomfortable, depressed, and scared at her feelings for people of the same sex, including me. When I first found this out I tried to back away. After all, I was the good girl who had just dedicated her life to the gospel of Christ and would soon be a world changing, born-again making, heaven or hell preaching kinda gal. Well a very long and complicated emotional struggle ensued and I ended up giving in to my curiosity, which I still consistently do, and entered a relationship with this girl.
I can’t describe the internal turmoil that I went through at this time. Knowing in the depths of my heart that this wasn’t the ‘right’ thing to do, feeling as though I had betrayed my God, having intense feelings that all depended on her feelings for me, and the nights of having to talk her out her suicidal thoughts, were all enough to keep my mind constantly racing, wondering, and trying to figure out what was going on.
Looking back, there’s no doubt that I really loved this person. She was my best friend whom I trusted more than anyone, and more than that, I felt she loved me and that made me feel good. I can honestly say I was never and still don’t feel as though I’ve been attracted to women, but somehow what we had was beyond this.
To be continued…