Bear with me here, this is long and scattered, but worth it.
My parents were raised in very strict religions. Dad’s mom was catholic and his dad was Jewish. He went with both of them to church. Mom’s family was Lutheran. They both hated the church’s they went to and after they left the house, they grew away from God. Not completely, but enough.
When we moved to Georgia, they brought my sister and I to the VBS summer camp because our friends went too. We learned and sang and colored, but that was all. In middle school, the cool girls were going to Wednesday night bible study at the big church on the other side of town, so obviously I went too. It was the best decision I ever made. I was packed into a dark room with a hundred other middle schoolers, singing worship music that sounds like rock, jumping up and down like I was at a Taylor Swift concert. It was the coolest thing. Then this guy in his 20s got on stage and started speaking about some bible verse, I can’t remember which one. He was so into his message, so excited about the Gospel, that the veins in his neck were popping out. I was so interested and so curious about this God thing. I told my family that I wanted to start going to church there on Sundays and they agreed and we went.
In high school, especially starting junior year, we kind of fell away from going to church as a family. My belief was still there, just not as strong. We all go through ups and downs in our faith, right?
Senior year, on November 14th, a girl in my grade was murdered by her cousin. I have never seen my community come together like how it did that month. She was beautiful and vibrant, and we shared a birthday. Her services were held at the church closest to my high school and they had to have an overflow room for the overflow of the first overflow room. So many people came. The town was quiet that month. Our football dedicated the rest of the games and the big state champion win to her.
I tell you this because this church became my home, and if it wasn’t for this event, this service, her life, I wouldn’t be as close to God as I am now.
My mom and I decided that we would start going to that church, the one close to my school, and see how we liked it. We loved it. I knew the pastor through his daughter, my teachers went there, and so did half the school. It was homey and comfortable. Now, this church isn’t your normal church. It’s the “shut of the lights and turn on the strobe”, hardcore drummer, baptize in the river kind of church. It’s my home.
The biggest bump in the road for me was this boy. He was my first love, my first everything. We dated in high school for a year, and since he was a year older, and went to college, we broke up. When I got to college, we got back together. I don’t know if it was a comfort thing, or if I really wanted to get back with him. I really did love him, I still do (there’s a post coming soon more about this). But a little background: this boy didn’t believe in God. Not just my God, but any God. He would question me sometimes and make me doubt myself, but we never fought about the subject. It was just kind of the white elephant in the room, at least for me. I thought I was going to marry this boy. But about two months ago, I started realizing some hardcore stuff. I want my children to know God, how would that work with an atheist husband? My pastor sure as h*ll wouldn’t marry us if he knew I was marrying someone who didn’t believe. Our lives wouldn’t work. He wouldn’t work. Two weeks ago, after a lot of prayers, a lot of thinking, and a lot of back and forth, I did the hardest thing I have ever done I my entire life: break up with my sweet boy.
As harsh as this sounds, it was a really good thing. I have grown a lot closer with God, even in this short time period. I think while dating him, I was scared to talk about my faith, scared to show it, scared to be the kind of girl I wanted to be. I now know that I want someone to share my faith with. To grow closer together by growing closer to God. This was definitely one of those “wtf God…. Really?” moments.
I was not forced into any religion, like my parents were. I was able to discover God’s word. I found my way home. Somehow, this made my relationship with God really strong. Something about the freedom and the fact that it was my path to Him, not my parents’.
In my eyes, God is this being who hears, sees, and feels everything we do. Not like some Big Brother creepy guy in a van, but like a Father who looks out for his children. He could even not be a dude; it could be a really misunderstood woman or not even a he/she… just a being. How I see it is that He has this plan for me and He is holding my hand, walking me through it.
A big doubt that haunted me for a while was the question of “if He loves us so, why would He give people cancer, or why do people die in such harsh ways?”…… it’s a tough subject, I know, but what I had to realize is that God uses us and our stories to guide and inspire others. We are all entangled in this massive web of miracles, destruction, joy, and sadness. Everything that happens to us and around us to part of His plan, but also someone else’s. God is crazy, I know.
Another thought on the subject: I have this weird theory that all religions worship the same dude….. we are just interpreting differently. The wars and discrimination and suffering that people do and go through is completely stupid to me. I chose to be a Christian, not a catholic, or Methodist, or Baptist, just Christian. I believe in God and the bible makes the most sense to me. It just how I am, how I work, but I don’t hate on, nor really do I care, how or why others worship how they do.
Currently, I watch my church online every Sunday, my mom and sister volunteer there and dad watches it online too because he can’t handle the crowds (weird guy, but whatever). We pray before meals, I do a lot of devotionals, and I’m planning a trip to Haiti.
I’m not bragging, please don’t think that. I am just telling ya’ll what’s up. A lot of people have a lot of different views on the broad topic of ‘God’, and I’m just telling you mine so you can understand me more and where I’m coming from.
I think that God is a wild-minded, mysterious, fearless, and loving spirit. I try my hardest to be just like him in everything I do. Sometimes I stray, but I always return, and the best part is that He welcomes me back with open arms. I cannot wait to run home to Him one day.
But until then, I will just keep typing.
All my love & more,
Miss Bradshaw Wannabe