I was 16 at a Wednesday night youth group meeting. The meeting started like any other gathering. However, this night would change my life forever.
I grew up in the Southern Baptist Church my whole life, and even at that age I struggled with the message coming out form the church. But this particular Wednesday night changed the how I viewed my youth leader, and the church as a whole.
I don’t remember what the message was about. But I will never forget the conversation. Like any good youth group, we are sitting in a circle to facilitate conversation. At some point in the conversation, one of the older boys said:
“If God was anything like me, he made women for my pleasure” (or something like this )
So, this budding feminist said:
“God isn’t a man or a women like we think about them” (or something like this)
Well, this did NOT go over well with my Southern Baptist leadership. And probably not the part you are thinking. My (male) youth group leader went in on me about how God was a man and any religious teaching that teaches otherwise was wrong. I am sure there was talk about men being the head of the church as well, but I have forgotten that part.
I am pretty sure I never really went back to youth group after that… and if was I was physically present, I am sure I was not mentally present.
To be honest, I struggled to go back to church after that.
I went to services off and on in the Army, in College, and some as an adult. But never again found a church family or group of people to worship with again.
I never stopped believing in God or in Jesus. I never stopped believing that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light. I just closed my heart to having a relationship with Jesus or the church. I stopped walking in faith.
God never stopped working in my life. When I really thought about it, when I examined my life, I could see Him in my life. I could see Him giving me the desires of my heart and protecting me when needed. I saw things that could ONLY be God. But, still I closed my heart. Still I walked alone instead of relying on a relationship with Jesus.
Then 2020 happened…. We are talking over 20 years later… and I found myself seeking God while isolating by myself during COVID. I found people on social media and church on YouTube. I found faith that wasn’t based in the Southern Baptist faith and taught Christanity in a way that resonated with me more, which still teaching the truth of the Bible.
For the first time in my life, I started reading the Bible. I mean really reading the Bible. Following up on questions I have, and research what scholars smarter than I am have said. I prayed. I really prayed.
My journey is not complete, but I feel my heart changing with the supernatural power of God. Now, I will be taking you, whoever wants to read this, along with me on this journey. God gave me this story and has ask me to write it up and put it out there. I have prayed if this is the right thing to do and He keeps telling me “yes, child… you have a story that can help others”. My story is not done… and you will see me struggle. Struggle with me. Walk with me as I learn to walk with Jesus. My walk is unsteady… I am learning to walk as a toddler. I will fall, but I know Jesus will be there to catch me.
I invite you to share in my unsteady walk. I invite you to share your own unsteady walk. I invite you to pray for and with me as I pray for and with you. My Jesus guide my hand and our walk.