I grew up really White and Christian Reformed, I’m not saying this was a bad thing or that I hold disdain for my upbringing. I just… did.
I went to the Christian Middle School and then the “practically Christian” Public High School. I didn’t spend a lot of time challenging anything I was told in church or bible study, I just accepted it all as true and went on my merry way.
Then, at age 18, something snapped for me, As is often does when we’re baby adults… we begin to rail against what our parents taught us in an angsty journey to find our own “thing.”
For me it was leaving the denomination of my birth in favor of the very large, somewhat controversial, non-denominational church the next town over.
And then… getting baptized as an adult. Which sounds like nothing really, but you have to understand that I’d grown up Reformed, where infant baptism was a really big deal.
I was sure that my family would be livid over my choice to proclaim my faith in this way.
But, I was sure that I had found the church, the way, the method, the only real place where faith was to be found.
I couldn’t understand why my other friends were persisting in their attendance at their respective churches when clearly I’d stumbled on the only way to do church.
I’d drank the kool-aid of independence and was using it as a weapon, not realizing that in my step of independence I still hadn’t realized that there was more than one way to do church.
I was so post-modern
full of tirades and using my “label-free” faith in the most ironic way possible.
I know, I know… I want to go back and smack me too.
So I got baptized in the church, as an adult, expecting that everyone would be so upset about it.
And no one was. Not really. My parents and grandparents came and it was overall a very real and Christ-soaked experience.
In spite of my angsty attitude, God showed up, redeeming my humanity with his holiness, thank goodness.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving that year, when we gathered around the Thanksgiving tables to enjoy turkey and jello “salads.”
Somehow it came up, one of my Aunts threw it out there: “So, we hear you were baptized in September?”
Here we go, I thought… here is the moment where I have to stand up and fight for what I believe in, to fight.
“So why weren’t we invited?” She said.
My jaw dropped. I was speechless for what felt like forever. There was no gauntlet thrown.
“I guess I didn’t give you guys enough credit, I didn’t think you’d want to come.”
This was the only thing I could stammer out in the moment.
“You’re right, we really wanted to celebrate that with you, we’re thrilled at the new faith steps you’re taking.”
And I think that moment was when I realized it: There is more than one way to be “on fire.” It’s not Reformed OR Non-Denominational OR Catholic OR Methodist OR …. whatever.
For the most part… it’s AND.
You AND me. Your Denomination AND mine.
There is more than one way to be on fire, and when you find yourself flaming, look out… you’re likely headed for a burn out.
Faith is found in the fire, but it’s sustained in the embers, the small, daily worship of faithful living and thankful prayers.
If you think you’ve figured it all out, that you have it all right, that you’ve found the one-way…. please remember how human you are and always will be.
The vastness of Creation echos the hugeness of a God we will never fully figure out this side of heaven…. This is the most freeing thing I can possibly say about faith and fire.
There is beauty in the vastness of his people, in the varieties Christian religious practices…. there is heritage in the name on the sign.
I couldn’t sustain the angry fires of post-modernism for long, I now live in the embers of faith and appreciation for a God who is huge enough to encompass our differences and call them “Tov Meod.”
So very good.
You guys, today I am linking up with a bunch of other bloggers, all of whom are excited to help my dear friend Addie Zierman, celebrate the release of her memoir: “Where we were on Fire.”
So go buy this book, do it now, use this link, no excuses! “It’s a story for doubters, cynics, and anyone who has felt alone in church.”
I love Addie, I love this book, I’d like to hook the two of you up in this way.