So that was this morning.
And I'm happy I went through with it.
Here's the little blurb I gave at the start. Actually, I gave a shorter, less coherent version, but I like this one better cuz it makes more sense.
I made people cry! Yay?
My name is Becca Schwarz. I’ve only been coming to Lincoln Road for a few months so many of you probably don’t know me.
I want to give you a bit of background on my life and then talk about 3 specific areas in which I have seen God work in my life, which are the pursuit of relationship vs. religion, love in all its forms, and my ability to commit myself to Him.
My parents are both active Christians, and they created a home environment in which religion and the word of God were cornerstones of everyday life. I was home schooled until grade 4, and then sent to a mennonite school until grade 7, so for many years I was surrounded in a richly Christian environment. I went to sunday school, Conestoga Bible Camp, and Awana kids’ club. Here I memorized verses and Bible stories to an extent that still surprises me sometimes. Like a lot of kids in that environment, I accepted Christianity as truth from early on, and have always held a firm belief in God and the Bible. But factual belief and faith do not go hand in hand, and my journey of faith began the summer between grade 7 and 8, when I left my rock solid dome of Christian influence, and began meeting people and encountering situations that shook my understanding and challenged my nice, neat, useless little theology. Changes were beginning to take place in my understanding of God.
High school hit me like a brick in the face. Until that point I had no context in which to place religion, because everything was religious. This may sound naive, but until grade 8 or 9, I had a subconscious assumption that everyone was inherently Christian. I mean, I knew that wasn’t true, but I believed it. Accompanying this changing reality was the fact that many of my friends struggled with depression. I was very much influenced by the constant environment of sadness and became depressed to the point of self destructiveness. I felt like I had nothing to stand on. I had no one to turn to, because my friends all had their own problems to deal with, and my parents had 4 other kids to take care of. But at the bottom of the slough of despond was solid ground. God found me there, and He held me very close through a lot of nights full of fear and sadness. He began to teach me the art of faith, and I feel that was the mark at which positive change began to come about in my spiritual life.
Ever since childhood, I’ve had issues with rules. My mom will back that up. I struggled with the idea of following a bunch of rules all my life, and that’s all that religion seemed like to me during my early years. When I started high school, I had a conscious intent to get rid of religion in my life. I didn’t want to be good. I wanted to be different. I read a lot, looking for something with more validity than religion. I know that I can’t submit to just a whole bunch of rules with no reason behind them, which is what I found in religion. Expectations that I would fall into a very pretty little mould of a church kid rankled me. I read a lot of the Bible, hoping to find loopholes. Where is it written that a Christian teenager must like certain bands or certain clothes? No where, it turns out. What I found was not what I perceived as Christianity. Jesus always spoke about love and honesty, which were two things I found seriously lacking in religion. In finding the differences between what Jesus taught as truth and what was simply tradition I realized that everything I disliked about religion was put there by humans, not God. Over the course of a few years I rediscovered true Christianity through studying my Bible and prayer. God knew I was searching for truth, and He guided me to it just like Jesus said: “Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened”. He showed me what the real focus of my life is supposed to be: not a bunch of rules that I need to keep, but Himself. Loving him and trying to make my actions a source of joy to Him is really the point. Of course there’s no way I’ll ever be perfect, but He teaches me about Himself and myself and the people around me, and what it means to love Him in the context of each type of relationship.
God has said to me a billion subtle ways that He loves me. My family, my friends, my home, my horse, and nature itself I feel are all a very personal letter from God telling me that by some strange law of nature, my happiness is worth His time and attention. And because of this love, He made it possible for me to be close to Him. He’s really impossible not to love back. He makes me smile when I don’t think I can. He surprises me every day with his endless creativity and His willingness to help me learn.
I can look back on the past year or so and see where I have changed directly through his influence. God is teaching me through different situations and convictions what love means to each of my relationships.
For a long time, however, I have still struggled with commitment. Probably the most defining theme in my life thus far has been a overwhelming fear of getting stuck in a contract that I can’t uphold or grow tired of submitting to. So for a long time I’ve been very cautious of saying I’m a Christian for two reasons. First, it aligns me with a religion many people view as bogus and hypocritical. Second, it means that all the times I screw up will be marked up by someone as another reason that Christians suck. But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how God feels about that sort of thing. It’s like not telling your friends who your family is because you don’t want to be associated with them. Even Jesus said that if I am ashamed of Him I can expect He will be ashamed of me. Can I really say to God that I love him if I tell everyone else something different? Of course not. So I decided to be baptised as a way to tell him that I love Him, and that in spite of my fears, when push comes to shove, I want to be with Him. So I'm here today to tell God I love Him and to tell you that I am a Christian.
It's a weird thing. I still am freaking out about commitment. The only reason I had the motivation to do this is that Porky promised that when I got baptised that he would too. Good boy, he is.
But religion, religion; what ever shall we do about it? I still don't like it, and my mom thinks I agree with her on everything now. And my dad thinks I'm cantankerous, whatever he means by that. I am an individual, dear parents. You were, are, and will be unable to comprehend my motives and thoughts, because your minds resonate at different frequencies from mine. I don't know whose is the right frequency, of course. All I know is that I can hear God.
And now for something completely different!
Got home this weekend and the place was trashed. I want to leave. Not just res. I want to leave life, stress, winter, mother, and go live with my horse in the woods in a warm place.
Does that qualify as running away from your problems?
Not so much sure what I'm trying to say. I'm just verr.... turmoil-y about life. I don't like the pressure I'm under. It's pressing my mind into an unnatural, unwanted shape. I don't want these things imprinted on it! I want these blocks to go away so that my mind can be free. Free to roam where it wills and expand where it can and ignore the little spaces society tries to shove it into.
I will not grow brain bonsai.