My last post really seemed to connect with a lot of people, I got several comments on facebook and private messages about it. So today I’m going to write about how I came to end up in the Assemblies of God in the first place. Oddly enough it was not the church I was raised in, but I came to find myself in one as a teen. Lets start at the beginning.
I was raised Roman Catholic. My parents both came from large Catholic families who followed many of the Catholic traditions. We went to our local Catholic Church on and off throughout my childhood, but pretty consistently from ages 5-12. After first grade my Mother even pulled me from the public school and sent me to the Catholic school that was associated with our Church. So from second grade onward I was in deep by no choice of my own. During my childhood years I didn’t care all that much about religion. I certainly believed God was real, and believed heaven was real but, beyond that I didn’t think much of theology or Church, it was just another thing I had to do every week that took away from time I could be doing fun things. It assuredly wasn’t as annoying as school.
As I grew older I developed more interest in spiritual things, and wanted to know more about this God thing. In 8th grade in my Catholic school, I had an experience that to me, proved the existence of God. I’m not sure I want to tell that story publicly, as I know it can be explained away by statistics, and its really only meaningful to me. It wouldn’t hold meaning for anyone else. I’m just including it as an important part of my background story.
I had that experience right around the time my family officially quit going to Church. My Mom was dealing with her own faith and at the time I didn’t care enough to do anything different from what she decided.
We moved to a new home so I could continue going to Catholic School for high school (becuase my mom was so disgusted with the public schools and saw this as a better option). I went to a large Catholic High School for my freshman year and then begged my Mom to leave. That was one of my worst years of school. Everyday I was met with bullies, and judged by kids who were more rich than I was. We could afford to go there, so we were well off, but most of the kids who went to the school were from the richest families in the area. I didn’t fit in. They didn’t get their moms old beat up car at 16 (like I did) they got new BMWs at 16. My only friend at that school was Joey, the only other super dedicated skater at the school. We both lived to skate and would skate together after school every chance we got.
At this point in my life skateboarding was my religion. It was everything. It was how I didn’t go crazy from the bullies and from the teachers and the awful school work that was either far too easy or far too hard. There never seemed to be any work worth doing early in High School. But still I had a desire to search out spiritual things. I didn’t like Catholicism anymore. To me it was all show. God might be real, but Catholicism didn’t seem like a great way of learning about him to me. Catholics seemed to care a lot about making a big deal about being Catholic, building fancy buildings, putting expensive robes on the clergy, and not much else. I didn’t see a faith that translated into anything of substance in real life.
For my sophomore year I transferred to Woodstock High School. It was my first public school experience in 10 years. I would have been a total mess if I didn’t have skateboarding at this point. I didn’t have any friends besides my friends at the skatepark, and now I was going to to a new school where I knew literally no one. Starting at WHS I became friends with a few of the new freshman, since I had to go to the same new student orientation as them. Overtime my friendships grew with a handful of these people mostly though our involvement in the music program. One of those people was my now husband, Ace.
At the same time my younger sister, Sam, was making friends of her own, and eventually she was invited to this local church youth group. All I knew is that it was one of those weird Christian churches that listens to that crappy radio station and raises their hands when they sing. I was super judgmental at the time. Over the years Ace eventually got involved in the youth group as well, and had become one my closest friends. Early in my Junior year of high school, they (Sam and Ace) finally convinced me to not just drive them to Youth Group, but to go with them.
The first time I went I sat quietly in the back judging everyone. I counted how many people raised their hands during worship and went home and had a good laugh with my Mom over it. But soon enough I went back. The people were nice, the games were fun. They may have some silly beliefs (most of which I didn’t understand at all), but I was hungry for meaningful relationships and this place seemed to have that in abundance. Soon enough I found myself bowing my head during youth group and silently praying along with the “Sinner’s Prayer” I was 17 and saved.
Everything changed. And I mean everything. I went in really deep really fast. I found my best friends at youth group. I joined the worship team. I was volunteering right away, and eating up everything I could about Jesus and the Bible. God was finally accessible and I was hungry for spirituality and couldn’t get enough. Everyone that knows me knows I go all in all things, sometimes too much (who needs a raised bed, how about 1000 sq. ft of garden!?), and this was no different. The youth group filled some deep needs I had for love acceptance, and spirituality. It gave life a rhyme and reason, it gave me hope, it gave me answers.
My Mom was not excited about our new found faith. She thought believing the old testament was literal was insane. I was happy to find any apologist I could to back up my new found beliefs. I was 17, I was pretty sure I knew how the world worked.
Below are some pictures of some of the youth group from the summer of 2004.
I was soon working at our Church in a few different capacities and even getting a paycheck for doing childcare. I was spending less and less time at the skatepark, since it had been sold to a new owner and I had lost a good percentage of my friends there. Youth Group and the Church it was a part of was my new family. I didn’t end up in a fundamentalist, pentecostal church becuase my family was a part of it, I ended up there becuase they were meeting my needs for love, acceptance, and spiritual longing.