The Renewing of My Mind - part I

This is the story of how I went from being a Christian, to not being a Christian, to being a Christian again.  I have been wanting to record this for awhile, and, well, no time like the present.

I was raised in a Christian home and went to church regularly as a child.  I accepted Jesus at the tender age of seven and was baptized.  But unfortunately, that was the extent of my understanding about church - a child's understanding.  By the time 1983 rolled around and Darth Vadar said, "You underestimate the power of the dark side," I was 16 years old, my parents had just divorced, and I was already struggling with my faith.  If all you know is the story of Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, and Daniel in the Lion's Den, you don't have very sure footing on the shifting sands of life.  (okay, I knew a little more than that, but not much)

At the age of 18, I lost my virginity to date rape.  I was really confused.  I had planned on waiting until I was married and this situation threw a monkey wrench into that plan.  Hmmmm... how do I reconcile all this with what I had been taught in church?  My initial reaction was that I had to marry the guy.  I continued to date him for quite awhile.  But he was into drugs and I was decidedly not.  His college housemate was a cocaine dealer and I can remember how people would show up at all hours of the night.  Then, apparently drug etiquette is that you cut some lines and share with everyone at the house.  They all liked me because I wouldn't touch the stuff, so less they had to share.  This was soooo not what I wanted for my life!  I eventually broke up with him, but this left me feeling like I was in some sort of religious limbo.  Could I still be a Christian now that I hadn't married him?

Two years later, now 20 years old, I was raped again.  If you are a rape survivor, then you can probably empathize with how weird it is for me to put that in black and white.  I hauntingly remembered the anniversary of that event for many, many years.  That was the breaking point for me.  It was at this time that I completely walked away from the faith of my childhood and embraced New Age teachings.  I needed to find some way to work out what had happened to me in the big picture of the meaning of life.  I became a big fan of pretty much anything other than Christianity, and I quickly echoed all the typical rationalizations for why the Bible is just a book like any other and not something to base your life on.  When I went back to college, I even got an A+ on a research paper in which I trashed religions.

I was "spiritual" not religious.

I can remember on Sunday mornings when I was in college, I would hike out and sit on the edge of a rock cliff and commune with nature.  I called that going to church.

Fast forward to the year 1997.  I was getting ready to turn 30 in May that year and I became pretty reflective about life, the universe and everything. The first decision I made was to quit smoking since I couldn't pass it off as a childish phase anymore.  I gave up drinking too, as alcohol would make me want cigarettes.  The next decision was to see for myself what the religions of the world had to offer. (vs. just accepting what other people had said)

I went to the book store and purchased a Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, The Compassionate Teachings of Buddha, and just to be fair, I picked up a small, paperback Bible.  Although, honestly, while I read the other texts, I didn't read the Bible.

At least not until that fall.

I took a road trip from New Mexico to Maryland to visit my mom.  Me and my dog, A.T., cruising route 40 across the country in my Jeep Wrangler.  I timed my travels on the way back so that I would end up in Nashville on a Saturday night.  This was during my country dancing phase.  I went dancing all the time in Albuquerque, mostly at The Caravan and Boot Scoots.  Twice I had been asked to partner up and go professional, but I was afraid it wouldn't be fun anymore if I went competitive.  So, now I had a chance to dance in the famous Wild Horse Saloon.  At the time it was where you would see them dancing on one of the country cable shows.  I left my dog in the Jeep, put on my cowboy hat, and headed in to my destiny.

Once inside, I got a soda and hung out watching the dancers.  Soon a very tall, handsome young man came over and asked me to dance.  I said yes, of course, and he whisked me out on the dance floor.  He was a great dancer and we were having a lot of fun.  We took a break to get a drink and he asked me if I wanted to know why he had asked me to dance.

"Sure."  This should be interesting.

"I saw that you are the only other person in this bar besides me that isn't smoking or drinking alcohol." (you have to read that with a twangy southern accent)

Wow.  He was pretty observant.  And he was right - we were definitely a minority in the bar scene.  He didn't smoke or drink because he was a Christian.  But he didn't seem put off by my profession of being spiritual, not religious.  So, we danced and talked all evening and by the time we had to call it a night, we were exchanging phone numbers and addresses with promises to stay in touch.  And we did stay in touch, even when circumstances tried to prevent it. (loooooong story on that one, involving my Jeep being broken into in Oklahoma City on the way home and his number being stolen along with a lot of other stuff)  We carried on a long distance relationship for several months.

But one thing just bugged the heck out of me.  He had a pure and simple faith in the Bible that drove me crazy!  How could he expect me to believe the Bible?  I was educated and well traveled.  I wasn't just believing that stuff because I was born in a Christian nation and raised in a Christian home.

So, I picked up that little paperback Bible I had bought at the beginning of the year and started reading it, so I could show him how wrong it was.

to be continued...


1 comments:

  1. very interesting. i've always wondered what your story was. so glad you are sharing. can't wait to hear all the rest of it. ;)