Updated 2019 September 28th
Hello, loves. Thank you for visiting this blog. This super long blog has been updated and made into a series. This is my story. Scroll down for the links to the blog series.
My story in a nutshell:
I was atheist – hardcore atheist at that. I hated Christians. Then I became one of them. I set out to prove them wrong, and I found the unexpected. I became a believer in November of 2005. I didn’t go to church for over a year after becoming Christian. I thought you had to choose a denomination. So, I chose what I thought was the oldest denomination – Roman Catholic. A few years in of stagnant faith, and I felt tugged to go to a little country Southern Baptist church I’d been invited to. I had so many questions. The more I looked at the Catholic Church history and teachings the more I felt like it wasn’t true. So, I became a regular at First Baptist and adopted the label of Southern Baptist. I even got baptized there in May of 2009. I thought I had found my forever church home. I loved the small church feel. I loved the country feel. I loved the pastor. I loved my Southern Baptist identity. It was while I was there that I started reading the bible. The more I studied, the more I questioned. I began to notice that some of my interpretations were different than other people at church. I wanted to know everything. I wanted to go deep. Everything at church felt so surface level. Later on I would go through about 2 years of seriously considering bible college.
Things took a new road in autumn of 2009 when I began to feel called to do a church visiting project and blog about it. I wanted to explore Christianity and learn more about all the denominations out there. Researching denominations and different church teachings was fascinating to me. And there I went in 2010 sampling the buffet of Christian brands and blogging about my reflections. In 16 weekends over a period of 6 months I attended 40 church services at 31 different churches of 20 different denominations and 5 non-denominational churches. People thought I was out of my mind. Many weekends I went to several church services a Sunday. I almost always went alone. I wasn’t lost. I was wandering around on purpose. I felt like I was supposed to do this “project”. I wanted to explore churches. I was the visitor. It was a very unique experience. I questioned if nondenominational was really a better label for me, but I felt at home in my Southern Baptist church. Can you be nondenominational and go to a church with an associated denomination? Is that even a thing? The things church folks do and don’t do were still somewhat of a foreign concept to me even 5 years into being Christian. I was never really one of them. I wasn’t raised in church. I integrated into the churchy stereotype, but I never really fit in with all that. I finished the church visiting project and went back to where I had been (First Baptist). In my heart, I knew it wasn’t over. I was called to wander. Not all who wander are lost. Some are learning by exploring.
It was January of 2011. A simple invitation to visit a church with a godly co-worker turned out to be the beginning of a new chapter. I fell in love with his church. It grieved me to feel called to leave First Baptist and begin attending New Life Worship Center, but after months of wrestling with it I moved on. It was the first Apostolic Pentecostal church I had ever been to. There was so much I didn’t know… I found myself presented with so much new information and doctrine that matched scripture in this deep way I had never seen. At the same time, there was much I disagreed with the Apostolic church on in regards to ‘standards’ of godly living, holiness, and submission to church authority. I studied these things with an open mind, drew my conclusions, and carried on in my faith. The pendulum swung so far in the opposite direction of what I used to be that I buried myself in my best attempts at righteousness and purity. Conservative Christianity became a big part of my identity. Church was a lifestyle.
It was 2014 that I started to slip away from church. As life got busy with college, the last thing I wanted on the weekends was to have to leave the house. Anxiety eating me alive, I chose to stay home as much as possible to self-care. Soon it had been months without going to church. Then it became a handful of times a year. Time went on. The pendulum of Christian lifestyle slowly began to swing back closer to the middle, not so extreme – dare I say nearly an average Christian lifestyle. The longer I was away from church and organized religion altogether, the more I was free to tug on my roots and shed what wasn’t me. Some beliefs stayed firmly rooted. Other beliefs were shed and discarded. Over the years, my core beliefs have stayed the same. It’s the lifestyle issues that I’ve changed on over time. People learn. People grow. People change when they grow, and that’s okay. By 2018 I knew things were different for me. I saw things differently. Perhaps, life experiences had changed my perspectives on some things. 2019 has been a year of examining every piece of my faith and re-examining it to see if I still agree with it. 2019 has been a year of bible study, deep seeking, revelation, restoration, shedding shame, forgiving sin, moving on, and wondering where I belong. I have questioned God. I have questioned myself. I have questioned church. I’ve questioned organized religion altogether. I’ve even scrunched my eyebrows with wonder as to why humans are designed to crave love and connection; my crave for friendship and fellowship in common faith seems to be at the core of humanity yet so distant to me. Always the black sheep. Always the woman who questions what she’s told to do or believe. Always the one to go my own path.
Here I am. I’m Christian. I no longer go to church. I still consider myself Apostolic Pentecostal (ish) yet independent of denomination. And here I am again . . . exploring . . . learning . . . growing . . . shedding . . . rebuilding . . . finding myself and trying to figure out God.
Welcome. You are welcome to read along as I share my journey here and journey unfolding with the world.
Here are the next blogs in the series.
Part 2: Why I was atheist: Reflections of a Christian convert
Part 3: Why and How I Became Christian (former atheist)
Part 4: Why I'm Still Christian (former atheist)
Here are some of the blogs I have planned to do in the series.
Things I wish someone would have told me when I was a new Christian
Choosing a denomination ~ Part 1
The church visiting project
An invitation and a goodbye (leaving my church, attending a new church)
Becoming Apostolic Pentecostal
Falling away from church: my experience
Am I still Apostolic Pentecostal?
Why I don’t go to church even though I’m Christian