I was baptized with my mother and my two older sisters when I was a very young child, but I do not remember the experience; however, as a result, growing up I identified myself as a “Lutheran.” My father did not attend church and professed to believe in a “higher being.” My parents divorced when I was 5 years old, and both remarried approximately one year later. For a brief period of my mother’s second marriage, we attended a First Assembly of God as that was the church of my stepfather’s choosing. I did not have a positive experience in that church. I learned to fear God there, and I learned hypocrisy there. I now know that that was also my first experience with legalistic religion, and I rejected it.
My mother left my stepfather when I was eleven years old. My mother and siblings attended church primarily on Easter and Christmas, if that, but we always believed in God. We did not pray together nor study scripture together. As a young teenager, I worked with my oldest sister at a local church in the Sunday School taking care of infants to two-year-olds. I didn’t need much “religious training,” I was just there to look after them and love them while their parents were in church. I did not attend this church. After several months of working there, I was invited to lunch by the pastor and his wife. In a nutshell I felt “grilled” about my faith, lack of attendance/commitment to the church, asked in hindsight inappropriate (or at least very personal) questions about myself and my mother, and was subsequently asked to not return to watch the children. It was at this time I undoubtedly rejected organized religion, but never doubted God existed.
I had a trying childhood. I was primarily raised by my single mother who had 4 kids, a full time job and was stretched too thin. I made a lot of choices during my teen years that I regret. I was something of a rebel and when that didn’t get the attention I desired, I became a crazed perfectionist overachiever. The only time I felt worth anything is when I was receiving positive, quantifiable feedback. I think I still felt very lost and unworthy deep down.
I was curious about many religions. In college, I took a class that touched on the basic beliefs of many of them and I developed a “your truth, my truth” perspective. When I married my husband at 22 years old, we both believed in God, insisted on being married in the church, took the covenant of marriage seriously, but did not practice any particular faith and did not discuss how we would raise our children, etc. Unfortunately, looking back, I wished we had had those discussions.
I have always talked to God, but I have also always struggled with handling stuff my way. Dependency is an issue for me, and trust is a huge issue for me. Because my relationship with my father was never what I wanted it to be, and my relationship with my stepfather was abusive, I had a very difficult time wrapping my head around God our Father as a loving “Daddy.”
My grandmother had died in November of 2011, and I felt compelled (I now believe by the Holy Spirit) to write and present her eulogy. We attended the Christmas services at HDC that year, and began regularly during the Family Camp series. I made an extremely difficult decision to leave my current assignment at work with my best friends and everything familiar to me and accept a promotion that put me on the road 5 or more hours per day and away from home most of my family’s waking hours in April 2012. It was during this time that I really sought God. I began listening to Chuck Swindol and Chip Ingram on my commute. I listened to Christian radio for the first time. I found myself asking God for advice in the wee hours of the morning. Begging Him to give me a sign as to whether or not I was doing the right things. I suffered a lot of loss over a relatively short period of time. My grandmother in 2011, my friends as a result of a promotion, my favorite pet, my grandfather in 2012, my other grandmother in 2013 and my father in 2014. My son graduated High School in 2013, and I was mourning the end of his childhood. I was also demoted from the promotion I had sacrificed so much for due to budgetary issues. I felt like my world was crashing in on me, and the only comfort I found was in God. I don’t know the exact moment I accepted Christ into my life. I guess it was in the early hours of the morning alone in my car on the 15 freeway. To be honest, I pray the ABCs every week in church. I still struggle with feeling worthy of Grace. I struggle with old habits and attitudes. The difference now is I recognize my sin for what it is, I ask for forgiveness, and I really want to follow Christ and His example. I think have become a better wife and mom as a result, and a more forgiving and loving person in general. I work to change my shortcomings and accept my imperfections.
I said earlier I talk to God a lot. I truly believe He shows up through people in our lives and circumstances we encounter. I had never heard God “audibly,” but maybe because that is because I am a “baby Christian.” Several weeks ago, my son announced that he was moving out. I knew the day was coming, but I was not emotionally prepared for it. As I lay in bed that night, I began to cry and I could not stop. I went to the bathroom as to not wake my husband, and I began to sob from the ache in every part of my being. Does my son know how very much I love him that I cannot possible articulate it in a way that he would understand how I feel? I heard God whisper to me “Becky, that is how I feel about you.” That made me cry harder, but it also solidified my decision to get baptized.