Wednesday, November 6, 2013

G is for: God & Growth

In the last 25 years I have been a devoted Christian, an atheist, an agnostic...but always a child of a Maker we in the western culture like to give the name of "God" to.

I have been given the opportunity to live in Australia as a cook at a Christian Bible-Study Camp now for nearly 3 months...I have never studied the Bible or heard it interpreted as I have with these Interns who are here to study it and reflect on God for the duration of 18 weeks. They take it to a place that so many Christians dare not to. I  strayed from Christianity because it was too hypocritical for me, it was too harsh, too rude, too fake, too condemning...

Being here, I have seen these amazing people of God inspire me...liberate me in my belief, even if it is not the same way they believe, with their love and undying commitment to God...with their humour, with the fruits of their spirits TRULY being that of God...which is Love, and Kindness...instead of what I so often saw growing up in the Christian community...which was animosity, pride, and judgement.
When I first got to this camp...I committed to being the Semi-Bible Scholar that I already was...and that I'll just be a great cook and entertainer of these sweet folks here, that there wasn't much I was going to learn about God...but a few days in, I could not deny the fact that God was 1.) HERE and 2.) had sent me here for a reason...he had many lessons to teach me, and over the last three months, they have unfolded, and blossomed. It has been INCREDIBLE. Great...GREAT is Gods faithfulness...

[[A Brief History of the Journey...]]

When I was a young child, I was told about God...I was told about The Devil...I attended a few Sunday School days and was basically aware that God is the Maker of all things, He knows eveything, He is all powerful and that if you lie, you'll go to Hell.

At age 7, I was given a beautiful Bible, which I still have nearly 20 years later. I didn't know what to do with it, but I did LOVE to read, as I still do. I began reading...and reading...and soon, on Sunday when the neighbourhood kids came out to play, I snuck away for a few hours to walk down the path, over a bridge, that led me to a church service which served coffee and cookies. I mean, I'm not going to lie, I was pretty happy about the coffee and cookies. Somedays I'd attend the service closer to home. Sometimes with my sister, and often times alone. I've always been one so comfortable with was no bother to attend a church of people I did not know, by myself.

When I turned 9, my older sister was sent to the Christian school up the street from our complex...she came home with so many songs, and things she had learnt. We discussed, we sang, we learned. Not to mention, we got in a lot of trouble...which was always met with having to do page after page from math books, or memorising an entire Psalm.

And at age 10, I was sent to a Christian school after moving to Hawaii...and there I found a burning fire for God. There I found a spirit...

At age 11, I started to stray as my body started to change...rapidly becoming that of a womans. After beating up on a boy who called me a slut, I was immediately expelled and sent to one of the worst public schools around. I went back and forth with keeping my actions righteous...puberty came, bearing a young womans hips, breasts, height, shape; carrying the residue of humility, shame, and pride. The next year, I was sent to another Christian school on another Island, back to the one I originally came from.

With a force like before, but so much stronger than I could ever have imagined, that little flame rose again, and higher yet! This Christian school was much bigger, much cleaner, and very very much by The Book. At 12 years old, I found myself so deep into The deep into it all...yet with the remnants of my rebellious streak...and enabled by my older sister. We were both sent away from the family we'd been a part of for so much our our childhood...and we became stronger yet. We had only each other.

I'll never forget listening to Stevie Wonder at that age, filled with so much joy and love...yet at the same time so much guilt. I had been told it was "worldly" and "secular" . . .NOT to be listened to as it didn't "Glorify God" . . . I think they misinterpreted a few verses there. All Stevie does with his music is Glorify God...with his talent, his soul, his spirit!! His light shines so that we may see the works of His Father who is in Heaven. I didn't understand this. How could something so condemnable? My 12 year old impressionable self could not seem to get a firm grasp on the new things I was learning about The Bible...the new things I was learning about "being a good Christian", and how I always seemed to fall short of that standard.

My faith then shook fiercely as year 7 drew to a close..and off to Japan I went to yet another school...this one a Department of Defence school on a American Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan. There, God escaped me...I went to many different churches, including Mormon...and He revealed himself here and there...and on occasion I prayed to this God I felt I no longer knew, asking Him to help me believe again...but by the time I arrived in Seattle 4 years later, the door was just closing as He was on his way out--in my mind anyway.

At one point in this time of disbelief, I even classified myself as an Athiest, going the extreme opposite of my earlier life...But throughout the years...even when I denied Him, I always called out to Him, to reveal himself, to open my heart to it again as I knew it was hardened. I didn't believe, I didn't even like God for that matter, I found myself angry at Him and His followers (and I still do sometimes), but yet...I still prayed on occasion...because although I didn't like God nor wanted God....I knew in my heart I NEEDED God. So I called upon God...and years later, my heart was opened once again.

I went from carrying my Bible everywhere with me, to working so hard to disproving it, and now I find myself in a happy medium...where I feel him there...where men have written so beautifully, have so poetically put into words Who God Is...What God is...and What it means to have God...

It's been an incredible journey so far...and I know it will continue to grow. For so long I closed myself off from the Journey...I didn't want wasn't MY path...

Even after going home to Maui where I found God again...I still struggled...I simply just believed God was there again...I just went back to scratching the surface of the idea that God existed.

I know God heard my prayers, even when I denied Him...God heard me call....God felt and saw my desire for a God...for something greater than myself...God knew that I knew I could not and would not even try to make it on my own...I asked God to come, and God did....

I once again live humbled...I understand that I am so insignificant and that any gifts I have, any success I all due to a being SO much greater than any one of us could imagine. Some call him Allah, Brahma, Jesus, Krishna, The Tao . . . I like the word God. I don't know if it is any of those I mentioned just yet....but I know God is God...and that's a good start for me. And although The Bible sometimes refers to god as Jesus or Jesus as God...and that the Bible is something I hold so dearly to me...I am still on that journey...I'm not totally convinced but we shall see huh? I continue to pray for clarity in the journey... the road goes ever on and on!

So cheers to the journey my friends!!! <3