Before we begin, I wanted to follow-up on my prior post. I appreciate all the thoughtful comments I received on it. Even “Likes” on Facebook mean something to me, because it means you’re affirming me in my writing, and appreciate what I do.
I’ve had a lot of thoughts lately on Very Big Issues, and even started some posts in that regard. But I need to lay the background. It’s important that you understand where I’m coming from before I can really get into where I’m going to. The last post was the genesis of that, and we might be on that kick for a while. So here… we… go.
I’m Dave. I’m 30. I work for a bank. I’m a Christian. I like games, writing, sports, and sarcasm in mostly equal measure. I have a girlfriend (Brief aside: Is it still “boyfriend/girlfriend” if you’re both adults? What’s the statute of limitations for that? I feel like this needs to be clearer). I own a house with my brother. In most phases, I’ve graduated into responsible adulthood, with enough confidence in what I think to get through the day.
It wasn’t always this way.
I grew up a shy kid, with a twin brother, Dennis. Those are the things that identified me, more than anything, for the majority of my life. I was quiet, and I had a doppelganger. As we got older, we found differences subtle and larger, but we are inexorably intertwined, and even our differences have occasionally led back to the similarities that won’t leave us alone. Both of us quiet, thoughtful, honourable, insecure, skinny, geeky, among many other things.
This isn’t really about him. But it IS, when you look at it, because we’re so similar. I don’t speak for him, but so much of my story involves my brother, I can’t not bring it back to him. We always had similar interests, a lot of the same friends, and ended up in a lot of the same classes.
Mom brought us to church growing up, wherever we ended up going. She kept getting us up every Sunday, and behaving in church when childish instincts veered otherwise. Being shy and Christian was a bad combination with a last name like “Church”, as the inevitable introduction conversation at school would lead into it:
“What’s your name?”
“What’s your last name?”
“Do you go to church?”
Explaining God and faith beyond Sunday school answers is incredibly difficult when you’re a kid who’s reserved, insecure, and really only just mastered getting the juice box straw out of the plastic without breaking it.
Even with youthful uncertainty, we were always smart, high academic achievers. Athletically, we were capable, even if never the biggest or strongest. Socially, we were quiet sorts, tending to keep to ourselves. A lot of quiet evenings in on the Super Nintendo/N64 after our homework was done, which was fine with us.
We moved around some growing up on account of our dad’s job. Three cities and seven schools over twelve years led to a lot of introductions and goodbyes. That challenged us to adjust to a changing situation, and exposed us to places and friends and family we wouldn’t have met otherwise. Anywhere we went, Dennis and I always had each other, and that made moving easier. Even remembering the challenges, I wouldn’t trade my experience growing up for anything now.
Keeping to myself as I did, and moving around and meeting people, I developed the habit of hiding my faith. When the inevitable “church” conversation led to teasing/mockery in some combination, I rationalized hiding it as logical, as a means of surviving the public school experience without the slings and arrows of well placed words. I wouldn’t engage them, because I couldn’t explain it: I knew the stories, what the Bible said, but I couldn’t CONVINCE anyone. This shouldn’t surprise anyone: Primary and secondary school doesn’t tend to be a breeding ground for thoughtful, nuanced debate.
I felt it then, but I didn’t really understand it until recently. Even now, I learn new things every day, and it’s wonderful. Faith isn’t necessarily logical, because it involves belief. I believe in an all-powerful God of creation because of what I’ve experienced, what I’ve learned, and more than anything, what I FEEL. I can say that God has affected and steered my life, and helped me to impact others in a positive way. I can explain morality, I can explain my actions, and I can explain the principles that my faith is based on, but none of that will convince you if you’re looking for evidence, because where I see God acting in my life, you might see me choosing a particular path.
But part of growing up was coming to terms with my faith, and how much a part of me it is. Even as a flawed, insecure man, it’s a part of me that I can’t deny. I can’t NOT believe in God. I know too much. I’ve seen too much.
In coming to that peace, I’ve learned how to live with it, and have actual, adult conversations on the subject. I’m continually finding the right balance between being confident with my beliefs, and still being someone who the populace in general will associate with without being marginalized or ostracized. I feel like I do okay with that.
Christians have occasionally earned that marginalization, which is why I’m careful about it. Our generation has a pretty well honed sense for when we’re being sold something, and when an interest/suggestion is actually genuine. Quoting the Bible without understanding it, or without an interest in who you’re talking to beyond converting them, won’t work. There’s a lot of us Christians who do this, preaching without meaning, falling back on rhetoric and rules while missing the overarching point of the Bible, and the principles that we’re supposed to live by. I’m very proud to say I don’t know many, but I know they’re out there.
That was mostly the point of my last post, to put out the idea of showing love to God- and to your fellow man/woman- as being the basis for everything that Christians are supposed to be. Rightly or wrongly, that’s not the perception. Christians are perceived as rules lawyers, serious, unfun, judgmental, and more concerned with being right than being righteous. There’s also a presumption that we’re idiots for believing in a magical space daddy, and that we dismiss science in favor of blind faith.
While we Christianfolk have earned some of those labels, they’re not necessarily true. I don’t think I’m many of those things. I consider myself an intelligent, analytical sort, and love what science can teach me about the world. I try not to judge, because I’ve got my warts. My Twitter feed is more sports rage (which isn’t very Christian, but we’re none of us perfect) than Biblical pandering. And despite an occasionally quiet exterior, I’m a licensed practitioner of terrible puns, “That’s What She Said” jokes, and finding inappropriate opportunities to make a whole room full of church elders laugh. And we do laugh. I have my challenges, but I like to think I’m a good egg, when I’m not being self-deprecating and throwing my flaws out for others to rag on.
So that’s where I’m coming from. More to come.