For the first half of my life, I had a seemingly good relationship with what I understood as “God”. I was fairly sick as a newborn, and my family since told me that it was the prayers of the church that provided the miracle of my well-being. Thereafter, we dutifully went to church and Sunday school every week, where I repeated the tenets of the Apostles and Nicene creeds, ensuring that my relationship with God was grounded in the doctrine of the Christian Church.
After starting to attend a fundamentalist Baptist school in 6th grade, where I went to Bible class every day and had chapel two times a week, I started attending a Baptist church with a more active youth group than the kids who only met on Sunday morning at the Lutheran Church where I grew up. By the time I turned 16, I was going to church about three times a week and on the off days, I attended other events and concerts for Christian teens. They all included the tried and true outline of worship music first, followed by a message about how sinful humans are (you in particular), and a regularly emotional altar call to publicly give your life to Jesus… again.
Unfortunately, there were only so many times I could hear the same message and work through the same drama, and I began to question whether or not it was even true. Beyond my liberal arts education eventually revealing to me that the Bible wasn’t as perfect, inherent, nor infallible as I had been led to believe, the premise of Christianity started to lose its appeal for me. I didn’t really think God was so short-sighted in giving humans free will that he was forced to punish them for all eternity if they didn’t believe that he snuck on to Earth to make amends for his oversight.
I also found myself more often filled with the judgment of Jehovah than with the love of Christ I actually sought and resonated with. Basically, I didn’t think that God was as stupid or angry as the tradition made Him out to be. And neither the Nation of Israel nor the Roman Catholic Church, the two groups that started this whole scenario, have done all that much to showcase a healthy relationship with All That Is.
However, I still felt a connection with Christ, or God, or the Universe, or the Source of All Being, whatever keeps filling my lungs with breath and gave me the opportunity to have a childhood connected to nature and the relationships I formed with so many members of the animal kingdom. From gazing into the eyes of horses, dogs, or cows to meeting armadillos and possums in the…