Friday, April 3, 2015

Finding My Faith Again

Back in college I remember my friend Lorena and I were sitting around in between classes when she asked about my beliefs. I told her, "Well I'm a non-institutional Christian." She looked at me kind of weird and then asked me, "What your beef with the church?" Well... to be honest I tried to sound cool and say it was because those people were old school. In reality I was raised to not believe in church by my parents. It was a place that housed more hypocrites than God's holy disciples in my Father's opinion.

When I started high school I made my own attempt to go to youth group at a local church after a suggestion from a good friend.  In all honesty I wanted to seek out what that life was all about. Unfortunately it turned out to be nothing more than a drama enrich environment where people scapegoated their biases for others in the name of Christianity. I had to accept that my Father was right and at 16 I abandoned seeking faith in any church.

Now in 2015, on the eve of this new year, I turned to my husband Brian and asked him, "Can we seek out a church? I'm ready to try again."

It has been a difficult few years for us and we had started talking about it after we started losing people but nothing ever came of it. Those of you who follow me on Instgram may have noticed we finally found a church to attend (actually it's the first church we've ever been to together besides the small chapel we were married in). I was incredibly nervous and my anxiety is still causing my heart palpitation to go haywire, but it's getting easier as we go.

About a month ago one of our friends back in California asked me, "Why now?" Honestly there are a few huge reasons. I won't name them all but the following are some I am starting to deal with.

One of the biggest blows I've had in my life though wasn't anything that happened to our family but it was extremely personal. I think it was a message from God telling me it was time to change my path. After Paige was born and we started on her path to surgery I had numbed myself because Brian was leaving for deployment so I needed to go into that mode that makes it possible to keep going and making the household function. We had sought out and found an awesome couple to help watch the girls for me while I was still working full time. They helped me so much not just with the kids but with the wacky hospital visits and even moral support for me. After a couple months they also had another little girl added to their care and she would change my life.

Bella was a beautiful little thing, big doe-like eyes, and super quiet. At first she was so shy but she warmed up to me when I would come and get the girls. I usually stuck around and chatted so the kids had a little extra playtime but I started to bond with Bella while hanging out. She would even come running up to me to hold her when I'd be there to get the girls. I always joked I was going to steal her away one day. I cared for her as much as I did for my own girls after all the time we spent together. Then came Paige's surgery day, the first big one. I had taken a few weeks off work so I could be home while she was in recovery. I out all my focus on how well she had done that we were in a state of ignorant bliss. Then a few days before we were going to come back, I called Heather (our provider) and I was shattered. Bella had died.

It took months to find out that she had suffered a small stroke which stopped her breathing. This accompanied by an aneurism which left her unable to recover. After two days her parents removed her from life support two days before her second birthday. She wasn't even 2 yet.

I was shattered. Not just because we lost her but I realized how sudden it happened. I started realizing how fast I could have lost Paige. I went from a state of panic to sorrow for quite some time. I started questioning what was more important at that time and then like a eureka moment, I decided it was time to put my girls first. My husband and I talked and pushed our savings so I could become a stay at home Mom. We cut, saved, squeezed, and finally I quit my job right before Christmas. After the first week away from work, I felt new. It wasn't easy, but it was easier than being at a job that had become a burden. I wasn't happy at my work. I was happier at home. But it was also stressful after time. It was a new stress that I always joked would never happen to me, but it did.

Fast forward four years later, my cousin and my grandmother died eight months apart from each other, both in pain. I shut down. I wasn't dealing with the grief and I had started pushing people away because I was lashing out in anger at everyone in my already small family or breaking down over little things. Eventually that pressure turned physical when we moved to Virginia and I had issues with my heart. It's OK though it's not life threatening. It was a definite wake up call though.

In retrospect now, if I hadn't made that choice, I wouldn't have been around to spend more time with my kids and my loved ones. I spent twice as much time that I would have with my cousin than I had ever over the 28 years I'd been alive. I also got closer to her kids who are also now dealing with losing her. In some ways I think that had to do with God's plan. He needed a way to wake me up at a time where I was numb and submitted to the material things that weighed me down. I was too focused on my career. I was holding on to anger and resentment. I was losing sight on what mattered.

I still get down on myself because motherhood itself is tough and I am so far away from my family. I don't have a support network like I did back home. However, I have found some people out here through the church who are genuinely nice and do care about others even when they don't know me much yet. The pastor often tells us during the sermons that we are not supposed to be perfect. He also teaches that love and loving others is important. Everyone goes through something and it's not a sign of weakness to seek out those who wish to help.

I know I'm not perfect. I am now consciously trying to stop worrying so much about the big plans of the future and focus more on today. Perfection is not the key to happiness. If I have grief or anger I need to talk and I need to reach out.

I've also learned sometimes people focus too much on their own plan. The reality is no plan is going to go perfectly and if you are only banking on that you may be sadly disappointed when that curve ball in life is thrown your way and your not ready. It's not what we want sometimes but there is so much that can be learned from experiences. It's not how well the execution went to get to what we wanted but what it took to get there. Life is incredibly too short to dwell on things out of our control, but it doesn't mean you'll never stop worrying. Hopefully if anything develops over time, its you'll worry less.
NIV Ephesian 5:14
Sometimes now, I just have to shake my head and laugh when something goes wrong, then I pick myself up and keep going forward. In the back of my mind I like to think that somewhere in this infinite universe something/someone loves me regardless of how much I just messed up and is pushing me forward. If learning and accepting my beliefs more helps, then I will keep going and keep seeking out more knowledge about what it means to be a true Christian. It doesn't mean it changes me politically or my beliefs about everything, but it helps me stop sometimes now before I react. I guess I just keep needing the wake up call.

Thanks for listening to my story.

Do you have a story about your walk into faith? I'd love to hear it.