Friday, March 11, 2011

Story of My Life: Bumps in the Road

Ok, here goes nothing. Remember the story of my life that I was telling you? (If not, feel free to catch up. I shared about my roots, my salvation, and an answered prayer.) I stopped telling the story in exactly the same place that I always stop telling it. Because I already shared the pretty parts. The parts that make me look good, that make faith look good. Faith is good. But it's not easy. There are messy parts, for those of us who are human. For some reason (ahem, pride) we like to paint a pretty picture of faith, and we excuse this by saying to ourselves that if we share the ugly parts, that people might be less attracted to Jesus. That is a ridiculous excuse, because A) Jesus is perfect, and B) people love stories that make them feel less alone in their own messes! We just don't like to tell them. Because of pride.

So, after that long winded intro, here comes the rest of the story. For a few years after I began my walk with Christ, things went smoothly. Storms and trials came and went, but I clung to Jesus during those times and my faith grew stronger. I went to college, and joined Campus Crusade, was always in at least two bible studies, and was pretty much doing everything a good Christian should.

I'm not sure when things started to fall apart. I had a few negative experiences with some people in my life who happened to be Christians. I won't share the details, for the sake of the people involved. Looking back, they were just some bad choices made by some flawed human beings. But somehow I allowed that to draw me away from my faith. I decided that all Christians were closed-minded and judgmental, and that I didn't want to be associated with them. I decided to try faith on my own. What a tragic decision.

I continued to go to church on Sundays, and I'm sure a lot of people didn't even notice anything had changed. Some people in my life may even be reading this right now, wondering what in the world I'm talking about. Most of the change just happened in my heart. I stopped going to bible study, or trying to have fellowship with other believers in any way. I spent the majority of my time with nonbelievers (most of whom I'm still friends with, so if you're reading this, I love you and you are still important in my life.) The problem with that is that no one was encouraging me in my faith journey, no one was keeping me accountable to my walk with God. My sister, who might have been that person, happened to get married around that time, and then moved to New York. I love and cherish my non-Christian friends, many of them have been in my life since childhood. However, it is essential for me (and every Christian, I believe) to walk through life with other believers who help them through the difficult journey of faith.

It didn't take long before my life reflected my change of heart. I became the typical college student, studying and working during the week, and partying on weekends. I made excuses about this behavior to myself. I put on my church persona, with certain people and in certain circumstances, as easily as some put on their church clothes. I was deceitful. I've always been the "good girl," even when I wasn't. In my family, among my friends, in school, at work. Some part of me was trying to uphold that image, while the other half of me was rebelling against it with every fiber of my being. A difficult balance, to say the least.

That went on for a couple of years. I became desperately heartsick for my Jesus, but I didn't know how to get back to Him. I started reading the bible again, and attempting closeness with Him. I tried to make rules and regulations for myself around drinking and going out, because I still spent all my time with people who lived that lifestyle. The rules did not hold up. I still felt unsatisfied and disconnected. I felt it was important to get away. Far away. I wanted to seek the Lord alone, with no distractions, somewhere I could start fresh. So I moved to Portland.

Things went well in Portland. The distance was good. Seminary school certainly helped. Plus church, bible study, and Christian friends. All good things. Things I needed. And I grew a lot. I fell back in love with my Savior. But sadly, something was still missing.

I'm going to leave you there, and finish the story soon, but let me assure you, there is a happy ending. I found what was missing. Stay tuned.

*If you're just tuning in, you don't have to wait! The next part of the story is here.


Audra said...

What a place to leave us hanging! Thank you for being brave and sharing the messy parts. It is so encouraging to see that I'm not the only Christian with "stuff" in my past.

Colleen said...

Thanks Audra! Don't worry, I'll write again soon. :)

Adriana said...

I love you!
And your writing too :)

Colleen said...

Thank you Love. Wish you still kept up on your blog! :) Miss you so so much. xoxo

Jenna said...

What a cliff hanger! I can't wait to hear the rest!

I grew up as a christian but in the last decade I've been agnostic. I'm comfortable with my path in life but I always love reading others' stories on their faith.

Hurry up and write the next post!

Colleen said...

Ha ha, I'm about to write the next post Jenna. :) Glad you're intrigued.