If you walk around in Christian circles you’ve probably heard Christian leadership ringing the alarm bells as millennials leave the church in droves. Honestly, I can understand why many are leaving. I have seen the hypocrisy in the Church. I have seen the bitter, angry, mean parts of the Church. I have seen hate in the community where one of the biggest commandments is to “love thy neighbor.” But despite everything I have seen, I still cling to my faith.
You may wonder why I haven’t followed so many of my peers and left the church. That is a very good question. Maybe some of it is habit. I don’t like change and the thought of abandoning the church is honestly terrifying for me. Christianity has been my life raft for so long that the thought of floating on my own seems so foreign. I have thought about it though, considered the validity of my faith and doubted my conviction. At times Christianity seems ridiculous and continuing to follow it seems pointless.
Despite these doubts I stick with Christianity because I have also seen all the good that can come from it. I have seen great openness and generosity. In highschool, on the way to a speech and debate tournament, our van broke down in the middle of Iowa. It needed a new transmission and there was no way it would be fixed in time for us to make it to the tournament. Somehow we were put in contact with another homeschool family that was in the area and they let us borrow their van. They didn’t know us. We were complete strangers and they had no guarentee that we would bring the van back. It was a pastor and his wife, and because of their faith they trusted us with their vehicle and we were able to make the tournament. This may seem like a small thing, but it was huge for me then and still astounds me today.
One of the biggest causes of my doubt is how contrary so much Christian rhetoric seems to what I feel is right. Some would say that this is the “corruption” inside me skewing my perspective. But the holy spirit is also supposed to be within me telling me what to do right? So how do I know it’s not that. I don’t think hate and exclusion is at all in line with the God I see in the Bible. But I also don’t think that, because some Christians are hateful, it completely delegitimizes the whole religion.
It’s been a complex, whirling, cyclone of thoughts inside my head as I try and reconcile these two ideas. But I think I have come to some peace. I believe that when the Bible says, “‘all things are lawful’, but not all things are helpful” it means that many of the “laws” that Christians hold to are really more recommendations and Christianity doesn’t have to be rigid and legalistic. I think that there is room for many different shades of Christianity and we are too quick to assume that our way is the right way. I also think that many who have rejected the church might be able to find a home somewhere else if they look. But I also understand how difficult it can be to return to something that may have hurt you greatly.
Coming to that realization helped me a lot with my faith, and attending our current church helped me even more. Right now we are going to Reality Church in Papillion, NE (I know, the name is kind of weird) and it is the first church I have ever been to that has felt like home. To be fair, a lot of this is due to the fact that we switched churches so often when I was a child. When we got back from Ethiopia, we went to eight different churches in ten years and as a shy child I was always the new girl that never belonged anywhere. However, Reality is the first church where I felt accepted and have actually begun to build relationships. I feel like the people here have made an effort to include me and Bryan in the church. I don’t know if that is because I’m finally past the cliquey teenage stage, but so far my adulthood at church has been much better than my childhood.
As the daughter of two missionaries, one who now has his PhD in Theology, faith has always been a big part of my life. My desire to keep my faith could just be one of habit, but I think it is more than that. To me, it just makes sense that there is a loving God watching over us. I know that my faith is not always going to be perfect, and I am going to have doubts, but my belief is a part of me as vital as my lungs. I don’t think I could have gotten through the trial of this past year and my diagnosis without it. I will continue to question my faith and learn more about it (if it can’t stand up to interrogation than it isn’t something worth holding on to), but I don’t think it will be going anywhere any time soon.