I will be doing an experiencing life series and today’s piece will focus on my own experience in Christianity – just a tidbit.
Be forewarned, this piece does get personal and could be triggering.
Well this is a story !
I grew up going to church on Saturdays and I do identify as being an SDA.
That’s the simple part of the story.
Being young, it was very confusing for me to see that only my mother went to church while my dad didn’t.
No, lemme say that again, it was very confusing that we as children were compelled to while my father wasn’t.
It didn’t make sense because apparently, my father was the one who came from an SDA background but my mother who was Catholic had converted and was now taking the reins in that area.
It was a tussle for me, missing all these events that would happen on Saturdays. But I’d get off sometimes because I was a daddy’s girl and I’d literally beg him to come pick me up from church when I felt I couldn’t miss a friend’s birthday or whatever it was I wanted to go for.
There are positives in this story too because I did find some joy in church, made friends who are very dear to me and who I still talk to till date. However, by the time I joined high school I had a different plan. I wasn’t going to identify specifically as an SDA but just a good Protestant………….
Things didn’t go as planned and I ended up being very active in the church. I got different roles and served in the church for most of my high school. I even got expelled because I opted not to attend Saturday classes ( a decision I don’t regret at all btw ).
I thereafter transferred to another high school for my final year and let’s just say it was such a shocking experience. I went to an Adventist school and it came nothing close to what I expected. In fact, that year ended up being one of my most difficult years ever – but we won’t unpack all that trauma now.
Post high school – apparently, few people in the SDA circles (which are rather small) knew me and knew about how I was expelled from school…
And to them, that was such a strong demonstration of faith etc. To me, it started feeling like a burden, an unfair pedestal that some people wanted to force upon me. To use me as a reference for this and that …
I didn’t want any of it.
I got to a point where I started questioning everything I had known or been taught about what it meant to be a Christian and moreso an SDA. ( I still do btw )
I got involved in Ministry – or rather continued from high school but truths that were coming out about certain people I knew hurt me.
It had also become too plain that I too had put some people on pedestals.
The shock I got when I heard about how older guys were being/trying to get involved with minors when they’d go for these high school ministries. I don’t have a word for my reaction when I tried to raise that as an issue and people who were in a position to help simply just took their friend’s word for it. Didn’t see it as a big enough deal to do further investigation or probing.
I guess it shouldn’t have shocked me when one of those people, being married at the time also started interacting inappropriately with me. But to date, the expectation is to at least just say hi to him because he’s older than me and it’s rude not to. Or my best one, it’s the Christian thing to do.
Truth be told, naming and shaming does nothing… these people hold those revered roles / are esteemed highly / their friends hold those roles – so they never get any consequences for their actions or get any reproach – but let’s not go there right…?
Anyway, amidst such realizations it surely became impossible at least for me to still practice my Christianity as I did back when I was younger; in high school especially.
Back then, I only had to deal with the judgement of having my ears pierced. Mind you, I had gotten my ears pierced when I was 5 – but stopped wearing earrings when I was 10 after a sermon made me feel condemned. I stopped for a while at least – but at 12 I re-pierced. I however couldn’t wear earrings after because I started reacting adversely to them – so I don’t till now … but it’s not for religious reasons.
Later on in life, I had to deal with the judgement of apparently dressing ‘immodestly’ and eating whatever I wanted really. But all that was nothing to me. Come on.
But when I had to work side by side with the men I’ve referenced above? That did it for me. I just couldn’t. I did not feel safe around them. I did not feel it was safe for others to be around them either.
I tried to become vocal at some point. But then I got tired..…
Today? I still identify as a Christian and continue to experience it in a way that’s probably unique to me, and I love it.
I still identify as an SDA but my beliefs and value systems have greatly evolved. It was very necessary for me. Coupled with great loss and grief along the way, so much changed in my Christian experience that I literally had to start from scratch. Things became more personal to me.
I will also acknowledge that some of the things I believe in by virtue of being a Christian actually took me through the grieving process and I wouldn’t want anyone to take that away from me.
What I haven’t discussed is …
- How for the most part grace seems to largely be extended to men or people of means in the church.
- How it is so easy for people to be disfellowshipped from church. Why? Try being married to someone who is not an SDA. It is so hard for me to reconcile how that is okay.
(And I’m sure you can add to the list)
I guess we all should just be easy then?