As I climbed into the… hot tub (let’s just call it what it is) I realized…
… I’m free!
When I was young, and even into my late teens and early twenties, I believed with all my heart that one day the Bible would be like the earth being flat. One day we would all just feel silly for having believed it was true. I knew that someday the Bible would just be disproved, irrelevant, and ALLLLLLL the silly ‘Christian’s’ would just be embarrassed.
I wasn’t going to fall for it.
I didn’t like the judgment of Christians– and to this day, that still turns me off more than anything I can describe– and so I didn’t even care to give Christ or God or any of the fluff any thought.
And then my grandmother was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). She was a great woman, and I admired her a lot. She was an atheist. I’m sure that’s more or less where it started for me. My grandmother had not brought God into my mother’s home and as a result, it wasn’t exactly on her radar, and by the time I had hit my late teens, I could count on one hand the amount of times I had seen the inside of a church, and there was ALWASY a bride in that church, so there ya go.
My grandmother died without God. She just went to the ‘other side’ of nothing. And I remember thinking that was strange. It was the first time faith actually made sense to me. It would have been nice to think there was something more. It would have been nice to believe that this wasn’t all there was.
But that’s also not a good enough reason to just believe.
If anything, it confirmed to me why so many people DID believe in God… it was more peaceful that way.
In college, I went to church one time because one of my friends– who was pretty imperfect– said she went to church. And hey, if an imperfect, non-judgemental person was claiming God loved her… maybe there was hope for me!
But the church was terrible. I wasn’t there five minutes before they started rolling out the guilt big and thick. They said it was not enough that I was there. I needed to be at church several times a week and give my money to God if I was going to really be saved. And then they went on to BASH the Da Vinci Code, which I just so happened to be reading at the time (and for the record, I did NOT mistake it to be a new bible), and so I shut down.
Church was just as crazy as the Bible. And church goers were out to lunch.
But then I was challenged.
What if there really is only ONE truth? And what if that truth had serious implications on my life? And what if never exploring the potential reality of that truth, meant something pretty serious?
This struck me.
If I’m being honest– and I always like to be– it wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God because I KNEW anything. It was that I didn’t believe in God because I had never REALLY looked into the matter. I just thought it seemed silly. It appeared made up. It felt false. It was exclusive and about judgement and it turned me off.
But had I ever REALLY looked into it, as if I were uncovering the facts of a story? Definitely not! I had absolutely no idea what the Bible was really about. I knew what I THOUGHT the Bible was about. I knew what I had HEARD the Bible was about. But had I ever really checked into it? No. I hadn’t.
And so I figured, if we’re talking my soul… if we’re looking at a potential eternity… I better give it a look. I better bring my good ol’ critical thinking skills to the big game here, because it became overwhelmingly clear that just making some assumptions in this category, was not going to really cut it.
Because what if I was wrong?
Now, I’m not usually readily open to admitting that that is a possibility, but in this case, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to consider the idea.
For me, it started with my grandma, and this idea that death was the end. As much as I didn’t really want to believe in God (it just felt like a big leap), it also felt like, ‘what the heck is the point of all this?’
Why on earth would we be here just to die? What’s that about?
But if we’re not just here to die, then what are we here for? And I can’t say I felt that we were just here to die…
But if we weren’t just here to die, and if we were here for some bigger reason, how’d we get here? Who put us here? Or what, if not who?
I have to tell you, these are some of the questions I asked my husband– a believer. He was and is the most amazing example of a man of God. He doesn’t judge (well… mostly). He’s imperfect. He gives so much grace. He’s forgiving. And his answer was hilarious.
“The Bible says if you move closer to God, God will move closer to you. Ask Him these questions. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you.”
Praying was another big hang up for me. Closing my eyes and talking to myself felt ridiculous. It’s kind of that awkward feeling of leaving a message on someone’s home message machine back in the day (you know, before everyone only had cell phones). You know they probably aren’t actually home, but there is the chance that they’re standing right there listening to your voice fill the kitchen as they ignore your call. Yea, that’s praying for me.
Either you’re not there at all. Or you’re TOTALLY listening and not picking up the phone.
Which is worse?
But, every once in a while, I would give it a go. I would ask ‘God’ to let me in on the secret. Show me something. Help me make sense of it. Give me something to believe in.
In most cases seeing is believing, right? So I figured the Bible also says: Ask and you shall receive, perhaps I could just ask for some seeing.
And although it wasn’t like you would expect, I did start to understand some things in a different way. I did start to think about things a little differently. I started to realize how incredibly perfect the human body is. It became so completely ridiculous to think about all the moving parts that have to happen so completely perfectly in order for us to even stay alive. Everything just felt… designed. Perfectly and fearfully made.
I had always believed in the idea of Darwinism. It made enough sense to me. And if we evolved from monkeys, then we weren’t created the way we are. And if we weren’t created the way we are– exactly this way– then we weren’t created at all… perhaps.
But then I thought, as I was pregnant for the first time…
I’m not at all concerned that what is growing inside of me is not a human being.
I’m actually 10847% sure, it’s a human. And if I’m not concerned about my baby being born another species, then why would I ever believe it would be possible that at some point we… human beings… we’re not human beings… How did we just change species?
This idea actually was silly, and made me laugh, and I hope you’re hearing this for what it is… I’m not trying to argue evolution or Darwin’s theory (but DO remember it is ONLY a theory)… I’m only trying to walk you through some of my thought processes that challenged my old ways of thinking. These were the things I walked through as I asked God to guide me.
And I still wasn’t sure anyone was hearing the messages I was leaving on the machine, but I was playing along. Just in case I was wrong.
Then came Jesus. God was one thing. But Jesus was quite another. Someone came to earth and claimed he was the son of God– people bought it– he was killed, and we’re all saved because of it.
I mean… come on. Mary might have totally gotten knocked up by someone else and lied! I mean, that’s the obvious answer here, right? And Jesus just decided to say he was the son of God, just like any other cult leader! Anyone can say they’re anything they want to say they are. He’s not the only one who has ever claimed he was the son of God, that’s for sure!
… but he is the only one who has ever affected history, generation after generation, like he has. No one else has had the impact this man has had. Not one human has been believed for as long as this man has been believed.
That was interesting to me.
If you want to just cut to the end and get some info, I STRONGLY recommend two books (the first is also a movie):
A Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (Lee was an investigative journalist and self proclaimed atheist when he set out to reveal the untruth of the Bible. His goal was to show how it couldn’t possibly be factually true or proven… needless to say, he’s now a Christian)
Who is this man? by John Ortberg (John helps us walk through the immense impact the man called Jesus has had on history and every generation before and since his death. HOW could one man be such a big deal?)
These books dramatically closed the case for me and sealed the deal. There was a lot more, but these were the nails in the coffin– so to speak.
And then I was faced with this…
If there is a God– and I think there might be (dang it!)– how would I ever be worthy?
You guys, up until that point in my life, I had not only denied the existence of my Creator, but I had done bad shit. Yes, I cuss, because I NEED a savior (can I get an amen?). I found myself lost. I found myself with multiple partners. I didn’t have a lot of moral living under my belt– although I felt I was a good person– but all I knew from the Christian community was judgement. They would never let me in. I would never be accepted. It was too late. I had done too much. I couldn’t be forgiven. I was dirty. I was gross. I had blown it.
Pretty much every kind of sin you can name… I lived it. I was it. Or at least that’s how I felt.
But I knew I was a good person. Could that be enough?
I have to tell you, that although I now believed that there was a God, and I believed in Jesus Christ… I can’t say I was ready to let him save me. I can’t say I felt worthy. But really, I can’t say that I was ready to change. Man, being saved by God… doesn’t that mean I would have to be different? Did I have it in me? Could I be… different?
But here’s the cool part guys, being saved by Christ just makes you different. Have you ever felt grateful? You know, when someone holds open a door for you and you feel compelled to hold open doors all day? It changes you just a little. Just enough. And then just a little more. And then you start to WANT to be different…
One afternoon, for whatever reason– I truly can’t remember now– as I felt a baby kick and move inside me and I just relished in the absolute MIRACLE of life, I decided that I needed a freaking savior. I was about to be a mom. I was about to start down a road that only leads to messing up. I have YET to find a perfect parent. Not one who seems perfect, and not one who even thinks they’re perfect. How the HECK was I going to get through that without grace, guidance and the peace of knowing that I wasn’t in it alone?
So I found myself on my knees. Not just asking, but BEGGING for help. I couldn’t do it on my own. I just couldn’t. I now believed that there was something more. I still had a million questions. But I believed that if I drew closer to Him… he would be there.
And wouldn’t you know… He always has been.
When I decided to get baptized, it was shortly after the biggest moment of answered prayer I’ve ever experienced. God is so faithful, and He has answered many of my prayers in big and small ways… but on THIS day, He showed up.
I had prayed specifically for this:
Lord, I need you to give us the answer. And I need it to be today. And I need you to give it to Thomas.
And. God. Did.
( Check out that story here )
So as I stepped into the hot tub a few Sunday’s back to publicly proclaim, what I had already held true in my heart for about 5 years, I felt free.
You know when you go underwater and everything gets muffled? Your eyes are closed, the water blurs everything. The sound goes from loud and clear, to soft and quiet. Just for a moment, you feel a little bit of peace. You feel kind of alone… but not lonely.
It’s not that the water is special. It actually just comes from a hose…
It’s that YOU are special. YOU are different.
And although I know I have made mistakes and continue to make them up until this very moment without any hope at all of avoiding them moving forward… I know that it’s all washed away. I don’t step into that tub because I know I’m going to be different. I step in because I realize I CAN’T be different. I NEED help. I won’t be able to be perfect, regardless of how hard I try.
But I’m grateful. That just lives there now. Because I don’t have to be defined by me anymore. And thank GOD for that.