For much of my life, matters of faith and following
God felt like a chore or some kind of cruel cosmic exam. It felt
like an exercise in stumbling through an intentionally difficult
maze, taking a test while desperately seeking all of the right
answers, or tripping through a war zone trying to avoid hidden
land mines. My soul cried out for something different.
The atmosphere in which my religious life was formed
was legalistic. As a child, I had no awareness or vocabulary for
such ideas. A fear of hell and damnation outmuscled any
message of mercy or grace in my tenderhearted soul.
Performance and image seemed to matter infinitely more than
the truth and reality of what I witnessed around as well as
inside of me. I did not know where to go to express the
uncertainties that darted around my mind.
Up on the wall in my childhood bedroom, a nine by
twelve framed print of a little girl kneeling in prayer while
looking toward an ethereal light above was displayed. This
mystical glow somehow satisfied my young soul. Is that what
God is like? I hope so. But the weekly Sunday message that
always led to an invitation to step out of a place of damnation
and into one of salvation created great anxiety and fear within
my impressionable heart. I walked that aisle a few different
times hoping to satisfy the very hard to please God of my
active and fearful imagination.