Every week we sit in a circle and share a moment when we felt we (as individuals) experienced God. This week I didn’t have one God moment really, but more of a series of thoughts. For the last few years, I have been practicing Christianity and for the last few years I have also felt a bit of a wandering heart. I’m just not all in on this hipster, Jesus-only, #blessed, rock band, passionate, hands up in praise, no questions Christianity.
This week though, I realized, I am a Christian and I’m able to speak that over myself. When it boils down to the me and God of it- I am a believer. I need and want this faith in my life. I’m in it and not walking away. I noticed that Denver has been the only place where I have not felt a desire to resist Christianity and look for another religion. This is something I’m committed to for #lyfe. I wonder why though – what’s gotten me to this point?
I believe the biggest piece is that here, I have the true freedom to choose. Supposedly, I’ve always had that freedom. But not really. Before there was always the pervasive assumption of Christianity. It is the religion of all the biggest & most visible churches, the opportunities for community are in church small groups and church-facilitated sports, in the “Godly man” awaiting me to be his “Godly wife” one day. Most of the groups doing good charity-type work were affiliated with Christian churches in Indiana, Kansas, and Illinois. The culture felt it was set up to flow the little Erin fish in to the big sea ( C ) of Christianity (lol seeee what I did there).
Choosing not to be a Christian meant: remove the majority of dating prospects from your radar, probably join the crazy hippies or non-spiritual at all because that is all there is. Good luck finding a small group type community because that’s really a staple for quality socialization in the Midwest. And watch as your old small groups and church leaders pray for your soul. Also, remove that connection point from your list of ways to network with other generations in the workplace because you won’t have that shared understanding or see each other around at church anymore. And say goodbye to a lot of your music too. So yes, I could technically give up Christianity, but not without losing many other pieces of my life.
Here, in the metro, I actually do have the freedom to choose. Sure, Christianity seems to still be the dominant religion, but there are plenty of other viable options. Plenty of non-Christian spiritual people to date, pods of community who unite around common values, people who are open to fluid conversations. The C-suite staff isn’t predictably Christian.
And you know what that leads to? Talking about our values, our common humanity, our experiences, what we truly believe in – beyond the labels.
Christianity is so much more complex than I was taught through watching on the outside for 20 years and the inside of different non-denominational churches for the last five years. It’s helped me to name what I am not, in trying to find what I am. I am not willing to form judgements of LGBTQIA, not going to be anti-abortion, I don’t have to want kids, I don’t have to agree with the belief that women shouldn’t be preachers, I don’t have to believe [they] are a lost soul because [they’re] not baptized, I don’t have to be docile, and the list continues.
Just because I believe in the Christian God does not mean that I have to prescribe to all these other beliefs or else be lonely for life. I am not going to be blind or easily go-with-the-flow. It’s just not who I am (those of you who know me, probably know that haha). It is quite likely that I am going to be critically-questioning for my whole life – and I am glad. So when I do have moments like this week, I can fully claim it for myself. And when I talk with others of different denominations, faith systems, or those who don’t claim a religion, and we can connect on the soul of it, not the basic culture. I guess I’m just glad that it isn’t a black and white, all or nothing thing. There is so much gray space and I’m thankful for the diversity of Denver and multiple generations investing in our learning. It gives me peace to not have to pick a side, just more of a human, ya know? I hope we let people be free, let people be what they are.