Apart from the regular (and some irregular) stresses of living life, no specific faith crises of significance happened again until we moved away from our small home town in 1994. We moved about 165 miles north because of my husband’s job and I was glad of the move, but had no idea how difficult it is to replant. Nobody knew how wonderful I was in this new town! 😉
The first thing on our agenda was to find a church to belong to. We were not necessarily looking for a church that would meet our needs, but one where we could contribute and fit in. We were going back and forth between two different establishments. One of the churches had a cool youth group. Between the two of us, my husband and I had happily led youth group in our home town church for about fourteen years. Our own children were now eighteen, seventeen and fourteen, so a cool youth group could work for us; I wanted to help out and the kids could attend (except the eighteen year old, he was out of the house). But my leadership ambitions were gently and kindly rebuffed. I had a pride issue and maybe I was coming on too strong.
The other church we were checking out had the potential for me to join the worship team. I had learned to play piano and lead worship in the late ‘80’s and loved doing that back home. We settled on that church partly because we were more familiar with the denomination and we already knew some people who attended, but also because this church was smaller and it seemed like they needed more leadership type people to fill in the gaps. They auditioned me for the worship team and I made the cut.
But at this church it was like trying to fit square pegs into round holes. I was the square peg. My husband fits everywhere. After several months of attending on Sundays, going to midweek home meetings and women’s/ men’s groups, and making new friends, the pastor of that church took us out to lunch and politely told us that he knew of a new church plant he thought we might like. He said he knew the pastor personally and he thought we would be a good fit there. What?!? Did you just kick us out of your church? Yup! Hmmm. Dramatic pause here while I shed a few tears. Apparently I was doing worship wrong. Or maybe it was that pride issue again.
That was a little bit devastating. I spent that first year in our new town not knowing that I was actually depressed. My husband said, “get a job.” I did not want to work as a hair stylist any longer, but I needed to do something. I thought maybe teaching drama at a high school would be an option I might enjoy, but I needed a college degree to do that. Trouble is I had always hated school. But something amazing happened to me while attending community college. I actually studied. And it turns out I’m quite good at learning, contrary to all my previous experience with schooling.
It was at this school that I was forced out of the Christian bubble I had been living in. For the first time since my early twenties I was immersed in a culture other than Christian culture. I felt a bit vulnerable. And my system of beliefs started feeling fragile. Before this, I really didn’t know too much about how “non-Christians” lived out their own set of beliefs, or even that they had a set of beliefs. It was kind of shocking to me how people could seemingly function so well without having Jesus in their heart. I didn’t realize how much of “the haves and the have nots” attitude I had. That attitude had isolated me from the rest of the humans on the planet.
At this same time “Christians” started bombing abortion clinics, claiming that “God” told them to. I felt I had to separate myself from these lunatics. I was a Christian, but it started to feel embarrassing for me to identify as one in this country. I didn’t decide to abandon my faith, but it seemed like I was losing it. I’m sorry I can’t remember why, exactly, but toward graduation time, I remember saying out loud, “I don’t even know if I’m a Christian anymore.” It was scary. It felt like I was whirling out of control or floating in space. Maybe what they said was true, “secular education is dangerous.”
But I didn’t end up losing my faith or not being a Christian anymore. We joined that new church plant suggested by the pastor that kicked us out of his own church. That is a whole other story that I don’t have the energy to tell. It was one that started out so hopeful, but ended rather painfully. As in, the church eventually folded. I graduated from college and got a job at a high school working with English Language Learners.
But my real passion lay elsewhere.