I remember going to church as a young kid. I remember it was boring and stuffy and I slept under the pews a lot. My mom used to complain about the church people, telling me how they didn’t like her and mistreated her and we eventually stopped going. We occasionally went to churches, trying out new ones, sometimes going regularly, sometimes not.
I remember one service – at the church we would eventually go to for years – where I was staring off into space and my siblings got my attention “Raise your hand! Raise your hand!” Thinking I missed a question, I quickly raised my hand. Little did I know, they were asking if anyone wanted to be saved. So, we went up to the front, I said a prayer and it was this big deal. I was 7 and had no idea what was going on. My mom would always tell this story as the reason she came back to church. I still find it funny that I honestly had no clue.
Around when I was 12, we started to regularly go to that church which modeled itself after Hillsong. They called themselves Non-Denominational and they jumped during their worship services. It was a very intense place that I did not enjoy very much. On my 12th birthday, my family decided that they were going to go to church instead of celebrate with me. They said I could go with them or I could stay home, but they were going to church. My journey into church literally started with an ultimatum from my family and being abandoned on my 12th birthday.
As time went on, I really really tried to be who they wanted. I did eventually start to have my own relationship with God and it’s what kept me going. When the church was demanding I behave certain ways or change to fit the mould, my own little worship times with God were what I clung to.
My mom has an addictive personality. She jumps from fad to fad and it becomes her identity. In our house, church and the pastors were our gods. We were embarrassments when we weren’t doing exactly what they wanted and we were my mom’s pride and joy when we were. I went to the private school run by the church, youth groups on Fridays and all three weekly services on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Church was life. God wasn’t a loving, comforting, welcoming deity. He was demanding and judging and He didn’t really like me.
It’s no surprise, then, when I was eventually no longer at home or in that environment, that I ended up abandoning my relationship with God.