the freedom I know

As we sit around the table, the question of faith comes up again. I love that the topic is up for discussion, and open curiosity is a healthy sign of intelligence, and a desire to learn, to know, to grow.

The truth is that we love God. We follow Jesus. And our story is not exclusive or mysterious.

I grew up reading the Bible. At my grandmother’s house in the mountains, on those long wither night she asked me to read her Psalms. Then as a middle schooler I got my own bible, and I loved reading the proverbs and all the stories.

But the season my faith and my family’s faith shaped who I am today was my adolescence. As I was telling our Ukrainian guest, who asked so openly, I felt our boundaries were better and clearer defined, than any of my neighbors. Within church I have experienced freedom to discover myself, to travel the country, to be trusted with my friends and to trust. My parents would have never had the capacity to define the good and healthy law of God with their own words or by themselves. I had a good community, simple people but honest in their pursuit of God.

I was mocked by my neighborhood friends for going to church. Yet I have never felt lost or hurt. I always had a healthy group of friends in my church. I know now that many did not. I know that church makes one vulnerable and thus easier hurt by people who should be trustworthy but they are not. And my heart aches for all kind of wounds and scars I witness on my friends heart and body and mind. This was not God’s plan. But God can redeem.

At 14 I had a faith crisis. I understand now that in adolescence, when hormones are raging, one is more susceptible to spirituality, but it can go both ways. One can depart from God if they have never experienced his love in their respective love language as expressed in subtle or tangible ways by their parents or their community.

We live in broken world. And we will experience pain. Many already have. Faith does not make us imune to sickness, to war, to loss. It’s just that how we process the pain, how we understand it, what we make of it, how we rise above it, therein lies the treasure of faith, therein rests our heart, and God delights in us.

But I have one more reason to declare with a clear voice that I owe it all to God. This life we live, the decisions we made, the kids we adopted, the road we walked on and was seemingly paved with serendipitous grace and blessings despite the storms, if my heart was not so tightly woven into the understanding God’s law, love and plan of salvation, I would have made more fearful and bitter decisions with my life.

Conrad’s upbringing, his family life, his understanding of God, his respect for my faith, all these were the solid foundation of our decision too marry very early, and grow together in faith, and everything else this family life has granted us.

To speak plainly, Church and the Spirit did not steal my freedom. It actually granted me freedom. And this freedom extends today into my parenting decisions. My goal in life, besides connection and nurturing, healing through play and traveling and fun, I am set on teaching my daughters about God, His love for us, His good boundaries and law. And then entrust them into His care and wisdom, every day I drop them off to school, and practice this as they grow older.