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When I was on fire

I mentioned Friday that I devoured Addie Zierman’s book “When We Were on Fire” in two late nights last week.

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In some ways her story felt like my own – that crazed, all-consuming, legalist Christian subculture so many of us were involved in our teen years, the culture that so many of us have walked away from, disillusioned and cynical.

At several points I set the book down, closed my eyes and was taken back to the days where I too was on fire. I could even smell the bright red carpet in the sanctuary of the church where I’d kneel for hours during youth group, consecrating my life to radical holiness.

That was a decade ago. I am no longer on fire. I have almost forgotten what it means to live a life of “radical holiness.” For me, it meant a lot of guilt and shame. It meant snubbing a really nice boy who drew me cartoons of cows because he wasn’t in love with Jesus. It meant taking down the Beatles poster from my bedroom that I’d had since I was a child. It meant thinking pastors, missionaries and evangelists were more important than plumbers, painters and pharmacists. It meant getting lectured by a spiritual leader for saying the word “heck”. It meant pressing into God by singing the same worship song over and over for three hours on Sunday morning. It meant turning my art project at community college into a gospel presentation, and when my classmates politely ignored me the rest of the semester, it meant I was just that much holier. 

It meant building confining walls and living in the tiny constrains of my own religious prison.

I’ve been wondering how I might start to talk about my faith journey on this blog. I’m scared to, but I think I am ready. After reading Addie’s book, I spent a few hours writing down a few of my church memories. My story is different from her because I come from a Pentecostal background, which comes with an entirely different set of jargon and rules than the garden-variety evangelical.

I know my continual struggle with church and Christian culture doesn’t have a lot to do with motherhood, but I think it some way it all ties together. I’m a mom who is figuring out my own messy faith as I try to figure out how I’ll raise Baby G. It is something I want to work through, because I want so desperately for her to grow up understanding how big and loving her God is. But I want to do this without tying up her spirit with tight, pretty Christian bows. 

I’m scared to send her to church – especially youth group. But that’s far off. For now, I’m just trying to just sit through a church service without crying or feeling panicked or ticked off. 

I think there are some of you out there who might relate. I’d love to figure all this out with you. It can be a lonely journey. 

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13 Comments

  1. Mandy on December 16, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    LOVE THIS. If you do figure it out, please let me know. I don’t even know where to begin with the questions and conflicting ideas and emotions I have about this subject…

    • creatingmom on December 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      I am figuring it out very slowly and painfully. We should talk sometime.

  2. Mandy on December 16, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    LOVE THIS. If you do figure it out, please let me know. I don’t even know where to begin with the questions and conflicting ideas and emotions I have about this subject…

    • creatingmom on December 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      I am figuring it out very slowly and painfully. We should talk sometime.

  3. castyourworries on December 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Love your honesty. I desperately want my children to know how loving and good God is. I’m finding the work I have to do is start believing that myself! I believe God reveals Himself in Scripture – so what better place to start. Continue to write honestly – it’s a blessing to you, your child, and others.

  4. castyourworries on December 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Love your honesty. I desperately want my children to know how loving and good God is. I’m finding the work I have to do is start believing that myself! I believe God reveals Himself in Scripture – so what better place to start. Continue to write honestly – it’s a blessing to you, your child, and others.

  5. Sarah D on December 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    As mother and Christian the best advice I could ever give to one looking to love God and share that love with her children without the “legalism” is this: Just read the Bible. All of It. Beginning to end. Don’t read it with any preconceived ideas; just read it as it is. God can reveal Himself so much better than any “author” ever will be able to. Yes, God has rules. But His rules have deep meaning and draw us closer to Him; whereas our human rules just leave us feeling guilty and distant from God.
    Also, a couple ideas if you’re feeling panicked or ticked-off in church service: First, look to God’s Word and see what He says about those things that are ticking you off. Whatever He says about the issue is how we should look at it, too. Second, perhaps the church you’re worshiping with isn’t the right one for your family and you should look for another.
    Praying that you will have wisdom as you raise your child! =)
    (I came from “Beauty in the Mess” link up)

  6. Lauren on December 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    You should do this! People need to hear that message, your unique perspective. Your memories brought back memories of my own, very similar, some very painful to recall. I find it hard as a parent because I want my son to know the stories of our faith, but I am also concerned about what that might mean for him as he grows up.

  7. Lauren on December 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    You should do this! People need to hear that message, your unique perspective. Your memories brought back memories of my own, very similar, some very painful to recall. I find it hard as a parent because I want my son to know the stories of our faith, but I am also concerned about what that might mean for him as he grows up.

  8. Jen Tanis on March 15, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    I just stumbled across your blog (it was promoted on twitter of all places!) I am on a similar journey – big questions that seems to lead to more questions. My husband is stepping down from paid ministry after 12 years. We don’t know where this journey will take us, but I have to believe that God will honor our effort to be authentic with Him and with the church. Thank you for sharing your story – I look forward to reading more of it.

    • Carly Gelsinger on March 16, 2014 at 7:40 pm

      Ahhh yes the questions that lead to more questions. I very much relate to that. I hope you share your story with me as you read along too.

  9. Jen Tanis on March 15, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    I just stumbled across your blog (it was promoted on twitter of all places!) I am on a similar journey – big questions that seems to lead to more questions. My husband is stepping down from paid ministry after 12 years. We don’t know where this journey will take us, but I have to believe that God will honor our effort to be authentic with Him and with the church. Thank you for sharing your story – I look forward to reading more of it.

    • Carly Gelsinger on March 16, 2014 at 7:40 pm

      Ahhh yes the questions that lead to more questions. I very much relate to that. I hope you share your story with me as you read along too.

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