I'm a Christian. I've been one since I was born. My mom and her parents and my dad and his parents all went to church. I was a Christian because I believed I didn't have a choice and living "the Christian life" was easy, expected, and I walked mindlessly into something that should not have been taken lightly.
At 7 I accepted Christ into my heart, at 9 I watched my brother do the same, church on Sunday, and prayers every night before bed. The first time I really started to understand the concept of Christianity was at Sunday school. It was actually not "at" Sunday school but in leaving as my family and I were moving away and the youth pastor came up to me and gave me a lime green leather bible. "The Young Woman's Edition; with Stories from Real Girls."
I absolutely loved that bible that made me feel official with its leather spine, even down to the way it smelled. I kept it in the box only pulling it out when I would read the stories of those "real girls" and learned about hardships my sheltered soul would have never even begun to dream up.
My faith journey from then on consisted of beginning the "Read the Bible in a Year" plan on Youversion (I made it to 18 out of 66 chapters before I stopped). My mom & I tried to start a bible study and I participated in another one with other junior high girls. Here and there I would watch sermons I really connected with or read devotionals I loved; but over time the only "God thing" that stuck was prayer.
Around 13 or 14 was when things started to shift. I would watch as my closest friends began to struggle with their relationship with God. I would be so disappointed for them (notice I didn't say "at them") but I would ultimately be grateful that I wasn't struggling like they were. I was so relieved & happy, that my relationship with God was strong & intact that I didn't even see how far I was drifting.
Somehow, although my boat had come unmoored, I was still floating at the dock. Whenever I would get anxious or whenever I needed something, I would pray. As my life got busier and the demands of the day to day grew, I stopped prioritizing God as I had once done reading devotionals on my lanai in the morning.
But then at around 14 & 1/2, I started to see more clearly how I was putting my relationship with God in the back-burner. In 2020 during quarantine, alone & at home, I would watch these eye-opening messages from powerful Christian speakers. I started seeing different approaches to the faith I had been taught in my church. I started seeing new ways of thinking lived out. Once again, like reading my green leather bible, my eyes were open to new perspectives.
I came away with many lessons, but only one big "ah-ha" moment: your relationship with God should be personal, about you & him, and not anything or anyone else.
I have always worried about what other people have thought of me, I have always been anxious, and I have always had this feeling of needing to fend for myself. So by combining those three things I had somehow twisted my PERSONAL relationship with MY God, to look at things through the "Christian Perspective".
Now, I'm not saying that the "Christian Perspective" is bad. I do believe in community, I believe in the Bible, I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and none of that changes. But I also believe that at the core of Christianity, you are supposed to have a personal relationship with God and I think that Christians or Christianity has lost that.
The title of being a Christian has become attached to other things (political issues, race, the planet, etc.) and it hurts my personal relationship with God t0 constantly think of myself as a Christian because being a "Christian" becomes more about an identity and less about your personal relationship with God.
I believe that I'm at a formidable point in my life and I'm starting to realize that in order to have a good relationship with God, I'm going to have to fight and wrestle for a relationship with Him, or else I'm going to lose my relationship with Him altogether. One way this looks is making it a priority to figure out the best way to spend time connecting with Him. So I will try some different things, maybe get advice from others on how they spend time with God, and hopefully develop a consistent pattern of practices.
When I write to you, you might think I'm coming down negatively on Christianity, but I am here, writing today (as your internet bestie ;) ) to tell you to not feel conformed, unable to question instilled beliefs, because not calling myself a Christian has freed me to have a more personal relationship with God than I expected!