Saturday, March 7, 2009

Why I believe in God

After one of my blogfriends wrote a post asking why people believe in God, I've spent the last three days trying to come up with reasons why I do. I came up empty, and then I realized this:
I have no reason other than the fact that my life can be divided into two perfectly distinct parts.
The 17 years that I did not believe in God.
And the 6 that I have.

I was raised with the freedom to believe whatever I wanted to believe about the world. I was taught that God was whatever I wanted God to be.
And when I was seven, I wanted God to be a long haired mermaid, kind of like this:
And when I was thirteen, I prayed my first "testing God" prayer:

"Dear God, If you are real, make my pimple go away"

I woke up the next morning, and voila! My pimple was still there, infiltrating my self-conscious thirteen year old face. I think that was the moment that I silently denounced God.
That same year I came home to my mom and dad and little sister huddled around the t.v. as the events of the Columbine school shooting unfolded. There was a girl named Cassie Bernall, who was held at gunpoint and asked by her proverbial killer if she believed in God. She said yes, and was shot to death moments later.
I could not fathom why anyone would want to die over their belief in someone they had never seen, the invisible man in the sky who did not seem to care enough to heal one measly pimple, much less save a person professing His name from imminent death.
This bothered me alot, and this time, I consciously denounced God's existence.

Thirteen year-old me.

Through high school, in my desperate attempt to find unconditional love in the world, I dated every cute boy that crossed my path. When whatever relationship I was in didnt meet my expectations, I would find myself in another one, simultaneously. Somewhere in the middle of all of this all of these weird people started showing up in my life. It started with my theatre teacher who had WWJD inscribed on everything she owned. I found this quite amusing. Then, there was the crazy guy in my U.S. History Honors class who brought me endless bags of gummy bears and told me repeatedly that God had brought him into my life.
"Yes, God. I think God wants me to know you."
"Hmm...neat. Can I copy your homework then?"
Cole Stafford

So, I did. His name was Cole Stafford and he let me copy his homework for the rest of the school year. There was something about him that was so different, something that intrigued me....but not the way every other boy did. He seemed real, like he knew where he came from and he knew where he was going. He invited me to his house and picked all the green ones out of the gummy bear bag, because I thought they were absolutely horrid. He played the guitar for me and invited me to church 234 times. I declined, 233 times. Somewhere between the spring of my Junior year of high school and the fall of my Senior year, I decided I really liked Cole. I had never felt more sincerity or adoration from anyone, and I wanted to know where it came from. When I asked him what made him so different from everyone else, he answered with the same name everytime,

Jesus? The same guy who I, for most of my life, thought was born in a manger on Christmas and died on easter and was resurrected on halloween (ghosts, holy spirit? can you see where the confusion might come into play?), and who I generally knew very little about? That Jesus?

So, I went to church with him. I may have wanted to know, but mostly I had decided that I liked Cole and he had decided that he liked me, but refused to date me unless I went to church with him.
I remember that night well. There was a McDonalds hamburger eating contest, and after three hamburgers I was ready to spend the rest of the night throwing up in the bathroom. Instead, we sat through some songs and a guy with a bible started talking about the world, and the condition of the human heart, and how we all long to love and be loved unconditionally, and how we were created with a hole in hearts and we are desperate to fill that hole and so we try to do that with drugs and alcohol and unfulfilling relationships and accomplishments and just about everything except for the one thing the hole was made for.

Things started hitting home and for the first time in my life I was hearing something true. I had felt the presence of the hole in my life for as far back as I can remember, and I had ignored the hole and tried to fill the hole and done everything except acknowledge that the hole was getting bigger and nothing I tried could fill it.

The guy with the bible went on...
We were created to have a relationship with God but we chose to be independent from God and to go our own way and live our lives however we wanted to, and that broke God's heart because he made us and made us to be with Him and walk through life with Him forever and we chose not to. So, God sent Jesus who died and carried the sins of the world in his death, and that bridged the gap between man and God and gave humans the opportunity to see the extent of Gods love and to see what He was like, and humanity was ultimately reconciled with our creator. And, if we want to, we can have a relationship with God and we can speak to him and hear him and be comforted by him and be whole again.
Something miraculous must have happened in my heart at that point, because I raised my hand when they asked if anyone wanted to commit their life to Christ.

I do not believe that I had a miraculous conversion of any kind, because my relationship with God did not become real at that point. What did occur is that I spent less time trying to fill the void in my heart with anything I could get my hands on, and more time trying to find the ultimate truth. I looked into Buddhism, Catholicism, Mormonism, and even Christianity, and I discovered that no religion was going to meet the growing need in my soul to understand the world around me. I was starting to think about some really weird stuff, like how the human brain works and the mechanics of the eyeball, and sunsets and fish and why humans are so relational and the universe outside of the planet earth.

This led me to open up the bible. In the bible, particularly in Matthew 5-7, my mind was warped by the words of Jesus. I decided that even though I didnt know what I believed about who God was, I wanted to follow Jesus. I wanted to live my life by his words and model my life after his. I wanted to love people, really love people, fully and unselfishly. I wanted to give to anyone who was in need and treat people with love, even if they had hurt me. I was raised with many of these values, but on a much lower scale, and I was slowly discovering that nobody loved people like Jesus loved people.

The problem occured when I kept reading. I had been going to church and had fallen deeply in love with the person of Christ. I was starting to meet more people who called themselves Christians and who actually resembled the Jesus in the bible. People, like Cole, who genuinely cared about other people and lived full lives that werent easily affected by the people around them, these people were so grounded and so true and I got stuck.
I discovered that the bible, and the churches preaching the bible, were saying the same thing. That Jesus is God in human form and that in order to really follow him, you have to believe that. I started talking to God about this, and somewhere along the line I realized that I had become a Christian. I was following Christ and I was making decisions based on the bible and I was trusting God with my life and my heart and my choices, and he was respinding to me. I noticed that somewhere along the line I had become a completely different person, and it was all because of the love of God that had planted in my heart.

I don't have all of the answers about the infinite depths of the universe, but I have grown deeply enamored with the Creator of the universe, the Jesus of the bible, and my mustardseed faith that grew from a tiny little seed into a flourishing tree of life.

The truth is, I hate being a "Christian." I hate being identified with the group of people that have committed heinous crimes in the name of Jesus, I hate the many times that I screw up and treat people less than they deserve to be treated, I hate knowing that the word "Christian" means a million different things to a million different people. But I love knowing that I have a purpose in this enormous world, I love that everyday I wake up knowing that I am loved by an immeasurable God who has changed everything about my heart.

Its important to note that Cole Stafford and I dated for the rest of my Senior year. We broke up because I cheated on him and then he went away to college. In May of 2007 he became a Pastor and got married. In February of 2008, he died unexpectedly. When I think about the time he was on earth and how much his short life changed mine, I am in awe. God is so big, and yet, so intricate. I have no idea where I would be if I had never met Cole Stafford. I hope my life can serve as a tribute to Cole's faith, and that I will never forgot the man who taught me how to love my creator.

If you read this entire entry, i'm impressed, and I will buy you a smoothie.


Anonymous said...

I read it all - as I have every other word on this page! I told you I am addiscted!

You can buy it for me when I go to your hometown of Vegas for my wedding in June :O)
-Erica (Amsterdam trip)

Wife and Mommy said...

you owe me a smoothie...I wouldnt hold you to it, but im pregnant...totally kidding haha, I enjoyed every minute of the 5 it took me to read it! Love you girl.

Janelle Drown said...

My dear Allie.
I read your blog, and you never cease to amaze me. You are a beautiful person on the inside and outside. You don't need to buy me a smoothie, I enjoyed reading it :]

I do what I want! said...

You owe me a smoothie! :) You are such a good writer and have a way with words. Every entry touches my heart in some way and this one was amazing. What a great story! I have to admit I got kinda teary eyed at the end. I'm glad you wrote that post :)

Becca Call said...

kasa says hi, and i say i love you.

love, kasa and becca

Rebecca Louise. said...

A smoothie really? I will hold you to that, Allie :)

A beautiful post and what a beautiful friend you had in Cole :) X.

loreneduffyiwertz said...

I remember the gummy bears! I've been thinking about Cole all week for some reason... It's strange you blogged about him. Allie, I'm so proud of the wonderful person you've become and I think Cole is proud, too!

Anonymous said...

Dearest Allie,

I saw you in the grocery store the other day with your awesome husband. A big part of me wanted to say hello, another part of me is jealous of what you have. I want to be enamored by that kind of love. And I so desperately want that whole filled. I didn't want to loose who I was though, I didn't want to be one of those "christian" people who seemed to have no real opinions or ideas of there own. I guess I never realized what being christian really meant.

Thank you so much for such a beautiful post, I just hope I can find this someday. But most of all, I'm happy you found yours.

Love Always,


noblefamily said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
noblefamily said...

You owe me a smoothie :o)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. I completely believe that God placed Cole in your path. I started to get very teary eyed at the end and still feel emotional from reading.

Content. Enjoyed. Thanks.

You are amazing.
God is amazing.

Lace said...

I read it all, and I loved it all! Oh, and I like strawberry banana smoothies, thanks! ;)

I like your new profile pic. SO CUTE!

Jessica said...

You're going to have to host a smoothie party.

I love your story and you! Thanks for that glimpse into the past the other day, I needed to feel our extemporaneousness again.

Chelsea Robbins said...

I like the Kiwi Quencher...

Just so you know.

Tammy Stafford said...

I am literally moved to tears by your blog post, Allie. You have grown into a beautiful person and we are grateful to get to watch you on your way. Thanks for letting us share your life through your posts.

Bryan and Christy Clark said...

I love this! I love your story and I love that it was with lots of small and simple things that helped you to gain your testimony of Christ. I think so many people expect a miraculous vision to believe and it may happen for some (very very few) but it's usually just how you described. And I love and miss Cole, he was always in my classes since elementary school and always the kindest kid. Such a noble soul!

Justin G. Stafford said...

Beautiful blog Allied.

Whitney Solomon said...

You so owe me a smoothie. Probably 3 smoothies over the years. I'm so thankful for this story. So thankful that God has a perfect plan for us all. I love you so much! Happy birthday my sweet sweet friend.

Jane Eyre said...

I want another smoothie ;)