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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Just a speck of dust inside a Giant's eye

I am the kind of girl who makes to do lists and then eats ice cream and falls asleep. I am not nearly as intentional as I would like to be, and so often I find myself thinking of things to write on the shower wall with bathtub crayons instead of thinking about what is actually happening right in front of me. And sometimes I will come across a song that conveys my sentiments exactly, and I will wonder why I did not write the song myself and then feel grateful that I didnt because if I had I would still feel like I am the only person in the world that feels that way. And so, Kimya Dawson (who I would love to be friends with but who probably wouldn't think I am very interesting compared to the genius thought patterns in her mind) wrote this song, and I love it. And I think you should listen to it, because it feels like a love song, but isnt.

When I go for a drive I like to pull off to the side
Of the road, turn out the lights, get out and look up at the sky
And I do this to remind me that I'm really, really tiny
In the grand scheme of things and sometimes this terrifies me

But it's only really scary cause it makes me feel serene
In a way I never thought I'd be because I've never been
So grounded, and so humbled, and so one with everything
I am grounded, I am humbled, I am one with everything

Rock and roll is fun but if you ever hear someone
Say you are huge, look at the moon, look at the stars, look at the sun
Look at the ocean and the desert and the mountains and the sky
Say I am just a speck of dust inside a giant's eye
I am just a speck of dust inside a giant's eye

When I saw Geneviève I really liked it when she said
What she said about the giant and the lemmings on the cliff
She said 'I like giants
Especially girl giants
Cause all girls feel too big sometimes
Regardless of their size'

When I go for a drive I like to pull off to the side
Of the road and run and jump into the ocean in my clothes
I'm smaller than a poppyseed inside a great big bowl
And the ocean is a giant that can swallow me whole

So I swim for all salvation and I swim to save my soul
But my soul is just a whisper trapped inside a tornado
So I flip to my back and I float and I sing
I am grounded, I am humbled, I am one with everything
I am grounded, I am humbled, I am one with everything

So I talked to Geneviève and almost cried when she said
That the giant on the cliff wished that she was dead
And the lemmings on the cliff wished that they were dead
So the giant told the lemmings why they ought to live instead

When she thought up all those reasons that they ought to live instead
It made her reconsider all the sad thoughts in her head
So thank you Geneviève, cause you take what is in your head
And you make things that are so beautiful and share them with your friends

We all become important when we realize our goal
Should be to figure out our role within the context of the whole
And yeah, rock and roll is fun, but if you ever hear someone
Say you are huge, look at the moon, look at the stars, look at the sun
Look at the ocean and the desert and the mountains and the sky

Say I am just a speck of dust inside a giant's eye
I am just a speck of dust inside a giant's eye
I am just a speck of dust inside a giant's eye
And I don't wanna make her cry
Cause I like giants

And if you want to listen to it 3478 times, or once, click here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I think the video says it all. I'm so grateful for what God has done in the lives and hearts of my brother(in law) and aunt who once were lost, but now are found! My cup is overflowing. I am so thankful for our family and for the way that God is constantly changing everything about this world. If you are anything like me, you are going to need a box of tissues to watch this:

Omar Andres and Tia Maria getting baptized from allie garcia on Vimeo.

"But while he was still a long way off, his Father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."

If you've ever been a part of the YoungLife prayer-a-thon, been close to Omar in the last eight years, or have known me since I met my husband, you will understand the impact this has on us. If I had any video editing skills at all, I would have added "Please come home" by Dustin Kensrue in the background. If you look up the lyrics, you'll see why.