I never realized just how sheltered I am until a few days ago.
I was raised Christian, went to Christian school my entire life, right up through college.
For the most part it was a wonderful experience, particularly college, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
But there are some things they don't teach you. Sometimes you don't learn how to swim until someone pushes you in the pool.
I had no idea how sheltered I was.
The other day, I encountered a nice young man with strong beliefs. Beliefs which did not match my own.
This man was a non-Christian, and a self-proclaimed Darwinist, who believed that belief in God, in religion was emotional and irrational and not intellectual.
He claimed he wasn't trying to get me to think like him, even when attempted to get me to read a book he had with him called The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.
But it felt different. I felt like I was being told my beliefs weren't good enough, so I should believe something else that was.
That I was irrational. Emotional, not intellectual.
I am 25 years old. I've moved to a city where I didn't know anyone. I live by myself, I pay my own bills.
But until a few days ago, I had never had my faith challenged like that.
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not trying to say my beliefs are better than his, or that he's not entitled to his own set of beliefs and opinions. He certainly is.
I'm also not saying that it wouldn't have been okay for me to read something that tells me my religion is wrong. I'm sure that strong Christians everywhere routinely read things like that.
What I am saying is that I was unprepared. I had no litany of defenses to give him, nothing that might get him to see the reasons why I believe.
No one sits you down in Christian grade school and tells you that someday, when you get out into the "real world," someone will tell you you're wrong and God doesn't exist, that someday someone will make you feel rotten for being a Christian, will make you feel small and irrational.
I never took a class that taught me how to defend my heart against attacks on its belief, on its need to cling The One Who Made Me.
I had no response for him, and I was drowning in my inexperience.
Yes. I took it personally.
I didn't want to listen to him talk anymore. I wanted to close my ears and my heart to his words, I wanted to go back to the bubble I had been living in for 25 years. I was afraid that if I listened for too long, that I would start to believe it.
Because the truth is, I already experience enough doubt as it is. I am already fighting back The Evil One's attempts to poison me, to make me doubt my Savior and his love.
Even a few days later, I am left speechless. I have no tools, no words to defend my God. But I'm also left wondering if He really needs me to.
Nothing I could have said would have changed this young man's mind. It just would have sparked an argument between us. A useless, pointless argument that, in the end, no one would benefit from.
And now, one entire blog post later, I'm still left feeling unprepared.
But maybe that's how life is, how getting older is. I'm starting to realize that there will always be something that I don't know. There will always be something that takes me by surprise. There will always be something that grabs hold of my heart and make me feel like it's trying to squeeze the life out of me. There will always be things you wish they had taught you in school.