Monday, March 12, 2012

Things They Don't Teach You

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.


  1. I actually had this happen yesterday. Not so much with the being a Christian, but being Lutheran. I was told that there isn't a presence of the Holy Spirit in the church. To come into the church that I am a member at is like entering a coffin and everyone is so damn hypocritical. That it's all rote and emotionless. That it's static and stoic and how could anyone be moved by that? How it doesn't allow for freedom and growth. That it tells you what to say when, and never allows you to speak openly to God. I just sat... stunned. I am by no means a traditional Lutheran, but to have everything that I was taught and raised in tore mercilessly apart was incredibly difficult. I had no response. How could I say that there is such beauty that can be found in the sparceness? That I don't need loud music and flashy powerpoints and to raise my hands and dance to praise God? That I don't need the 38392nd mission trip of the year to see the Holy Spirit moving hearts? Isn't there room for all of it?

  2. I want to be completely upfront on my point of view. I am 36. I was raised as a Baptist and at the age of about 19, started questioning my beliefs. I am now an atheist/agnostic (it wavers between the two) and still question my beliefs daily and will continue to do so until I die. I don't believe I am any more right than you are in your beliefs.

    If you have questioned your beliefs openly and honestly and don't see any flaw in them, then you don't need to defend yourself.

    If you wish to defend yourself, you have to talk to people with different opinions (not the confrontational ones) and hear their viewpoints. I have discussions regularly with people of all beliefs and they are all entirely civil. We don't give each other reading assignments or homework; we just talk. The sentences start off like 'Why do you believe _________ over _____?' or 'How can you justify the argument _________?' and the questions are asked with the intention of hearing a legitimate answer.

    There are extremists in every different religion. Those are the ones you DON'T want to talk to. I am an atheist that doesn't care when or where you pray as long as you don't expect me to stop what I am doing so you can. Sadly, that doesn't happen a lot.

    But again, you don't need to defend yourself because he has no way of proving he is any more or less right than you are. That is why it is a belief or faith, not a fact or knowledge.