Ten miles wide and an inch deep

So, I've been thinking a lot lately, and realizing my faith is not what I thought it was. In fact, I have come to the terrifying realization that I actually have no idea what it is that I believe. Sure, I know the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed inside and out. I believe every word of them. I know that I am a sinner, that Christ died to forgive my sins, that He rose again and now sits in heaven with Our Father God, where he will one day judge us all.

What I am suddenly unsure of is what any of that actually means.

No, I haven't lost my faith. In a weird way, I feel closer to Jesus than ever. It's just that I've suddenly come to an understanding that my faith has been ten miles wide and an inch deep, and as a result, has weak roots and some seriously unappetizing fruit.

I was baptized Episcopalian by my parents shortly after birth, then they church hopped until we settled in a Lutheran church when I was five. We remained there until it was almost time for my confirmation, then moved to another nearby city. I signed up for confirmation classes, but I can't remember whether I ever actually attended one. If I did, I don't recall learning anything. Ultimately, I started attending a Baptist church in my new city with a school friend, and learned what it meant to be Saved. I gave my heart to Jesus at a weekend retreat for junior high school students, when it occured to me that while I had heard the message of salvation every Sunday at the Lutheran church, I had never actually internalized it -- I had done plenty of praying to God for things I wanted, but I couldn't recall ever asking forgiveness for sins, or thanking Him for His blessings and/or sacrifice. No one, it seemed, had ever even bothered to tell me how very important this was.

I will be eternally (pardon the pun) grateful to the Baptist church for saving my soul. My soul needed saving, for sure, even at the tender age of 13. But this fundamentalist congregation was my introduction to a faith far wider than it was deep. Soon I could quote chapter and verse the difference between right and wrong and tell you the bare minimum essentials for salvation in my sleep (no works necessary!!!). I could tell you exactly what was wrong with Catholic, Mormon, Jewish and Muslim theology. I could wax poetic on "the fruits of the spirit" or "the signs of the end times" or "the ACTS way to pray." Anything with a clever acronym was easy to remember and whip out in conversation as needed. I became fluent in "Christianese" -- the spiritual shorthand believers use to communicate. I was "on fire for God," never going to "backslide," focused on my "walk." I justified things I wanted to do by convincing myself that God had "put them on my heart." And maybe He had. But when High School came along and God was putting certain boys "on my heart . . . " well, let's just say that didn't always turn out so well.

At any rate, it didn't take very long until I became the most dangerous sort of person -- the type of person who knows a little bit about everything, and a lot about nothing. My faith consisted of soundbites, catchphrases, and a deep conviction that I had found the Truth. And it stayed that way for years. I went to college (Lutheran), moved across the country, joined a mega-church, met a wonderful Christian man, got married, had a baby . . . life was good. And then God shook things up.


Blogger colby said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/17/2005 11:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Dixie said...

I can so related to your thoughts in this -- to suddenly wake up one morning and have no idea what you believe and why. It's a painful experience, isn't it? I remember this exact feeling -- suddenly realizing that what I believed was merely superficial.

Thanks for sharing.

10/21/2005 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger George @ Convert Journal said...

Hi K.H.,

I am a fellow convert blogger too. Recently I decided to make a clean and detailed list of folks with blogs such as ours. To that end I have created http://www.convertjournal.com/p/convert-stories.html - a page just for that purpose. Please let me know if you would like any changes to your listing.

I also made a nice "badge" for anyone who would like to link to that page. It can be found at http://www.convertjournal.com/p/convert-stories-info.html.


1/25/2010 07:26:00 PM  

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