I honestly don’t know what I would do without my mom flawlessly saying exactly what I need to hear the moment I need to hear it. Thursday was one of those times. We talked on the phone for almost two hours, so there’s no way I could write down all the wonderful things she shared with me. But there are a few things that brought me such potent comfort, that I never want to forget them.
Mom, I want to believe in Jesus. But–it’s just, the same people who taught me about Jesus are the same ones who harshly condemn and alienate gay and lesbian people, but yet have never taken the time to understand them. Or who argue that women should never serve above men in the church, as if God was a big enough dumbass to forbid half the population from positions they are fully capable of filling. And they have all their little verses to rub in my face, but I know in my heart and soul that they’re wrong. I can’t explain it, but I know it. I don’t get it how they can be so blind. So I get to thinking sometimes…what if Jesus…well, what if Jesus is just some big joke too?
My voice shakes as I ask that final question, because I’ve never expressed that doubt out loud to a strong Christian like my mom.
“You may be right, about those people. But, sweetie, you know the One who called you. You know Jesus.”
I know. I just needed to be reminded. Because I do know the mysterious person who called me to follow him when I was 16 (which is a whole other story in itself). That was Jesus.
But I don’t know a whole lot beyond that. I know it was Jesus who called me. But it’s hard because … At church we’re always talking about committing to the church’s vision of making disciples of Jesus. But I don’t understand who he is. I don’t understand how to be a disciple. I haven’t the slightest clue how to make one. I don’t know how to make sense of the Bible. If we’re being honest, sometimes I hate reading the Bible. I don’t know anything. I feel restrained at Christian gatherings, like I’m trying to fit into clothes that are too small for me. In Christian circles leaders are always asking if we’ve been making relationships with new people and having good conversations about Jesus. It’s always this big urgent thing, all these people going to Hell unless we get them to agree with us.
“That sounds like it could become really guilt driven, like it can be a lot of pressure.”
It is! Like, I’m just now actually kind of making friends with new people that aren’t in my Christian circles of friends. And only because I let myself go of that pressure I was feeling that I have to be this perfect Christian on a mission that was giving me so much social anxiety, and I began to fall in love with who they are. I don’t care if I ever talk to them about Jesus. I just want to laugh with them and get to know them and learn from them. I have so much to learn from everyone I meet. Mom, I don’t want to always have this secret conversion agenda with everyone. I don’t want to become friends with people just so I can tell them about Jesus. I want to love people because they are human and are worthy of being loved…I just want to be good to people, that’s it.
“Alissa, what you just described, that is following Jesus.”
Maybe. I guess I know that. But it’s hard, because If I were to drop all my questions and criticism and reservations, if I were to just go along with this majority Christianity, I would have so many supporters. And if I were to throw my hands up and become an atheist, I would have just as many supporters. But I’m somewhere in the middle, questioning everything.
“It can get pretty lonely, huh?”
Yeah. Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one with all these questions trying to figure life out, trying to truly get to the bottom of things. It’s like I’m trying to fly against the wind.
“I know. And most people might not understand you or your decisions. But I do. And you know what? You’re not alone. There are other people out there, questioning the same things you are and pursuing truth like you are.”
I sure hope so.
“I hope so too. Actually, hope isn’t the right word. I’m confident that someday you’ll find some of those people and you’ll be able to question and pursue truth together. It might not be today. It might not be for a really long time. But there are others out there.”
I hold tight to what she told me and her words give me courage.
There are others out there.