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Conversions series on Jason Boyett’s BeliefNet Blog

03/18/2011

I’ve been enjoying the Conversion series on Jason Boyett’s BeliefNet blog, O Me of Little Faith. It’s been fascinating reading about different people’s faith journeys, from one religion or denomination to another, or none at all sometimes. Of course I have thoughts about all of them, and I’m still very much mired in the idea that Christ and the Bible are the only truly helpful faiths and worldviews out there, but I fully understand the decisions many people make.

I’ve noticed in the stories of people converting to specific types of Christianity a tendency towards legalism and second work of grace experiences. This argument is as old as Christianity itself, but I still see no evidence for second works of grace. There seems to be an entire generation out there who grew up in Godly, Biblical churches, saw the inherent sin in everyone’s lives, and summarily rejected their faith, coming back to it after experiencing a crisis or a unique event when God got ahold of them again. But instead of returning to the Godly, Biblical faith they were raised in, they view that faith as weak, producing wicked sinful people who don’t demonstrate the level of holiness that they feel God wants everyone to demonstrate. And so they seek out new faiths and new experiences, redefining the old in favor of the new and exciting.

I understand it, I really do. But it seems to cause nothing but problems and regrets down the line.

The most recent Conversion story is entitled Conversions: Fundamentalist Christian to Non-Religious Spirituality. Obviously this post resonates with me deeply. I’m still a Christian, still walking with Christ; haven’t rejected my faith yet. I admit freely there have been low points, times in my life when if I could quit being a Christian I would have, when I wanted nothing to do with God or those around me who claimed to most represent God. By the grace of God I don’t think my life has gone quite the same way Christy’s has, but I understand fully how and why hers has been this way, and I can’t find any bit of judgement in me for her, only love and grace and acceptance.

Something she said really stuck out to me though:

What advice would you give someone going through the same experience or contemplating a similar conversion?

…Particularly if you’re a lifer like me, it can be scary to leave a sub-culture, and maybe even a job that is familiar — not to mention the relationship fallout from family and friends — but you will never go wrong being honest with yourself and others about what you believe — and what you don’t.

However, be selective about who you share your process with. Major internal changes can be disorienting and painful, and you want to make sure that you have safe people to walk with you through the deconstruction and rebuilding process, who will support you rather than judge you. (This is when you find out who your friends really are.)

Once you have a sense of where you’re headed and you feel more solid, you will be better able to handle friends and family’s potential negative reactions. (Although they may surprise you and be more accepting and non-judgmental than you think.)

Tonight, I had dinner with a former TA/professor of mine and a young lady I’ve had in a few classes together with him. It was a great opportunity to catch up over the past few months and offer whatever advice and support we could offer to each other, all while enjoying some truly excellent Chinese food. And at one point during the conversations, it dawned on me just how truly blessed my life is now compared to what it was a few years ago. I’m more relaxed, more peaceful, not as bitter and angry about things, and feel stronger in my walk with the Lord than ever before. I’m rediscovering what faith and grace is. No, life is not perfect, and there are many things I would change about my life. But all things considered, I’m truly blessed.

Friends have made all the difference. This past week has made me utterly grateful for the friends I’ve made in the past few years. Switching majors so late in my college career has proven to be one of the best things I’ve ever done, because not only did it give me a highly sought after skill set and potential career, but I also met many different people and became friends with quite a few of them, friendships I’m reasonably certain will last a long time. They’ve been there for me through the dark times and the good, and hopefully I’ve been just as good a friend to them in return.

Friends are a blessing.

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