In this series:
Christianity in my life
I grew up in a series of churches that could be described as legalistic and ultra-conservative. But those designations aren't really important. The important word is shallow.
It would have been easy for me to accept the religious perspective I was handed, as it was. I would have done what was needed to stay out of hell, would have understood what check-marks I needed to check, and that would have been it. And then I would have set out to make my life as thoroughly secular as possible.
With nothing deeper than staying out of hell, no actual interest in religion or Jesus or God would have been needed - and there would have been no reason or room to be interested.
But my life didn't work out that way. From early on, I knew there was a space - sometimes big, sometimes small - between what my parents thought and what the church was teaching.
The religion that the church taught me was bland, uninteresting, extremely shallow, and held no significance whatsoever. It did not inspire great things, it did not provoke great dreams, it did not ask for anything except a narrow understanding of "moral living", and a basic set of religious rituals to perform on weekends.
Instead, it sunk me in a mire of depression. All I could see was the ignorance and shallowness of those around me. And those were the people held up as models for us to aspire to.
But my parents created a space between what I was hearing in the church, and what they thought. And that space became a bigger space in my mind between the church's religion and what was real. That space became a crack of light, through which I saw hope.
Because of that space, I never saw Christianity as the rituals, traditions, prejudice, and shallowness of the churches I was in. Instead, I saw it as something beautiful and transcendent, something far removed from anything I knew. And I began my search for it.
Stuck in the hopelessness of my surroundings, I saw Christianity as the one thing that could transform my life. Somehow, Christianity held out the possibility of being free, of becoming better than what my surroundings had prepared me to be, of living a meaningful and fulfilled and dramatic life.
I looked to Christianity for transformation.
I feel like Paul, saying "not that I have already attained..."
But this hope is the one fuel that has driven my life. I live like I do because I believe there is something beautiful and transcendent hidden away in the teachings of Jesus - hidden only because our religious traditions have clouded our minds. I live like I do because I want to attain to it.
And I only hold out that hope because a long time ago, my parents subtly demonstrated that Christianity is not what the church told me it was.