Some of these things were way before I moved to the "bible belt", before marrying into a family with a very religious upbringing, and before I had two blessings literally placed in my arms. Things like having a single mother who despite our differences, I adore. Who raised me with morals and a very steady head on my shoulders. Who played the roles of both Mother and Father, friend, enemy, and there were times I didn't think either of us would survive. Like being diagnosed with what seems to be a completely uncontrollable disease and one that typically would have given me a plethora of troubles. An experience with other life changing health issues, including having donor blood transfused into my body for 6 months of my life and the possibility of a bone marrow transplant. Several more hardships that had I not had something guiding me, could have derailed my entire existence. Things that I look back on now, and see that despite my knowledge, my blindness and my selfishness to accept something higher than I'll ever understand, clearly was working on the person I am today.
Now certainly, I can express the experiences I've had in the more recent years, and I'd simply be a fool to not say I felt, saw and completely believe that God was with me through it all. I don't see how I can't. But as I grow in my faith, I am still plagued with doubt and questions that I hope I will soon understand.
I always knew that despite my family upbringing, I wanted to raise my children with Christian beliefs; but thought, how could I even attempt to do that, when I myself had no faith? I prayed. I prayed for something, anything that showed me that there is in fact a God. This is a trying experience, because how can I lead my children to the Lord, when I'm just beginning myself? I mean of course it's helpful that I married into a religious family, but they also prayed for a strong Christian woman to marry their son. I knew when I entered this relationship, I had to be my in laws worst nightmare. I hadn't stepped foot in a church in years. I mean like when I only went to chase boys around and that was a looong time ago! I cussed like a sailor, worked at a bar, and had an "I don't care attitude". But, I also know that from those many, many years ago, that I believed in SOMETHING. I also am thankful my in-laws didn't chase me away, because they have definitely guided me, encouraged me and supported me for this very moment.
I've had years of doubt, but I admitted to it all. I've also fought and still fight with what I heard was right and wrong, and what biblically speaking is right and wrong. But, I did believe in the three things that are most important. The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. I think.
I believe that the doubt I had always won this battle. How could I possibly believe in something, SOMEONE that I couldn't see, touch or hear? I've always "talked" to loved ones that I lost. They seemed to keep me safe traveling and out of numerous speeding tickets, at least I tell myself that. As I've learned, it's very normal to have doubt, and that's just another thing to pray about. But I question where my faith stands when I dwell on something I don't fully understand. I mean, I believe in Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy... So why shouldn't I believe in something, someone, who is supposedly higher and more almighty than any childhood figure?
Here is where I will begin my "walk". I am going to read the bible. I don't plan on "reading" the bible like a James Patterson novel, I plan on studying, learning, and furthering the relationship I started with Christ. In my opinion it certainly can't hurt.
I also want to express that while I am so far from a role model Christian, I am working on changing. Not changing to where I am not the same Shylah everyone knows, but bettering myself. Bettering the lives of my children, and bettering my life and marriage with my husband. I've felt over the past year especially, like I have more ease with things, and that no matter what, there comes a sense of peace "giving my problems to God". I can't say that if I were thrown a curve ball, like something tragic happening to my children or family, that I could just "give it to the Lord", I'm not saying that at all, but when I'm stressed, and overwhelmed, I feel much calmer praying for my sanity and well being, patience and guidance to get me through. It certainly has relieved a lot of stress in these types of situations, and then at the end of the day when I reflect on that situation, I am surprised I can't remember why I was so stressed, and then thank God for being with me.
There will be things in my life, and my families lives that I may not always agree with, and/or understand, but I have always believed everything happens for a reason. And now I believe that I'm not the one in control, that it's a plan above my level of understanding, and that if it's meant to be, then there will be a way to do it. I can make decisions that can influence an outcome, but I can't change what is in His plan for me.
I am also learning to deal with the struggle of image. I know I have surprised many people with posts about Faith, praying, going to church, etc... And I'm embarrassed that I built a reputation that contradicts where I am trying to go. I don't think anything I've done in life has been "bad" or evil. I just simply didn't live a Christian life. I still have vices, and drop a cuss word out of thin air, but I am working on these things as I am, 1. A parent trying to raise respectful, well mannered boys, and 2. Learning how to be the person I want people to see me as. Does this mean I won't be my crazy, fun, outspoken self? Heck no! I'm not changing, I'm applying a filter, and trying to lead a Christian life. Does this mean I will "live" in a church, or not see R rated movies, or have an occasional drink? No. I don't think that's what it's about. I do want people to know I am a Christian when they meet me though, and I do want to set an example to my children and to my friends and family, that being a Christian and a believer is more than being Betty Bible, and turning down "life". That's how I used to perceive Christians. I literally thought kids in a Christian school, must have spent their math class counting diciples, and "If God gives you two apples, and takes one away, how many do you have?". Having faith, being a believer and a saved Christian doesn't limit your fun, and your living, it enhances the richness of your life, by living for someone who gave His life for you...
With this though, also comes the fear of being judged by some very close loved ones. I love and adore my family, but I also know where they stand on their religious views. I was there before, and I'm not ashamed to say that. Again, this is a personal decision I am choosing to make. I don't plan on shoving religion down my friends and family's throats, their beliefs are theirs and that's their right. I won't love them any less, and I can and will continue to love and pray for them, as I have been and quite honestly; even through my stages of belief, no belief, faith, no faith, have done for years and years.
I am fearful of failure as I am with anything in life, but I know that I am becoming a stronger person and a better Christian through it all. I am sure as I learn and explore my journey, I'll have times of uncertainty, but as I said earlier, even if the religious people of our nation are wrong, and Heaven is just another place w/out bounce houses... It can't hurt me, and it gives me something higher to have hope in!
With that, I will leave you with a bible verse I have heard a lot over the past few weeks... I've heard it through church, random conversations, and more importantly when playing a game of "close your eyes, flip the page and point" that this verse was under my finger... I have an incredible journey ahead of me, but one I am looking forward to, and one that along the way, if someone should ask me a question, I hope that I will be able to answer...
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. -Philippians 4:6