I would like to start by summing up why those years were such a tremendous blessing to me, then in the next post I want to be honest about why I moved away from that life, not away from the Church, but away from the conservative mindset that I had always been surrounded by. That's where the scary part comes for me, because so many of the wonderful people I shared that life with are still there, and I want to honor and respect that. If any of those folks are reading this, I want them to know how much I value our shared history, and how much I continue to cherish the friendships formed during those wonderful years.
I am sure for days I will continue to think of other things to put on this list, but for now, here are some of the priceless things that years surrounded by conservative Christians gave me:
- The church provided a depth of community and belonging that literally changed my life course in numerous instances. From childhood, I had people in my church who loved me and invested themselves in me. They taught my Sunday School classes, they planned the parties and Easter egg hunts, they hauled around carloads of teenagers, but more important than all of that, they nurtured me. They made sure I knew that God had a plan for my life, and they encouraged me to reach beyond what was easily attainable.
- In young adult life, especially during those years of rearing preschool children, the bonds I had with other young moms in the church kept me sane. I wish I could create for the current generation of young couples what we had during that season of our lives.
- My children grew up surrounded by the love and acceptance of a church family who knew each of them by name. They felt totally safe at church, in a way that comes only from spending so much time in the church building that you knew all its nooks and crannies.
- Through the strong teaching of so many, both staff and volunteers, my children were firmly grounded in a set of sound theological beliefs. They knew who they were and what they believed, and that has served them well as they became teenagers and then adults.
- The church nurtured my gifts and allowed me outlets for teaching and leading. That in turn encouraged me to learn more, to grow as God led me.