[I've always intended to update my Patch blog more frequently and with specifically local blog posts, but never seem to make the time to do so. Recently Patch Editor Darren McRoy encouraged me to publish excerpts from my primary blog, Any Day a Beautiful Change, with links to continue reading the full posts. I've been blogging there about life, ministry, and family for nearly nine years - you're welcome to join me over there.]
We go way back, you and I. My earliest encounter with an evangelical Christian was at a slumber party in elementary school. The lights were out, but instead of letting the darkness free us to confess which boys we liked, my friend confided in me that her family prayed that my family would get saved. I was dumbfounded. Saved from what? I thought. We're Methodists! She taught me all about asking Jesus into your heart, but when I prayed the prayer she taught me, nothing happened.
I tried it again at a Christian rock concert in junior high when the singer issued a passionate altar call. I still didn't feel anything particularly spiritual, but I did experience the salvation of my social life. I cherished the sense of belonging I experienced with my youth group friends, and jumped headfirst into our comfortable subculture of DC Talk and "Pray Hard" t-shirts and the Christian puppetry team. I cannot remember actually praying much, except for that one time before school when we circled up around the flag pole feeling proud of ourselves for being such courageous witnesses for Jesus. With so little depth to my spiritual life, my conviction wavered.
At the end of my eighth grade year Billy Graham came to town. I got saved yet again, but even as I stood with my friends on the football field of the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, I knew my heart wasn't really in it. My role as a student liaison for See You At the Pole had landed me on a mailing list for a well-known conservative Christian organization. Even as a thirteen-year-old kid I was appalled when they sent me a letter encouraging me to sign up for their new phone company because secular phone companies were known to offer telephone services to gay families. I wrote a letter in protest, asking them to remove me from their list.