I don’t know about you, but when I think of a person who evangelizes, of an evangelist – a certain image comes to mind. I’m envisioning a female, well, because I am a woman.
No offense to any of my friends and family who are ‘real’ evangelists, but go with me for a second. I think of a woman in a loooooong loose fitting skirt, with a shirt buttoned way up to her chin (threatening strangulation) , cradling a bible in the crook of her right elbow, with an ever so slight scowl on her face. I don’t know if the scowl is from judgement or the death grip the shirt has on her throat, but my imagined evangelist doesn’t give me the warmest, fuzziest of feelings. I can picture a little more modern-day version too, but there’s still the scowl and the bible.
Why am I rambling about evangelists and conjuring up images of them? Well, because I kinda AM an evangelist :-O
And not only is that something I couldn’t have conjured up, I certainly don’t think I fit the profile. I mean, I’ve been known to avoid low cut shirts and I used to be an avid turtleneck wearer – but that has more to do with a poor judgement call on my part and inexperience on the part of a tattoo artist in Atlanta. That is a separate post. Completely separate. Like I don’t really like to talk about it much…..lol….I digress….
And the whole bible thumping thing – that’s not really what I am about either. With all that religious school and my deep dive into church at one time, I clearly know a scripture or two. And I definitely believe that the bible is one of the books through which God instructs us. I spent quite a bit of studying the bible at church – and don’t get me wrong – I don’t knock that part of the journey. Clearly it was part of the journey. But what I know now, for me, is that I could have conceivably spent that same time with myself. Meaning God and I one on one – and I may have been further along on my spiritual journey.
And this is where it gets sketchy. Where I become ‘unlikely’. Where some people get uncomfortable with my beliefs, which used to in turn make me uncomfortable. Where some people thing I’ve been watching too much OWN and not enough TBN. Where folks kinda want to take a step back from this ‘new age-y’ stuff I’m talking……
I was raised kind of areligious. I say that because I was exposed by several different religions – none of which I particularly connected to. I went to preschool for a short time at a United Church of Christ Church, followed by kindergarten at a Lutheran Church. I spent the next six years in Catholic school. Our family observed none of these religions, in fact, we were probably best described as CME Southern Baptists. For those not familiar – as a family we pretty much only went to church on Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter – always at a Baptist Church headed by a Minister my father grew up with. Which may be why I’ve always skewed Baptist-ish.
Soooo, I never really knew what exactly where I fit in the religious landscape, and as a corollary, I never really made a place for it in my life. I didn’t NOT believe in God, but it just seemed like religion was a take it or leave it thing. My mom said we were never baptized, because she said she wanted us to choose our own path when we were old enough to do so. My father prayed and read the bible, but he did so in a solitary manner – he didn’t really ‘lead’ the family in any spiritual direction with any regularity. It was apparent he had faith, but…..well that’s another complicated story for another blog too…..
During college I went to church every once in a while, after undergrad, I went a little more often when I moved to an apartment complex directly next to a church. I figured God was trying to tell me something :-). That was probably my first connection, albeit a weak one. I mostly felt like I was checking a box of sorts to thank God for the blessings in life that I had been afforded thus far.
It wasn’t until I came back to Detroit, that I found my first ‘church home’. And in typical Sonni style, I dove in head first – full speed ahead. Sunday service, Bible Study, committees, canvassing the neighborhood, whatever – I was your girl! Until the church went through a split. Despite being heavily involved, I was unaware of the church politics. I was shocked and devastated. It was ugly. People said nasty things from the pulpit and from the pew. This wasn’t how Christian’s were supposed to act? Was it? Dude, if this is what I was missing by not going to church – I was GOOD. You can go anywhere on Sunday and find people acting ugly. The fanciful images I had of ‘church folk’, who hugged, helped, listened, went on church picnics and were an extended family of sorts – well clearly those images quickly dissipated.
So I went on an extended hiatus from formalized religion. Even though I knew intellectually that churches were not supposed to be perfect, as they are made up of a bunch of us imperfect people – I was a little ‘scarred’ by my first real church experience. I still talked to God, but I didn’t need that church drama, no ma’am, no sir. I visited churches, especially after we had children, but nothing ‘fit’.
Then a funny thing happened while I was flitting around, thinking I was the boss of me. My life hit the skids a lil bit. And instead of looking for a church, I started looking for GOD. Instead of trying to figure out which version of the bible was the easiest to understand (I have about 5), or even whether the bible was what I should be looking at, I kind of took a different approach. Listen to me acting like I had a choice in the matter – lol! I was sinking fast and I needed something, anything, to hold on to and I decided that I needed to get God ‘on the main line’. I didn’t have time to go through, ministers, mystics, priests, bishops, cardinals, patron saints, spiritual guides or guardian angels (not that there’s anything wrong with that ;-D) . I just needed to know from GOD what I was to do.
And who would have thunk it? Once you establish a connection to God directly, that is to say, you surrender your will and focus solely on God’s will for your life, it really doesn’t matter what ‘church’ you go to. When you turn to the Spirit/Universe/Light/Love (however you wish to refer to the loving architect of all things) for guidance the message may come through any of those people or books I mention above. Or it may come through a hummingbird in your yard. Or a boss who seems to love to see you suffer. Or a disease. Or a hamburger…….I’m not making light – but you get my drift, right?
When you are tuned in to the correct frequency, you see and hear God’s word and intentions for your life in anything, anybody, in whatever holy book or religion you decide to subscribe to. But you’ve got to have a quality connection. And just like the cellular technology, you have to keep upgrading to get a good signal – upgrading your relationship to God and the Universe. You upgrade by spending quality time so you can hear the voice of God over the voice of man – or perhaps most difficult, over YOUR voice (ouch!). Otherwise you will get static and dropped calls (it’ll be on your end, God doesn’t drop calls :-))
Once I got this straight in my head – voila! We found a church that is helping our family grow in just the way we need to in this moment.
So there is my evangelic spiel. Unlikely, huh? You just never know what the universe has in store for you. But you can count on it turning out just right if you follow God’s voice. Looking for something to believe in? Believe that…….