Today, at church, I was asked to share my faith story... Yikes. That's a little scary! But, I had so many comments afterwards and requests for copies, that I thought I would post it here. So here goes!
"My story… Where to begin? We have so many stories… For me, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. I could tell you about growing up from day one in a home that went to church. I could tell you about the Sunday school teachers that loved me and cared for me as a small child. I could tell you about the Sunday school teacher that ended up going to prison for a crime they committed that kept me away from church for awhile. I could tell you about the church that I spent my high school years in and all the wonderful people and experiences that formed my faith journey… I could tell you about the moment I stood on the edge of a ravine in the mountains of Jamaica, in the pitch black of night and watched millions of fireflies light up the valley. I could tell you about the time I swam out as far as I could in a lake up north, at dusk, and felt the air in my lungs, the breeze on my face, and felt ALIVE. I could tell you about my struggle with my faith in college – the questions of “am I really a Christian if I believe as liberally as I do?” The doubt that crept in as the conservative Christian friends I had, judged my faith journey and tried to change me into something I was not. I could tell you about my experience with depression and finding God again in the midst of that. I could tell you about losses, scares, and bad decisions – and wondering where God was when those things were happening. I could even tell you about the gifts in my life – the wonders and the blessings that have made me who I am and have reminded me that God is there – in all things, right by my side, helping me to move forward with hope and expectations.
We all have LOTS of stories to tell… And I was having a hard time trying to figure out which one you needed to hear about me today. So I’m going with something I read in the book “Unbinding the Gospel – Real Life Evangelism” by Martha Grace Reese instead. When she talks about telling our story she asks two questions: 1) Who is God to you – why is God important in your life? And 2) Why would anyone else need God in their life? Here’s what I came up with for me:
Why is God important to me? Because God is Love. Hope. Acceptance. Freedom. Peace. Strength. Courage.
*God is important to me because of the love I feel knowing that God created me, sustains me, loves me through the good and the bad.
*God gives me hope that when things feel like the world is coming to end (during tragedy, depressions, sickness, and challenges) and I no longer know where to turn – there will be a rainbow at the end of the storm. There will be family, friends, and community members ready to care for me, accept me, and pick me up when I fall – the hands of God in our hurting world.
*God offers us acceptance when the rest of the world lets us down – when we feel abandoned by those who matter, God is with us whispering love and assurance, helping us to go on.
*God is in the freedom I feel to be myself! God created me to be the person I am – faults, quirks, and all. God created me to use the gifts and talents I have to share love, hope, and acceptance with others – even when it’s the “unfashionable” thing to do – the freedom to live a wonderful life and see the good in others and our world, and not get caught up in the negativity that swirls around us in our culture.
*And by living that life of gratefulness, God brings peace into the midst of turmoil and grief, fear and busy-ness. God is in those rare moments when all seems well with the world – those moments of dazzle and delight, those moments of watching a sunset and seeing a rainbow.
*God is in the strength I feel when deciding to move forward, despite devastating news or a huge roadblock. God is in the strength I feel when it’s clear I need to stand up, speak out, or move on.
*And God can give the courage to do those things.
Why would anyone else need God in their life? To experience that love, hope, acceptance, freedom, peace, strength, and courage in a world where these qualities aren’t always the norm. To place their cares in the hands of a God who promises to be beside us. For the promise of something more – in this life and the next. To me, God has made my life the immense blessing that it is. Having God by my side makes the good days amazing, and the bad days do-able. Having God in my life helps me to live with an eye on the future – to live without fear and with expectations. Having God by my side has made me want to live this life in a way that shares God’s love with others – and in a way that says “thank you” for all that God has given me.
I often try to get to seminars put on by an organization called “Youth Leadership,” led by Tiger McCluen – a popular writer and teacher of Youth Ministry. One of the things that has always stuck with me, that he talks about frequently, is “What is your parking lot theology?” If you were to start talking with someone after church as you headed out to your car, and they asked ‘Why God? Why this church?’ Would you be able to give them an answer before you got to your car? Would you have the words to sum up your story in just a couple of minutes? This reminds me of those Mormon commercials, too (I love those! They suck me in everytime!). If there was a 30-second spot about me and my faith – what would it say? I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and this is what I came up with:
My name is Megan Adams. I am a daughter in a family of all girls – easily a daddy’s girl. I am the oldest of three sisters – the quiet one, the listener, and the strength in time of crisis. I am an aunt and a godmother – the one who encourages the kids to be themselves and loves to ask the questions that make the kids blush (how’s that girlfriend?). I’m a wife to my best friend – someone who makes me laugh and looks to a future full of possibilities with me. I am a friend – one that can make fun of myself to reassure the other, who listens – and laughs, who plays – and cries. I am a woman who follows God – who seeks to live a life of gratefulness and joy for all the blessings that surround me. I seek to live a story that is worth the telling. My name is Megan Adams, and I am a Christian."
What is your story?
Things I am thankful for today:
1. A little brown package on my desk at work... Too funny!
2. The opportunity to talk about my faith - and the responses that let me know it made a difference to someone.
3. Fresh, juicy watermelon! I just can't seem to get enough this summer!
4. An afternoon at the pool - sun, a book, and cool water. Nice.
5. A hubby that loves me.
6. Baby-sitting Elly, our god-daughter.
7. Reading the "Bailey book" over and over and over again!
8. Cuddles. So nice.
10. A busy busy weekend coming to an end. Time to SLEEP!