I've cracked my tattered, cover-less, heavily underlined bible just a handful of times since the last time I spent time with this friend; I haven't read a devotional in years.
My mother took my siblings and I to church every Sunday morning when I was a child for as long as I can remember. When I was seven-years old, I responded to an alter call and accepted Jesus into my heart. I attended a Christian University, and during my sophomore year, at the foot of a cross overlooking the life changing, azure expanse of the Pacific Ocean, I began my adult relationship with Christ. I cried through worship services, which stirred my spirit and rocked my soul, in a grade school auditorium. Religion became a relevant relationship for me during those years, and God spoke volumes to me through a Holy Bible I purchased while studying with Christian classmates overseas.
Six months after I returned from Germany, I was baptized by a young man with whom I could actually pray and talk about God; he would one day become my spouse. My first two jobs after I graduated from college were each with Christian schools. I got married, I became a mother, I left California, and I plugged right back into a small, contemporary church community, with its communion, candles, teachings, video clips and moving times of worship. I faithfully took my own children to church nearly every Sunday and spent a chunk of the other six days of each week in quiet time and bible studies and community groups. As an introvert, I even suffered through countless all-church potlucks, women's retreats and other social functions.
When I became a childbirth educator and birth doula, Christ was still at the center of my work, and he was the God of the bulk of my clientele. Of all of my friends too. I was "encouraging women to labor, live and love by design," as my business cards so confidently declared.
My family and I moved to the Pacific Northwest in August of 2009, and I attempted to plug right back in to do life and faith the same way I had been doing them for over 15 years.
And I did -- at first.
My girlfriend's question yesterday was right in line with the life we once lived together. I would have anticipated her question back then, and I would have responded quickly in the Christian language we both understood so well. Then, I would have followed up to find out all about the books she was reading also. I probably would have read them.
But yesterday, like most of the tank tops, shorts and short sleeved shirts, I packed away and gave away when I moved from the dry heat of suburban Denver to a cool coast of the Pacific Northwest, her question wasn't quite right; it no longer fit.
I struggled to find the words to tell my friend -- my sister -- that I'd rather eat sand than to sit through another church service next Sunday morning.
**TO BE CONTINUED**