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But Here I Am

When I was a kid, I loved hearing testimonies at church.

Testimonies were the stories folks told of how they got saved, the tales of a life from before they were born again. In my sheltered world, these testimonies were some of the most exciting and scandalous things I’d ever heard. The best ones involved drugs, Satanism, prostitution, beer and cigarettes, crime, and supernatural encounters with God. I was always a little bit bored when they got to the part of the story where they prayed the prayer of salvation. That part wasn’t nearly exciting.

But I remember how these folks who had been saved out of a life of witchcraft, rock music, and illicit sex would always say “It’s a miracle that I’m here today. I shouldn’t be alive. I shouldn’t be a Christian. But here I am.”

I knew that my testimony would never be like that.

My sins were boring stuff — disobeying my dad, fighting with my brothers, lying to my mom — and I prayed the prayer of salvation long before I was able to dabble in the evils that would make for a thrilling testimony.

From the pulpit, the preacher said  those were the best testimonies of all — the stories of Christians who by the grace of God never wandered from the straight and narrow. I didn’t believe him. I liked the ones that scared me a little, that left me curious about the dark mischief of unconverted sinners.


That was a long time ago.

My story never did wind up involving prostitution, drugs, Satanism, or crime.

But when the after-dinner coffee is poured and I regale friends with my story, they still shake their heads with disbelief:

“How are you not more messed up than you are? How do you not hate God, after all that? Do you realize it’s a miracle that you’re still a Christian at all?”

I laugh, because it’s true. And because it’s funny. And because what else can you do?


My story is a pilgrimage through a bizarre religious landscape — abusive, authoritarian, narrow-minded.

It’s a miracle that I’m here today. I shouldn’t still be a Christian. But here I am. Alive.

I survived a system that conspired to squeeze the breath out of my lungs and crush my soul.

And in its place, I’m finding Jesus. I’m finding religion that is good and pure. I’m finding love without strings. Home without walls.

I’m angry. I’m confused. I’m tired. I’m full of hope. I’m restless. I’m a mess.

But here I am.

[ image: underwhelmer ]

published October 3, 2013

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