If you know me at all, you probably know that I am an Evangelical Christian. However, some of you reading this may not realize that I was not raised that way. Sure, I had my exposures to Christianity, but I never really followed or understood anything about Jesus until I was about 16-years-old. I grew up in a family that encouraged free-thinking and following whatever path felt right to you. Halfway through high school, I decided that Jesus felt right for me, and I’ve been a Christian for going on five years now. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t super common for a Christian to not be raised in a church-going home until I started attending a private Christian college. I only know one or two other people at school who share my experience of growing up in a “secular” world and then coming to what often feels like Hogwarts School of Faith and Christianity.
Being in a Christian environment for a few years now, I’ve realized that growing up the way I did influenced the way I view my faith, and in many ways, it has helped me grow as a Christian. I am thankful for my upbringing and I would like to share some ways that growing up outside of the church has influenced me.
1.) Face-value answers don’t satisfy me.
I was taught to question everything and to only believe something after I have seriously thought and considered everything about it. An exhausting process, yes, but I am thankful for it. Because of that mindset, I have searched the Bible for days on end trying to find answers for all of my burning questions. I tend to go back and read Scriptures that a pastor shared in church and I check for myself to see whether or not what they said was true. It feels like I question my faith more than the average person, but because of that, I am able to grow and solidify what I believe to be true.
2.) Listening is vital.
Christians have a bad reputation for discriminating against those who share opposing views. I cannot say with a good conscience that I do not have and have never had my share of biases (because every breathing person has some form of bias), but I can say that I have always learned to be respectful of and even embrace others’ differences. Because of this, I now take time to try and understand someone else’s story. Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Since I want people to listen to me and what I think about God, I feel a responsibility to listen to others about their life experiences and how that has shaped their view of God.
3.) God is not a Republican.
I mean, God’s not a Democrat either, but I specifically point out that He’s not a Republican because sometimes the Church can make it seem like you have to agree with Republican political views in order to be a Christian. I actually grew up not really liking Conservatives, and I gave my life to Jesus while I still had that mindset. I ditched that way of thinking a while ago because I realized that God doesn’t care who you vote for. He just wants us to honor Him and to love others.
There are probably more things that I have learned about God because of my upbringing, but those seem to be the three that stick out the most. You don’t have to grow up outside of the church to learn any of these things. I just happened to learn them because I did. Much love.