I recall a sunny afternoon in grade school when my friends were all discussing the churches they attended. “I’m a Presbyterian,” said one. “I’m Catholic,” said another. Eventually, it became awkwardly clear that I was the only one in the circle who had not declared a religious allegiance.
“So, what are you, Carrie?” one of them asked, because kids don’t know any better. I stared at the ground, my face growing red.
“I don’t know,” I mumbled.
“Huh? How can you not know?” It was a legitimate question. I went home embarrassed and humiliated.
At dinner that night, I told my dad what had happened at school. “What should I tell them?” I asked.
“Just tell them you’re Methodist,” he said matter-of-factly. You know, because he went to a Methodist church when he was growing up. Problem solved.
I don’t blame my dad for giving me this advice. He was just trying to come up with a quick solution to a much deeper problem so that I could go to school the next day with something to say. But that day taught me something crucial about faith.
You can’t just say you’re something and then magically become that thing. You have to discover it, experience it, and live it in the most intimate way in order to really know who you are.
I was about ten years old when I conveniently told my friends I was a Methodist. But I didn’t even know I was a Christian. That didn’t happen until almost thirty years later.
How that happened is a story for another blog post (actually, several). But here’s what I want to say about finding Christ — really finding Him — when you’re well into adulthood:
Late bloomers rock.
Why? Because we feel like life is just starting at a time when many our age feel settled and stagnant. We see the possibilities of grace and service before us that we never knew had been available to us as children, teenagers, or young adults. We bring the perspective of hindsight to our faith, because we know how lost we were for so long, and what immense goodness God has brought to our lives compared to the spiritual confusion and despair we felt before.
You see, we want to make up for lost time. And that makes us very motivated.
And so, I hope you’ll join me on this journey to discover the wonder of Jesus Christ and how He makes everything better. As a late bloomer, I am the furthest thing from an expert (don’t let that Dr. in front of my name fool you). This is a learning, growing experience that I hope will serve as nourishment for others who are also celebrating God’s immeasurable gifts.
Oh, and one more thing. I attend a Lutheran church, not Methodist. I hope my friends from long ago will understand.