Though I was raised in a Christian home all of my life, I never felt like I fit in with the Christian community. As soon as I started showing any form of geeky tendencies as a kid, I felt a disconnect from every church, Sunday school, church camp, you name it I went to. But after so many years of agonizing over not being able to fit into the Christian culture cookie mold, I've finally felt free enough to be a thriving geeky writer in her faith.
I love Christianity, I hate Christian culture.
I grew up in a small town in middle Georgia. Everyone I knew went to church and seemed to click in perfectly. But for a geeky girl with long blond hair who didn't care about the latest fashion and liked to carry around a notebook full of her book ideas and scribble them down during sermons this didn't really fly. I went to a lot of different churches: Presbyterian, a hotel church, three Baptists churches, two home churches, even a Messianic Jewish synagogue, but I never was able to fit into my small group or Sunday school class.
The cliques rejected me. Girls my age didn't understand my long vocabulary and called The Lord of the Rings icky and just for boys. When I had the courage to speak up in class, they or the teachers knocked down my observations because I usually related them to big books or movies I loved. Not even male peers could connect to my love for Marvel or broadswords. Adults didn't like that I enjoyed reading and writing magic and fantasy. They said, "Go read the Bible! There are great stories in there!" or "Is there any truth to your writing?" or "Are you still doing that writing thing?"
I went to service every Sunday and hated that I couldn't get on a Jesus high. I suffered watching Christians revel in God's love while I was pining for connection and burdened with my own problems as an introvert in an extrovert world. It got so painful to watch people happy and joyful and praising God all around me when I was struggling with my parents fighting to my parents divorcing to severe depression. I got tired of hearing the same Christian platitudes that seemed to solve everyone else's problems but mine. I prayed. I tried to "surrender." I did all of the things the pastors told me to do, but nothing seemed to slake the thirst inside me and mend the tear between me and God.
When I was sixteen, I went to my first writer's conference and discovered I'm not alone. There are other Christian geeks out there. I was so happy I cried. I went to the same conference every year because I yearned for the connection with people who knew that God could work through fantastical stories to reach hearts. But at home, every Sunday though I was surrounded by loyal church-attendees I was still incredibly alone.
And this was all the way up until college age. In my early twenties, I finally met two geeky girls in my Sunday school class. For a year we were chums ... We could discuss the sermons every in geeky terms. I thrived in my faith. I was finally beginning to connect. Then both of these dear friends moved away ... in the same month. I was devastated and stopped going to church. I couldn't handle being alone again. Years later I still enjoy a good sermon. My friend Cassia's church is amazing and I need to get into the habit of listening to more of their sermons online because I really connect to the messages. But there's still the culture part that I'm not a fan of ... nor is it of me.
Just because I don't go to church doesn't mean I no longer love God. In fact, in the past couple of years especially after I've gotten mentally healthy I've drawn closer to Him. I've been able to look past the veil of Christian culture and just look at God. I've been able to connect to him not through sports like the Christian culture seems to want me to but through stories full of ninjas and shapeshifters and wizards. This revelation began when I wrote for Area of Effect. Through each piece I wrote for the webzine, I could express my connection to God and how I see Him in my favorite fictional characters.
I see God in Samwise Gamgee and Gandalf.
I see God in Erwin Smith from Attack on Titan.
I see God in All Might from My Hero Academia.
I see God in Naruto.
I see God in Tohru from Fruits Basket.
And then I've recently realized. All of these characters exhibit pieces of God, but God is all of these pieces put together into one magnificent being. But He uses these characters to show me and anyone else who listens, pieces of Him. I've also come to know that God speaks to me in His own unique ways personalized to me.
I don't get in a Jesus high when I go to church, but I do when I visit a snowcapped mountain or a vast ocean and think, "Wow, God created this."
I don't get into a Jesus high when I listen to Christian band worship songs, but I do when I listen to the sweet music of a score where a character shows amazing sacrifice.
I don't get into a Jesus high when talking about sports players, but I do when I talk about my favorite fictional characters and how their actions touched my heart.
And this is OKAY!!!
THIS IS OKAY!
So long I thought that I wasn't doing Christianity right because I couldn't do the perfect church-going girl game, but I've realized that's okay. And I've leaned on God more and I've loved Him more. And I still go to church when I'm around my dear Christian friends because when two or more are gathered in His name He's there and I've felt him when I've discussed with friends the profound forgiveness that Naruto has or the beautiful endurance Klaus Reinhertz from Kekkai Sensen possesses.
God has even shown me amazing things through stories that I've asked and asked and ASKED other Christians about but could never answer. And one was through Game of Thrones of all places! I'm not a perfect Christian. I won't ever be. I still want to read more of my Bible and I still need to let God have more control of my life. But through my faith, I've learned to rely on Him to take care of the things that are out of my control in my crazy writing journey.
I cosplay. I game. I write about great good and great evil. I watch shows and movies and read books about light and dark. And my favorite media are always the ones I see Him in the most. And God loves me completely and I praise Him as I am a geek. He teaches me more about Him through the things I love.
There is not just one type of Christian. God can speak to Christians in so many ways. Christian culture does not dictate what Christians should and shouldn't do. Only God does. I love His Word and I love Him. I see God in all that is good and holy and that includes magical stories with spaceships and dragons too.
I know this is was very different than my other posts, but this topic weighed on my heart. And I hope that this will free someone like it freed me. What are your experiences with Christian culture? Have you had trouble fitting in? How has God worked in your heart outside of the Christian culture norms?
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