So, I’m doing a Bible study.
::exhale:: Anyone still reading? Or have you left me already? I seriously have a ton of trepidation about posting this today.
This is something very new to me. I rarely attended church as a child, and when I did it was because I tagged along with a friend or relative – never because my family had a church it attended. Because we never, ever went to church.
Yet for my whole life I desired to believe. Over the years I have met many people (my husband being probably the most inspirational of them) who are true believers, so convinced of the truth, and I wanted that. I wanted to believe, but more so, I wanted to know.
The Bible seemed like a good place to start, but it always proved to be much more difficult than I anticipated. I attempted to read it a number of times during my life. Once I got as far as Exodus, but usually I’d get hung up on the story of Noah, and what a jerk he was to his sons. Then I’d get discouraged because I realized I obviously wasn’t taking the right lessons out of the Bible, and I’d quit.
Then, on more than one occasion, I tried going to church. I found a church that I absolutely loved. I loved the music, the enthusiasm. I felt included. I was learning. And my friends mocked me. Relentlessly. Sadly, I stopped going to the church because of what they said, yet I longed for the experiences I had there.
I was getting nowhere. And I really felt like I was missing out. I was missing out spiritually, certainly, but there was more to it than that. I also felt like there was an entire cultural experience that I was missing out on. A moment’s contemplation brings up dozens of examples of cultural idioms and ideas that I have no reference point for: the prodigal son, “east of Eden,” turning swords into plowshares, a camel through the eye of a needle – these all have their origins in the Bible, but my understanding of all of that was just an inch deep. I have no depth. I was experiencing a cultural illiteracy because of my lack of understanding.
I hate illiteracy. I won’t tolerate it in myself.
But that brought me back to the question that I’ve always struggled with: where do I begin?
A few weeks ago, one of my Facebook friends posted about Hello Mornings, a women’s online Bible study group focused on rising early to spend some time studying the Bible. The impetus is to make time for God and study before getting involved in the
busy work distractions of the day. Members keep one another accountable through Facebook and Twitter check-ins. Optionally, a specific Bible study on Peter was available. I knew I would need some structure if I was going to get anything meaningful out of this practice, so I started the Bible study on Peter.
I’m on my second week of studying Peter through Hello Mornings. At the very real risk of sounding like the type of person I used to roll my eyes at, I’m going to say that it has been life changing. And things have started to happen: a verse that I liked and wrote down showed up not even an hour later on a bookmark in my Little Free Library. Songs on the radio that were just background noise before spoke of different meanings – ones I understood and appreciated. I feel like I have a whole new level of understanding, not just of the Bible, but of the passion that people like my husband have for life and its meaning.
(As I write this, I think back to how my friends had teased and mocked me for going to church years ago, and I actually consider deleting this entire post. Peer pressure isn’t just for teenagers – I just can’t believe I’m still feeling that self doubt and insecurity now, even though those friends are far in my past).
But I am getting there. I am developing an understanding, an appreciation that I never had before. And posting this blog today is a huge step for me. By declaring my intentions, I feel like I am wiping away the doubts and insecurities I’ve been battling and taking a step in the direction I want to go.
I still think Noah’s a jerk though. Maybe I’ll need to do a study on him to change that. Wish me luck.