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Practicing the Principles of Christ: Sarah’s Story

I remember my mother-in-law saying that there’s nothing like getting pregnant to make you believe in God. And that was really true for me.

Practicing the Principles of Christ: Sarah’s Story

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I grew up in a family that went to church on Sundays. I was baptized as an infant. I went to Sunday school and I was confirmed. At home we said grace and bedtime prayers were encouraged, but we never talked about any of this or why we did it, so I didn’t really think about faith and what it meant. I believed in God, but I didn’t really count that as faith because as a child I just believed what I was told to believe.

Between the ages of 18 and 34 I went to church maybe twice a year. I was a busy, self-reliant young woman and I could count on myself more or less. I could have faith in myself.

I had grown to be a little suspicious of religion because so often I had seen people wield their flavor of religion to confirm their own beliefs at the expense of other people’s beliefs. I wasn’t interested in that.

The thing that made it all click for me was having children. I remember my mother-in-law always saying that there’s nothing like getting pregnant to make you believe in God. And that was really true for me. I prayed fervent, constant prayers for the safe delivery of a healthy, normal human being. This led to other conversations with God and a more personal relationship with God.

When my healthy, normal human beings were ages 2 and 4 I wanted to give them an opportunity to develop a relationship with God too. So we joined a large inner-city, interracial, international, interdenominational, intergenerational, congregation in New York City. Involvement in the life of the church led me to recognize that although Christianity is only one fountainhead to the wellspring of spiritual life, it’s my fountainhead. I choose to be a Christian.

I guess it really isn’t any wonder that when Michael and I left Manhattan and started to live up here one of our top priorities was to find a new church family. This church has given us a new faith community and new opportunities to learn and to serve and to love.

The experiences I’ve had here and at our city church have taught me how to engage in faith conversations with people whose faith is not at all the same as mine. My 16-year-old neighbor across the street is a very fundamentalist Baptist. He gardens with me on Fridays and he loves to start conversations with phrases like, “Well I think that same-sex marriage is as much of a sin as sleeping with somebody before you’re married.” And I just go, “Hey, guess which one of those I’m guilty of,” without really giving offense to him or feeling offended by him.

I’ve been involved in several twelve-step programs over the years, and I’ve had a lot of opportunities to talk about faith with people in these programs. People doing the twelve steps often have a hard time with the whole faith thing. The Second Step, which is “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” and the third step, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God,” those can be real hurdles for some folks. After all, if you have a child who is addicted or you yourself are addicted you can be forgiven for wondering what kind of God would allow this to happen.

I can engage with these friends in a thoughtful way. And when somebody tries to skirt the whole issue by saying, “Oh your higher power can be anything. It can be a doorknob,” I can say, “Well, maybe we can find you something a little more responsive than a doorknob.”

Faith in God and my journey as a Christian have been a real blessing to me. I guess a good way to sum it up is with the Twelfth Step: “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry the message to others and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”

So that’s pretty much what I’m trying to: to practice the principles of Christ in all my affairs.