This I Believe

Cherise - Albany, California
Entered on June 28, 2007
Age Group: 65+

Born in a small Dakota prairie town, I was taken to the church a few days later, to be baptized into the Christian faith. My childhood was spent in the womb-like setting of loving parents, family, and church who taught me to believe in God. As I grew they also taught me what to believe ABOUT God. Time went on and I found myself straining against doubts concerning creedal dogmas, as though I were shutting my eyes and gritting my teeth saying, “I believe – I believe – I believe!

Nevertheless, I tried to follow the tenets of our church as they applied to all aspects of life, such as, choice of mate, raising children, and how I used my time. A lot of it was spent trying to get a children’s script I wrote, aired on TV as an outreach program – thinking God had led me to do it. I had been fighting my doubts all along, but the failure of that project finally reached me. Perhaps I was wrong about God. That – and the emptiness I felt from liturgy, rituals, and gilded robes – stirred me to look deeper. I started to read what theologians like Lewis, Kierkegaard, Spong, and others had to say. Delving into the Bible, especially the Gospels, I began to wonder if Jesus really was God since he always referred to himself as the Son of God. The one reference I found, John 10:31 KJV, where he says, “I and the Father are one,” didn’t seem like anything beyond what I or others could claim. And if the church is right, I thought, then why is this fact given such a small place? Wouldn’t something so important be stressed throughout the Gospels?

Eventually I dropped my church membership in an effort to get far away from childhood teachings and start anew. I visited other churches, prayed, and read more theology books. Through it all, I found there is one aspect of religion I could not deny. I felt that God had always heard my prayers. Sometimes he answered YES, sometimes WAIT, sometimes NO – always helping me cope, no matter which answer came. He has been with me in spite of rules, robes, and rituals – tenets and creeds. And he is still here with me without them. It took me a lifetime to realize that following someone else’s ideas about God, is just that — following — not belief. I have come to believe that God is vastly beyond all man-made concepts of him, but like the small girl in the small Dakota town, I believe he’s there.