It was probably about six or seven years ago, and I was meeting a few friends at my previous home. I was resting from a time of traveling abroad with a team of college students. These were special friends because we had lost touch for some time and were finally able to get together. While we shared old memories over good food and fun music, a young student showed up to visit and we got to talking about the “good old days” with our youth group, reminiscing over intense prayer meetings and special times of intimacy with the God we all believed in.
It wasn’t long before we felt emotional about the goodness of God in our lives. Suddenly, my good friend began crying as she stated that she didn’t understand why she had changed so much. She still loved God and believed in Him passionately, but something was different. I suppose that after some time, the innocence had been replaced by questions, doubts, and cynicism. I don’t know if you have ever been there in your own belief trajectory, but I have. I’m not saying I stopped believing. Though it has been tested time and time again, my faith still stands firm. However, there have been times of processing, and examining, and maybe even testing the core of my beliefs.
Recently, I have been traveling back and forth from my home in Georgia to Maryland where two of my sisters reside with my mother, mainly due to her declining health. Every time we spend quality time together, we reminisce about the beginnings of our walks with God. We talk about everything from the strict legalism in the church back then and the things we now find hilarious about the way we did the “church” life. Somehow, every conversation about that time culminates in a strong sense of nostalgic joy. It is almost as if the intense and unique experiences we lived through back then have been enough to carry us through today — regardless of the hurt, judgmental shaming, and/or embarrassment we experienced.
I admit, if we are not careful we could fall into the cynicism trap many fall into, finding ourselves judgmental of others and ourselves. I decided long ago that I would continue to grow and learn more about what I believe and, with better understanding, continue in the path.
Google tells me that a buoy is a floating object anchored at a definite location to guide or warn mariners, to mark positions of submerged objects, or to moor vessels in lieu of anchoring. That is what I see my faith as — the thing I can grab and hold onto like a person who is lost at sea. We all need that “something” that we can grab and find salvation through. Why should we despise our humble and less than “proper” beginnings?
Today, I want to encourage you that as you look back at your past memories, throw away the things that bring you pain and shame. Then, grab onto that memory, that story, or that experience that made you hopeful about life. We all swim in the same sea full of dangers and unknown waters. However, no one can stop us from holding on to saving grace, where we can learn to rise above the surface and continue swimming to safety. I would like you to tell yourself, “Today, I will not drown!” And then, by the grace of God, go on and ride on the shoulders of those crazy, embarrassing, and incredibly amazing experiences. They will help you grow and become wiser. They will also take you places you have only dreamed of. I have experienced this over and over again in my own life, therefore, I promise you that you’re gonna make it!