1/1/06: To me, being a Christian means choosing to follow God, trying to do what’s right, and following God’s call. I can’t remember any specific time I chose to become a Christian, but I have always seen myself as one. I have always felt like one. In a way this time seems no different than when I was 3 or 7 or 9, because I have been raised as one, and always loved and wanted to follow God. In fact, I didn’t know being a Christian meant also being baptized. It just didn’t occur to me for a while.
Then I went through a period where I learned about baptism and really wanted to be when I was 9 or 10. My dad wouldn’t let me because he said there was no rush and I needed to be a little older so I knew what I was choosing. Now I’m glad I waited. For one thing, I went though questions and doubt. Sometimes I fought with myself and thought, what if God’s not real? But I always came back to--yes, God is real. Also, I’ve grown up some and I think of God differently now.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve usually prayed at night. But when I was younger, I thought of my prayer as being like a letter in an envelope going to God. Now I just think of it as just talking to God, just like to a friend. It’s really kind of cool, just sitting or lying there, just talking to God about anything at all.
My mom asked me how I see God, whether it was positive or kind of scary, like a judge. I definitely don’t feel scared of God; in fact, I always think of God smiling. I also picture God as Jesus, just the way the children’s bible we were given shows him, only more realistically, handing out fish and stuff.
When I was younger, I don’t know why, but, when I thought of God, I had a picture in my mind of three pins, the kind you pin to your lapel. One pin was of the Holy Spirit, and that had a nature scene with trees crowding on the bottom of the pin, with lots of tiny stars above them. For Jesus, I pictured a pin with trees on it, and Jesus with a brown beard looming over the trees, looking kind. And God the Father I pictured a pin with trees again all over the bottom, and the exact same kind of figure as the Jesus pin, but with black hair instead of brown. I know God’s not male or female, but that’s just the picture that used to come to mind about the trinity. But even though my images of God have slowly changed, I know that God is a person or a being you have a relationship with.
When I feel stressed at night, like before a test I haven’t studied enough for, I calm myself down by remembering that, even if I got all Fs and had to go work at McDonalds my whole life, it’s comforting to know that, when my life is through, I’ll still be accepted and welcomed into heaven by God.
I’m not perfect, but I think I’ve always tried to be Christian in my actions. I try to be nice to other kids at school, even the ones that don’t have many friends. Like there was this little kid in my class who has problems and stutters, and I always tried to be nice to him. In fact, he just had to move from our school to another a few weeks ago, because he was moving from his grandmother’s back to his mom’s, and he sent me a Christmas card and has called me and told me I was his best friend. My mom asked if it’s hard for me to follow God with people like that and I said no, it’s not hard. It comes naturally to me. I’m happy to do it.
In fact, one funny thing is that when my brother Nathan was baptized last year, I got to thinking again about wanting to be baptized, but I told my mom that night that I was only worried about my baptismal statement. One thing from his statement I remembered was when Nathan said that, for him, being a Christian meant that he tried not to cuss, and I had no good sins like that to talk about trying to give up. I’m not bragging or anything, but I’ve just never really struggled with wanting to cuss. He also talked about using a sense of humor to deal with bullies. I thought, “I have no bad things to talk about, and no good stories either!” So I wondered what the heck I would say in my baptismal statement! Now I know better, and I know we’re each different. I do plenty of things wrong, mostly like not being as nice to my sister as I should be. And I tell God I’m sorry about that maybe once every week or so. I also tell God that I know I take life for granted, and get mad about dumb little things like not winning at a game cube game, instead of just marveling at life and God. I think God understands that we forget and are not perfect. I just try every so often to remember what’s really important and to thank God.
I have become a Christian in my family and in this church. In fact, my favorite places in the world are number one, my home, and, number two, this church. Number three would be Sternberger School, which I’ll graduate from soon, but that has more work and less fun than the other two. But church is a comfortable, good place to me. In fact, besides the weekend, my favorite day is Wednesday, not only because my piano lesson is over, but because of going to church on Wed night.
I love my dad being a minister—I always have even though he’s not at home all the time—and I love the way he makes it fun and jokes around. If he were stern or strict I maybe wouldn’t like it, but he lets us see some movies and listen to music that other strict parents don’t and he knows how to be fun and play around, so I’ve never thought of him or his job as bad. I think it’s one of the coolest, greatest jobs in the world. You get to help people, you get to talk to people about God, you get to make people feel better, and, you get to work in a comfortable place. Like—compared to my life at school or working in some factory job—you get to go to the bathroom anytime you want to.
I’ve even thought I might want to be a minister. That, or a professional football player—or maybe a firefighter. But my family and my dad as a minister has certainly helped me learn about God. My church has too. I’ve known so many great people at church I can’t say who’s been the most important. I haven’t been to a ton of churches, but some seem kind of serious and formal. And the other day, my dad was giving blood and took me along, and this sort of mean old lady was guarding the snacks and said we kids couldn’t have any, only my dad. I imagine other churches have some stern, mean people like that lady. I can’t help but to feel like ours is the best, and filled with the greatest people. Like Miss Agnes, who I used to sit with. Ever since my mom told me about the bible story about the angels who visited earth even though people didn’t realize it, I’ve always thought maybe Miss Agnes is an angel. I guess she’s done some bad things, but I can’t imagine it because I’ve never seen it. She’s kind of like an old woman form of Jesus. So our church has shown me what it means to be a Christian too.
Since I’m eleven today, I just thought this was a good time to show that I’m a Christian and that I want to keep following God. I’ve been quiet about it lately but it feels right and I feel very comfortable being baptized now.