The beauty of life experience is that it widens perspective and imbues old memories with new meaning. Lately I have been reflecting on a moment in 1975ish when I was about 13. I remember being in my room at night reading a Bible. I can see the circle of light cast by my desk lamp, but I can’t make out the words on the page, and I don’t know which version of the Bible it was. What I remember clearly was the warm feeling that came over me, the shadowy hint of beauty and happiness that lay in that direction.
The next thing I remember is thinking the feeling was not rightfully mine to have, that it was for other people but not me. It felt so foreign to my daily existence that I felt like a fraud trying to incorporate it into my life. The mind of a 13 year old. What are you gonna do? I can’t remember anything of a religious nature after that until I got to Berkeley, where the idea of a white, male, patriarchal Jesus made me nauseous. Hence my ten years of paganism and daily Tarot readings. I left the warm feeling I’d felt in my room that night and never looked back.
With more lived experience, and from the vantage of a nourishing faith in God today, I know now what it was that I felt. It was the Spirit confirming to me that God lives, that the scriptures are a conduit between us, and that I am his daughter. I find myself wondering how my life would have been different if I had felt worthy of that feeling all those years ago. I can only imagine the heartache and raggedy life experience I would have avoided. But the truth is, deep down, I’m glad I didn’t avoid it. Would I have the nourishing faith I have today if I hadn’t wandered in a faithless desert for so long? Would I appreciate the “new man” (Paul) my dedication to Christ has made me? Would I know without the shadow of a doubt that the gospel is true if I hadn’t lived without it for almost four decades?
I wouldn’t trade where I am today for anything. I wouldn’t wish my past on my worst enemy, but it brought me to the Gospel in the end. I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost