The summer before my freshman year, I let OneRepublic’s “Good Life” propel me into daydreams of the life I would live here. Though I wouldn’t say that I was living a “bad life,” I still sang “This has gotta be the good life,” and imagined walking across the beautiful campus in my cowboy boots, meeting intriguing people and perhaps growing a bit more in my faith.
It wasn’t until the end of my freshman year that I sat in Union Grounds and those lyrics wandered into my ears again. I looked back and found nothing of the “good life” I expected, but I found a life with God. And, to say that the life He gave me has been a “good life” would be far too much of an understatement.
Growing up, I wasn’t taught how to follow Christ. So, I tried it on my own. And, by I mean tried, I mean I really tried. This meant most all of my “spiritual growth” was out of my own strength. So, I wouldn’t call it “spiritual growth,” at all. I wasn’t quite letting the Holy Spirit naturally grow fruit in me; I put it all on myself.
Growing up, I was taught all the moral lessons needed to be a “good girl,” and that I was. I lived what very much looked like the typical “Christian life,” but it was no adventure charged with prayer and fueled with His presence.
Growing up I loved and followed God, but it was here that I fell in love with Him, and I was no longer following him, but He was chasing me. This is not the “good life;” this is the abundant life He intended for His child.
Is it the worship at Ignite? The fellowship of HIS? Not exactly…
Though the way in which the hand of God has developed these organizations is absolutely beautiful, I look back and find that I have been enriched as a Christian by a life within, but set apart from these groups.
And, the adventure of being chased by Him here has been more thrilling than dancing at the Rose Bowl or the Super Bowl. I guarantee the “grandchildren stories” will come not from those fleeting moments but the moments I have been in awe of God’s movement.
It’s crying in awe in a parking lot when expecting to go on a run.
It’s being excited to close the door of to kneel in prayer.
It’s being asked by a peer if I smoked weed because of the peace He gives, or by another if I was drunk from how the Spirit has overflowed.
It’s been finding Him in the crevasses of my every day, wanting nothing more and laying with an inerasable smile of joy, unable to sleep for multiple nights.
It’s paying $40,000 to get a phenomenal education and delighting in the full ride of wisdom I receive from the greatest Teacher.
Religion comes with a lot of labels. Christian. Muslim. Buddhist. Baptist. Atheist.
I guess they’re easier than really saying what it is we believe. But how far does that get you?
How far does that get you when we can’t even talk about our differences?
If I had to label myself, I would have to call myself an atheist.
I never really got religion, and my parents never forced it upon me.
They never really pressured me to do anything, and for that I will always be grateful.
But, it is Texas, after all.
I knew what to expect when I came to TCU. I just didn’t expect Carrie.
I went for a walk one evening after my Intro to Criminal Justice class. I had gotten out early and did not want to go home just yet or be anywhere in particular, so I walked.
And everything was fine with zero complications or strange looks until Carrie came along—Carrie, who loves Jesus, who thinks God has a plan for her life, who knows that after death she will live forever in the Kingdom of Heaven. Carrie, who gave me a sad stare because I told her the truth—that I do not believe in her God. Carrie, who will pray for me because she felt sorry for me, because she thinks that my soul is doomed for eternal hellfire and damnation.
I had just wanted a moment alone to think. And when Carrie approached me, I did not think she was going to interrogate me about my spiritual beliefs. She seemed friendly. She seemed nice.
But Carrie did not listen to me. She did not listen to what I had to say about my beliefs. She had already alienated me for not believing in her God. And she didn’t even know me.
Because I believe that this great green earth is so magnificent, so beatific that it does not require a creator. I think human beings are beautiful, capable creatures who make their own worlds and their own rules and their own books of faith. They also make mistakes. We create our own circumstances, and then we create ways to live with them. And that’s all religion is: a tool.
Many others like Carrie have hazarded to approach me over the years, but now I know how to handle them. I just avert my eyes, duck my head and walk faster. It’s easier that way. It’s easier than hurting their feelings or attempting to explain to them why I don’t believe. But I always feel a little sad, scurrying past. It’s a shame that we can’t talk about our differences. Just imagine what we could learn.