I’m going to start with my birth, because its wrapped in God’s arms as well. My parents tried for 9 years to have a baby. They prayed and prayed for one. People told them that God gave Abraham a child through Sarah when she was 90 years old. I commend my mother for not slapping them and reminding them that people can’t give birth when they are the age of my grandma anymore. But she trusted God with all her heart.
And finally, I was born.
I’ll give a shout out now to the doctors who helped my dad’s sperm join with my mom’s cells in a tube somewhere in some lab. I don’t know much about fertility medicines and work, but I do remember distinctly the day I noted to my mother that I must have been a “valentines day” baby because of where my birth falls. She turned and smiled at me and said, “No, dear, you were conceived in a tube.” Yuck. Happy birthday to me. And happy romance to my parents! :)
Anyhow, my dad received a Doctorate in something bible related while he was working as a pastor in a church in the midwest. Two more kids arrived on the scene and we were a little family. I don’t remember my Christian conversion, because I was too young to understand what was happening, but by the time I was six years old, I was baptized (of my own choice…we are conservative evangelicals who don’t believe baptism is necessary for salvation) and saved.
I told everyone about Jesus. He was real and I was proud to call him mine. We talked to each other all the time. And when I felt especially bad, I would pray to receive him into my heart again. I also prayed for my brother and sister to find Jesus. And they did; very early on as well. I’m pretty sure I was the one who led my sister to Christ, and I was very proud of that.
Many children had a big fear of hell, but I will say I’ve never been afraid to die. I knew that Jesus loved me and that he would call me home one day. And any time I saw the clouds parting and the sun coming through, I was just sure it was Jesus, ready to take his remnant home. It was a wonderful feeling.
I started kindergarten at our local public school, driving there with my neighbor friend, Ryan, who was, well, crazy, and had a brother who was a pyro and a sister who is probably in therapy now and a few other siblings from other dads and, oh well, my neighborhood was a total mess. But I’m not complaining; growing up in the projects was really good for me. We were the Christian-unbroken-bed at 8-no drinking-white-pastor family who helped everyone else and showed them the love of Jesus. But as a kid, we were all just friends. I don’t remember judging many of them or thinking badly of children for having bad parents or druggies in the home. I do, however, remember being fearful of this one girl who looked a lot like Jody Foster as a kid. I was always told she had “boy parts” but now I’m thinking she probably didn’t like boys much at all. Either way, I don’t remember being highly judgmental; I just knew that Jesus could help everyone be happy the way I was.
In third grade, the teacher finally blew it. We were all sitting in our chairs, watching this old projector video about dinosaurs and the narrator began telling us about the story of the world. And a number hit my ears that I had never heard before: MILLIONS OF YEARS. Millions? I thought to myself as I sat there. Dinosaurs lived millions of years ago? How was that possible? And then, even more devastating, the narrator said, “And humans were not even around yet.”
Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Stop right there.
Dinosaurs came BEFORE humans????
I knew this was impossible. My Bible told me that God created the world in 6 days, with land creatures and humans coming at the same time.
I went home and reported this to my parents. The next year, I was homeschooled and continued to be until I graduated from high school. This was the first big mistake my parents wrought on me. I am not angry at them, but I do feel badly for them, because they haven’t found out yet that homeschooling me–thus shielding me from learning about evolution and cosmology–was the biggest factor in launching my life as a freethinker. When I finally got my hands on a book about evolution (20 years later!), I was floored by the astonishing discoveries made by brilliant scientists all around the world.
So, the first part of my story is mostly about shielding. Although my parents were WONDERFUL at teaching us to love other people and not to judge those who are different, they failed to realize the importance of giving me a well-rounded scientific education. Hiding someone from truth can only last so long. And once they find the real story, its very hard to go back.
More to come!