Calling: We All Have to Start Somewhere
Today begins a multi-week series about calling, my own to be specific, and I thank you for taking the journey with me. For each of us, faith is different even when it seems the same. My faith journey has had its twists and turns and continues to take me places I never expected. I am very thankful for how my parents raised me in that I was able to experience two different faith traditions. My mom's family was Buddhist (Nichiren Shoshu to be exact) and my dad's Christian (United Methodist specifically). Neither parent ever forced me to attend worship services with them, but provided the opportunity if I so chose. I almost always went with them, and progressively chose the faith that was for me.
Through the later part of elementary school, middle school and the first part of high school, I would consider myself to be devoted to Buddhism. I would regluarly attend Kosen Rufu Gongyo with my mom if she was attending or I would go with another member of my family. If I were invited throughout this time to attend church with family and friends, I would still go, but it was definitely with some reservation. In seventh grade life science I recall being required to dissect a frog and refused to do it, due to my faith. Perhaps it was the middle school girl in me using it as an opportunity to not have to do what made me sick to my stomach, buuuuuuuuut that frog could be a reincarnated loved one.😉
By high school I began to question things more about my faith. I saw how terrible things would happen in the life of my family, friends, and myself and wondered why it would happen. When I would ask those in my life that were Buddhist, I consistently received the response that it was their karma or my own and that I should chant about it. So chant I did, and didn't see much result. I also felt that it seemed kind of lonely being Buddhist. There was some vague universal understanding, but it didn't seem that intimate. I began to wonder if maybe, just maybe, there was something to this whole God thing. I began to pray. Sometimes I'd see a change. Things didn't always seem to have such negative outcomes. And things no longer seemed so lonely.
I had a good friend named D that I met in middle school. She always knew I was Buddhist, and although a Christian herself, she never judged me for my faith. She and I had some classes together, but one particular class provided us more time to chitchat near the end of sophomore year. I'd ask her questions about the Bible, God, what the big deal was with this whole Jesus character...and she'd kindly answer and guide me through my doubt. She always responded in a way that really resonated with me. As the school year wrapped up and we moved into summer, I began visiting churches. I checked out a Catholic Church with one set of friends and thought it was nice. I knew my great grandmother would LOVE my attending a Catholic Church (she was Irish Catholic), but I wasn't sure this particular congregration was for me. I visited a United Methodist Church with my dad and stepmom, and thought it was nice enough, but wasn't impressed with their high school Sunday School. I also visited a Baptist Church that had a Japanese congregation with my mom, but we never made it to the service. A lady from the American congregation was so rude to my mom we turned and left (story for another day). I began to wonder if I'd ever find a church that was right for me.
When school started back in the fall of my junior year of high school, I shared with D about my church "shopping" adventures. She immediately said she was sorry I'd had a less than stellar experience and invited me to her church. Here's the thing...she attended a Korean-American church. I questioned whether or not the service would be in English, she said that they had a service geared towards high school and college students that was ONLY in English. I gave it some thought for a few weeks and finally decided to give it a chance. It didn't take long for me this congregation to take me in as part of their church family.
Check back in next Friday to hear read more...