I was raised in the church – Sunday School (complete with pins to show I passed each year), VBS (Vacation Bible School), youth group, and church several times a week. My parents did everything right in growing me to know Who I believed in.
But then I hit middle school.
Those years when most begin to question and question in a big way. Middle school for me was during the time of peace movements, the hippies, the Beatles, the Monkees, and Alice Cooper (topic of my very first oral report).
It was also the time of 9th grade algebra with Mrs. Kramer (whom I loved!) and drugs being passed around sneakily from desk to desk. Some kids came in high and bragged about it. Others tried to deny it. But we all knew.
The questions began to form inside of me.
And then came my first introduction to the theory of evolution, presented brilliantly and my questions deepened.
So did the feeling of being a spiritual misfit.
The kids in church never talked about their doubts or struggles. We showed up every week as though everything was fine and our belief system firmly intact. I doubt anyone would have suspected I even had any doubts at all.
Gratefully, I was able to openly and comfortably discuss my doubts with my parents. It was weeks of discussion, or maybe it was debate, as I shared what I was learning in school.
As the struggle grew strong and the battle for my faith heated up, one Sunday upon leaving church I asked him if I could have a few minutes to talk to him.
Our pastor was a small man with a relatively quiet demeanor. His preaching often seemed educated and way too deep for me to understand at times. But I had come to realize one thing, he knew God’s Word. While he seemed surprised, he invited me into his office with my parents and I began to share my questions.
He listened intently, validating my questions and then asked me if we could put my questions on hold for a bit. He asked me to come back to his office after the church service Friday and I agreed. He also asked my parents if he could talk to me alone.
All week I wondered about what he would have to say that he did not want to say in the presence of my parents. Friday just couldn’t seem to come soon enough.
Friday came and I sat in his office, he on one side of his desk and me on the other, it was then he shared ….
“I have struggled with doubts as well.”
He said it quietly, matter of factly, without shame for which I will forever be grateful as I felt relief. After all, he had questioned and had lived to talk about it. There was yet hope for me.
He shared openly, asking me questions. I asked him questions and he gave answers. At the close of our conversation, he handed me a few books on the very topic of evolution. He suggested I read them, taking as long as I needed with them and to be sure to come back and let him know what I thought.
He never ridiculed me nor made me feel ashamed for questioning.
The books were marked and written in. I began to understand this man, our pastor, to be one who read and wrestled his questions out with God. But more so, I discovered a God Who was bigger than my questions and well able to handle my doubts.
And somewhere between my second and third book, I discovered I did indeed believe that God, my God, was the Creator of all things …
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see –
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and
authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
(Colossians 1: 15-17, NLT)
I cannot say this was my only misfit experience. But it surely paved the way for this truth to be planted in my soul – my God wanted me to come to Him with my questions. He desires a good wrestling with me as He always would win, for His truth does prevail over any question I may raise.
Yes, you might be a spiritual misfit if you doubt and question God.
And it is in the wrestling match, our God transforms you into spiritually fit.