In elementary school we are taught that all good stories have a climax, ranging from a simple resolution to existential breakthroughs. Tales without a pinnacle were boring and not worth expression. If this were the case, my life would not be a story worth sharing.
A few years ago I was asked to share the story of how I met God and built my relationship with Him. I panicked. My walk with Jesus has no climaxes, no pinnacles. In an effort to rescue my seemingly boring story, I began to comb through the past 20 years looking for climaxes. I uncovered a few, which provided fleeting satisfaction. Interestingly, however, as I was brushing through my memories of Jesus with a fine-toothed comb, I learned that my seemingly steady pursuit of Jesus is the opposite of boring. My youthful fascination with Jesus from childhood has steadily transpired into a divine romance that still enchants me today.
In her book Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott explains, “My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another. Like lily pads, round and green, these places summoned and then held me up while I grew. Each prepared me for the next leaf on which I would land, and in this way I moved across the swamp of doubt and fear.” My faith has developed similarly to Lamott’s. Despite its lack of suspenseful build ups and revolutionary breakthroughs, the trail of my leaps amongst the lily pads make up a magical story.
The beginning of my walk with Jesus illuminates the gradual enchantment that continues to be the rhythm of my faith today. I met God at my beloved summer camp when I was seven-years-old. Enamored by the unprecedented love and joy my counselors contained, I was determined to get in on their secret elixir of jubilation. Turns out it was Jesus. Slightly confused how an elusive dead man could live inside you, I drank the KoolAid anyways and offered Jesus some real estate in my heart. I imagined it would take Him a bit to get settled and figured I would check on Jesus in a few weeks to see if He was still there.
Life outside my euphoric bubble went south on me pretty quickly that year. I started the third grade in a new class separated from all of my friends, my mom was pregnant, and I became a popular target for social annihilation which led to inescapable and perpetual humiliation. Desperate for affection and plagued with anger and fear, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to give my new resident a whirl. I began knocking on the door of my heart to see if God had decided to stick around. Sure enough I started hearing His whispers.
My interactions with the Lord began with gentle whispers and small flutters of peace tickling my heart. To my surprise, Jesus had an uncanny ability to replace my loneliness with a sublime contentment that made me feel known, loved, and important. The malicious pursuits of my savage peers began to lose their sting and Jesus was winning me over. Our growth was gradual. God slowly began to gain my trust as He proved himself a viable and unfaltering refuge.
I sat on that first lily pad for a long time. No pinnacle. No climax. But, boy it was magical. Jesus was busy building His home inside my heart, holding my hand, cradling my soul, and laying the foundation of Truth in my mind. My only job was to relish in Jesus’ wonder and love.