19 February 2013

Leaving and Staying

My older brother and I are going to start working on a project where we recount our disparate paths away from (me) and within (him) Christian faith. I hope the project will make for some good writing and eventually a book manuscript. But until then, just sketches. I will be posting all or most of my writing here and then collecting our work together on another blog which I will publicise sometime in the future. My first entry.

Stephen, 1987

My conversion to Christianity–the first time, the time I remember–came when we were moving between houses in the suburbs of Minneapolis. The whole family–my brother, sister, and our parents–was staying with friends from church, friends who had an older daughter I remember being called Lisa. The backyard of their house was massive and skirted a forest. I came out one day to find my sister and Lisa: I asked them what they were playing and they said, Christians. Christians? I said, confused for a moment, what's a Christian? It's when you ask Jesus into your heart. Have you ever asked Jesus into your heart? I didn't respond, or I don't remember responding, but I distinctly remember running back into the house and saying in my head, Jesus, come into my heart.

Those five words, as I think back on them, were intensely important for me, particularly when I was older and worried, constantly, if I was really a Christian. Had the prayer taken; had Jesus actually come into my heart? At every opportunity to convert, to pray the prayer again, I prayed. My parents told me that I prayed with them once before that time, but I don't remember that prayer. I only remember the prayer in the backyard: simple and dutiful and eager.