The Day I Found Out I Wasn’t A Christian

Posted on Posted in Faith

I remember the day vividly.  It was a Sunday, and I was at church. Initially, I was panic stricken.  But as the days and months went by, I became angry.  Angry at my parents, and angry at my church “family.”

A recent poll I read stated that 80% of Americans claim to be Christian.  Growing up my family and I were part of that 80%.  We didn’t go to church, but we knew there was a Creator of the Universe.  And that Jesus guy?  He was God’s son.  We knew that too.  That made us Christians.  Right???

Come to think of it, what did I know?  I knew Jesus was God’s only Son.  I knew He was a person who lived, who was persecuted, and who died on a cross.  And I know He died as a sacrifice so that I could go to Heaven.  And I was genuinely grateful for that.  And I loved my Father in Heaven.  That much is true.  But can you love God without being a Christian?  I did.  I don’t care how you argue that.  I did.

Rewind:  It was summer, and so as customary, I was driven to Idaho to stay the summer with my grandmother while my parents traveled for the summer looking for a new house.  Grandma went to church, and so I did too.  I went every year during the summer with her.  And I listened to what was said–every word of it.  I remember one year there was a coloring contest.  I was 14 and I didn’t feel like coloring.  Seriously.  Coloring?  The pastor told my grandmother (rather dramatically within ear’s shot of me) that he was so disappointed that no one had entered from the older group.  Of course, I went home and colored the picture to make this poor old gray haired man’s heart heal.  My 15 year old sister did too.

The next Sunday, I was completely embarrassed when they announced the winners of the coloring contests.  All the young kids went laughing and screaming up to the front of the church to collect their prizes.  And then they called my name.  I was at least twice as big as those kids.  And I had won the grand prize.  A bible.  They all got crayons and coloring books.  I got a bible.  Well, of course I was embarrassed to walk up there and get my prize.  But I also felt like I was stealing candy from all these babies–in front of the entire church!  It wasn’t fair that I should get this valuable treasure!

You see, this is what I knew about bibles:

  1. Grandma had one.  All day she read or worked in the garden.  I never saw her do anything else if we were home.
  2. Our pastor had one.  He read several verses each Sunday flipping back and forth, back and forth–the old people could keep up with him, the rest of us followed along on the screen projector.
  3. My oldest sister had a bible.  When she died, it was put on the top shelf as a “special treasure”–so special that we never touched it.  I never saw it opened.  My mother said it was the most important thing in our house.  I see the irony now.

Here I was at 14–winning the grand prize when obviously I should never have been in competition with these little kids.  And I won a treasure–something you didn’t have unless you were old well seasoned, or dying.  Well, of course I went home and read the entire thing front to back that summer.  It didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  So I read it again that year, and the next year.  I was determined to keep reading it until it made total sense.  At the time, it was a big history book and I was just trying to read the stories.  History has always been my worst subject.

Read about my "Ah-Ha" moment, how I dealt with it and the pain I went through.  Please use my experience to make sure not one more soul is lost.

Fast Forward:  Two summers later, while at Granny’s house for the summer I spent a lot of time reading my bible.  But I also spent a lot of time thinking about the lives of these people at this church.  There were some people there that I would consider “fake Christians” sure (I spent way too much time judging others when I was 16), but there were also people who were different than anyone I knew at home.  When I went home for the rest of the year,  I wouldn’t come across any people in my living-bubble with this kind of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control.  I noticed that although I was happy with my life, I was missing these things.  Deep joy.  Deep kindness.  Deep faithfulness.  I wanted all that.  I spent the beginning of the summer thinking that maybe it was just because I was 16.  Doesn’t everyone wish they were someone or something else when they are 16?  But then I starting begging him for these things.  I admitted,  “I know I’m only 16, and I am sooooooo not worthy to ask for any gifts.  If I just need to be older to have these things, then is there a way you could just tell me this?  But if that’s not it, and I’m just missing something–could you just tell me somehow?”  Although I was happy in life, I just craved to be a different happy.

That Sunday.  That Sunday.  The message was different.  Instead of a lecture on love, or a lecture on sacrifice, or a lecture on sin, or a lecture on forgiveness, the sermon put it all together.  For me, it was the first time it was put all together.  The pastor stated, “Just bear with me, but it’s been laid on my heart to do things a little differently right now.  We’ll be back to normal next week.”  He said that I was a sinner, and that if Jesus hadn’t died for me I would be eternally separated from God–I knew these things.  What he said next is what made my stomach turn.  He said that if I didn’t invite Jesus to live in my heart and let Him rule my life that I wasn’t saved.  He said that God doesn’t force His way into anyone’s life–it’s a choice.  What?  I have to do something about this free gift?  A formal acceptance?  I did not know this–I’d never done this.

I was in shock to say the least.  How could I have missed this?  Wasn’t I a straight A student?  Don’t I read my bible regularly?  Don’t I listen in church?  Aren’t I smart?

Then panic struck me.  What if I’d died before I got to church this morning?  I am on my way to hell right now!  I have to do something about this.  What do I do?  How can I fix this?

When he closed the sermon, he invited us to stand with him, and said if anyone here would like to accept this free gift, and hasn’t done so yet, pray with me.  And I did in my heart.  I asked Jesus into my life–fully.

After the service was over, everyone went out for the normal pot luck in the foyer and I stayed behind.  When I was sure I was by myself and all the doors were closed, I went to the alter, got down on my knees and cried.  Really cried.  I cried for my stupidity.  I cried for my pride because the day before I thought I was smart.  I cried because I could have still been on my way to hell.  And I cried because at that moment I believed that my parents didn’t love me.  My parents never taught me about Jesus.  In fact, they didn’t take any of us to church ever–their marriage was more important than my eternal salvation.  If there’s one thing I remember about my father growing up, it was how he always instilled in me that he knew more than I did–and that he knew what was best for me.  I believed this.  If my father knew these things and never told me, then there was only one possible answer–he didn’t love me.

My emotions turned to anger.  Anger that my parents would let me go to hell because they wanted their earthly marriage to be peaceful.  Anger at my “church family” because not one of them ever told me this either–so obviously they didn’t love me either.

You see, Satan knows when we are most vulnerable–when we are tired, when we are hungry, when we are put into a position of ministry, and when we are having a spiritual high–or when he just lost us for good.

I’ve had time to heal.  I have come to understand why people may have acted (or not acted) the way they did.  I now have a compassion for my parents, and I pray for their salvation every day.  I have shared the good news with them to make sure someone told them.  And I understand that many people like to be people-pleasers, and don’t like confrontation.  Satan encourages people not to possibly “upset” or “offend” someone with the gospel.  I believe now that people didn’t know how to talk to me.

And I have probably offended people in my journey to share this free gift.  I make sure to tell people I know “You probably don’t want to hear this from me, or right now, but I love you too much not to tell you.” Some people have responded well, and met their Savior.  Some people have not responded well to me.  In fact,  this was the last conversation I had with my mother–before she walked out of my life.  I miss her dearly, but I wouldn’t change a thing.  Because I love her too much to have never told her.  I pray for her salvation.  And I have peace in my heart, because if she never chooses to accept Jesus for who He is–it wasn’t because someone didn’t tell her.

Have you been told the good news?  Have you told everyone that you love?  What are your stumbling blocks or hesitations?


16 thoughts on “The Day I Found Out I Wasn’t A Christian

  1. Ex post. I know how u feel. Similiar story and family. But we must tell and stand for His true Word as His born again child. Blessings dear sister in Christ. JO

    1. Yes Jo, I use the pain I felt to make sure I let others’ know I love them enough to tell them the truth. What they then decide to do with that information is up to them. Thanks for stopping by.
      Blessings to you!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. I too, grew up knowing I was a Christian but then later finding out otherwise. Thanks for inspiring me today in regards to not giving up on telling others about Christ for fear of rejection. It isn’t us they reject, it is Christ!

  3. This is an excellent tool for evangelizing. If anyone wants to get the conversation started (because they love their friends and family too much not to tell them) – this article opens the conversation for you. In today’s electronic world, sharing articles such as this is as easy and clicking a couple of buttons and I guarantee it will start conversations either via email or social media. My stumbling block to going forth and spreading the good news is fear. Not fear of what other people will think of me, personally; but fear of doing it wrong and causing more harm than good as I am not very good at conversation. I do much better with written words. That, and the fear of rejection. I am, in spite of my best efforts, very sensitive to rejection; and if I mess this conversation up, I fear that the rejection would feel 100x amplified because these people whom I love have rejected Christ through me (which means I’m obviously not living in such a way as to be that city of light on the hill). Thank you for writing it and making it available to share. God bless.

    1. Trixie, you have such a beautiful spirit. Placing your concern for others’ rejection for Christ above rejection of yourself tells me you love Jesus and others more than you think of your own well-being. Prayer before conversation helps. I have at times been listening to someone talk while pleading in my heart, “Please Jesus, if your Spirit is willing to move on their heart right now, let them ask me.” I pray that the Spirit will take over my words (since I’m not very good with words either, honestly). Sometimes they ask, and sometimes they don’t–but it’s in His perfectly capable hands–not my clumsy hands.
      I am very humble if anyone can use my story to bring even one person into a loving relationship with the Lord.
      Thank you for your insight Trixie.

  4. I can totally relate to the whole “that was the first time I heard it all put together” feeling. I grew up in a Christian home, prayed a prayer of salvation when I was 3 or 4 and even though I read my Bible and loved God, I strayed big time throughout my teens and twenties. Then one day I heard a sermon that “put it all together” and like you, I wept and wept as I realised my state before God. That was the night I believe I truly was born again. I can relate to so much of what you wrote here, and I want to thank you for sharing it publicly. Keep telling people your story. It’s scary how many people there are who were like us who thought they belonged to God but weren’t bringing forth fruit. The Lord said “by their fruit you will know them”. Fruit isn’t what saves us – salvation is by grace through faith – but fruit is the proof of a genuine rebirth.

  5. I enjoyed this post. I agree we have to tell the good news. Do not give up your parents, ensure you pray for them. I accepted Christ as Lord and savior and my mother could not understand it. She even said that I became old and I was still young. I stood my ground. She is now singing a different tune because my lifestyle has pointed her to Christ and now she is happy and she speaks highly of me. But all praise goes to God for his goodness.

  6. I can relate to what your saying in this article but I feel like I missed the point. I’m still struggling with am I a Christian and I am 41 years old.

    1. Chenequa, my Dear:
      If you have invited Jesus Christ into your heart to be your personal Lord and Savior, accepted His gift of forgiveness, repented of your sins, then you indeed are a Christian. Stay in the Word, keep talking to Him and listening to Him. Welcome to the family–whenever that happened or happens.

  7. My husband has the same experience at age 6, praying a prayer with a teacher. At 12 his wanting to take communion vs being left out led to his going through with baptism. Yet not until adulthood does he understand the whole picture.
    We now pray and ask for your prayers as it seems God is calling him to baptism as an adult with the whole picture.
    Awkwardness (he is 41 now) matters little in light of obedience to God’s call. Jesus obeyed at 30, and God was well pleased.

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