Some time ago I made a journey South to my old stomping grounds. From the years of 2006–2013 I lived in Sonoma County Ca. and I must say there are few and rare disappointing memories from that period. Still though, the ones that exist are strong and burned into my brain’s synapses. Since moving to Oregon in the Fall of ’13 (especially since joining my local church body in Winter of ’14) many have made inquiries about my “former life.” This post is not so much as to the what of my former life but concerning the why I shan’t be attempting any return.
To begin, broadly speaking, I had more idols than one could shake a stick at. They ranged from everything to women, sports, cycling, food, partying, drugs, friends, and rock climbing. That latter two were by far the most significant and one of which composed more of a worldview (with a tinge of Christianity thrown in for good measure) than just merely an idol.
The most prevalent of these though were my friends and the relationships that ensued amidst sharing my life and home with them. They were my church, everything I did was to ensure their love and devotion. I’d always had a high view of friendships (and still do) and the friends/roommates I had, well they shared almost every aspect of my life then.
There was one thing they didn’t share with me though, spiritual and emotional matters. Every few days I would take long walks late at night to a secluded spot on the river and just sit and talk with God. I never really referred to it as praying just long extended conversations with God. I’d talk about women, my job, and why my friends didn’t seem to reciprocate the devotion I attended them with. Every few weeks I would go North to have an all night discussion with my old youth pastor and do the same. These were the only times I did what truly was what I loved to do, talk all night and consider the large narratives of life with a theological emphasis.
You see, my friends were all either agnostics or atheists. I would wager quite a large sum to say I was one of the only convinced theists among them, and it didn’t show very well as far as my retrospective understanding is concerned. They just didn’t come across as concerned with in-depth probing of each other’s desires and motivations. Which brings me to the emphasis of this post…
My trip back a few weeks ago (and seeing certain individuals for the first time in years) made these stark differences shine all the more. I’d thought they were struggles then, now I see what happens when the Lord places in your life people who you can look to and chant back Paul’s words, “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
There is not a day that goes by where I have no doubt I can call or text any one of my friends here and lean on them for council. Just as well they know they could inquire the same from me. It is not to say necessarily that I couldn’t before, but the nature of said council would have been all together destructive to God’s standards of purpose.
I loved and still love my friends from “yesteryear,” but I could never go back. Sanctification and the desire to obey my Lord are my primary devotions now, and to return to the land of my birth and the local of my heart would be three steps back as I am about to make a giant leap forward in the coming Fall. I am thankful for finally having friends again who don’t share my Christian convictions and worldview. However, I am eternal grateful to God for blessing me with a plethora of quintessential saints to keep my faith strong.
To all of you beloved ones (you know who you are), you are God’s means of grace in my life. I thank you more often than you can imagine.