In our Believing and Belonging class for church, we’ve turned to the gifts and callings portion of the class. One of the handouts we are doing is “Reflection Guide: The Gift of My Spiritual Heritage” from Created and Called: Discovering Our Gifts for Abundant Living copyright 1998 Jean Morris Trumbauer. I thought it might be fun to answer some of the questions in a little more depth on here. (And, for those who are more interested in other topics, enjoy yesterday’s family photo post and I will try to include other ideas while I do these.)
The first prompt: Several people who have most influenced my spiritual journey are…
My parents would be first and foremost. Their example, their story, their willingness to learn and talk and discuss. The way they live out their faith. They really are pretty exceptional. (Hi Mom and Dad!) One of my favorite things growing up was to sit in on them telling people their testimony. It’s a great story and they are good story tellers.
The Church Lady. In the church in Missouri, she taught the kids on Wednesday nights. It was a small and consistent group and that’s where I learned my Bible.
I don’t remember his actual title, but he was (is I assume) a philosophy professor and was in charge of the area BSUs. He met with just one other person and me for the first year before he found us a director (he was director at the local denominational college; we were at the State University). He introduced me to Tony Campolo and the idea that other people were questioning the conservative status quo too.
The BSU director and later church start Pastor. While we were never precisely on the same page the way I was with the Philosophy Prof, and I know I frustrated him no end, I really did learn a lot from working with him and watching him and his family.
My after college roommates. Really, two more godly women can’t be found. What a privilege it has been for me to learn from and with them. Even when we disagree (or I disagree), we know we are united in Christ and we remain able to talk about the One we all strive to serve.
The question asks about people who have influenced our spiritual journey and I have to admit, I think of people who have influenced it by negative example. I’m sure we all have those, people are people, and it’s okay. But I think it’s worth acknowledging. The pastors who bully from the pulpit, the youth leaders for whom I had no respect, the women who can’t get beyond ladies’ crafts nights or focusing on externals. While I fought some of those things at the time, I learned from them too. In some cases, they did have things to teach me even if I had to sift through to figure out what those things were. In other cases, it was more learning to trust God and find the people who could teach me and understanding that just because the church gave someone a position (and in the Baptist churches, there aren’t really good filters set-up) doesn’t mean they truly owned it (not saying this well) and that a lot of times these positions are filled by default, not by discernment. And, as I get older, maybe I can learn some compassion, too. (And I know I was a thorn in many of their sides!)
So, who are your spiritual influences?