God, Part I

My perception of God changed drastically when I was a kid. Being born in and growing up in the Catholic church, I was not only hyperaware of God, but afraid of Him. Catholic churches were very serious places, which helped reinforce that fear. I spent a lot of nights terrified that I would go to Hell. I saw God and the Devil as enemies, and the Devil could trick me at any moment and cause me to go against God—who would automatically know, be disappointed that I fell for the Devil’s tricks, and punish me by sending me straight to Hell. For a brief period, I went to bible classes at a Catholic church in Katy (a small city just outside of Houston where I grew up) and I hated it. I was terrified to go there and be with the other kids who seemed to be oblivious to what was at stake—salvation or eternal flames. We had to drive down a winding road surrounded by fields to get to the church. Along one of the curves stood five white crosses, marking a fatal accident that killed five people. There were five people in my family, so every time I saw these crosses, I got scared. It was a constant reminder that if it could happen to those people, it could happen to me and my family—sudden death. And being a kid, I wasn’t prepared to speak for myself after I died. So, the bible classes and my perception of God became intertwined with those crosses and the fear of sudden death before I had a chance to make a case for myself as being deserving of eternal life in Heaven. When my family converted to non-denominational Christianity, my ideas about God changed entirely. This was because of our church’s heavy emphasis on Jesus. They believed that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and as long as we accepted him as our savior, we would be given everlasting life in Heaven. That was a huge comfort to me. Jesus became my Protector. I knew that as long as I loved and worshipped Jesus, I would be good with God, because Jesus was His son. And worship him I did. Treat him as my savior I did. It pulled me out of fear and those five crosses lost their power.