Many of you know I attended the Why Christian? conference in Minneapolis last weekend. This intimate get-together of over 1000 people was a time to listen to speakers – women, some gay some not, some pastors, some not, some once men, most not, all Jesus lovers – share perspectives about why they still called themselves Christian as many of the “Christians” in the media and evangelical world are fighting against them.
I’m going to write up a much more detailed response to Why Christian?. I really was blown away and immediately taken by some of these women. But this is not that post. This post is why I’m a Christian, why I need Christians, and how I found myself with only Christ to lean on.
Friday morning as I stood in a winding queue waiting to show my ticket and receive my schedule I texted my friend, Erin. I hadn’t seen Erin in 18 years. Thank Christ for Facebook. (You don’t hear me saying that too often. Savor it.)
Erin joined me in line and we caught up on non-Facebook news as we settled in for the morning. Her friend, Erica, soon joined us and our little trio became a foursome that afternoon as another acquaintance of mine, Nikole, made her way to the cathedral. We soaked up what the speakers had to say and ended our evening with conversation and whiskey gingers. Well, not Nikole. She’s past her 40 week due date. I can’t believe that kid wasn’t delivered on one of those 150 year old pews. But I digress.
I went to bed, heart full, and awoke the next morning excited to get a start on the day. I pulled up social media and my fingers grasped my phone, tweeting nuggets of wisdom with hashtags in every message. Stories of tough backgrounds which lead to Jesus. Stories of Jesus communities in bars and Jewish centers. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Why Christian? Jesus.
Mid-tweet, my sister’s name and a half a message appeared in my view. I popped off one app to long onto another other. My cousin, my 19 year old cousin, shot himself.
In a millisecond I cared nothing about Jesus, Why Christian?, or the 999 people around me. What. The. F—-. (But I didn’t say ——-. My kids read this.)
My family. My family is minus one. My family is in pain. The next few hours are a blur. In a few hours I’d texted and talked to cousins and husband and mom and instead of planning a trip home, I diverted my trip to Cleveland.
So Why Christian?
Because I didn’t want to be around people any more, but I didn’t have anywhere to go so I sat in the pew as the cathedral emptied for lunch and Nikole rubbed my back and Erin held me while I sobbed.
Because I should have been at that conference alone, but I had Christian sisters sitting with me in pain.
Because I had a husband praying and telling me God wanted me to be with my family even though my mind was chaos and I didn’t know which way was up.
Because back in my hotel room, I had a severe panic attack and reached out to my church sisters because they KNOW me and all responded and I was covered in prayer.
Because I talked to Jesus all night and I didn’t hear answers but I felt him crying near me.
Because Nathan is with Jesus now. He knew Jesus. He knows Jesus. And Jesus is the only one who can fix the pain he was in.
Because I need Jesus to hold my hand as I try to be a support to my family. To Nathan’s mom. To Nathan’s sister. I don’t even know what I’m doing and I’m banking everything on the fact that Jesus will show me.
Last September I sat in this same airport sobbing after saying goodbye to my aunt forever. Now I sit with tears anticipating the multiplied heartache I will be part of in a few hours.
Why Christian? There is no other way.