Fire in the Belly

The other day I read this advice: To write a best-seller, you should write from the fire in your belly. That until you do this, you can’t move onto the next thing. I agree with that. It’s just that many things fuel the fire in my belly and I can’t distinguish the one that generates the greatest flame.

There is one thing that lurks in my mind and my heart that I hardly ever write about. And that is my faith. I’m what I consider to be a “born-again” Christian. I was raised in the Lutheran Church, baptized as an infant, confirmed at fifteen, accepted Jesus as my personal savior when I was 21, started to attend a Methodist church, was baptized again in light of my renewed faith, married a man who became a minister, and was a minister’s wife for ten years before we were divorced.

That was a major blow to my Christian life. I lost the church we had been attending (I’m the one who had to leave) and many of our Christian friends. I briefly took my kids to an Episcopal church, but because I got a job which required me to work on Sundays, I soon stopped attending church altogether. I didn’t start attending church again until after I was remarried, at my new husband’s request. We were active in that church (another Methodist one) for another eight years, until that marriage ended in divorce as well. I attended that church a couple of times after that, but since I had moved out of the area, I found it too inconvenient and stopped going. The last time I attended church was at a Catholic mass. I cried my way all the way through it and I haven’t been back since. That was in 2000.

Sometimes I look back and wonder how I got here. I also wonder how I could get back to where I once was. But do I want that? I still consider myself to be an orthodox Christian, but I hesitate to write about my faith because I’m afraid that I wouldn’t be considered to be “legitimate.” Not unless I had a new experience in Christ. An indwelling of the Holy Spirit. A renewed commitment to Jesus. But I hold back because I don’t want to become a “Bible-thumper.” My beliefs don’t line up exactly with the evangelical or fundamentalist communities. Is there a place for a Christian writer who doesn’t go to church?

Perhaps this is the “fire in my belly.” At the very least it feels like unfinished business. But I feel stuck. I don’t know where I want to go to church. I don’t know that I do want to go to church. I do want to be closer to God and I don’t know how to get there. Perhaps I’m at a crossroads and I need to choose a direction before I can get where I’m meant to be.

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