Growing up in white Christian McPherson Kansas gave me a narrow view of the world. I attended church (Disciples of Christ) as a child because my mother worked in the nursery for yet another job. I enjoyed being involved, singing in the choir, going to Sunday School, and receiving my first Bible with my name on it. Out of the thirteen thousand people, there were about five black families, and maybe two Hispanic. None of those families attended my church. Similarly, my mother’s hair dresser lived with his ‘cousin’ and some nurses who were ‘sisters’ lived together across from the hospital. I can’t say that I was raised to be prejudice, but we were white and normal (though poor) and they were not. After my mother quit that job, I no longer attended church.
When I was in my 20s I was led to believe by a very enthusiastic brother -in- law that my life was crap because I was not following the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. And so began my life as a Pentecostal holy roller spirit filled Christian. I raised my children in that church, and the funny thing is it took me 17 years to realize that things were just not right. The drill in that church was that the rest of the world was in a box and couldn’t see the truth. Science, global warming, secular music, even education were bashed as of the devil and not to be messed with. I realized years later that we were the ones in the box by secluding ourselves and hiding behind Jesus.
After leaving my husband and starting my education and my career, I in one semester turned from backward to forward logical thinking. I took Anthropology where I studied cannibalism, voodoo, and many other cultural diversities. I realized that if this God in Heaven whom I believed upon was a just and loving God, then those who believed in something else were not going to hell. So I gave up on church and church folk, especially after I moved to a small Mennonite town and was treated like the woman at the well. I was waiting for the first stone, but the stones came in the form of silence.
After many years of education and searching, meeting people from other cultures, and being in groups of people who see the light, I have come to this point in my journey. Recently finding the UCC was a true Godsend with the freedom to believe or not believe, to seek or just sit, to get involved in what ever capacity I see fit. No more feeling guilty for my sins, for not spreading the Good News, for letting my children have their own faith journeys. No more relinquishing my mind to someone who thinks they know what is best for my soul. This journey has led me to a great group of people who are also on similar faith journeys, one day leaning toward Buddhism, one day toward Judaism, and maybe toward atheism the next. If I had to label myself, I would say I’m an agnostic, because you know, I really just don’t know!
My journey is not straight and narrow. It is marred with pot holes and road blocks yet I continue on. It is a blessed freedom to live in this amazing testament of God’s love and mercy and to understand that we humans are just kind of kookie, in a Godly way of course.
Dianna Carter is a member of First Congregational Church of McPherson, KS, and currently serves as Chair of the Kansas Oklahoma Conference Events Commission