A taste of new life

I got to hold a newborn today named Avery. The little nugget isn’t yet a week old, and she was in my arms. Perhaps she dreamed of the fantastical universe that only exists inside the newly formed brain—each fresh thought a revelation, every new sound, smell, sight, and touch a sensory explosion that jumps about, making a little bit more sense of the world.

Her soft head nestled into the crook of my elbow; her legs curled up, the fetal position still so natural to her tiny little body. White fingernail tips, a full head of brown hair, and puffed cheeks that feel as soft as velvet… all parts of a giant discovery inside a miniature human form. I felt my body sway back and forth as if switched on by the internal rhythm of life itself. I may not want a child of my own just now, but I very much enjoy having a spine curved against my arm, a wrinkled hand hooked around my fingertip, and a miraculous expedition into the great unknown unfold before my eyes.

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I am not who they think I am…

So for the first time in my life, someone asked me a question that began, “As a non-Christian, do you…”

This may not be odd to you, but since my Christianity has been a vital, if not supremely influential influence on my entire life, development, identity, and choices, having someone essentially confirm what I’ve been wondering is a bit unnerving. I don’t want to say I’ve deconverted. I really want to avoid it. What if this is a “phase”? I wouldn’t want to say I was one thing and then pull an “Oops, just kidding!”

Most of all, I don’t want to tell the people who still think “that’s Julia, she’s a Christian” that I’m not so sure any more.

I’ve never had this crisis before. I always knew and I always felt like that knowing was impossible to change.

I still have a Christian worldview. I still know the Bible better than any other book. I am still interested in theology and doctrine. I still think Jesus/God makes a powerful, life-changing impact on people’s lives. In fact, I still love God as I understand it and Jesus as I understand him. But… I don’t know if I’m Christian anymore. I don’t care for the religion, even if I care for the principals at its core (love! all should be love!). But the religion is not that simple, no matter how many different pithy ways people explain it. I know this. I’ve been one as long as I can recall.

Clearly, I’m struggling with this. I’m struggling with the idea that a core identifier of my life might be gone. I’m struggling with the fear that I might lose the respect and love of those who respect and love “Christian Julia”. It’s like I think people won’t take my view seriously now, simply because I am not an orthodox believer. Like suddenly my insight and knowledge doesn’t matter anymore…. I haven’t felt like an outsider before. In simple terms, I feel demoted.

And you all might remember how scared I am of my family’s expectations. They have a picture of me in their heads… and they have no idea how far off they are. But they love that picture, and they support it and admire it. They know how to treat it.

But that’s not me! Who am I now?

I’m afraid.


Oh my goodness! My sister is engaged! It all happened last night. I am overcome with excitement and happiness for her. She deserves the very best, and I think they will be very good together for years to come. But now, what am I to do? This is my buddy-for-life!

I know I will be a little sad when she begins her new career, marries, and settles in North Carolina. It reminds me of when I was 9 and having a panic attack about growing up. I was afraid of this—of “losing” people as they moved on. But it’s gotten much easier since then. I’ve learned that lifelong friends (and my sister is one of my most treasured friends) can go through almost any development and still feel connected, able to be close whenever they’re together again. So that is what I believe she and I will have no matter where we live or what changes happen in life.

Congratulations to my beloved, treasured, and admired older sister! I love you! And to her fiance, you are a good man, and I can’t wait to be your sister (and mortal enemy—we need to keep up appearances!).