Buddhism is the dominant religion in the East, and of course was brought over with my family when they immigrated to America.
As a child, I never understood Buddhism. It just seemed like it was something I thought everyone did.
My parents would take me to the temple maybe once or twice a month. Doing the same things every time:
Offering rice and other treats to the monks, and cooking and cleaning for the monks. Sitting while the monks prayed and clasping my hands together even though I had no idea what the monks were saying.
I never truly had a spiritual perspective throughout my childhood to teenage years. I never even fully understood “God” until later on in life.
I would watch movies and hear of people talking to God or Jesus, and I had no idea who or what they were talking about so I never paid it much attention.
People even took me to church and I didn’t understand it. I attended a Bible study and read The Bible with no comprehension whatsoever. I did not even think it was a real storybook.
As a kid, to me, it was a book full of words. Where are the pictures?
I just thought church was another place people went to just like the temple except they spoke English there. I made all sorts of assumptions as a child about The Church, because no one knew how to explain things to me the way I could understand.
The only thing they were able to teach me at church was that I was going to hell if I didn’t attend church.
At the temple, if I did anything bad I would be roasted in a pan like an egg.
Atleast that’s what I thought…
(I had a misconception of an artwork in the temple my parents attended.)
The image had people burning, and my mother explained that if I did bad things that’s what would happen to me. So, seeing that as a child and having that sort of explanation, it formulated in my head that I would be sauteed into an omelette one day. & That notion has stuck with me ever since.
With the church, I was so confused on why someone would die for me. I remember the first question I ever asked when we opened The Bible was, “What is sin?” It sounded so horrible, and I couldn’t believe The Bible was calling me out for something like that.
I felt like it was attacking me, when I had no idea what it even was.
I was merely a child/teenager and felt like this place is just like the temple. They want to turn people into omelet’s and scare people away.
Growing up in a traditional Asian home, there was barely, if any, forms of affection. So I grew up in a blocked off 10 foot high cold hard brick wall surrounding my life.
These places, the church and the temple, made it easy to just walk away and never want to come back. Which I did. For many, many years.
It wasn’t until many years later, someone else invited me to church. Instead of going into it really confused as a child; I went in as a “young adult”, but this time instead of having a 10 foot high cold hard brick wall, I had a 20 foot high cold hard brick wall. (I had been building onto it over the years.)
I was nearly 16 years old, and man, teenage years were so dramatic.
I thought it was a stupid idea to go to church, but I went anyway just to hang out with my cousins since I stopped seeing them that often.
Going in, I thought the people were crazier than as I saw them as a child. Wow. These people walked around with smiles on their faces and were offering hugs like they actually liked it.
Again, Asian household there was strictly no hugging. It was a new concept I had to learn.
Do you pat them on the back? If so, how many times is appropriate, 3 or 5 back pats? Is one pat too awkward?
Or do I have the hug completely wrong? Is it a back pat or is it a light squeeze? A light 3 second squeeze? How hard do I squeeze? Oh. My. Gosh. This is awful.
You could feel my teenage heart nearly bursting in my own arms when people hugged me.
I was not used to people being nice to me either. It sort of scared me and I felt like I was in a whole different world.
This time when I attended, I just listened as the pastor spoke about a love so deep and a love so strong. As a teenager, I knew all about this love. I sought after this kind of love in my friends, boyfriend, drugs, money, everywhere…
I felt enchanted by his words. I listened and longed after what he was speaking about. Yet, I tried to piece together this love he was speaking of into my life. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I listened and yearned to know more. Where do I find this love? Will that kind of love be able to love someone like me?
My heart listened closer and I could only feel the pastor and myself in the room. As he continued, I anticipated for his answer on how I can find this love he speaks of.
I imagined maybe it’s in a huge tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Maybe he had a free gift card to a nearby amusement park that will rejuvenate anyone to feel the love of life once again.
I mean, c’mon, I was 16. I found love in those things. It had to be something like that, right?
Then he says, this love of God….
Wait, what? God? The omelet guy? This can’t be true. Last time I was in a church, they told me He would burn me in hell. (Like an omelet)
How could He turn me into an omelet, but have a love that’s deeper than the ocean? I seriously felt like I was being sold a horribly broken product from a super enthusiastic salesman.
I stopped attending the church, but the thought of that deep genuine love continued to nudge at my heart regardless of what I was doing in my life.
Luckily the people who invited me to church that day, never gave up on me. Despite my potty mouth, my depression, my hatred, and drug addiction, they continued to pray and consistently invite me to church.
After a few more years of bad choices, I finally took a plunge and accepted Christ into my life at about the age of 18.
Now that I’m 23 and finishing up school at a Christian private college when I never even imagined I’d be in school, I feel so blessed to be where I am now. It’s amazing to be able to look back on my past and just laugh at my first impressions of the church and God.
Did you get a giggle out of it? I hope so.
Do you remember your first church impressions? Let me know in the comments below.