Today, Sierra speaks to us about why questioning is important, the need to “dispose” of plastic Christianity, and a Wednesday night that changed everything.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in a Christian home, although my mom and dad both found themselves on different walks in their journeys with Jesus. Both professing Christians, my mom was an avid churchgoer, while my dad for a large chunk of my life didn’t attend. Looking back, they each offered me something different in regards to spirituality that I think is valuable and beautiful.
My mom was always a strong church attender, so, until the later years of high school, I attended most Sundays. Looking back, I knew the black and white constructs woven within RELIGION. Don’t have sex. Don’t get drunk. Don’t smoke. And while I didn’t always live accordingly to those constructs, I knew what they were. I guess you could say I had just enough Jesus to not have to follow Him.
I knew the rules. Not the person.
I knew religion. Not the relationship.
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Currently, God is reminding me of what it looks like to depend on Him. My faith has taken some turns in the last few years. My thoughts and conclusions as to how God operates in and through humanity have changed, and I’m learning that’s okay. With growth comes change. That can be scary when it seems as though other people around you haven’t felt the need to think through and question some of the things you have. But as Bill Johnson has said, “Changing your theology doesn’t change Him. It changes you.”
The more I ask, the more I question and try to understand God, the more I realize how little I really know. And there’s something freeing about that. Not having all the answers positions me in a way where I don’t really have anything else to fall back on except my love for who I know Jesus to be.
Profession: I’m a barista at a local coffee shop and a blogger about faith, spirituality, and culture.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I knew the name of God at an early age. But I encountered the person of God when I was nineteen years old. I had, for a few years, seemingly given up on pursuing a spirituality that was confined to a particular religion. While I was able to see some beauty in it, I couldn’t seem to overlook the many devastating effects I personally saw religion have on me or those growing up. Yet there came a time where my mental health took a turn for the worst, and I needed something more than the self-help books I had been reading. Not thinking Christianity would be the safe haven for my state of being, I read and studied lots about various religions and practices until one day, I thought what the heck. It was a Wednesday night (ironically), and I looked up online to see if there was a church service I could find for that night. Immediately after attending, I rushed to the bookstore before it was closed, bought a Bible, and the rest is history.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of the greatly missed and adored, Rachel Held Evans. I am reading her books because she and I have gone on similar paths of deconstructing and reconstructing our faith. Reading her books has reminded me of the power of transparency.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I’m currently reading, however, Searching For Sunday by Rachel Held Evans. In the book, she talks about her journey of loving, leaving and finding the Church again and how her perception of what the Church is and what it looks like has changed over the years. She writes so conversationally and transparently. It’s definitely a top favorite of mine that I’ll now recommend to anyone.
Top three essentials: A good paperback book. Worship music. My laptop to write and read scripture.
How did God speak to you recently? God has been speaking to me a lot about the root of confusion. We all have moments where we find ourselves at a crossroads, overwhelmed by the decision of what to do or what not to do. It’s easy for confusion to cloud your thoughts and your vision. I know for me it has. And even in the midst of the anxiety I’ve felt about making the right or wrong decision, I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 14:33 where it says, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…”.
Sometimes, peace means saying no to something that looks or sounds really good. Sometimes, peace looks like standing alone or choosing to still wait for the promise rather than take the counterfeit. Peace often doesn’t look like what we think it should. And that’s what He’s been speaking to me lately.
“Sometimes, peace means saying no to something that looks or sounds really good. Sometimes, peace looks like standing alone or choosing to still wait for the promise rather than take the counterfeit. Peace often doesn’t look like what we think it should.”
Hobby: My ultimate hobby is sitting at a coffee shop, sipping on a latte and drinking a really good book.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:
Don’t fake it. Be real and honest.
Look to God. Not humanity.
Don’t lose a heart of curiosity. Questions are not the enemy of faith. It’s the inability to question that is.
“Questions are not the enemy of faith. It’s the inability to question that is.”
Favorite person in scripture? Peter. I feel like He had to wrestle to have faith a lot of the time, and I can really relate with that.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want people to know that God doesn’t want plastic Christianity. He wants the real thing.
How do you leave your mark on your community? I hope I encourage people to bring their real selves to each and every moment. In the midst of our doubt, our struggles and mess we can still look to Jesus and say because Him, even here is Holy Ground.
A goal you have? I would love to write a book in the next two years, as well as give a Ted Talk one day; that’s definitely one on my bucket list.
The question you will ask when you get to heaven? What’s something you wanted me to know that I never truly grasped?
The thing you want to raise awareness about: The times in which I’ve encountered Jesus the closest wasn’t when I was clinging tight to my black or white theological stance or opinion, but it was when I released the grasp of my own understanding and just for a second, I sat in the grey. I allowed myself to be saturated in the tension of the Jesus who contextually challenged both the cultural and religious boundaries and chose to the soul of a human rather than the opinions and political stances of a man. I chose to listen rather than to speak, and for the first time ever, I saw a Jesus whose love and pursuit shatters every perfectly pieced together theological argument or man-made system.
So, if I could raise awareness about any one thing, I’d say it would be the awareness of what freedom in Jesus truly means. At the heart of every human, I believe that this is what we’re all looking for. I just hope we have the humility to see that Jesus is the answer.
“I chose to listen rather than to speak, and for the first time ever, I saw a Jesus whose love and pursuit shatters every perfectly pieced together theological argument or man-made system.”
Define Christianity in a sentence: A relationship with God that calls you to love people purely for the sake of love.
Until next time, keep witnessing!