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Front Lawn Theology

Updated: Mar 19, 2023

I was 16 when I left the public school system and transferred to a private local Christian high school. My friend was a bit surprised at my sudden newfound passion for faith after transferring. We were walking over to her house one day after school talking about religion and I remember stopping dead in my tracks on her front lawn, dressed in my scratchy new school uniform, boldly proclaiming, “I used to think that too, I thought Christianity was all a bunch of rules-a cage, but it’s complete freedom”. Safe to say we were both equally shocked by my full fledged evangelist moment on her front lawn.

Growing up I’d always gone to church, prayed before dinner, attended VBS, checked all the boxes, but for me up until this point it was religion not a relationship with a real and active God. Religion to me was a set of rules: don't cuss, mind your parents, go to church, get baptized so you don't go to hell and as I grew older of course don’t drink, don’t do drugs or have sex before you were married.

I want to make one thing clear too, I didn’t grow up in a uber conservative Christian home, my parents never forced ideas down my throat or extensively drilled these so called “rules” I had in my head, most of it is the picture I had gotten from the world, church and even cultural shows and movies that depicted religious people in a certain way.

When it came down to it, religion was just a slice of my life. Something I did on Sundays, something I said I believed because it was expected of me and felt comfortable. A real relationship with Jesus, or the “Jesus Freaks” as I called them seemed so narrow. I remember getting in a car with an older friend and she had worship music on, my first thought was, “Wow she must feel so trapped by all of that.” God, and what I was supposed to believe in, didn’t exactly fit into my definition of the good life, a life where I could enjoy fun times with my friends and mess around and try new things all in the name of growing up and learning.

I was pulled more towards those things, of course I was, they were fun. The biggest lie I have seen become true in our world is that people don’t own up to the fact that sin is fun, sin is such a dirty word in our culture, but in fact it’s just the stuff our broken human bodies feel pulled to, even if it’s not the best stuff for us. Sin’s not that hard to fall into because it usually feels good, simple as that. It makes sense why it’s hard to stop and why, lots of the time people feel pretty good about doing it.

I certainly wasn’t headed towards a rebel path in high school, but if i was honest, I was on a track where God could have easily been swept from my heart by the end of high school. I would have done my own thing, made my own rules and probably returned to church when I started my own family later on in life. But God, in His ways, moved mountains to get me in front of Him long enough to show me who He actually was.

How I ended up transferring high schools really wasn’t all that dramatic, I had simply felt lost in a crowd at my old school. I was a good student, had close friends on the cheer team and had grown up with most of these kids all throughout elementary and middle school, but something felt off by the end of my sophomore year. I felt lost, I felt purposeless. Now not entirely abnormal for a moody 14 year old, but the essence of myself, who I was and who I dreamed of being was fading fast. I wasn’t the joyful, carefree, adventurous person I had known most of my life and I kept it all inside because part of me believed it was just growing up.

My mom could sense it too, as they always do. One night on the way to soccer practice she randomly spoke up and simply said, “Dominique, I don't think your high school is doing a very good job in showing you how valuable you are”. Now it wasn’t my high school’s fault, they didn’t exist for me, but the idea that I was just a person in a crowd and I had to work hard, do better to be a higher number was for sure contributing to my current state of mind.

A few months later I found out a few close friends were transferring to a small, Christian school down the road. I was intrigued and after researching, visiting the school and talking extensively with my parents we all agreed it was worth it for me to try it out.

The difference was immediate.

A lot of students around me had grown up in Christian schools and found the routine of chapel and bible classes routine, if not boring. However, it was a far different story for me, for the first time in my life I was studying the bible on a daily basis, attending chapel and getting to talk with teachers and peers about Jesus. When I moved schools and started knowing Jesus, who He was and what He was about, not what the church was or religion was, something changed in my heart and reoriented. This Jesus I was learning about was not about rules, He was about relationships. He said come to me, wherever you are and let’s work on it. I don’t judge you for who you are, where you’ve been or all the ways I know you’ll mess it up in the future, I’m just so glad you’ve come to ME finally, not anything or anyone else.

As I began to know the character of Jesus, my heart started aligning more with what I know He’d want for my life. It didn’t mean I still didn’t want to do my own thing from time to time and still have that tug of war in my heart, but as my heart grew to know Him, it wanted what He wanted for me. Good things, life giving things, miraculous things. For the first time in my life I was learning about Jesus for myself, making my faith my own and when I personally dug into it, I really liked this Jesus guy, more so than I ever thought I could growing up.

That cage of Christianity I had felt before began to shift and change. Jesus wasn’t about all the ways he could confine me, Jesus was all about the ways He could set me free. I had complete freedom in Him, not captivity. This was so exciting to me, that I could have a relationship with Jesus and call myself a Christian and believe wholeheartedly in it. It wasn’t just a status on Facebook for me anymore (circa 2009 woot woot), it was real.

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