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  • Kelli

Spiritually Good Enough?

No Baptists were harmed in the making of this photo.

The definition of spirituality is a tricky thing. So I've included the above picture in order to help you. Because, of course, this is the definition in picture form. Look how sweet and good I am! This is me in my Baptist school's cheerleading outfit. I went there for the last three years of my high school career and went along with the rules because... rules. So there I sit in the front lawn of a small town Baptist church: Long hair, long skirt, wool sweater. It was entertaining cheering on my small school's team to victory and defeat of the enemy!!!... But also providing snacks during half time so we could be kind to the opposing team's cheerleading squad. Competition - but, you know, nice competition. Mmmm... spiritual.

Honestly, most of the time being spiritual felt like claustrophobic wool itchiness and a slow drop of sweat down my back because it was just so {insert Baptist approved adjective here}{Just kidding, there aren't any} HOT.

(But not hot, hot. Just hot. Temperature wise. Heaven forbid.)

I also had the spiritual pedigree of having a grandpa who was a Christian author/speaker/pastor of a large church in the Chicago suburbs... and a dad who was a pastor... and a mom who wrote Christian novels for Christian teen girls. SO MANY SPIRITUAL EXAMPLES AHHH. Listen, I knew how to behave. I knew how and when and who and where I could be myself. And I knew what and why I had to be good at other times. I could stack chairs in a church basement as if it was my calling. I could sight read hymns at the perfect tempo for the church organist to keep up with me. I could eat a crumbly chocolate cookie so carefully that never once did I drop a speck on the old lady's white carpet while we visited her because she really wanted the pastor's family to come over. I played the piano and the flute, volunteered in church, accompanied the church choir, dated a nice, Christian boy, taught Bible clubs in the summer, and tried to be kind (sometimes) andwasverynicetonewpeopleitwasexhausting. Ooh! So Spiritual!!

Spirituality is tricky to define. You can look at the picture and decide I look "good" and happy and, like, totally filled with joy! You can decide based on that picture whether you think I was spiritual or not. Was I spiritual? Was I a Christian??

Spirituality is tricky to define. Because to define is to put into words what it is. To define is to become the judge of whether the definition fits or not. To define is to tell that 18 year old she either is or she's not. Most wouldn't. But some did. The principal pulled me aside and told me how disappointed he was in me for picking the Christian college I had chosen because it wasn't really "Christian." The teacher told me she'd pray for me because I had refused to "give up my evil rock music" and I had instead told her I rather actually liked my music. Ad nauseam.

This picture falls out of its album every once in a while and I always smile when I see it. The 18 year old in the picture is happy, sad, self-confident, self-doubting, good, bad, snarky, funny, in "love" with a boy she'd break up with six months later, sometimes rebellious, sometimes yelling lyrics she shouldn't know, sometimes singing hymns in church, sometimes dressed in an itchy, hot wool sweater that covered up everything.


What's your opinion? Can you judge someone's spirituality? Do wool sweaters make you itch? Would you have been my friend when we were 18?


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