I mentioned yesterday that I was 12 or 13 years old when I first experienced the baptism of the holy Spirit. That initial recognition that God saw me and accepted me, that God loved me unconditionally — it lit a fire under me and I didn’t hesitate to put everything out there, it was all on the table.
Nothing was too extravagant or out there for me to try or do, because even back then, I was apparently extra before being extra was a thing. And the fact that I was a painfully shy teenager that was constantly told to speak louder during class presentations makes it all the more miraculous that God would use someone like me to bring other people to him.
I remember crying on the phone with my grandpa (Tatay) when I invited him to come to a Life in the Spirit Seminar and he said he couldn’t go because he couldn’t read. I kept telling him that it didn’t matter that he couldn’t read, that we would figure it out, and I don’t know if I ever said it out loud, but I just kept feeling overwhelmed by this desire for him to know how much God loved him.
I remember inviting my friends from school to youth group using tickets that I had painstakingly designed on Microsoft Publisher because I wanted them to think they were so cool that they would decide to come.
I remember loving SWV’s debut album when it first came out in 1992. “Weak” was playing on the radio all the time and I couldn’t get enough of their music. I’m pretty sure it was the first tape I bought with my own money. So when an adult from the church, whose opinion mattered to me and held in high regard, heard it and told me that I shouldn’t be listening to it because it wasn’t “godly” — I didn’t protest when she basically took it and threw it away in front of me.*
Clearly, I was devastated. While I don’t agree with her methods, or even the basic premise that we should only ever listen to religious music, as a middle-schooler, I chose to stop listening to secular music. For TWO YEARS. And remember? I LOVE MUSIC.
The funny thing is that the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church, specifically, was like 20 years behind when it came to contemporary Christian music. So while the rest of the world was enjoying the iconic music of the 1990s, I was listening to what sounded like Christian music from the 1970s like this. Specifically, on mixtapes whenever we were in the car.
Would I do things differently if I knew then what I know now? That we don’t have to separate ourselves from the world in order to be holy? I don’t know.
What I do know is that when I first met my husband, one of the first things that we connected on was our experience of growing up in church in very devout families. And while he grew up in a Protestant (Pentecostal/non-denominational Christian) household, so many of our experiences were similar because I was listening to the same music that he was and watching the same shows and movies that he grew up watching.
So that’s my story for today. God is good.
And if you’re looking for some sweet Christian jams from the 1990s, you should totally listen to this song. Someone literally says “Do it for Jesus” in the middle. So random, and I love it so much lol.
* Looking back on this particular memory is still really painful, and I wish I had paid attention to that feeling back then. If you are an adult in the church, please don’t do this. There are better ways to speak to young people about how to be mindful about what media to partake, without dismissing secular media out of hand. For what it’s worth, I listen to all kinds of music (secular/religious) without any qualms about whether or not it’s specifically about God. I truly believe it’s possible to find God in all things.