Flirting with Faith

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Joan Ball
and I’m the newest blogger on the Christianity channel at Beliefnet. As I sit
here on my living room couch considering the best way to kick off this new
adventure, a single question is running in a repetitive loop in my head,
haunting me to distraction. 

“Who do you think you are?”

“Who do you think you are?”

“Who do you think you are?”

It is a sensible question, really. In many ways, I
don’t have what many people would consider to be the “right” credentials to
take this on. I grew up in a secular home and, after some half-hearted seeking
in college, landed as a militantly anti-Christian atheist throughout my 20s.
 I converted from atheism to belief in a “power greater than
myself” in addiction recovery in my 30s, but still remained highly
skeptical of organized Christianity and most Christians until I had a rather
dramatic conversion experience in 2003.

Two days before my 37th birthday, without asking,
praying, seeking or even needing a come-to-Jesus moment, I went from thinking
that the whole Christian thing was a contrivance to becoming a sold out,
throw-down-your-nets-and-follow Christian. Without an altar call or the threat
of hellfire and brimstone, I had an encounter that I cannot explain that resulted
in a faith I cannot deny.

What followed has been five years of learning and
changing that has called into question everything I ever thought I knew about
Christianity.  I wish I could say that this change of faith has lived up
to the “join our team and your life will be wonderful” mantra I heard
so frequently as an outsider looking in, but no such luck. In fact, the years
since that day in 2003 have been some of the most difficult I have ever lived. I’ve
been stripped of money, possessions and prestige as I’ve followed the leading
of the Holy Spirit in an uncertain direction.
  And I am so glad I did.

Going beyond predictable platitudes and allowing
this change of heart to lead to a genuine change of life, I’ve found that many
of the things I once thought were important were actually false comforts. I’ve
found in this faith a new definition of what it means to be rich.

So, without a PhD in Theology or big answers to the
big questions that surround my faith and the church, I come to Beliefnet to
share my journey.

“Who do I think I am?”

I am an ordinary woman who had an encounter with an
extraordinary God that continues transform me from the inside out. As a result,
I find myself in places I never expected to be with a life that is countercultural and radical – more than it ever was when I sought to live a life that
was countercultural and radical. A mysterious and exciting life that I never
imagined I would find as a follower of Jesus.

That is why I am excited about writing for
Beliefnet. I hope Flirting with Faith will be a safe place for us to share our
stories and to learn from one another.

How about you? I’d love to hear who you think you are… 

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