• Zanna Johns

A surprising spiritual journey, part I

Some folks would be quick to tell you that I’m going straight to hell when I die.  Not because I killed someone, slept with a married man or broke any of the other commandments.

My great sin in their eyes? Skipping church. I haven’t been in years. In the South, that is a big, big deal.

I grew up attending a small Baptist church. Unless I was at death’s door, I was in church on Sunday morning. Missing wasn’t an option. The sermons weren’t thrilling, and I rarely listened to the pastor. When I did, I wasn’t impressed with his old-fashioned views.

Fast forward to college where I was an adult, and no one could make me go to church. I didn’t set a foot in one for four whole years. Luckily, my mom never brought up the subject, because that would’ve made for one very awkward conversation.

Then one day, I had an unexpected urge to go to church. I went regularly for six months or so. The sermons were a little more progressive than the ones I grew up hearing. Unlike the pastor in my home church, this man didn’t tell women that they had to be submissive to their husbands no matter how horrible they were.

While this preacher was an improvement from what I was used to, the services weren't stirring my soul—and I was pretty sure they were supposed to. The pastor whooped and hollered a lot as he delivered his sermons. But while he was excited, I sure wasn't. And so once again, I stopped going to church.

Years later, I walked into my living room one evening and the show I’d been watching had gone off, and a religious program was on. I immediately reached for the remote because everyone knows TV pastors are shady. I wasn't in the mood for any nonsense.

But before I could change the channel, I got caught up in the pastor's words. His sermon was different than what I was used to. He didn’t go on and on about what we can’t do. He didn’t make it sound like I had one foot in hell and the other on the banana peel.

This pastor talked about how Jesus died for us to have a good life, and then he started explaining how we get it. Now that was what I wanted to hear!

I started regularly watching that pastor and others with similar messages. Their words gave me hope for a good future, and things began to improve for me. Don’t get me wrong. My life didn't suddenly become all roses, but it was way better than it used to be.

But in spite of the new, uplifting messages I was getting from the pastors, I felt like I was missing a piece of the puzzle. And then late in 2018, I happened upon a YouTube video that led me down a slightly different path.

Since then, things have made a major turn for the better.


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