I knew I shouldn't have brought them to church.
I was already having a hard time fitting in, but then Dakota went over and mouthed off to the pastor! I mean, I loved him and all, but this was a little more than my temper could take.
I knew the church wasn't the best, but it was the only one that I'd been to yet. All the others were either too far away or had some wonky religious views - I'd been doing my research. And while this church was far from perfect, I figured it was better to attend a legalistic church than no church, right?
No, I wasn't right, and I knew it. The only thing I'd accomplished that day was making Dakota, Devyn, and Cole even more disapproving of religion than they'd been before. Somehow, I'd been hoping that today's service would get through to them, but now, I wished I'd never brought them in the first place. What must they think of God now?
Devyn was walking beside me. He reached over and awkwardly patted my shoulder. "I know you tried," he said, "but maybe you shouldn't bring anyone back here - not even yourself."
"Ya think?" I asked, rolling my eyes. "That turned out to be an epic failure!"
Sighing, Devyn shook his head. "I still don't see why you're into this stuff, Nadia. It's not like you. You're not like all these legalistic people. Christianity is a legalistic religion - why are you into it?"
"It's not Christianity," I replied quietly. "It's the people who are into Christianity for their own purposes that give God a bad name."
Devyn shrugged, and I could tell he didn't want to talk about it. But I did, so I kept going.
"I'm a Christian because I'm tired of bowing to the obstacles life keeps putting in my way. I can't handle all these troubles without God on my side. Besides, I know it sounds lame, but...I really believe God loves me."
"If God loves you, then why are you dealing with all these hard things?"
Panicking, I blanked out for a second. I hated asking myself that question, since even I didn't have a fully developed answer. "I believe," I finally said, "that it's because of humanity that this world is in the mess it's in - that my family is in the mess it's in. God gave humans a choice - Him or sin. We all are inclined to choose sin, so we made a disaster of this world. God didn't."
"But you didn't make a disaster of this world, Nadia! You're innocent and gentle! Why would He make you go through something like this?"
"I think," I said slowly, "that God doesn't save us from the pain because the pain is what teaches us to hang onto Him. If life was all a field of roses, we wouldn't have a need for God. We wouldn't come to Him." I shook my head. "I honestly don't know the entire answer to that, Devyn."
I could see my weak explanation wasn't enough for Devyn. He shook his head and walked ahead of me, leaving me to walk alone.
My eyes stung with tears.