It’s interview day on Transparency Blog! I think you will really enjoy today’s post because it is GOODT with a t and all! I was able to connect with Aden on Instagram and from there, we scheduled a time for us to chat via Facetime or was it Google hangouts? Either way, it was through that conversation that I learned more about Aden’s story, how she grew up in a faithless home, and how she came to choose Christ for herself. I cannot wait for you to read her thoughtful words! Growing up in a Christian home myself, I enjoyed reading this different perspective and I know you will too. It really opened my eyes and I often found myself wanting to clap and snap throughout! Well without further ado, I introduce you to Aden!
1. Tell me about yourself – what you do, where you’re from, etc.
I call the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina home with my husband Jake, my four-year-old, Sadie Norah, and my 18-month-old, Wilder. We currently have our home on the market and are in the process of building our dream mini farmhouse on 15 acres. I found my passion encouraging other women to reach their wellness and fitness goals while offering community and a place of belonging while they are on their journey.
It has been such a blessing to be able to do that remotely (I am currently in Miami on a family vacay but still able to check in with my ladies). If we are not working or taking our kiddos on day trips, you will find us at Lowes hardware in the paint chip section, snuggled up in our home, doodling in my sketchbook, reading some personal development, or at TJ Maxx (shhh. Don’t tell Jake).
2. Tell me about your family growing up. You mentioned that your father was an atheist. What was that like?
My parents were married for the first 7 years of my life. We lived in New Market, New Hampshire which is a small town right on the Lamprey River. I don’t remember having any exposure to religion at all which shocks me because my mom is a very religious person. I had a wonderful childhood filled with running through open fields on our 7-acre riverfront property. We sailed in the summer and did our own lobster bakes on warm summer nights. In the fall and winter, we did all the seasonal activities that children live for. I felt whole and secure.
Then my parents separated and we all relocated to Miami, Florida and my world was different and especially hard to grasp for a 7-year-old. My mother started taking me to a Catholic church every Sunday where I earned my Baptism and First communion (“earned” is a strange word to use in relation to communion and baptism but I will touch base on this later). I would talk to my dad about what I was learning and I remember receiving eye rolls and giggles under his breath when I shared my religious teachings. One of the only times my dad has ever raised his voice to me was him yelling “Your mother is the worst Christian I have ever met.”
Now don’t get me wrong. My parents were going through so many things behind closed doors in relation to their divorce and their big move down the east coast. I didn’t understand all of that at the age of 7. But it was that moment I realized that my dad did not believe what I believed. His heart did not have the same awesome love just pouring out. He found himself “too smart” or “above needing” any god or any religion.
My parents had joint custody throughout the week so to live in two completely different households was one of the most confusing aspects of my childhood. I wish I could say that I stayed in the favor of the Lord and that I kept my eyes on Him but the truth is I didn’t. In high school, I found myself aligning my beliefs with my father and it wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I found my way back to Christ. And during those 4 years, I didn’t realize how that decision to turn my back on Him was changing my life – how it was changing me and my relationships.
My dad and stepmom taught us that sex before marriage was normal, experimenting with drugs were normal, drinking underage was normal, an attitude of defiance was normal, cursing was normal (I’m still working on this one). And when you are told these things are normal and you surround yourself with people who believe the same, all of a sudden this is your new reality. You lose sight of others walking in the faith and in your mind, they don’t exist. That feeling of loneliness is such an easy lie to believe from the enemy.
3. You also mentioned that you had a difficult time deciding your own faith. Tell me about that process, and why you decided on Christianity.
I would have considered myself an atheist for almost 4 years of my life. My mom changed from Catholic to evangelical Christian, my dad was/is an atheist, my stepmom was Jewish. I had exposure to quite a few beliefs. I never witnessed my stepmom read the Torah (not to say she didn’t) or go to temple. It was more of a divine right in my eyes – like you were born Jewish so you are Jewish no matter the practice.
We still had Buddhist things in the house – not quite sure why to be honest. My dad is a TM instructor. I was exposed to so many different faiths. I lived in a city with a diverse culture, which just added more to the melting pot. That melting pot I believe helped me learn to love everyone and not find fear in differences. It was normal to be in a classroom with different races and religions and be respectful and loving to everyone. But there were a few things that stayed true to my heart through all of these exposures.
1. I felt a true connection when we celebrated Jewish holidays due to my stepmother being Jewish. Singing prayer in Hebrew was one of the most magical experiences I have ever had. I felt connected to my heritage as a Christian through my respect for Judaism. We are branches of the same Olive tree, no? And absolutely, I believe that eternal life is found in Christ alone but I found myself praying to the same God and a deep respect for my ancestors’ heritage in Judaism.
2. Catholosim taught me the basic stories of the Bible and the love of Christ, but I could not find a relationship with Christ beyond the church. I spoke about this earlier – the “earning of communion.” As a Catholic, I had to attend so many Sunday School teachings to “earn” favor. This resonated with me in a negative way. Idols and the idea that a Priest had a more direct “phone line” if you will, to God. Saints and Priests were above the general public.
All of these teachings went against what I was reading in the Bible and to be honest it confused me more than any other religious experience I had. THROUGH CHRIST ALONE above anything else this is the one truth. This is the faith. I cannot earn anything. I will never EARN favor. I am a sinner and no amount of good deeds will ever change that. JESUS earned it all and my forgiveness is found in Him. We can pray and ask for forgiveness directly through Christ and we do not need a mediator of a priest to accomplish that.
3. I could never deny the Holy Spirit. If I set foot in a church and listened to His word, I would break down in tears. It didn’t matter how convinced I was that there was no God. If I heard the teachings or sang a hymn, the moment the truth touched my ears or left my lips, my voice would crack and tears would stream down my face. I believe that is why Judaism speaks to my heart – through those prayers I was speaking to the one true God.
4. Was there a defining moment where it all changed for you or helped you overcome your doubt?
The moment I confessed my sins and turned to the Lord to change my life, I felt the Holy Spirit enter my heart and my eyes could see the truth. Over time, my faith has grown stronger. I turned to Him when I had nothing else and it strengthened our relationship. I turned to him when my husband was sick in college and when my son was airlifted after being unresponsive for 30 minutes. It’s those life-changing moments along with the mundane that has strengthened my faith.
Have you ever stopped in your tracks because the day is so beautiful or because you feel Him whispering to you? It’s incredible to just pause, close my eyes, and thank Him for the simple moments. To spend some time with Him in praise.
People expect some sign or life-changing event, but it doesn’t always happen that way. You only need faith the size of a mustard seed. Then it will grow the more you lean on Him. Don’t be afraid to start even if you only have a mustard seed amount.
5. What advice do you have for someone who may be struggling with their own faith? Why do you think so many people struggle with this area in their life?
There are so many religions out there. It can get overwhelming. It can honestly get confusing to think of all the other gods mentioned by different people that claim their truth. As a society, we have become so fixated on being politically correct to every other faith, but why does it get under everyone’s skin to mention Christ? To keep prayer and Christ in public schools and in the workplace? Why are we not offended to allow other faiths into our society and it is becoming the norm to reject Christianity in our communities?
It doesn’t bother people to see Buddhist and Hindu relics in TJ Maxx but my daughter won’t be allowed to say “in God, we trust” when she goes to public school? Why do atheists have this callused heart for Christ specifically? In my heart, I believe it is because no one feels threatened by the mention of the other religions because they don’t find truth in them. They don’t feel any pull on their hearts to the fictional religions.
But Christianity – it pulls on them. It speaks against everything an atheist or agnostic believes and it is worth their breath to dispute and reject because if they don’t, it will consume them. The Holy Spirit speaks the truth – even if it is an unpopular truth. That threatens people and the enemy more than any other faith – because this is the one TRUE faith. That is why we have the most opposition today. Truth speaks – even to unbelievers.Truth speaks - even to unbelievers. Click To Tweet
We live in a society that is driven by knowledge in what we can see, in tangible things. My husband was a volunteer first responder. He has seen medical miracles. I have witnessed miracles in my family’s health. We see someone walk away from a car accident that they should have died and we think it is a miracle. But why can’t we give credit to the Miracle Worker? Why can’t we as humans believe in the intangible? We watch shows that have people claim they should be dead, but are alive. We are driven to look for these things – to search for answers and for something to fill this void. Believe in where it comes from. It is not luck – it is Christ. Modern day miracles happen all the time.
Our culture chases money and awards and drugs and sex all searching for what is missing. And they run after it and never find it. Remember that. They NEVER find it. That’s why the TV shows put more and more sex in them, the drugs get more dangerous and intense, the awards become more extravagant. Because no matter how hard we chase these things, they will NEVER be what we are looking for. We make more and more money but it is never enough. We get to where we thought we would find happiness never to find joy.
In Christ alone – He is the way, the wholeness you are searching for. He alone can fill that void and bring you joy forever and ever. I can find joy in the valleys of my life and on the highest mountains. I can find peace on my hardest days because I rest in Him and so can you, friend.
6. What advice do you have for people who may have families members that are different religions?
LOVE LOVE LOVE. Do not judge or lecture. We teach by our own actions. It’s incredible to love those different than us. Did Jesus ever point a finger at all us sinners? Did He ever tell people God does not love them? No. Instead, he held out His hand and loved us all. He leads the way by living His life for God.
I never believe that I am better than a nonbeliever. I do not judge homosexuality and believe those people should not be welcomed in church. My sins are no worse. I am welcomed in church wearing all my sins of shame. Women who have had abortions, people who have been divorced – God loves them just as much as anyone else and those “Christians” who don’t believe they belong with Him are acting out of their personal entitlement issues and are not acting out of any biblical basis.
Yes, I believe in speaking the truth but doing so in love and understanding without pointing fingers is the way to accomplish it. Remember that the first will be last and the last will be wearing crowns. I have heard of churches that don’t allow divorcees to be deacons or hold any leadership in their churches because they are viewed as less. Excuse me, but let’s just take a moment to realize that in God’s eyes we are born again. If we repent, we are clean.
And any church that preaches a hierarchy within them based on sins committed should be ashamed of their own societal totem pole they have created. IN CHRIST ALONE. We preach love and forgiveness because none of us are worthy but we are ALL new. There is a fine line between speaking the truth out of love vs. judgment. I am clear with what I believe is wrong according to biblical truth and I stand up for these truths, but I still love those who do not follow the commandments. I will share the truth without shame but it is not my job to judge. It is my job to love.I will share the truth without shame but it is not my job to judge. It is my job to love. Click To Tweet
That is the main problem. When did Christians stop being viewed as loving people? When certain churches preached shame and rejection and superiority. Christ NEVER stood for those things. Keep praying for nonbelievers. Pray for miracles in their hearts and KEEP LOVING THEM. My father never calls me. He mocks my lifestyle and my Christian beliefs. But I will never stop loving him. I will never stop praying for him. I make the phone calls and keep in touch never expecting love in return, but knowing that one day, he will die and I will know with my whole heart that he knew I loved him. You might be the only witness a nonbeliever has of God’s love personified and in the flesh. Are you showing them His love?You might be the only witness a nonbeliever has of God's love personified and in the flesh. Are you showing them His love? Click To Tweet
7. How can my readers stay connected with you?
You can find me on Instagram as @theearpnest. I find fulfillment in walking side-by-side with my husband and leading our children in the ways of the Lord. I also find joy in leading other women and empowering them to live healthy fulfilling lives. It takes a village, and I love providing that village for those on a journey of wellness and faith.
How are you feeling after all of that?! If you’re anything like me, you feel convicted and inspired! It made me cherish my relationship with God so much more, and pray for the people in my life who I want to know Christ. Like Aden said, I want to personify God’s love in the flesh. Do you have friends or family in your life who don’t know God? Tell me in the comments how you love them even though they have a different belief!
Hanha is the founder behind Transparency Blog, and she is super passionate about encouraging women to find their identity and belonging in Christ! A few fun facts? She’s addicted to Grey’s Anatomy, has a special place in her heart for Chick-fila-A, and podcasts are her present obsession. In her spare time, she daydreams about places she can travel and loves connecting with friends on Instagram. Come say hi!