So in order to understand where I am, I think I need to explain where I’ve been. This post is basically intended to tell my life’s story as it relates to faith. Some of the elements of this story will come out again in future posts as I think some events shaped me more than other – as it is with everyone. It might be a bit dry if you already know me. Good luck!
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For the most part, I was raised in a Christian household though we weren’t always a family that attended church. Both of my parents have Christian stories from before they had me in their life. It was between the years of about 1980 and 1989 that my parents sort of re-ignited their faith and became very active in our church, Holy Trinity. They were so involved actually that my dad went nuts and took us off to seminary in Saskatoon in order to become a priest. 🙂 My own faith journey began a little before seminary came along. For me my decision to believe in God was strongly connected to seeing my parents believe in God. I “officially” (I guess) made my decision to be Christian one year at bible camp as so many others do too. There really wasn’t much to it. I just decided and said a prayer with a councilor. I can’t even remember which year it was, not that it’s really relevant here. I was maybe 11 years old.
Our time in Saskatoon while my dad was in seminary was some of the best years of my whole life. I was in a great youth group with people I just loved (and still do actually). Regardless of what I’m believing on any given day, I know there was something real and special about that time of my life. During my time in Saskatoon, my best friends were all believers. This basically made it cool to be “in” to God. My faith grew as did my belief. But Saskatoon was not to be a long term thing for us. This time came eventually when my Dad had graduated and it was time to go. Leaving Saskatoon was one of the most socially traumatic events of my life. It was really hard leaving friends I felt so close too. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say I was devastated.
I was 15 when we moved to Airdrie, Alberta so my dad could start working in his first church, St. Francis of Assisi Anglican Church. In Airdrie I finished my last three years of high school. During this time I slowly began getting involved in different church youth-related things. I was actually more connected to youth gatherings in Calgary as there wasn’t much of a youth group at our church at the time. By 16 I was spending a lot of time being active in youth groups and church organizations.
I also joined my first band at this time. I was the lead guitarist for a band called Young Pride. It was not a Christian band at all, so it doesn’t mark anything important along the faith road I don’t think, but it does mark the beginning of bands for me. Music is a lead character in this whole faith story for me. I have a post or two planned for the future that will reveal more.
Eventually I started playing a lot in Christian bands through the youth groups I was in. Taberah, Soul Purpose, and 4 Quart Kettle were the main ones. I was also in many other youth bands though, one of which was named “Leftover Tomatoes with a Bit of Mayo”. It was a training ground for me in many ways. I learned to play in a band and to do sound. I even got pretty good at some of it.
The Christian music all accumulated into me taking a job as the music director for Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Calgary. This was neat for me because Holy Trinity was the church we left when we headed to Saskatoon, so it was a familiar place for me. It was a natural place to settle down. I ran a studio out of the church that made almost no money at all. I was impossibly bad a balancing the running of a ministry and the running of a business. I think the studio ran at a loss the entire time I was working there.
During my time at Holy Trinity I also released two CD’s; a solo album, Forward Motion; and a Holy Trinity Band Christmas CD called Christmas Presence (we were very clever at naming CDs). Christmas Presence won a Covenant Award for Seasonal Album of the Year through the Gospel Music Association of Canada. It was a really fun experience to win a national award like that. I even got to receive the award at an awards ceremony and give an acceptance speech. I’m happy about having had that experience.
I did this job at Holy Trinity for maybe 4 years before it was time to leave. I was very burnt out. When you serve a group of people in a church you really need to find a place within yourself to love those people. I was starting to become frustrated and bitter. It was time to leave from that perspective. My first son was on the way as well and we decided it was time for a lifestyle shift. I needed to be the main bread winner and so that kind of pushed us over the line.
After stopping my job at Holy Trinity, I still helped with music a little, but it didn’t really feel very good. It was a hard transition for me. It was hard because I was frustrated that I felt so frustrated. (It’s kind of complicated. I will write another blog about this another time… )
Another important note: In 2003, during my time attending and working at Holy Trinity I was married to my wife, Kristy. Kristy and I have always attended church together though we have never been all that active as a couple in our faith. All of our attempts to start a prayer habit together or whatever eventually fizzled out. As such I can’t say I feel much connection between my faith and my marriage. I’m probably doing both of these things wrong though, so there’s that. 🙂
Soon after quitting work at Holy Trinity we decided to move our family to Okotoks. We liked the idea of getting out of the city. It’s a decision I don’t regret, though we miss being close to some great people we now don’t see nearly enough.
In Okotoks we knew some friends who attended a little church called The Sheep. In fact I had played as a guest worship leader for them a few times leading up to our moving. When we first moved, we looked around a little for different churches but in the end The Sheep seemed like a fit. I wanted to go somewhere where I wouldn’t immediately be pressured into doing music. I had a reputation for doing church music that I think was pretty positive in that I was, lets say, desirable. At least, that’s how it seemed. The Sheep was good because though they knew I played, they didn’t press me and I could kind of just…be…for a while, which is what I needed. We have been attending The Sheep ever since moving to Okotoks.
I spent the first year or two at The Sheep just…being… Once in a while I would play for the service and help out here and there. I was cautious. It was during these post Holy Trinity years that I started wondering if playing in church was ever going to feel good again. Eventually I decided that I’d try trying. I’ve always believed that sometimes you need to kind of just practice a thing before it becomes real for you. So I signed up and played on Sundays again. Mainly I felt like a fraud. Mainly I recognized that it just felt good to play again. It wasn’t about service to God. It was a little about serving the other musicians by being another helper in the effort.
After a while I noticed my tank was empty again and I needed to stop. Stopping is hard though because you don’t want to let people down. So it took my crisis event in January of 2013 to tip the scales and have me finally step away again. My next post will cover this event as describing it is kind of a journey all on it’s own.