10 Things I Wish I Knew Growing Up

10 Things I Wish I Knew Growing Up July 21, 2021

I was taught a lot of rubbish growing up. Not that I blame my mom and stepdad for how they raised me. I don’t. They probably did the best they could with the resources available to them. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that my churches taught me a lot of garbage – steamy, rotten, sitting-out-in-the-sun-for-too-long garbage.

Now, I don’t have any regrets for how my life has turned out, but there are some things I wish I had known sooner. Here’s 10 of them.

I. It’s okay to not be straight

As I’ve been discussing recently, I’m bi. I haven’t always admitted this to myself and others, but it’s who I’ve always been. This was a problem growing up in a culture that teaches God only makes straight people, and that any deviation is due to our “fallen nature.”

II. The rapture isn’t real

The rapture is a doctrine that was invented in 1830. I never knew that. I just assumed it’s something Christians had always believed. But that’s false, and now that I know that, I feel as if believing in the rapture is akin to believing in a flat earth.

III. Hell isn’t eternal

People don’t go to hell for all eternity. At least, I don’t believe they do. As a child, I did believe this. I was forced to. There wasn’t any other option. This terrified me because my grandfather wasn’t a “born again believer.” So, it was always assumed he wouldn’t make it. This caused me to have horrific nightmares that plagued much of my youth. Naturally, I don’t have those nightmares or phobias any longer.

IV. The Bible isn’t the Word of God

The Bible is important in many ways, but it’s not the “Word/word of God.” Men wrote it. Men edited it. And typically, men interpret it. And what acknowledging this has led me to realize is that it’s full of blemishes. But that’s okay, so long as we recognize it for what it is: A book about the Word of God, among other things.

V. Depression isn’t a sin

I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life. No matter how much I prayed, or read my Bible, I still had mental health issues. I wish I would have known that this doesn’t mean something is wrong with me, or that I’ve been sinful in some way. Mental health is botched in many Christian circles, and I wish I knew that most (not all, but most) good services are found outside the faith.

VI. Demons aren’t “real”

Demons may be real, but they aren’t ontological beings. At least, I don’t think they are. Sure, we can use the word “demon” as an analogy for something, but I don’t see any evidence that they exist in the same way humans do. That is, there aren’t little monsters lurking in every shadow and behind every corner. I wish I knew this because, like hell, believing in them haunted both my waking hours and my sleeping ones.

VII. Jesus isn’t coming back in my lifetime

I don’t know if Jesus is coming back. I know Christians are supposed to believe this, but I just can’t any longer. I just have to assume Jesus ain’t coming to fix anything, and that it’s my job to do my part to make this world a better place for current and future generations. Too often, Christians leave it up to Jesus and end up doing nothing in the process.

VIII. Evolution is real and the earth is really, really old

When I was super young, I believed the earth was 10,000 or so years old and that evolutionary biology was bunk. This is nonsense, and I wish I didn’t waste my time with young earth creationism. Thankfully, this belief went away fairly early on.

IX. Sex before marriage doesn’t taint you

My wife and I didn’t have sex before marriage. Not that I look back and necessarily wish we had; I just wish we hadn’t waited for the reasons we did. If we had had sex, we wouldn’t have become tainted in the eyes of God. We wouldn’t have “lost” anything, though sex may have complicated matters. But that’s okay. Our fixation on sex in the Evangelical world is not helpful.

X. God is not violent

The Bible is full of violent depictions of God. But because the Bible is also not the inerrant and/or infallible Word of God, it doesn’t mean it’s 100% theologically correct 100% of the time. Such is the case when we approach the so-called violence of God. I wish I had known this earlier. I wish I had known the reasons why we often project violence onto God (or the gods, if you will). But better late than never, I suppose.

I’m sure there are other things I wish I had known earlier, but a list of 10 seems good enough for now. If you have any ideas you wish you had known growing up, let me know in the comments below. Just be kind. Thanks.

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About Matthew Distefano
Matthew is a best-selling author, blogger, podcaster, long-time social worker, and hip-hop artist. He is an outspoken advocate for nonviolence, happily married, with one daughter. Outside of writing, his interests include gardening, hiking, and European football. He lives in Northern California You can read more about the author here.
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