Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Going Home

“There is no past. Only present. And future.” -Theodicus

There’s a saying that you can never go home again, and I believe wholeheartedly in it. Not that you can’t go back to the physical place, but that you can’t go back to how you used to fit into that space. That’s important for a world of reasons, but the biggest one is that there is something to be said for nostalgia, once that distance has been forged, that connects us back to that time period, and to who we were at the time.

So many people have memories of their childhoods, be they good or bad, that they come back to in one way or another. For me that childhood was a solid mix of the good and the bad. But whichever sentiment clouds my memories, it’s safe to say that every single one of those thoughts involves my religious upbringing. In fact, just today I was singing “Jesus Loves Me” while at work, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I was on the second verse.

My mother used to always ask me to go to church with her every single time I went back to Philadelphia for a visit. I could hear it in her voice, too, that emotion that said I was doing a horrible thing saying no, but there was also that feeling of sadness. And I knew that she wasn’t just asking me to go to church. She was wondering where she went wrong, that I would so fully abandon the church that pretty much raised me nearly as much as she herself did.

But what I wanted to tell her was that it was never her, that she hadn’t done anything wrong. It was just that the process of me growing up led me to a different conclusion than she had reached. In fact, she and the church had taught me so well about freedom of choice, and of making your own decisions based on where your own soul leads, that I was able to make my own way. That way led me away from organized religion as a whole, and led me to an appreciation of the individual path to understanding. Which is okay.

“When I returned, the ghost of who I used to be said hello. And goodbye.”

I did go back, though, at least physically. One time my mother asked if I would go and I surprised even myself by saying yes. My wife and I took the little one (at the time), and it was all very surreal. In fact, many of the church members who I grew up with didn’t even recognize me it had been so long. So, it became an interesting journey indeed, as they peered at me from across the sanctuary, wondering who this man was who at once looked both familiar and obscure. And I saw them through my changed eyes as well, these people who helped me become who I am, but it wasn’t the same.

It shouldn’t be the same, either. Yes, I will always carry them and what they’ve done for me close to my heart, but we’ve all changed, moved on mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We can still inhabit the same physical space, but it won’t be the same. You never can go home again because home shift and changes, and we do as well. And it can be sad, but it can also be joyous. I choose to see it as joyous.


Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist Archive


4 thoughts on “Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Going Home

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  1. I relate to this very much. My friends keep asking me to go back to church. To sit in that pew again, in my childhood church, would feel so so weird. I may actually tackle religion in an upcoming post on my blog. It’s something I’ve avoided for a long time now, but I almost feel like I am ready… I think this must be part of why we relate to each other, though, Sam. An Adventist background isn’t something many strangers who meet on the Internet share.

    1. I truly believe you really can’t go “home” again, and it was honestly very odd going back there. I don’t think I’ll do it again, because I’m just too different now, and none of that is for me. I too feel like I’ve avoided the topic for a while, Jess, which I know is funny since I’ve written a whole series on it, for god’s sake, but I think you know what I mean. It’s one thing to write about how it made me feel, and quite another about how it makes me feel now. I completely agree about why we relate so well, too. It’s an odd starting point, to be sure, and yet we share it.

  2. Sam & Jessica, I am a former Seventh-Day Adventist who was led out and became a follower of Christ. I don’t know y’alls views on Christ after your experience in Adventism but never the less you may find this survey interesting. It was an independent survey conducted in November 2011 and surveyed over 200 former SDAs as to why they left Seventh-Day Adventism.

    My post is here (

    The actual survey is entitled “Former Adventist Survey Full Report & Summary: Beliefs, experiences, and opinions of adult individuals who are no longer members of the Seventh-day Adventist church” and is at the link entitled “why they left Seventh-Day Adventism” (

    It is 180 degrees opposite of the results of surveys conducted by the SDA Office of Statistics. So much so that SDAs own Spectrum Magazine asked the researcher to write an article about the results. (

  3. We definitely have to go back home. And yes it won’t be the same, but it will be better. It was better for the prodigal son. Things were better for Job when God restored his state. The new earth will truly be better. About development, that’s the whole point of growing up in the Lord. You won’t be the same faith wise five years from now… You will grow. We won’t be the same when we inhabit the new earth. We will be renewed. God’s will will be written in our hearts. It’s amazing.

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