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My Southern-Fried Faith

In the south, we fry anything and everything. If it walks, runs, jumps, swims, or flies we will roll it in flour or cornmeal and drop it in a skillet or Fry Daddy. In addition to the commonly known fare, I’ve also eaten fried alligator, squirrel, dove, rabbit, and crawfish.

Side note for context: I was born and raised in northern Louisiana. And yes, watching Duck Dynasty is like attending a family reunion.

FaithIn many places in the south, “fry” is the default method of cooking. Unless otherwise requested, your meat or vegetable and sometimes even your bread and dessert get baptized in boiling oil. It’s simply assumed. After all, everything is better when it’s fried.

When I was growing up, I internalized the “fry principle” and a host of other southern assumptions. For instance, tea is always iced, right hands go over hearts when a flag passes by, pick-up trucks are perfectly acceptable prom night transportation, and good people go to church.

From infancy my parents faithfully took me to Sunday School, worship service, Vacation Bible School, and Wednesday night prayer meeting. I memorized Bible verses, earned high attendance pins, and wore wire hanger angel wings covered with gold garland in the Christmas pageant.

Church service and attendance wove through the fabric of our family. The question of whether or not we would go on any given Sunday was never raised because we were a “church family.” This faithful commitment to church hindered my faith.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. The family my husband and I raised could be described as a “church family.” And I would not want it any other way. But while both might look the same on the surface, a drastic difference exists between my childhood church attendance and my adult faith.

Inside-Out Christianity

During the first half of my life, I attended church because I was what a “good Christian girl.” To me, Christianity meant saying the right things and doing what everyone expected. And that’s exactly what I did. In fact, my brother sarcastically dubbed me “Sister Mary Kathryn.” And although Mary Kathryn is indeed my given name, I’m sure my parents never meant it to be used as a synonym for Miss Goody Two-shoes.

Although I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was eight, I experienced little to no spiritual growth. The rich relationship I wanted with Christ eluded me. Something vital was missing. Connected to church, I still felt disconnected from God. I had no real sense of God’s presence. I could see the kind of passionate, dynamic faith I longed to have in other’s lives.

But despite many weak attempts to pump up my own faith, it remained dry and flat. Even though I had been taught differently, I had internalized that faith was what you do. I missed the part about it being all about Who you know.

Relationship of Faith Over Religion

“Doing” is a human’s default setting. We like to make lists and check off the items, proving to ourselves that we have accomplished something. We can perform the outward motions of faith without actively pursuing the object of our faith.

Religion cannot satisfy. Unless our works of faith flow naturally out of a vital relationship with our Maker it is merely religious ritual. We were created for relationship, not outward trappings of religion. Faith that does not produce these kinds of works is dead and useless (James 1:20). But religious works performed from a sense of duty or habit only sap our spiritual strength, leaving our faith dry, weak, and flat.

Setting Assumptions Aside

 Over the years, I’ve learned that some southern assumptions of my childhood were accurate and some needed a bit of adjustment. For instance, while a few things are indeed glorious fried, the flavor of most food is best appreciated when it is grilled, sautéed, or baked, and a mug of hot herbal tea soothes a sore throat on a cold day. But, I still cover my heart in respect for the flag and my son took his date to the prom in his pick-up.

Although the Bible Belt culture of my north Louisiana childhood is less influential today, religiosity can still hinder true relationship with Jesus. I had to set religion aside and embrace relationship with the One who died to save me. Religion alone is as dry as yesterday’s toast. But relationship with the living Savior is exciting, satisfying, and yes, passionate.

Have you ever struggled to move past religion into a real relationship with Jesus? If so, how did that go??

This post is an excerpt from Kathy’s book “Fed Up with Flat Faith: 10 Attitudes and Actions to Pump Up Your Faith.”


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4 Responses to My Southern-Fried Faith

  1. Wendy Fuchs-Cey July 26, 2016 at 9:05 am #

    Thank you Kathy, I miss having you in my chair. Your insite into life is so true. I’m glad you have this blog. Having you, Gina, Susan, Lisa and your families as my clients really showed and directed me back to wanting a fulfilling life and relationship with Christ.. Thank you ladies. Many Blessings. And it is so true, people think because they go to church every Sunday they are so Holy and good Christians. They miss the point of being Christ like, loving and forgiving.

    • Kathy July 26, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

      I miss you too Wendy! I pray God will allow our paths to cross again soon!

  2. Dee Ann July 26, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    You described my up bringing exactly. While I was raised in Iowa, not in the South, I too grew up in a church family attending services on Sunday morning and night and Wednesday evenings. I went to church camp in the summer and helped with a church youth group while in college. I accepted Christ as my Savior at 12 years of age and did all the right things as a Christian girl. But my faith did not become real action-oriented and service-oriented, with a very personal relationship with Jesus until much later in my life (I am approaching 60 very quickly). But it occurred to me that the years I didn’t walk as closely with Jesus weren’t wasted. I never lost my belief and having been sealed by the Holy Spirit, He was still there guiding my life and protecting me and leading me. And the Christian foundation my parents gave me has served me well. All the Bible stories and verses came back to me after leaving Him on the back-burner of my life for too many years. He is now front and
    center in my life and this is my testimony…He will be there waiting for us no matter how long it takes.

    • Kathy July 26, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

      Thank you for sharing that with us Dee Ann. Praise God! He never lets us go!

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