A few weeks ago, one of the pastoral staff at my church said something that I’ve been thinking about ever since,
“What sets individuals that live out their faith publicly apart from others is that they have a concrete conviction that everything else in the world is a shadow compared to what Christ has to offer. Safety, security, comfort – these things sound like a joke when you have experienced the real deal.”
I wish I could say that I live my life marked with that kind of conviction. However despite the fact that my faith is a huge part of my identity living out my belief publicly has always been difficult.
“If you believe something why would you hide it? What are you afraid of”
I used to hide or downplay the fact that I was a Christian, I thought it made things easier, but closeting any part of your identity is not healthy. From my personal experience when someone finds out I’m Christian they become more closed off to me, expecting me to judge them or try to convert them. There are a lot of assumptions made about Christians and I understand why. For me now, my biggest concern is that once my friends know I am a Christian they will hold me to unrealistic expectations in how I carry myself and that as I mess up (because I’m human) I will make them even more closed off to exploring a faith.
A lot of my high school and college experience has been marked then by the concern of failing to be patient, gracious, loving, or kind in my interactions with others lest I behave in a way that might invalidate my belief in God. But if I claim to be a Christian with a relationship with God it’s not wrong to expect to see a difference in my life. But the difference is not me, but God.
Recently I haven’t been a picture of love or grace. I’ve done a poor job of caring for the relationships in my life. Snapping at a best friend, choosing my self over others, not really listening. I see the shadows of self importance and impatience all over, and that is why I need grace. I need a life changed by grace.
I’m not immune to the heavy in life: disappointment, loneliness, anxiety, depression… even though I know there is another way to do life I still find myself looking to numb myself with quick fixes for short term instant satisfaction, but even in these broken moments I am reminded that my ultimate hope is rooted in the peace I have found in a relationship with God. I don’t have to continue to repeat this cycle.
God help me continue to fight for my identity to be rooted in you. Make it truly my wholehearted desire to stop looking to other things to find my personal fulfillment, sense of belonging, and significance.
I don’t want to continue to be sucked back into the rat race. I have a relationship with you, you are not far away, you are bigger than “real life”. I am not a slave to my emotions, I can choose hope.
As sad as I am to leave Boston for this next season I’m grateful because I need to get back to the basics. To remind myself of all the ways you have provided for me, revisiting your great love and faithfulness, and wanting your promises to ring true in my life again.
I want to live a life marked by love and grace: how I show it to others and how knowing both changes me. My image, reputation, voice… they mean nothing if I do not love and show grace.