ON FAITH {A Super Honest Post}

I have, for some years now, been circumspect of church and Christianity while simultaneously fostering a deep love and longing for a relationship with God.

Christians, as a generalization, embarrass me.

I don’t want to be the person that is ashamed to be a follower of Jesus, but I am. NOT because of Jesus, but because of other christians and the modern day christian status-quo. When people ask me if I am Republican or Democrat (of which I am neither) I know that to claim Republican is to claim Christianity, which increasingly these days is akin to bigotry and prejudice. So I have learned how to NOT be a Christian when everything that I truly believe in is based on the teachings of Jesus.

I didn’t truly know what faith was until this past six months.

I am not “strong” or “amazing” as I have heard so very often lately. When I hear these things I have mixed feelings: part shame and silliness to get credit for something I deserve NO credit for and part joy at witnessing the inadvertent communication of my faith to others. Then I feel shame again because I realize I have not taken every opportunity to direct people to the source of that resilience. Why? For fear they won’t understand, or for fear they will find it silly or insincere and/or preachy as I might have only a few years ago.

My resilience and my positivity all come strictly from the profound belief that I am not in control of my life, and the one who IS in control of my life has a far better handle than I do – and a plan, for that matter.

Faith isn’t religious, it’s profound hope that is born within, sprung from a deep well of love and trust in God’s providence. Not his rescue or his voice answering back with solutions to all problems, but trust in His great, unknowable plans – that even if they don’t mean a comfortable struggle-free life for you, that they mean for a larger spiritual connection between all moving pieces. He is laying smooth all paths to him.

Man thinks that his will and God’s will are mutually exclusive – that there can only be one or the other. We cannot have both Free will and God still actively work in all things. I disagree with this notion and think it more likely that we simply can’t understand the complexity of how the two might be one and the same.

What I think might be my will or what I want, may be my conscious in conflict with my very own subconscious.

I am limited to my own scope of things, bound to my small world view within my own time. Whereas God sees all things interconnected perfectly across the vast expanse of time and cannot see one situation without seeing all situations simultaneously. For him to touch one situation is a ripple among all situations. He can intercede and does intercede but mostly his vast omnipotence has already woven a fabric long before I was born and long after I’m gone of exactly how things should be. He doesn’t choose for us but he sees our choices before we make them. For what has been is yet to be and what will be has already been.

He crafts us before birth with a certain spirit and certain gifts – in order that we may fulfill a perfect role within this universe. But although He can supply us with these gifts, He can not make us use them or enjoy them. And whatever we do end up using to our own ends, still plays a role in the fabric of all things.

So again, my resilience and my “strength” comes from my faith…and my faith comes from my belief that God IS working in my life and HAS a plan for me. And that faith started with an intentional mindset and continues with an intentional mindset

I don’t want to hide the fact that I am a follower of Jesus just because others (christians and non- christians alike) have preconceived notions of what that should mean and look like. And I realize that if I want people to see what I believe a Christian truly is, I need to be more open about it. When people ask me why I am so happy despite the last six months of struggle…or when they say “you are so strong”…I should be accrediting that strength to God, but instead I just say “thank you”. Here I have an opportunity to show people that a relationship with God provides REAL hope, not hypothetical hope …and REAL strength and resilience and adaptability and positivity in difficult situations. That it isn’t just words believers use, that it is foundational and comes from a core belief in the unfailing love and providence of God’s plan for each of us.

To me, being a follower of Jesus doesn’t mean perfection. It doesn’t mean categorizing people based on their lifestyles and/or based on their decisions, good or bad. It doesn’t mean a life following rules, or a life of guilt. It doesn’t mean a life trying to measure up to an impossible or hypocritical standard. It doesn’t mean a life of total denial of anything that brings pleasure. And it certainly doesn’t mean pointing out the faults in everyone else’s lifestyles.

It means grace and ultimately hope, to oversimplify it.

Ultimately people can (and will) think whatever they want to about me (and you): they can say I’m not truly a Christian because I don’t follow all the rules and I don’t always sound or look the way a Christian should sound – or, conversely they can say that because I’m a Christian, that I’m innately a bigot.

Neither would be true.

They can say that because I don’t go to church, or their church even in some cases…that I am not a Christian.
They can say that because I swear or say harsh things to people, or because I gossip that I am not a Christian.
They can say that because someone else is a liar or an adulterer or a homosexual that they too aren’t Christian, or “saved”.

But men are not perfect. And if {we} can still love our family members despite adultery or alcoholism or drug abuse or any number of circumstances that families still love each other through – why wouldn’t God still love us through these things, He, being the very essence of love?

No one has walked in any shoes except their own. Each of us has – as a result of a completely unique combination of circumstances and experiences – a relationship with God that no one else will ever completely understand. That is the amazing gift Jesus provided – our ability to have that personal and intimate relationship with God.

I believe God is in each of us, a part of us. He experiences our lives with us. Among other states of being, He is our conscious and our Spirit. He is our life force.

You can’t make people think one way or another about you. All you can do is live your life as YOU (the best version of you that you can muster up) and let the path you take be reflective of who you are (which goes without saying since whatever path you take becomes who you are).

Love God. Love your neighbor. Those are the only commandments that Christians have after Jesus came – everything else, every action, every “rule” or tradition or expectation is scrutinized only against those standards in the end.

Let the way I treat people be my judge and jury to other men, and leave the rest up to God to judge. Don’t men love to judge other men based upon the cumulative mistakes they have made? Instead, let a man be a new man with every new decision he makes. We are ever evolving. We have a chance in every moment to be exactly who we want to be and say exactly what we believe, even if it contradict our words or actions from yesterday.

“Speak what you think today in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be who you want to be…who you believe you are meant to be. And don’t let the fear of others holding you to an impossible or erroneous standard prevent you from sharing your light with the world. Don’t be afraid to speak your convictions for fear of being called a hypocrite. We are ALL hypocrites, and…We ALL have something to say or to show to the world.

“Teach me how to speak
Teach me how to share
Teach me where to go
Tell me will love be there
Oh, heaven let your light shine down”
– Collective Soul “Let Your Light Shine Down”

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
– Matthew 5:14-16