Having faith in God can be a tricky belief to navigate in today’s world. Christians are often labeled as hypocrites, judgmental, prudes, or uptight. When you tell people you are a Christian you are running the risk of getting all of those stereotypes thrown in your face. I’ve had people roll their eyes at me, quickly disengage from conversation with me, or avoid me altogether. This can be hurtful and frustrating and sometimes it makes me want to just give up and not talk about God with others. Talk about sports or puppies or jobs – mindless chatter. Play it safe. It would be easier. More comfortable. Probably more fun. Right?
Even if you find someone who is a fellow Christian, you are still running the risk of them being a different denomination and holding different views than you. For me, this is where it gets hard. This is where the rubber meets the road – when you have a fellow brother or sister in Christ that believes differently than you it can be tough to manage. This is where we can either choose to hold up to those stereotypes of hypocritical and judgmental – I could shun this person, call them stupid and ignorant, start a debate with them over doctrine – OR we can tear those stereotypes down. I can choose to love the other person, no matter what their beliefs are. I can choose to pray for that person and the struggles they are facing. I can choose to extend grace and friendship, just like Jesus did.
I have experienced many divisions and loss of friendships in my life thus far because of my faith. My husband and I have had knock-down, drag-out fights with others and we have had people who just walked out of our lives because of our beliefs. And to be frank – it freakin’ hurts. (I really want to say a different “F” word, but I’m trying really hard here!)
It hurts a lot.
It hurts so much that I just got up from crying on my living room floor because a very close friend has told us, she can no longer pray or study the Bible with us because we have differing opinions on some of our beliefs.
My first reaction was total and utter anger. At her. At the devil. At myself. I was so frustrated and angry that this was happening once again. Another person walking out of our lives because of what we believe. Another friendship gone. Another battle lost. Time and prayers and energy spent down the drain.
My second reaction was defeat. Why do I continue to push when it seems like more often than not, I get hurt in the process? Why do I continue to invest my time and energy into people’s lives for them to just walk away? Why do I speak out and share my love for God and Jesus when it loses me more friends than it gains? Why do I stick my neck out there for people to laugh at me, call me names, stereotype me, or refuse to get to know me because of my beliefs?
My third reaction was resolve. God gave me the courage, the firmness, the strength, the toughness to fight another day. Why do I keep doing what I’m doing? Why do I keep writing this blog and telling the world about God and my love for him? Because I can’t not do it.
When I was 24 and committed my life to Christ – I was all in. When I finally figured out who God was and what Jesus had done for me, I could not get enough. I was reading the Bible, listening to music, researching articles, asking questions, etc. I was sold! I had finally found the thing that made life make sense. I had finally found the love and acceptance I had been looking for. I looked in A LOT of wrong places before I found God, so when I finally did, there was no turning back for me. I wanted to be around other Christians, talk about God, learn more about the Bible. Other things seemed to lose importance. That mindless chatter seemed…well mindless to me. I know, I know, I probably sound ridiculous right now, but I kind of relate it to when new moms only want to talk about their babies. All they can talk about is breast-feeding (or not) and poop, and which brand of diapers they like better and poop, and how the baby smiled and poop. You get my point. So this was me except, I wanted to talk about God instead of poop!
Now, 5 years later, here I am, as committed as ever to this path that I’m on. God and I have been through some ups and downs, but we are still in it together. I have made a lot of big decisions based on my faith and continue to seek and search for God’s will in my life. You will not have to know me for long to know that God is in my life.
To know me and know my story is to know Jesus and how he has lifted me from a dark pit where I used to dwell.
To see me is to see the scars that I have, but to see how Jesus has healed them.
To hear how my husband and I met is to hear how God introduced us.
To understand the decisions that we make for our lives is to understand that our life is not based on the physical world, but the spiritual world.
There is a song called “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave that speaks to this effect.
“If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him”
So why do I continue to do what I do and get hurt over and over again? Because to live otherwise, would be to live a lie. My life without Jesus is not my life. My life without God is meaningless. So I will continue to soldier on. God tells us, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world” (1 Peter 4:12-14).
When we are going through things that are hard, that are painful, that are frustrating and that down right suck – we have to remember that God is right there beside us. We don’t have to fight these battles alone. We don’t have to suffer alone. We don’t have to hide our faith because we are afraid of rejection. “So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you” (1 Peter 4:19).
I don’t know about you, but even though it might not win me the “Popularity Contest” I will continue to share my faith and fight for God.