3.18.2007

I read an article a few days ago in Relevant Magazine that sparked something inside of me to ask myself if those around me can tell I am a Christian. I guess there are three ways for people to know of ones faith; by verbally expressing what one believes, by the things one doesn’t do, and by the things one does do. I think it would be most fulfilling for a Christian to hear that they are most recognized by the things they do do (yeah, I said do-do). But what are these things that a Christian does that causes someone around them to notice something different about them, something spiritual, something that leads to God.
This guided me into thinking, if when I die I head up to heaven only to see my good friends in hell, I would hate to know that I didn’t do more for them. It’s a nerve-racking experience for someone to share what they believe with non-Christians because of the mind-boggling questions that might arise, or the rejection that could come with the conversations. I’ve never really had to think about this because most of my close friends up until this year have been Christians. But while working this past year in a place surrounded by people who don’t believe the same as me, I have been provided with many opportunities and conversations with these people… my friends. I’ve developed good friendships with them. And I don’t want the above scenario to happen with them. I don’t want to look from heaven and see them in hell and wonder if I could’ve said something more to them.
So I had this conversation with one of them. I explained how I was leaving soon, and as a Christian I know I am called to share my faith so that others may have the opportunity to know God, and that it would kill me to leave this workplace and know that I never got to fully explain my faith to them. I was then confronted with that very question, ‘well, why do you believe what you believe then?’
This led into a lengthy conversation. It wasn’t an argument or debate, it was a discussion. But to tell you the truth, I was finding it hard to not answer with a Sunday school answer. I wanted to have a better answer then just ‘I was raised this way’ or ‘look around you, look at all of this creation, how could I not believe there is something more out there.’ I didn’t want to give these answers. First, because I wanted to have personal reasons that I really felt. Second, as I thought these answers in my head, I listened to myself speak and thought… ‘what kind of answers are those?’ Do I really look outside at creation and believe that there is a God? Why? Why do I really believe what I believe? Because there’s got to be some bigger reason for life? Because it’s an easy way to get to heaven? Why? Do I seek for closure in my faith when nothing makes sense and everything is confusing? When I pray, is there really a God that hears me or am I talking into the air? Is it all a big hoax? Is there physical proof that everything in the bible is real? Was the bible written by a bunch of guys with theories like Dan Brown and The Davinci Code? Do my answers even make sense to me?

Why do you believe what you believe? And don’t just give yourself the Sunday school answers. Really think about it. If you are a Christian or not, what reason for life is there for you? What do you think will happen after death?

I don’t doubt God. But my thoughts are really getting tossed around right now. I really want to try and figure out why I believe what I believe. As my answer to this question a few months ago to someone who isn’t a Christian I told him, ‘There is just something inside of me that believes, and unexplainable desire to know God. The God of the universe, the God of this world, the God who created me, the same God who loves me unconditionally.’ But is this just a pretty way to describe it because that’s what I’ve been taught? Or do I seriously believe that. If I think about other religions and the gods that other people pray to and live their lives for, most of them seem really phony and ridiculous to me. The thought of trusting some spiritual lady from the water to watch over your prayers and keep you from any danger as long as you don’t eat any red meat. Or believing that you’ve been saved from some other god by being struck by lightening and now you have premonitions that you believe are provided from this higher god of the clouds. This stuff seems so bizarre to me… but I seem to believe in a God who claims to have made the first man with some dust and then used his rib to somehow create the first woman, and Satan came in the form of a snake and made this woman eat an apple and that was the first sin. I believe that a man came to the Earth and brought people back from the dead, healed the blind, and died on the cross, somehow giving me the opportunity to go to heaven instead of the inevitable hell. Why is this not just as crazy to believe? And why do I believe it?

I’ve mentioned in the past on my blog that I’ve had plenty of opportunities to talk to my co-workers about God and what I believe. I hadn’t been shaken by them, or so I thought, even though they had more than enough reasons against the possibility of God than I did for it. I would just leave those conversations knowing that I needed to search for better answers for my faith so that I would have knowledge to support what I was sharing with these people I care about, even though I believed God would speak through me to them whether I really knew everything or not.

Over the last while I’ve been swamped with work, and not having much personal time. I haven’t been reading as much as I use to, and I wasn’t praying as much because everything else was taking up my time. I got a book to write my prayers down so that I stayed accountable and would know that I was praying, but it seems routine right now. I’ve had so much work going on, but I’ve seemed to be doing it fine on my own, looking back realizing that I haven’t really looked to God for strength and guidance. I don’t think I’ve been very dedicated to God or reliant on Him as much as He would like me to be.

I haven’t cried in a long time. I was talking to someone last night about this… I really do hold those extreme emotions inside… yes I see crying as an extreme… I just bottle stuff inside I guess, and so I don’t really cry. I know I shared a close moment with my immediate family this past summer… but before that, I really couldn’t tell you when the last time was that I cried. Am I hard-shelled? Am I stubborn? Am I cold-hearted? A lot of people would probably say no, but I sure feel that way right now. I’ll share what I want to with people for attention or sympathy… sometimes for honest support… but overall I regret to say that I do just bottle things inside.

I don’t know what will become of all of this. I am hoping that I will have some sort of transformation that will involve a non-Christian who I’ve been talking with about God, it will reaffirm my faith, and I will cry a lot. It’d be a picture perfect blog and I am eagerly awaiting that day. But I also know that the bible offers the advice that as a Christian, I am not expected to have everything together, and that I shouldn’t have masks to cover who I really am or how I really feel. When something isn’t right, I need to share that. When I feel weak, there will be people to hold me up… When I need to speak, there will be someone to listen. Even if it is just through reading my blog you are doing wonders by letting me just express my thoughts and allow me to figure things out a little bit better.

I’m still happy, I can still dance, and I can still make people laugh. I am not depressed; shaking in the corner of a damp dark room, believing there is nothing worth living for. I am just searching for real answers that I can develop for myself as to why I believe what I believe.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have amazing words; chosen with perfection, and written so perfectly.

Thank you for sharing.

Natalie said...

Wow. This is actually amazing. One thing though, I've been struggling with the whole am I doing enough for these people a lot lately. My best friend isn't a Christian and I really struggle with it. God has been teaching me though that I've planted that seed and he's the only one that can make it grow. So, as long as you have planted the seed, you've done more than enough.
you're amazing.
natalie