Yep, that’s right. I’m a Christian. I’ve been a little scared, ashamed, and hesitant to really say it out loud. The truth is, I grew up going to a Presbyterian church since before I was born. However, it wasn’t my only exposure to a belief system since my great grandmother and grandparents were Buddhists. Nevertheless, my parents were Christian, the rest of my aunts were Christian, and we had a few pastors in the midst of our relatives, so it was almost inevitable that I would ascribe to the faith that belonged to my family.
It wasn’t until I was in ninth grade that I decided to adopt Christianity as my own faith. I learned about Jesus, the Bible, and I also learned a lot about having to live a certain way because I now decided to believe in Jesus. Some of it made sense and some of it was just weird. I remember being encouraged not to listen to “secular” or mainstream music. I still remember my little brother getting rid of all of his Nirvana, NIN, and Pearl Jam CDs after we both heard a sermon about living for Jesus and not for this world. I still think about his beloved collection to this day and the conviction it took to get rid of it all.
For me, Jesus came at a time when I didn’t have much to hold on to and my faith in a lot of things were quite shaken. It was an interesting time of discovery for me as I explored a lot of different aspects of Christianity and the various denominations within it. I found it to be fascinating. Then, I went to college.
My Christian experience in college was heartbreaking and terrible to make a long story short. It was full of strange conformity that never seemed to fit, a lot of being ashamed of how God created me and the personality that He supposedly gave me, and had a large emphasis on all things wrong and bad. Nobody really talked much about the love of God, the grace of God, or any of positive aspects of God and Christianity that I learned about as a child. I did learn a tremendous amount of Biblical knowledge and about Presbyterianism. However, if I could do my college years over again, I definitely would.
After college, I took some time away from church. I asked tough questions and I did a lot of my own thinking about religion, Jesus, the church, and my faith.
Fast forward to today and I have to admit, I’m a Christian and my faith is something that grounds me. It gives me perspective. It allows me give grace to myself and to others. The church that I go to know helps me to think through the tough questions and the stuff that I just don’t agree with all the time. They give me room to be me, to mess up a lot, and to still welcome me. I think that’s how Jesus was. He wasn’t hanging around judging people and putting them down, but he was just out there loving people. He was always doing the ACT of loving and caring.
To this day, though, I feel uncomfortable revealing this big part of my life to anyone because I am afraid to be judged and that my friendships will be affected – both with those who call themselves Christian and those who don’t. I tend to swing quite liberal and sometimes it puts me at odds with those who call themselves Christian. Sometimes the word “Christian” really turns off those who don’t call themselves Christian. I fear that a lot because of all the stereotypes that come to mind when you say “Christian.” All the stereotypes I hate and are untrue of me. It’s sometimes easier to keep it hidden.
But I want to be real and I want those who interact with me to be real. So that’s my truth Tuesday. I’m a Christian. I believe in Jesus. I hope we can still be friends.