Monday, 24 November 2008

An anniversary

Today marks 7 years from the day that I was baptised. I can’t even remember the name of the church off the top of my head, but it was a fairly local one that my home church had held services in a few times.

It’s always interesting when I tell people that I became a Christian at about 11, around 2 years before I was baptised. Sometimes it seems to decrease my credibility amongst non-Christians, who believe that I am a Christian purely because my family are, because I’ve been to church my whole life, and that in some strange way this means that I don’t quite understand *real life*. Somehow there seems to be credibility given to those who have suffered greatly, who have rebelled, or who have otherwise risen from overwhelming circumstances to find God. Perhaps my story will never be quite as dramatic as that, but it has nonetheless been an eventful story so far. At 11 I had little idea of how cruel your peers can be at school, and indeed in later life. Didn’t know what angst teenage hormones would bring, nor how long I would wait to feel any inkling of what to do with my life. I certainly didn’t really know what it would feel like to sit in a room full of non-Christians and say “actually, I’m a Christian.” I’ve said it so many times since then, and the circumstances are always interesting. It starts great, thought-provoking conversations and total stereotyping in equal measure. I don’t really mind any more. In some ways, the squeaky clean image is a funny and fairly innocent one. In a lot of ways, it represents just another kind of out-grouping. I’ve found over time that it is far easier to upfront and happy with my affiliations (as it were!) than to hang back and act as if I’m ashamed of it.

The thing is, we humans love to identify ourselves in comparison to others. Like I said, out-grouping. We identify much of who we are in terms of who we are not. I guess that’s why non-Christians often see me in terms of what they don’t believe in and what I’m ‘not allowed’ to do in comparison to them. But, you know, I don’t really see it like that. My struggle to be the best person that I can be is so individual, so unique, that I never want to reduce it to the concept of “I’m me because I’m not like them”. I was created by a great and awesome God and most days I do not even wake up and remember that. I count myself as doing well when I wake up 1 day in 10 and remember the fact that a life lived for God is a beautiful and precious one. Too many days it is more a case of ‘a life lived as a Humanities student is frustrating and tiring’. I am so very far from having all the answers and to being as graceful and assured as I aspire to be, like the Christian role models that I have. I just hope to manage it sometimes, and that perhaps over time I will make changes that support my efforts to manage that more often.

It’s been a crazy 7 years since I made that public commitment to Christ. My dreams that day of showing Jesus’ light to everyone I met for the rest of my life have unsurprisingly been far off the mark! I have met plenty of people who have no doubt thought I was a little quiet, a little unsure of myself, and not all that happy. But I hope I have also met some who got to know me and who have felt that my faith changes who I am. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time thinking more than I should about things that don’t deserve overthinking, and not thought enough about some things that I should. I have struggled to negotiate my identity in an adult world, particularly in the context of being a student. I have felt constantly challenged with what society says is right and what my faith says is right. I have experienced over and over again the joy of being in a stressful situation and thinking “oh, wait a minute, God’s in control of this”. I have laughed at myself many times for how long it often takes me to reach that moment, and I hope to reduce that! I have learned what it is to love fiercely and loyally, and to occasionally (!) admit that someone other than myself might be right. I have even experienced what it is to trust God that he will make his will clear to me in all things.

Looking back, I sometimes wonder whether finding God made all that much of a difference to the years that have followed. I look back and see so many times when I distanced myself from his promises and securities and tried to do it on my own. But then I think of all the times that were different because of his presence, and I know that I can’t deny the difference he has made in my life. For all my stubbornness, there have been so many times that I was that little bit happier and more confident because of the faith that I have. At times like this, when I stop and think about what it means for me to be a Christian, I am awestruck by how many more of his promises I have yet to fulfil, how many more dreams of his that I have yet to experience. I realise that I have so many things to be thankful for and that the future will only add to that number.

So, seven years on, I hope that I am a little older and wiser, but just as excited about everything the future has in store.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Lucy,
I just stumbled across your post and wanted to say that i can relate to everything you have said. Your honesty is really touching. I'm really questioning my belief atm and your blog has really proked me to think.
Thank you! Keep blogging x