Sometimes I am confronted with the fact that my Christianity is a surprise to certain people. And while it always baffles me, I can see where that misconception might come from. Our world’s preconceived notions about what a Christian should look like, how they should conduct themselves, how they should raise their children, how they should speak, what they should wear, etc. is as ridiculous to me as common core math.
This post is in no way meant to defend my Christianity, but is intended as more of a wake up call to those of you who may be inclined to judge a person based upon your own particular set of requirements for someone’s belief and/or faithfulness to God.
That being said, here are 4 reasons you might not believe I’m a Christian:
I don’t go to church – not even on holidays. *Gasp* Now, I’m not saying that I’ve never gone to church. In fact, I used to go to church a minimum of 3 days a week. I participated in Bible study groups, cooked and prepared meals for the entire congregation and for their soup kitchen, was in charge of the Singles ministry for a brief time (imagine THAT!).
I have also been the recipient of unwanted sexual advances by church leaders to whom no repercussion was given, been taken aside by my pastor and told that the women of the church were angry that their husbands looked at me and that it was my fault because I had five children and was judged to be ‘in heat’ all the time. I have had members of my church ‘family’ turn me into child protective services because my tomboy daughter had bruises from climbing trees and falling off bikes, and I have had them also tell me that I was a bad influence on the church for befriending the homeless, drug addicted and spiritually lost in my town. Oh, and let’s not forget the time a priest came to my home to tell me that I was not welcome in his church because I had children and I wasn’t married, but feel free to visit again once I had a husband.
All these events were witnessed by my children, whom I was attempting to give a circle of ‘Christian’ influences. And while I struggled to maintain my own personal dignity and not lose my faith during these times, my children lost their ability to trust established religions entities. Can you blame them? I admit, I lost it, too. And so, while I never was treated with disdain or disgust by JESUS, His so-called followers took up the slack, for sure.
Am I bitter? No. Have I forgiven them? Yes. Have I gone to church since? Yes, but I do not feel that being in a church building makes my prayers any more effective or powerful than I do in a quiet place with my attention on my Father instead of on those around me. My children know how to pray and they do so. My children also know the true meaning of Christianity, which I taught them myself after the damage that had been done by the ‘church’. I don’t even hate the idea of church. But for me – right now – it isn’t really something I need. My relationship with God has grown leaps and bounds over the years without it and until He tells me to go back, we are allll good.
I Drink & I Go To Bars. Again… *Gasp*! If you know me in person or follow me on social media, you know I have an enormous appreciation for music, especially LIVE music. Add to that my complete and total support of local bands and you will find me in a bar at least 4 times a month, drinking beer, getting rowdy, and usually coming home hoarse.
You will find me side by side with people who have never heard of having a personal relationship with God, and with those who have rejected Him. You’ll find me befriending the lonely, bitter drunk at the bar and listening to horror stories of break-ups, loneliness, depression and hopelessness. You’ll see me having fun and loving on people who need it.
Are the songs we sing at the top of our lungs hymns? Ummm, kind of. Because they are about life. Life as human beings know it and our lives are NOT all beautiful hymns, are they? They are raw and dirty and exciting and painful and REAL. There is a time for praise and worship with songs of complete and utter devotion and love to God and there is also a time for songs that simply define us as human beings – flaws and all. I take part in both.
As for the drinking… even Jesus celebrated with his friends at their wedding and provided wine for the feast. I’m pretty sure that their wedding celebration was one of happiness, excitement and partying. How else do you think they ran out of wine in the first place?
I Do Not Shelter My Children. If anyone knows the extent of my unholiness, it is my children. I do not, nor have I ever, felt the need to shield them from the ugliness of this world. They have seen it, experienced it, and yes, even taken part in it. They know my flaws and my weaknesses, they are free to become exactly who they are with their own sets of flaws and weaknesses. And while I have guided them and taught them morals, sensitivity, how to have personal strength and integrity, how to not be molded by what others say they should be, I have always known that they were not carbon copies of me or anyone. They have always had the freedom to be exactly who they needed to be at the time without judgement. And because of this, my children and I can talk about anything – and do so daily.
There is no subject matter too taboo for them to bring to me. There is nothing that they can do to make me not love them. And they know this. We are a family of utter openness and comfort. We never have to pretend to be something we are not because we are all accepted and loved for whatever and whoever we are. This parenting style may not be for you, but it has worked perfectly for us. We may not look like your typical ‘Christian family’ with our multi-colored hair and body piercings and crazy sense of humor, but if you ask God… He’ll let you know we are His. And that’s all that matters to us.
I Do Not Try To Convince Anyone What To Believe With Words. Oh, I can write a mean sermon, trust me. I can defend my faith and my God like no other. But there is a time and place for that. My ministry is more one of action – of loving people who others shun. Of feeding people that others walk past on the street with what they crave most – the companionship and acceptance of another person.
Love is my ministry even though words are my profession. This does not mean that I don’t share my faith, it just means that I share it in a non-judgemental, caring and accepting way. I have never met a person who has turned away from Jesus by someone who treated them kindly with actions, but I have met hundreds who have been turned off to anything having to do with God by being made to feel as if they were under attack with words, looks and body language.
I like Zombies. Yeah, my old foster parents would have grounded me for a year if they ever caught me watching The Walking Dead. Heck, I had a picture of a snake in my room, hand-drawn by my boyfriend at the time and they told me that it was satanic – held demons that would come out at night while I was sleeping to taint my soul. Yes, they really, really said that to me, lol.
In all honesty this one is a ‘kidding not kidding’ addition to my list because as I think back on what I was taught by people in my life and in my church – they would have been sorely disappointed in me to find me glued to Netflix binge watching The Walking Dead with my kids. I would have been told that I was feeding evil into our minds. And while I do believe this in part – what with the graphic violence depicted in many, many TV shows and movies – I’m pretty sure that those who have a firm grasp of reality know that zombies aren’t real – yet. And as for The Walking Dead – Gosh, I just love Daryl and I totally want him on my team during the Zombie Apocalypse.
I can come up with so many more reasons you might not believe I am a Christian, but for now, I think these five will suffice. I thank God that He has given me such a close and personal relationship with Him that I am almost completely immune to the opinions of others. I thank God that I am not a ‘traditional’ Christian. And I also thank Him for His daily forgiveness for every single mistake I make in this life. Because, whether you want to admit it or not, we ALL fall short of the Glory of God. Every day. In my case, sometimes every hour!
Next time you think that you know somebody, think again. That person you are judging may be doing exactly the work that God has asked them to do. It might not be what YOU were called to do, but that doesn’t matter. We all have different roles, different jobs.
I don’t necessarily mind, nor am I offended when people mistake me as one who is ‘unsaved’. I mean, I AM a sinner. And if I can show Christ-like love to other sinners and that makes me LOOK ‘iffy’, well, I’m all for it. I’m not here for appearances.
If you are able, throw off the thought that you have to delete your own personality and gifts in order to be a ‘Christian’. God created you the way you are for a reason. You are the only one of YOU He made and if you decide that your YOU is not usable, your likes and dislikes and personality quirks must be hidden or neglected in order to stuff your round self into some square hole… you may just be missing out on the most exciting and rewarding personal service to God ever.
Be YOU, my friend.
~ Carrie A Medford