During semester time, university writing takes the priority. But the last few weeks at bible study we’ve been talking about telling our testimony as why we are still Christians, rather than how we became Christians. Here’s a edited version of mine.
I don’t remember the first time I heard the Gospel. I can’t really remember one moment where I became a Christian. I grew up hearing the Gospel, and I think understanding it too. I can remember times I felt like I’d understood it more. I also remember going to conferences and hearing bible talks and thinking ‘is this it? Is this the moment I become a Christian?’ I think I was trying to follow a certain path of what a Christian’s life should look like, but it didn’t fit me.
As I grew up, God used lots of things – lots of really difficult things – to help me grow and develop in my faith and as a person. I had some really awful friends in primary school and got bullied. I settled into high school a lot better by comparison, but wasn’t there long before my mum was diagnosed with cancer. Going through that process as a 13 year old was very hard. Unfortunately a lot of the pain I remember wasn’t necessary – a lot of extra hurt was added by people, even people from doing or saying insensitive things. But when my mum went into remission, we moved states, and I started over at bigger, much higher socio-economic high school. That year I got diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and the next few years were a blur of surviving high school and friendships and church politics and relationships and all the bad stuff that happens when humans try and live life near each other.
Through all that, I had a lot of good moments with God, and I had a lot of bad moments with God. It wasn’t consistent month to month, week to week, day to day. But somehow, I came out of high school with a faith in Christ and a commitment to him. I don’t know how to explain it, but as I started planning my life after school, I just knew in my heart that life with God made more sense than life without God. With God, I had a frame of reference and could at least understand why so much bad stuff happened, why people hurt each other. Without God, it was just painful chaos.
The last few years have been a process of stripping back all the assumed and acquired baggage you get when you grow up in a church and a ministry environment. Especially after reading some books by Sarah Bessey, I realized I knew I believed in Jesus and the cross and in grace, but I hadn’t actually thought through the rest of my theology and what it meant for my life. I also realized I’d adopted some ways of being a Christian without thinking about whether it was what the Gospel called me to. For instance, I’d had youth leaders tell me that while I should be friends with non-Christians, I shouldn’t get too close or let them me influence me much – basically I should hold them at arm’s length, as though they might corrupt me. But when I read the bible, that isn’t was Jesus did with sinners. It isn’t what grace calls me to.
So here I am. I am questioning everything and coming to my own answers, which are actually the answers of those much smarter than me. This blog is one place I can do this. A lot of the time my answers don’t please everyone. I’m a jumbled mix of egalitarian and social justice theology alongside my deep convictions about the broken nature of people and how our sin damages the world and each other. I think that God must choose those he saves because how could he not be in control of it all but then I also think he gave us free will and we have a responsibility to answer his call or not. I think God doesn’t mind what we’re good at as long as we’re willing to serve him and that it’s irresponsible to not use the gifts God has given us. I think we’re called to submit and to lead, to obey and to freedom, I think a lot of contradictory things. But I’m learning.
I can question everything with confidence because I still have that conviction, that feeling in my heart that Jesus is good, that life with God is better than life without him. Even when the answers are hard to hear, God is good. I’m not very good at living out the grace I see in him, but I’m trying.