faith :: yours and mine

Disclaimer (because this post needs one as I’m gonna get deep…):

If I in anyway offend you with this post, I truly apologise. It is not my intention. Everything I have written comes from my heart and my head. It is in no way directed at anyone. I take full responsibility if there are repercussions of my words. And if there are, I would rather you speak to me and challenge me, than stop reading. I don’t want anyone to have read this post and think I am pretentious and think I am better than them. Like I say later on in this post, disagreement is more powerful and more worthwhile than agreement.

Also before I begin, I would urge you (such a plug *rolls own eyes at self*) to like my page on Facebook: “Kulayrosas“, just so you can view a video I shared of a group of Christians singing, with one woman taking the lead with some really powerful words of faith.

I also want to offer a list of songs both “religious” and non-religious that really reflect some of what I am trying to get across in what you are about to read:

Coldplay – Fix You

Adelitas Way – Somebody Wishes They Were You

Kari Jobe – Forever (Live)

Shinedown – Unity

Phil Wickham – This Is Amazing Grace

The Calling – Wherever You Will Go

Hillsong United – Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Swedish House Mafia – Save The World

Chris Tomlin – Good Good Father

Coldplay – Paradise

Hillsong Worship – This I Believe (The Creed)

Deaf Havana – Cassiopeia

Bethel Music – No Longer Slaves

————————————————————————–

FOUND

Having been “brought up a Christian”, I have always identified myself as Christian.

When in Brazil in 2013, it hit me.

In Pentecostal and more Evangelical terms, “I was saved” – if you see faith as being born again.

But, I describe it as IT HIT ME.

Because, it did.

I was standing in a church without a spire, on a street in a poor village in Goiania, Brazil and God found me(!). It was like I had gone all that way, across the world, and had been HIT with God.

I suddenly understood why my parents had taken me to church since I was born, and even while I wasn’t yet breathing on my own.

It hit me why I was in Brazil.

It hit me that for me, God is God.

I found Him in a moment that I would never had expected.

We had been listening to an Indian man talk about his hardship of finding God and being cast out by his Hindu family and friends. He had turned his brokenness into a way of saving people; into a way of bringing them to the God he found. It touched me. It connected with me.

I have never once been bullied. But I have always been so conscious of what others think of me. This has taken me to sleepless nights where I am sat up in bed believing the lies in my head.

I started believing that everyone hated me; that everyone thought I was this and that; that I was not good enough; that people were superior; that I was nothing to people.

I lay there thinking I was not enough. I was not strong enough. I was not pretty enough. I was not skinny enough. I was not clever enough. I was not perfect enough.

But in that moment when it hit me, everything changed. And “enough” was ENOUGH.

 

IDENTITY

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 18. Freedom of Belief and Religion

After my trip to Brazil, I felt so empowered. But as any Christian knows, that “saved” moment does not mean you suddenly never sin again, that you are perfect. However, the fact is: you are FORGIVEN. And to this day, the three words “You are forgiven”, keep me going.

HOME

A year on, I started attending a new church. (And I must say, Kings Church is a WONDERFUL, EXPECTANT and POWERFUL force of people who are going to change the world because we are all in, and all for what God is has done, does and is going to do. Just have a look at our LoveDoes and our mission trips, and you can see passion for God written all over the faces of children and adults alike. http://www.kingschurchlife.com/)

When I was with my boyfriend at the time and I started to attend this church with him and his family, I know it seemed to some people like I had become a Christian because of him. I felt like no one understood that a change had come over me (other than him, God of course); that I felt at home in a new church where I felt more empowered to be public and expressive in my belief in God.

However, even in that church, I felt at first that people thought I wasn’t a Christian – or that I became a Christian while there. I have had a constant battle with the thought of being baptised; because, I have already confirmed my belief in God and made it public. So, to me baptism seems, not pointless, but unnecessary. Plus, to me I feel like it’s as if I’m just wanting to be baptised in that church, making it public to those people at my church who may not  think I’m a Christian because they’ve not seen me be baptised.

I sound like I’m trying to aim this at particular people in my church with demonstratives like “that” and “those”, but that’s not my intention. These are just thoughts and feelings that I’ve questioned and battled with since changing churches.

YOURS

What I have learned, is that yes make your faith public; be a light in the world and to the world, but DO NOT feel you have to PROVE your faith to anyone. Your faith is your faith. It is a relationship between you and your God.

And that goes for any faith. I don’t know a great deal about other faiths, I must admit. However, I have several Muslim friends (who, just for the record, I absolutely adore), and I feel we connect on a deeper level than some of my non-Christian, or non-practising Christian friends.

I say this because when you have put your faith in something that you and you yourself believe is greater than all things, you understand why other people do it too.

And that is why I feel communication and understanding between faiths is so important. And its why I struggle to understand religious genocide. But I feel talking about that will take me to a place where I will no longer find the words to express my thoughts.

There are two of my Muslim friends in particular who inspire me to be more passionate about my God. I have seen their passion for their God, and that’s what inspires me. I feel some people take evangelising to the point where they’re (unintentionally) forcing their ideas upon people; or they are outright telling another human that what they believe in is wrong.

OPEN

I can’t say much for atheism purely because I have never been in a situation of having no faith. And surprise, surprise, I have no actual problem with atheism.

So, I would openly declare that I am a strong yet liberal Christian.

I feel some Christians may disagree with me entirely on what I believe within my faith, but that only makes me feel more understanding because, I believe, disagreement is more powerful and more worthwhile than agreement.

And the point I’m making through this is:

My faith is MY faith,

and their faith is THEIR faith.

My decision is MY decision,

and their decision is THEIR decision.

KNOWN

I am known, and you could probably believe it if you are a regular reader (and if you are I love you and thank you), for ranting and raving, rambling and preaching. If given the opportunity, I can sit and talk for hours about something I am passionate about. And, it does not have to be something “Christian” for me to “preach” about it. I’d happily preach at you about Coco Chanel, or how much Vogue means to me.

I am going to openly state now that I disagree with secularism – but before I go too far with that statement, I must say I only know surface things about secularism; I have never studied it and have not researched it at all when writing this. For me, I see no benefit in hiding what you believe in, no matter what it is. I do not see any way that that could help a society. To me, it only hinders it, and creates more tension and friction in a society. But, moving on…

LIGHT

As I write this, there’s a break of sunlight through the dark clouds that I can see from my bedroom window. It is in moments like these that I feel God is with me. And I feel anyone who has not experienced a moment like this may think I’ve gone absolutely insane, and it’s “just a coincidence” or “just something that happened naturally”. But for me, it’s a moment of God. A moment of connection. I’m typing as I look out, and I see the sky blend from grey to yellow and suddenly the rain pours. I’m about to take my laptop off my knee and run to find a rainbow. Whether you understand moments like this or not, for me this is where I find my hope; where I find my happiness; where I find my solace. And if there are Christians reading who know Oceans by Hillsong, it’s playing and that is probably making this moment extra deep – because, we all know how emotional that song makes us.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.

Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me.

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander.

And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Saviour.

And now I’m looking out of the window after repeating those lyrics and singing praises, and the clouds are literally rolling away and there’s the brightest blue sky. I cannot believe I have just experienced this moment. I wish you could see the perplexed and baffled grin on my face. For me, God is awesome. There’s no other way to describe it. He just changes the world in an instant.

WORTHY

If you’re not a Christian, I want to say and make it public to you, that that doesn’t mean a Christian is going to think ANY LESS OF YOU. I have learned so, so, so much from non-Christians and some of my greatest and truest friends do not believe in God.

ACCEPTED

Connections with people are far more important than what God you follow, what “religion” you belong to, and more than anything WHAT PEOPLE THINK ABOUT YOU. Not everyone is going to like you, or love you. Even I myself, who has begun to massively preach to you, struggles with acceptance. It has taken me a long time (and I’m only 19) to realise I do not need to go searching for acceptance for anyone, because I am accepted by the God I believe in. And whether you believe in the God I believe, I hope you know that you are accepted no matter what and o matter who you are.

 

That is all I have to say.

Love,

Anna

P.S. I now feel like I need to sleep for a week from personal, emotional and spiritual depth. *please deduce sarcasm* (because I am not good at it).

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