So, I am a Christian. In case you hadn’t gathered this already, dear reader.
Until quite recently, I always kept this aspect of my identity quiet. Growing up in British society which is largely secular, along with the huge amount of negative press and publicity that Christians and the Church get, I felt it was (I was) safer this way.
My Mum is a Christian, she took us to Sunday School and enrolled us at a Church of England Primary school where assemblies were always about God. No one questioned whether you were a Christian because up until age eight everyone in my small circle was one. Well, almost. My Dad would not describe himself as a “Christian” and didn’t come to church with us. My maternal Grandmother was a very vocal atheist. I remember calling her for a Religious Studies homework project to interview her about her views on “life after death”. She, matter of fact, responded that “you die and get put in the ground and that’s the end of it.” “Okay, thanks Gran!”. Cheery.
At secondary school your Christian role model in popular culture was either Dot Cotton or Britney Spears. Wowzers. The two could not be more far apart.
Dot from EastEnders was annoyingly self righteous, a “bible basher”, a bore, constantly quoting lengthy scripture at other characters who were “sinful”. Also, she was old and made terrible fashion choices. At age thirteen this is not someone you wish to be associated with.
Britney Spears and other Americans burst on to the scene with their purity rings and promises. They were Evangelical, and seen largely as hypocrites, at least in the circles of my teenage youth, where, rightly or wrongly, you were believed mad to want to wait for marriage to have sex. That probably says a lot about the British youth.
When questioned about faith, I would always answer honestly, but I didn’t have many friends who went to church and if they did they went to Catholic or Church of England churches like me, high brow stuff, none of this emotive Evangelical nonsense for us Brits, thank you very much.
I still go to a Church of England Church, I am comfortable in the liturgy, in the quiet. I have been to other styles of worship services, including Evangelical, and whilst I have enjoyed and gained something from those services I always come back to what I know.
I took Religious Studies as an A-Level and it was by far my favourite subject. I loved the discussions and learning about the different thinkers and their ideologies. It was around this same time that I became more comfortable with identifying as a Christian – but QUIETLY, only to those who already knew me and wouldn’t be “put off” by such a declaration. I hoped that they would like me in spite of my Christianity if they found out about it later, having already decided I was cool*.
I have been a quiet Christian my whole life. I don’t have an amazing testimony of how I came to know God, I just always have. I have often known God’s presence, and I have never, to date, lost my faith, although I often question HUGE aspects of it. I mean, I have SO MANY questions and hardly any answers. I have shied away from announcing it to people, and have always felt the need to quickly follow it with “I’m not anti gay though!”. For the record, this is as true now as it always has been.
What a shame. A shame that that is how Christians are seen, as the Dot Cotton characters, judge-y, unwelcoming and holier than thou.
The only way I know how to be a Christian is through Jesus. To me that means showing love, compassion and kindness over fear, anger and judgment to EVERYONE AT ALL TIMES. This is of course, a hard task, and I fall short every day.
In 2014 I decided to explore and live my faith, I had questions and doubts and I wanted to know more about this God and his son to whom I have always prayed. I felt that I wanted to be a true Christian, so that when I described myself as one I wasn’t (a little bit) ashamed.
At the time, on social media, there was a trend for people to post #100daysofhappiness posts. I decided, in my usual enthusiastic way, that I would do this, with a twist. Mine were accompanied with #100daysofgratefulness even though I still don’t really get the hashtags.
Surprisingly, I did it! For all 100 days I found something different to be grateful for, even if it was something very small. I will publish some, if not all, of my 100 posts here on this blog. I thoroughly enjoyed the project, it gave me a new perspective and helped me to lead a more positive and joy filled life. It also led me to discovering lots of new Christian writers and thinkers and developing my understanding of what “being a Christian” means in real everyday life.
I didn’t get off to a great start though, it took me a while to warm up. My first one was a moan about the trains being late, but I was grateful for the fact that I had undertaken my first volunteering session on an advice line for women. #100daysofgratefulnessday1
#theydogetbetteripromise #slowlearner #volunteeringisgreat #britishtrainsarerubbishthough
*Hahahaha. I was NEVER cool. I always tried to be nice though which tended to work. I still strive to be cool and fail, miserably.