I Am Not a Christianity

Words have meaning.

Originally published to Facebook on August 16th, 2010, this is a bulk of my life’s testimony. 

In light of recent events, it came to my attention that many people are under the impression that I’m trying to shove Christianity down my friends’ throats. First, I’d like to apologize for this grave misunderstanding. Second, please allow me to correct the misunderstanding.

Out of curiosity and on a slight hunch, I decided to look to my old friend, Dictionary.com, to compare and contrast the dictionary definitions of the words“Christian” and “Christianity.” I was very surprised to find that there are very distinctive differences between the two words!

For example, some definitions for the word “Christian” include:
1).
 of, pertaining to, or derived from Jesus Christ or his teachings.
2).
 exhibiting a spirit proper to a follower of Jesus Christ; Christlike.
3).
 decent, respectable.
4).
 human; not brutal; humane.

And then there are the definitions for the word “Christianity:”
1).
 the Christian religion, including the Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox churches.
2).
 a particular Christian religious system.
3).
 conformity to the Christian religion or to its beliefs or practices.

Just for kicks, let’s throw in the definition for the word “Religion:”
1).
 a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.

In the first definition for “Christianity,” if we are to replace the words “Christian” and “religion” with their definitions, then Christianity by definition is “The decent, respectable, not brutal, humane specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects, including the Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox churches.”

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I’d hate it too if someone was trying to shove that down my throat. Actually, I was in that position once. I hated it whenever my best friend’s family talked to me about God or Jesus or that stupid (I thought at the time) Bible, which they never ceased to pound over my head every opportunity they got. For eighth grade graduation, my friend’s mom bribed me with buying my yearbook if I would just take a Bible in exchange. I did, and never opened it.

It was bad enough that they were trying to shove their beliefs down my throat; it was worse, though, that I’d already been down the Christian road and I didn’t see the big deal about it. I was raised in a home where we routinely got up every Sunday to race around the house trying to get our family fed, dressed in nice, ironed clothes, and out the door in time for the late morning service. Our trademarked Perfect Christian Family smiles weren’t plastered on until we reached the doors of the church; there was usually a lot of bickering surrounding the occasion of getting there in the first place.

Our pastors never struck me as anything special. Their sermons only reached skin deep, and I forgot everything that had been said by an hour after church was over, anyway. Then one of my parents would inevitably spend a mini-eternity talk-talk-talk-talking to this friend from forever ago or that friend who wanted to get together on this rainy day later for a barbecue that we all knew we’d hate because none of us actually enjoyed each other’s company; we were just exchanging friendly words because we knew Jesus would want us to talk to the people who were ‘below’ us.

And then the bickering would start again, as if by magic, as soon as we stepped back into the car. Did you feed the dog today? Did you scoop out the cat litter? Did you clean your room? Is the bathroom going to be a mess? We’re going to spend the rest of the day cleaning the house, you guys, so don’t make any plans. No, we may not stop and get food, because there is food waiting for us at the house—but let’s go grocery shopping for two hours first so that the food can wait even longer.
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This is the kind of childhood conditioning that makes so many of us dread going to church on Sunday mornings. When we reach puberty, fighting our parents by refusing to go to church with them is just one way we rebel, and when our parents physically drag us out the door and throw us in the van so we can all go to church like THE BIG HAPPY PERFECT CHRISTIAN FAMILY WE ARE anyway, we seek out the other poor, abused kids whose parents dragged us there who won’t mind if we lick our wounds around them, because they’re doing the same thing. This is how we find our little rebel I-Hate-Church-Because-It’s-Stupid community. This is how we allow the cycle of hypocrisy in our so-called Christian homes to continue, because let’s face it—we’re powerless against the big bad parentals who wouldn’t pay any attention to you or care about you even if you chewed off your own arm in protest.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that we weren’t really sure why we were going to church in the first place. God never really seemed like he was around, and if He was, He was probably on a really tight schedule. Why on earth would He have the time to listen to your prayers, let alone answer them? And praying was always super awkward. We just peeked to our left and right to see if we could catch anyone else peeking while we sat ramrod straight (or slouched, as we learned to do in that rebel stage) with our hands clasped neatly in our laps. And we never, ever prayed out loud. What was the point of doing that if He could hear our thoughts?

And we were never really sure what to say to the Guy, anyway. Unless we were asking for something, and then it became a little less awkward. But forget praying out loud over somebody. Forget reaching out and laying a hand on somebody and declaring wholeness and healing over their lives. In my church, we didn’t do physical contact.

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It was because of these reasons and several more that I eventually decided I didn’t believe what my parents believed—and I wasn’t so sure if it was working out for them, either, because it sure didn’t look like God was helping them out with their problems. So I stopped going to church. Then, I decided I wasn’t really sure if there was a God. I Googled this phenomenon, and proudly declared that I was agnostic.

In eighth grade, I declared myself a Wiccan. I cut myself and overdosed on sleeping pills and antidepressants and did stupid, reckless things to act out and get myself in trouble.

That summer, I declared myself agnostic again. But now I was a lesbian. I had my girlfriend, and found out that girls can cut you deeper than boys.

I messed around with some more witchcraft that summer, and with my best friend I awakened something dark and evil and malicious and not of this world. That something followed us for several months, consuming our lives, our inspiration, our sleep, and our sanity before we finally put it to rest.

Freshman year, I decided I was done with witchcraft and decided that agnosticism, once again, was the way to go. I got my first serious boyfriend. It got physical. He took me to his church, where we did Mass and communion and I giggled because the lazy procession of whole notes were too solemn to hold.

He broke up with me because I had embarrassed him at his church and because his interest in me by now was more physical than emotional. I locked myself into a hole inside myself and didn’t let myself feel for a month. That was when I met Levi, a small, shiny miracle to capture my attention and distract me from my despair.

______________________________________________

That summer, I went to visit my dad in Huntington Beach. My dad informed me of his incest fetish and told me he would very much like for me to come sit on his lap—but not to tell anyone of what I’d told him, because he wanted to be able to trust me with important secrets. I spent most of the rest of my time there downstairs with the landlord and his roommate, Michael, who told me that he would very much like to claim my first “romp in the pants” –when I was older.

One day sophomore year, I was waiting inside the library for my mom to pick me up. She walked up to me, sat down, and burst into tears. The confessions poured out. She had been seriously contemplating suicide. She lay awake at night contemplating the different ways she could escape the world through death. She had considered jumping off the freeway overpass. She wondered what combination of how many pills it would take for her to never wake up.

She felt like she couldn’t tell my stepdad, so she told it all to me, and it became my burden to bear. Just like my dad’s secrets, just like my own package of fifteen-year-old drama.

That night, my mom let me stay in the car while she took my brother and sister into Costco to do some shopping. It was dark and it was raining fiercely, fat little water drops tic-tic-tic-ing on the windshield. In the dim glow of the book light, I scribbled down the day’s events in my journal, letting the rest of my mind wander. My memories brought me back to the previous summer, where my dad had made his confession to me. I realized in this moment that my dad was not my father. He could never provide for me in the way a father would. He could never protect me. He could never give me the emotional support I needed, and he could never be there. I had never felt so alone in my life.

I felt like I had hit my own personal rock bottom. I was so overwhelmed with hopelessness that I talked to the only One I knew would be listening. “I need a Father,” I sobbed, over and over again. The first time I heard His voice was when He told me to let Him in to fill the hole in my life. I invited Him in.

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Fast forward to junior year, when my first ex turned me down again and then told me he would very much like to be friends with extensive physical benefits. I told him no. Then on spring break, he invited me over to his house for a movie marathon.

I had prayed so hard that nothing bad would happen that day when I went over. I had prayed for the strength to be able to tell him no if something started happening. I had prayed for divine intervention, for supernatural self-control on his part. I had prayed for lioness courage to rise up in me, to empower me to rise above the scared, quiet, submissive girl I was. Then, confident that God wouldn’t let me down, I left for the ex’s house.

He’d told me his parents were home. He had lied.

That night I lay curled up in my own bed, hating the numbness in my core and wishing I could cry. I told God I still loved Him anyway even though the answer to my fervent prayers had been no. I was confused and anguished and betrayed, but I refused to be angry at God. God had been faithful to me so far, and after all He had brought me through, I had no right to turn my back on Him just because something had happened that I didn’t understand.

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It wasn’t until several months later that I finally did understand: as hard as I’d been praying, as faithful as I was trying to be to my Saviour, my ex had free will just as I did, and he had abused it. It took me longer still to realize that it wasn’t my fault.Throughout this episode, my cry to God after every prayer had been, “I will still love You in the end.”

I hadn’t even touched my Bible yet.

My faith really blossomed when God brought Levi to me summer of 2009–that’s right, my freshman crush from high school. Our first year, I surrendered more and more of myself over to Christ in order to let Him transform me into more of who I was designed to become. Through Levi, God showed me that I didn’t need all my emotional walls. I didn’t need to be so confrontational. I didn’t need to be apathetic. I didn’t need to be passive-aggressive, and I certainly didn’t need to wear a shield of makeup every single day to keep people from reading my mind.

In November, I heard Scripture come alive for the first time.

In January, I watched God completely wreck Levi from the inside out, transforming him from a spiritual drifter into a rock in Christ.

In February, I got kicked out of my house. I leaned on the Lord because I had no strength left to keep going on my own, and He provided for me.

In early May, God proved his faithfulness once again by providing for me in the form of scholarships to cover my entire tuition for this coming school year.

In late May, I walked through a fire that tested my faithfulness to my Savior over my faithfulness to my soul mate on earth. I was rewarded for my choice by hearing God’s voice for the first time, clear and perfect in my head.

In July, I had my eyes opened to fantastic visions of how God sees me. Seeing myself the way He sees me is…breathtaking, for lack of a better word. And now, I’m at a crossroads in my life. There are a zillion paths to take, and each one could lead to a number of great outcomes, but I’m resting on Jesus in this one. Isaiah 30:21 – Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way—walk in it.

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And that, in Chronological order, is the full account of how I came to have the faith I have today. Albeit I’m leaving out specifics, such as the visions and the special ways God has answered my prayers, and how I’ve seen God touch countless lives around me. But that’s as short as I could condense it: four pages on Word. And I’m not done yet.  That was just the narrative section, because I feel that in order for you to understand what I tell you from where I stand now, it’s important to know where I came from. I want to be as transparent as possible so that I can be held accountable for the things I say and for Who I represent.

I have nothing to gain from being so outspoken about my faith. I have no agenda, no to-do list of people I want to convert. If God put you on my mind to pray for, then all I’m going to do is pray for you, whether you believe what I believe or not. I pray for everybody I know, and I pray for anybody who crosses my mind. I can tell you one prayer I have never prayed, and will never pray: “God, please show them that they are wrong.”

More often than not, my heart’s prayer is, “Lord, help me share my Joy!” I think it needs to be pointed out that Joy is not at all the same thing as happiness. You can easily live a happy life without Jesus. You can sail through life completely happy if you don’t have Grace. But I promise you, if this is the case, if you never have Grace, you will never know Joy.

Here, I think, is where we have our chief misunderstanding. You think I’m shoving my ‘religion’ on you because I think you’re miserable without Jesus. This isn’t the case. Rather, I feel so full to bursting with Joy that I feel like I have to have to have to share it with someone who I know doesn’t have it.

Obviously, sometimes the way I go about carrying this prayer out has an adverse effect on some.

Obviously, I do not always communicate the things I want to communicate clearly (usually because if I were to communicate things crystal clear, it would add up to the double-digits in the Microsoft Word page count, and then nobody would read it because I’m so pathetically verbose). It’s a learning process. I will always be learning, and I will always make mistakes. I will apologize and ask your forgiveness, especially if I realize I have been acting on my own accord as “an empty, self-serving witness” as John 5:32 states.

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Usually, when I post something like this, there is something in it that makes me extremely vulnerable, extremely exposed. Perhaps they are secrets that I have not told anyone. Perhaps it’s an urge to reach out to someone that I’ve repressed for months that I’m finally obeying the push to share. But I promise you, I have nothing to gain from these posts. I don’t want anything as a result. It’s not about me. It’s not about me being right and you being wrong.

And please, please, please try to understand that this is not about religion. I’m not asking you to convert to a system. I’m not asking you to buckle down and follow etiquette and rules to model your life after. I’m not asking you to start slamming Bibles, and I’m not asking you to start sucking up the word of every pastor through a straw. The Kingdom gains nothing if someone claims to have aligned themselves with Christianity.

The Kingdom only gains when someone drinks of Living Water and honestly, really, truly experiences Joy for the first time, and then keeps coming back for more.

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My ministry is not to guilt, force, provoke, or badger. My ministry is to share my Joy and lift people up and, yes, even post Bible verses as my status.

So, now, I bring us all back to the beginning. With the dictionary stuff, so it can all finally tie in. The definition of “Christian” and “Christianity” are so far apart that I believe we can draw a clear distinction between those who are truly Christian and those newly-christened “Christianity.”

My aim in my life is to be like Christ. Therefore, I consider myself a Christian. But I do not align with Christianity, because that long definition in the italics was just way too tedious: “The decent, respectable, not brutal, humane specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects, including the Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox churches.”

Uh, how about not. “Specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices, generally agreed upon…” A life with Christ is founded on simplicity; the Pharisees tried to make it complicated before, and it didn’t work. Too many rules to break, too many confessions to make. And besides, if you religiously follow a system, that generally discourages from being able to question that system. Somebody once said “Ask questions of God, but never question God.” This is how God and I are poring through His Book. If I find something in His word that unsettles my spirit, I run to Him about it and He gives me a revelation on my dilemma.

I’m not afraid to disagree with some of the fundamentals people take for granted. I’m not afraid to ask the awkward questions that nobody wants to think about or speak aloud. I’m the one who demands the answers that most people say they don’t want to know. And I’m finally starting to recognize this as a gift that comes from God Himself. I will never apologize for who I am ever again.

I have a relationship with Christ as my savior. That relationship brings me a Joy that can’t be explained in words, but I know I have to get it out!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Dee
    Dec 18, 2012 @ 11:04:54

    AWESOME POST !!! AWESOME TESTIMONY !!! God Bless you and your walk ❤
    And I love your prophetic art!

    Reply

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