Facebook is a funny thing. People you know really well, people you used to know well, people you try to keep in touch with, people you can’t even remember. A complete range of people have this bizarre access to your life. It paints a picture of you – whether true or false – for others to interpret.
It got me thinking.
A while back someone commended Richard Branson’s character, saying that in his interactions with different people, although each get very different slices of him and see different aspects of his character depending on who they are and how they need to relate to him, each slice is still authentic to who he is and it is no less genuine just because it is different. We fit into different roles and circumstances in life that cause us to be different parts of ourselves, but the need for authenticity means that there should at least be an underlying stream of values or beliefs that makes you YOU in each situation and with each person.
So I started wondering about where I’m at and what I present to people, and I guess I just wanted to lay my cards on the table. My life often feels like a jumble of very different people in different settings and I am challenged to make sure that I am true to who I am…and for one reason or another it felt necessary to put this out there. You may be reading this knowing me very well or barely knowing me at all, either way, this would be my personal reflection:
My friends, my family and my God shape my life and shape me. I hate injustice and cry in a child-like manner at the sight of desperate need. I hate being wrong. I am unsatisfied with things that could be better than they are now – including myself – and I am constantly looking for something new or bigger to achieve. I hate not knowing things and my sense of competition often wins over my need for humility. I love Africa or any place where I see a movement stirring; I want to be a part of something bigger.
I believe in God. I don’t remember why or when I first chose to, but I do know that over the years I have been challenged repeatedly on what I believe and I stand by my faith not in a place of arrogance or stubbornness but because I genuinely believe it to have merit and be true. I have found no reason to disengage my intellect in order to believe what the bible teaches, but have rather found that the more science or history I engage with, the better I understand the claims of my faith. I choose to believe the bible because I believe it is a reliable collection of historical documents, which were written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. Literally thousands of archeological digs have been based on the accuracy of the writings in the bible. It documents events that took place in fulfilment of specific prophecies (which still blows my mind) and it speaks of something far more radical than ‘church’ as we so often know it. I don’t read it often enough, find it all that easy at times or always understand it, but it tells the story of grace.
Someone once told me that intellectual arguments don’t really introduce people to Jesus. They are great when it comes to overcoming barriers, but its the story of what God has done and who God is that changes everything. I find it easier to discuss the former rather than latter with some friends, but my faith is about relationship and not just knowing about God, but knowing God.
I have spent many arguments providing facts and reasons for what I believe – I’ve always felt that if I can’t put it under a microscope and find it plausible then my faith has no basis. I know that a big part of me wants all the answers to everything, and I don’t have them – so I guess sometimes the things that I do know need to shape the way I understand the things that I don’t – and I find that hard. I think somewhere along the way I’ve tried to eliminate the need for faith in my understanding of God, so that I can rely on my own intellect and reasoning for Him instead of my trust in Him. I have no intention of hanging up all my questions and desire to know more, but I do want to trust more than I do.
The Jesus I know is unlike his stereotype and worth getting to know. The God I know is far beyond what the Church has represented. I’ve always thought that the greatest barrier to God is not science, questions of suffering or such things, but inconsistent people, of which I am surely one.
I fail, I fall, I doubt, I stumble, I get confused, I trust, I listen, I ignore, I get it wrong, I change, I learn, I question, I walk away, I come back, I’ve seen miracles and answers to prayer, I’ve sat on my knees for hours and felt ignored, I’ve had moments of great faith and moments of serious doubt, I laugh, I cry, I wonder, I marvel. I try and I try again.