Being Known For Who I Am
I had a special experience with God that changed my perspective on being known as a Christian, freed me to be more myself and drew me closer to God. This happened through my responses to God, as I found myself stepping beyond my comfort zone and into a greater freedom with Him.
I’ve loved discovering a boldness in my love for God that hasn’t been there in my life before, mainly because of my self-awareness and fear of being different to others. I grew up in a Christian family and have known and loved God all my life – He is the focus of my life. Yet I’ve often felt hyper-aware of what friends or colleagues outside of my church community would think of the fact that I am a Christian or regularly go to church. It hasn’t felt “cool” or “popular” to be a Christian, or a church goer, and though I know it shouldn’t, that has mattered to me. So I have avoided opportunities of being known as a Christian, for example talking about “my friends” rather than my “church friends”. Though I know lots of people feel like this, and that to some extent it is “normal”, each time it came up I would feel like it was something I had to make choices to overcome. Sometimes I would take little opportunities to be known, and at other times I would still avoid it, and as a result it felt like an ongoing struggle with myself.
One time when I was chatting with my sister the topic came up and she picked up on the fact that this was still an ongoing struggle in me. She expressed that she felt I didn’t need to be limited in this way, that God is not limited, and asked what I felt about it. I knew I felt challenged and that I didn’t quite know how to respond to it. We’d also been talking a bit about prayer during that time and in response to our conversation I felt it was something I’d like to pray about together. As I expressed my heart to God it felt like one of those cliff edge moments, where I was stepping beyond a fear, to find my faith expression to God about what I desired on my heart. I loved doing that together, focusing on my love for God and making a commitment to Him from that place.
It was an area of my life that I had invited God’s Spirit into, and there were times when I felt I could have said more or expressed myself differently, to really be myself and be known for who I am.
Not long after that there were opportunities that came up in conversations with colleagues, and while I made choices to be known, and live in the commitment I had made to God, I didn’t feel dramatically different, with a self-awareness and fear still clearly there in me. I didn’t think that necessarily mattered, and I felt like it wasn’t something I had to “get right” but to keep finding out what I felt in each situation. It was an area of my life that I had invited God’s Spirit into, and there were times when I felt I could have said more or expressed myself differently, to really be myself and be known for who I am.
However, soon after that I had one really lovely opportunity come up that felt very special between me and God. I was on a leadership development course with my work, and in one session we were asked to do a public speaking activity. We were given a few minutes to prepare a very short 60 second speech without scripting it. We were asked to speak in response to three questions, 1) what is most important to you, 2) what do you value most in life and 3) what was a pivotal moment in your life. I instantly knew that for me the answer to each of those three questions was about God, and my love for Him. I did have a brief moment of wondering whether there was anything else I could talk about but I knew there wasn’t! Having settled that with God, I then had this lovely time, waiting for my turn to speak, just being with God in that moment. I felt it was an invitation He was giving me, knowing what was on my heart. I loved giving God my response in that moment before I spoke to the group, telling Him that I actually loved the opportunity to do this with Him and for Him. And then when my turn to speak came around, I enjoyed being able to share very simply and freely about God being the most important thing in my life, and to also share about how I don’t often feel confident to talk about who God is to me, and so it was enjoyable to do that now.
I now realise that I really love and value being able to talk about my God with other people.
That experience felt like a solid foundation that I established with God, and a place to continue building upon. I still have an awareness of being a Christian and feeling like I am always in the minority, but I no longer feel that it has the same power over me. Through praying and responding to God I feel like He has helped remove that limitation, freeing me to be myself and enjoy sharing about Him with others as and when opportunities come up. I now realise that I really love and value being able to talk about my God with other people.
I love the way God shows us these things as we meet Him in relationship over time, and that it isn’t about behaviour modification. My self-awareness and fears are still a part of me, but they’ve diminished, and my love for God has grown.