born again

When we become born again, we get a little annoying. 

It’s like we just discovered the most amazing thing!
And it is!
Like we just found the secret to happiness and we want to let everyone else know!
Our lives are changed and we’re so happy about it and we want to share it with everyone!
And then…! ….. Then we also realize that our non-believing friends are in danger!
We want them to be saved, too!

We want them to be loved and accept the Lord the way we did so that we will see them in Heaven! It’s such a burden… We want to drag everyone to church with us and hope that they have the same experience that we did so that they understand, but unfortunately it’s not that easy.  Most people aren’t interested in going to your church.  Most people, even if they are Christians, aren’t interested in things when you’re over-excited about it. It’s a little exhausting actually.  Chill out, baby Christian.

But it’s so painful when we’re rejected… Yet it’s so joyful when our friends say yes to the invitation and join us.  It’s like they just accepted their spot in your family.
I say all this because not all of my friends are Christians and I accept that, but they also accept me and my excitement about Jesus.  Sometimes I am “that christian girl”.  Sometimes my friends don’t want to talk to me because I will eventually bring God into it.  And I accept that maybe I go about communicating the wrong way and sometimes I probably step on toes (usually my friends are too sweet to tell me, but I feel it) and say things that are cringeworthy and probably sound judgmental. In saying that, if I have ever said anything that put you off, I ask your forgiveness.  There are also times when I act or talk not-so-Christian-y and in those times I probably confuse my friends or seem like a hypocrite.  I apologize for that, too.
Forgive us overzealous Christians when we try to “help” you and instead end up annoying you. For most of us, our only goal is that you will experience the joy that we do. That we can share the deepest and most amazing love that Christ has for all of us (including you!).

I’m not talking about the judgmental people that build a bubble around themselves and call themselves Christians and then use that to ridicule and put other people down.  I’m talking about true followers of Christ who only want to see your familiar happy faces in Heaven.

I was “born again” unintentionally in 2009.
I wasn’t exactly seeking God because I thought I had already found Him.  I thought, “I grew up Christian, I already believe so that’s that.”  That’s all there is to it.  In 2008, I made a new friend who talked about God a lot.  I hardly ever talked about God in those days, so this was new to me.  Not that she was some Super Christian (-insert image of Wonder Woman but with a cross on her chest instead-), but whenever she struggled with anything she’d always talk about God and Jesus and she’d talk about reading her bible.  It made me curious.  Why did she feel the need to talk about it all the time?  Aside from Christianity, we had a lot of other things in common and a lot of things that we didn’t have in common that we enjoyed talking about, so we became fast friends.  Eventually she told me that she was thankful for me because she had prayed for a friend and I was an answer to that prayer.
Whaaaaaaat?  ME?
An answer to someone’s prayer???
“Do you eat quinoa?”
She explained to me that just before we met she was at a point in her life where she knew she needed change and she knew she couldn’t do it alone. She needed a friend who was in a healthier place that she could talk to about life and that could help her get on and stay on the right path.  She prayed that God would send her a friend that could help her.  One day at work, Liz witnessed some of our coworkers “gang up” on me during lunch when they found out my son was vegan.  After lunch one day she approached me and the first thing out of her mouth was, “Do you eat quinoa?”, which today is our way of reminding each other of how far we’ve come since that day.  After that, we started going to lunch together and talking about healthy life styles, fitness, diet, exercise, family, relationships, and eventually Christianity.  We then started hanging out after work and began to constantly encourage each other and help each other improve our lives. It’s a beautiful thing.
Back to the answer to her prayer thing.  No one had ever said anything like that to me before.  I was extremely (and still am) humbled and felt so loved and appreciated.  This woman is one of my best and closest friends to this day and I am so thankful that she came into my life.  We talk for hours and hours about everything and anything under the sun and she’s one of those people who is just never afraid to mention Jesus and talk about how He’s blessing us and answering our prayers.  And she has no idea that she’s doing it, so that makes it even better. It’s just who she is as a person.  What set her apart from my other Christian friends at the time was that whenever I came to her with a problem her reaction wasn’t to give me advice, but to openly admit that she didn’t know what to do and that we should pray about it together.  She told me about what brought her to Christ and she talked about how she felt that if she didn’t have family and friends that prayed for her through the hard times in her life when she wasn’t praying or caring for herself she wouldn’t be here today.  Just the other day, now seven years later, I realized how amazing it is that God was able to use me — a girl that had no “relationship” with him — to answer her prayer…. and I’m even more humbled when I realize that not only did He answer her prayer, but He changed my life by bringing her into mine.  He knew that she needed my help as a friend and that I needed HER in my life to bring me to Him.  The very thought of it overwhelms me with a sense of love and gratitude.  If He had given up on me and I had not let Him into my life, I would be so lost and have made so many poor decisions without Him.  I certainly would not be who I am today.
You don’t pray???
One day I told Liz that I don’t pray much because I feel like my complaints and worries aren’t important enough for God. Why would I waste God’s time on my problems?
“Vita!” she said…. “He WANTS you to pray to Him!  He WANTS you to have a relationship with Him and talk to Him about EVERYTHING!”
I told her I felt weird and uncomfortable praying and I didn’t understand why would I need to pray to Jesus.  Why “in the name of Jesus”?
She couldn’t explain to me the Jesus thing.  That’s fine, most people can’t explain that. I mean really — how can you explain the divinity of the Holy Trinity to someone who has been told about it since birth but still didn’t get it???  That’s okay.  She did however explain to me that I didn’t need to think about prayer as this big thing that you have to do in a certain way. It’s a conversation. It’s inviting Jesus into your every day life and being open and vulnerable with Him as your Friend and Father.
So I started to pray a little more here and there.  I still didn’t understand Jesus’ importance in the whole thing, so I prayed directly to God and that was fine, too.  One thing I began to realize is that prayer isn’t just about having a relationship with Jesus… it’s about humbling yourself before God.  It’s about taking a moment to open up, lay all your troubles before Him, admit that you can’t handle them alone, and submit yourself to His will.
Look at it this way, you’re in second grade and your teacher assigns the class a complicated project that requires magazine clippings and glue and poster board.  You can handle that, right?  You can use those kid scissors, clip things out, paste them on the board… You can do that on your own.  But how are you going to do that with no magazines? No poster board? No supplies?  You know what you’re going to have to do… You’re going to have to ask your parents for help. So when you have a situation in life that you can’t handle on your own (and some of us need help even just deciding what to have for breakfast…) who do you ask?  Your perfect Father in Heaven. But before you ask for help, you have to admit that you can’t do it alone.
If you know me outside of the internet, and if you’re unlucky (har har) enough to know me personally… you know that I’m a control freak.  I like to have things a certain way and if they are not that way I get stressed out. My sister calls me out on it aaaaaaaaaaall the time.  For me, a Type A personality who needs to be in control and see the outcome of every decision before I make it… giving that control over to a God that I can’t see and who basically has to constantly tell me “Be still and wait on Me”, was and is extremely difficult.  Not to mention I STILL didn’t understand this whole JESUS thing.
How could someone who lived over 2000 years ago die for my sins???
Let’s pause here for a moment.  I will admit, I’ve grown up in a Christian family, but… I’ve never read the bible all the way through in its entirety.  I started reading it when I was a kid and it was confusing and weird so I closed it and decided I wasn’t going to believe in it because it was written by men anyway so it couldn’t possibly be as true as Christians say it is.  When I came back to Christ in 2009 I decided to start reading it again, cover to cover.  It’s 2015 and I’m in the book of Ezekiel.
DON’T JUDGE ME! It’s a hard read! ^.^’
In the meantime, I do jump around from chapter to chapter and I have tons and tons of bible studys and sermons under my belt, so while I continue to read it page by page, I don’t stop myself from looking ahead or going back again and re-reading things.  The reason I bring that up is because I feel that you can’t really fully understand Christianity and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross without studying the bible.  I’m not saying you have to read it first, but I’m saying it makes a WHOLE LOT more sense when you finally do.
But I digress. This isn’t about me now, this is about me in 2009.
Easter came around and Liz invited me and my son to join her and her son to go see an Easter play at her church.  I thought it would be fun for the kids and I always enjoy hanging out with Liz so sure.  I remember walking into the church and saying in my head, “Okay God.  I really don’t understand this whole Jesus thing…. so…. I’m asking you.  Explain it to me.”
Funnily enough, the play was actually about a Christian couple during the Easter holiday. The wife was a devout Christian and the husband didn’t understand why.  The play was about how the husband came to learn about, understand, and finally accept Jesus.  It didn’t hit me completely at first, but I was open to it.  I walked out of there knowing that I had just tapped the surface of something completely different and that I was interested in learning more.
Everything in its own time.
Moving on now to 2015.

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

I have changed a LOT in the last six years.  And I will likely continue to change as I feel like I haven’t grown really much at all until I stop and take a look back at the decisions I made back then compared to how I make decisions now.  There is still so much work to be done on my body, mind, and soul.  But it’s hard.  It is hard work… and one of the most challenging parts about it is that when you decide to follow Christ and really dig deep into what that means most people will not understand.  They’ll be happy for you and they will encourage you because they will see the good things that are coming into your life, but they won’t understand why you do things differently or why you view things differently than the rest of the world.
I’m not saying NO ONE will understand, but you will certainly find that people will take a step back and make a conscious decision whether or not to spend time with you any more.  They will assume that you’re judging them or that you think you’re better than they are.  Even if you never judge them, even if you are the kindest most generous and truthful person they ever come across there will still be people who are looking for something to pick apart because of your faith.  Let them.  Love them for it.  Strive to be a positive example of what a Christian should be even if it seems impossible.  Even Jesus admits (Matt 10:22) that people will hate you for being a Christian.  But He calls us to endure it, stay firm in our beliefs, and to be the light of the world.
I’ve lost some friends, I’ve made new friends, and some old friendships have become even stronger since I started this walk.  It’s funny, though. I’ve always been weird for one reason or another whether it’s my decision to go vegan or just my tendency to walk a different path from most people, so I’m used to being the odd one, but being born again and developing this relationship with Christ has made me embrace that even more.  Realizing that God made me the way I am has given me the confidence to be exactly who I am no matter how weird or different than others that makes me and no matter how much that might isolate me from the world.
I’m a mom, I quit my job and started my own business, I write music and poetry, I journal constantly, I talk about God a LOT, I listen to whatever music I feel like listening to, I hang out with whoever I want to, I study martial arts, and I attend church on the regular and sing in the choir. These are the basic things that make up who I am but what I’m really looking forward to is just leaving my life entirely open to whatever God puts in my path. I have no idea where I’m going to be in five years and I LOVE it.
And on that note I’m going to end this super long blog post right here. If you read it all, thank you and I love you. ❤

Fear

I don’t think the problem is that there aren’t talented, intellectually stimulating, interesting, and challenging individuals out there. I don’t think there is a shortage of people who are amazing and inspiring.  I think the real problem lies in that many people are afraid to be who they are truly meant to be. Fear prevents people from being different. Fear prevents people from digging into their own subconscious and getting their hands dirty. 

Fear of condemnation, fear of being different, fear of being vulnerable. 
Fear forces us to forget our dreams and pursue careers that have stability and security but lack creativity and inspiration.  
Fear forces us to settle down into relationships that are boring or even bad for us when we could stay single and content to wait for someone who REALLY knocks our socks off. 
Fear even keeps us from allowing ourselves to love someone that’s good for us because we’re afraid WE’ll mess it up!
Fear keeps us from telling people we don’t agree with what they’re doing and instead we laugh it off, pretend to agree, or just stay quiet and do nothing, hiding who we are and even blocking us from potentially inspiring someone else to do the right thing.
How much more amazing would daily interactions be if everyone left fear behind and boldly showed the world who they are on the inside.