The first year of me being a ‘Christian,’ and in fact the basically whole year before I ‘officially’ became one was a mix of utter pain- the kind of pain that makes you want to unstaple the bonds you have with life and everything in it while you cry in a corner and feel absolutely sorry for yourself, though you know you have no right to. It was also a mix of awkwardness- from the very first talk I had with God, for once telling Him I honestly knew nothing, but wanted help in knowing everything I could and finally admitting to Him as well as myself that I wasn’t the perfectly innocent Christian kid I falsely claimed myself to be- to saying my very first prayer out loud to a group of girls I hardly knew. There were so many tears shed throughout those two years had I saved them I probably would have enough shower water to last me a lifetime.
So yes, my journey to finding Jesus was miserable.
But it was also incredible.
During those two years there was a mix of joy like no other- a type of joy that left my heart singing, that gave me wings, that made every fiber of my being smile. There was also a mix of support unlike any other I had ever known- a loving community who wanted nothing more than to lift me up and see me shine was always there to listen, not judge. There was a mix of peace as well- a peace that completely transformed me from a monthly stress-crying maniac to a consistently calm meditator.
And then there was a mix of love- utter love, in many shapes, sizes and smells. I had no clue what it meant to truly love the human soul until I met Jesus. Meeting Jesus opened up the door for letting true, good love come into my life. It’s been a slow process learning the value of love and I’m still searching for a better understanding of it; of how to love deeper, how to love more, how to show it, how to be it.
All-in-all those two years were basically the best years of my life, mostly because the most amazing journey of my life began and is still continuing; my journey with Jesus.
The biggest struggle I have faced throughout the beginnings of this new-found journey has been personalizing my relationship with Jesus.
See, I have this terrible habit, or rather personality trait of mine, that causes me to desperately seek reinforcement of my own personal beliefs. Sound ridiculously silly? Yea, a bit actually. I shouldn’t be searching for reassurance of my beliefs, otherwise…what the hell is the point?
I’ve always taken pride in myself for my strong sense of independence- enjoying the thought of being totally self-sufficient, totally liberated from humanity.
That’s why I thought I didn’t need Jesus.
But no, I do.
I need Jesus more than former me would like to admit. I need Him everyday. Sometimes I forget that because I’m convinced I can do everything on my own. But, I can’t.
And that’s okay.
Sure, I still believe myself to be as independent as you could imagine, stubborn even when it comes to accepting help (and I’m afraid it only worsens the more I travel and experience the world), but I realize now that I haven’t been as ‘independent’ as I would’ve liked to believe.
That habit of mine- of looking for others’ reassurance of my beliefs is completely contradictory of the term ‘independent.’ And honestly, it didn’t really dawn on me until recently this slight flaw in my thinking.
It’s funny how God works- it’s as if this whole year living abroad has been one big father to daughter lesson in growing up land. It’s as if God just chuckled to Himself at my stubborn independent ways and said “fine, Morgan, you win, here’s your independence.”
My first semester abroad I feel like I completely failed at being independent in every emotional and spiritual way possible. My faith and I sat on a teeter-totter almost daily. I feared getting to know the local culture, despite, oddly enough, my desire to meet some locals. I held on so tight to everything and anything that provided reminiscent comforts of home…I was somewhat of a mess.
I had found a church here, in Spain, with the help of a friend but I eventually stopped going, for various reasons. Mostly I felt that God was calling me to step away from church for a while. Since the beginning of my journey with Christ I’d had nothing but an uplifting community of Christian standing behind my back, helping lift my arms in the air. I bounced my faith off of theirs as if building some kind of rubber-band ball, collecting rubber-bands from whomever had the most contagious faith.
My faith relied so heavily on the support of the community around me. I was completely and utterly dependent on the worship and the silent thumbs up I would receive from friends. I looked so much towards what other Christians were doing and what their relationship with God looked like that I hardly knew what my relationship was like.
Then, I left that loving community behind.
And I started doubting. Seriously doubting.
I no longer had a home of believers I could go to for every doubt and question. So, who did I consult? The internet- Youtube, articles, whatever I could get my hands on.
I get that we all have doubts; that’s natural. But I was diving into a sea of unhealthy doubting, of stressful doubting.
So, I decided to take a step back, to stop searching for answers, to stop searching reassurance, and to just listen.
Backing away from the church helped me focus less on what being a Christian looked like or felt like and more on simply having a relationship; which is what this is all about.
Another layer of my independence journey was peeled off as the safety blanket of my friends blew away. I now had to discover my own way of living in a foreign country. I knew then that God was telling me to find Him in the midst of my own consciousness, of my own state of being. I had to stop comparing my faith to others as well as comparing myself as a ‘Christian’ to other Christians.
Since then I’ve basically liberated myself from being a ‘Christian.’
I’m not ‘Christian.’
I love Jesus.
I don’t read my bible every day.
I talk to God every morning.
I wanted independence and God gave me that to truly find Him, to truly seek Him and know Him.
sometimes it physically pains me when i remember that I can’t actually marry “Firelight” by Young the Giant