I thought I would write this blog specifically about my Faith. This is a topic I don’t love being too in your face about. A big part of me hates the stereotype that is evoked when you tell someone you believe in Jesus. What I realized is that I was actually going through a time when I felt apologetic for my spirituality. I didn’t let people see that part of me. Why? Because I was afraid of being pigeon holed, seen as weird, or lose a sense of ‘fitting in’, or a lecture on how ‘religion is ruining the world’. The last thing I would want is for people to be like, “don’t swear around Ella, she’s a Christian”, or “watch out she is going to try and convert you”. I was afraid of being labeled a goody two shoes or a bible basher when those who know me – know that I couldn’t be further from that stereotype.
Misconceptions and misunderstandings
I think feeling misunderstood or not feeling seen for who you really are is the most frustrating thing. You either want to hide or come out all guns blazing trying to defend who you are. For me, I chose option a) hiding and shutting down. Don’t show people that side of me because they will judge. And it’s funny they say that Christians are judgmental; no I think people are judgmental. Misunderstandings come from quick judgments that don’t look at the heart of a person, they don’t seek to understand first from their perspective.
I became a Christian when I was around 4. I grew up going to church every Sunday. Having faith in God was never something my parents pushed on me it was always a choice. There were times in my life when I didn’t go to church, being a curious person by nature, boys and parties were way more entertaining.
I used to struggle with fear, anxiety and bouts of depression. I would be fine then all of a sudden a wave of hopelessness would hit me and I would try to combat it with positive thinking and push myself to work harder so my fears wouldn’t become my reality. I would find comfort in blaming something external like people or work for why I wasn’t happy, but I never understood why I couldn’t break the cycle of unhappiness. Why was I attracting all these problems? I felt frustrated with God, it was as though I had God on trial for all my disappointments. “You say you’re a good provider? Well, I don’t see that. You say you want to give us an abundant life – but the Christian life looks boring to me and I am yet to see that.” I was longing to know what it felt like to be truly known by the God of the universe. Following a religious practice was never going to set me free and give me an abundant life. I felt like my dreams were God dangling a carrot in front of me saying, “You’ll never actually be able to achieve this…” Don’t get me wrong, this sounds like I was some depressed, self pity kinda girl – which I definitely wasn’t. I would just bury those thoughts that you’re not supposed to think and suck it up and be positive. I never wanted to be a person who complained about life.
The voice that stilled my soul
In the midst of me being disinterested in church, in and out of bars I felt the God size hole in my heart that nothing could fill. I went on my own journey of seeking truth. In a world of a thousand voices I needed to find the one voice that stilled my soul and assured me that I had a future I would love and come alive in. The way I would explain my spiritual encounters with God are like my whole body has woken up and my heart is full. I often feel clarity, peace and love in this place. More and more I am comfortable in uncertainty because I can trust that still voice that shines light on where I am at and is a beaming torch on where I am going.
Faith vs religion
When I talk to you about my faith I am not talking about religion. I hate religion but I love Jesus. Religion will tell you what to think but Jesus will teach you HOW to think. Religion has created this perception that God is a mean judge sending people to hell if they mess up. Religion creates wars, causes disunity and judgment. Religion is man-centered, Jesus is God-centered. Have I battled with whether God exists or not? Absolutely! Hello, it’s called faith for a reason! My biggest battle was whether God was good or not. I worked out pretty quickly that if I believe that God is a bad God I would look for evidence to prove my assumption. If I believe he is an amazing Father of the universe who’s character is love, kindness, mercy, provider and the list goes on, I will look for evidence to support that. The amazing thing is that more I have focused on this the more miracles I have seen in my life to point to Him being real, and good. Whatever I focus on I give power to. If I really want to transform my life, changing my belief system is where I need to start. My perception of God and my perception of myself are the keys that unlock my destiny.
“Thou hast formed us for thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in thee.” – AW Tozer.
My search is over; my heart has found rest in the father of the universe.