About a year ago or so, a friend and I were chatting with each other. We (probably me) brought up the subject of religion. This was neither the first time we talked about religion, nor was it a heated or serious discussion. During the course of this particular conversation on this particular day, I mentioned I was [am] a Christian. I thought nothing of mentioning my Christianity, half assuming I was repeating information she already knew to be true. However, to my surprise (and the surprise of my friend), she responded, “You are?! I didn’t know that.”
Wow. Color me embarrassed. Actually, color me a full palate of emotions.
Though I do not wear my religion on my sleeve, I consider myself a Christian. Due to my friend’s response, I began to wonder. While wondering, I began to spin my friend’s response in a way that would not be so – well – damning. Perhaps my friend was not familiar with quiet, soft-spoken and subtle Christians. Maybe my friend equated Christianity with constant witnessing, constant judgment and a heavy dose of holier than thou. From that perspective, I felt better, but I did not feel good.
My friend uttered that response over a year ago. As the days of Lent and my abstinence from Facebook and Twitter continue, I figured the time had come for me to address – for myself – my friend’s response. For the first time, I mentioned what my friend said to women within my church small group. (A Small Group is a church sponsored group of women that meet once a week to discuss various topics surrounding the Bible, Christianity and other religious ideas.) Again, I felt better, but I did not feel good.
With regards to my life, I am – for the most part – an open book. (My apologies.) Why is it my friend knows about my monthly cycle, my marital situation and activity of my kids on any given day, my favorite food and what I eat for breakfast every morning, but she does not know I am a Christian? Why am I a babbling brook about so many things, yet my core belief remains a mystery to some of those around me?
Shortly after the conversation with my friend, I had a thought. “Maybe I should buy a cross necklace. A cross around my neck would tell the world that I am a Christian, right?” Sadly, I truly had that thought. What’s worse, I bought a cross necklace and wore it like a badge. “Hello. My name is Lenore. I am a Christian. See my cross necklace?”
Rest assured readers, I was well aware of my poor judgment; and, I was well aware of my form of what – hypocrisy? Months after wearing the necklace religiously, I took it off and placed it on my dresser. I’ll talk more about the necklace later.
In my opinion, being a Christian means I believe in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost – aka God, Jesus and Holy Ghost – aka the Trinity. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe God created all of us and every thing. In my opinion – my opinion – Jewish people are the children of God, and God sent Jesus to save the rest of us.
I love to talk about free will and whether or not everything is predetermined. I love to discuss the power of faith and what I believe is needed to have faith. I enjoy debates regarding semantics (is that the right word?), because the details of where, when and how do not play a role in my faith.
I have friends that are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist, etc. I enjoy debating with my atheist and agnostic friends, and I enjoy learning about the faiths of my other friends. I question every thing. Every thing. Yes, I even question God.
I believe in the Word of the Bible, and I do not confuse the fact that the Roman Calendar dictates when Christmas is celebrated not the actual date Jesus was born. Moreover, I do not let certain societies dictate the look of Jesus, when I know he was born and raised in an area around North Africa and SW Asia.
Back to the necklace. In my heart of hearts, I do not believe Christianity is a label one wears. I believe Christians, in a literal sense, are people who believe Jesus is the Son of God. Because I believe Jesus is the Son of God, then I am a Christian. However, I believe Christianity is more than just a belief. I believe Christianity is a way of life. I believe Christians (and Jews) are charged with the task to live with a pre-programed moral compass. By pre-programmed, I mean God provided us with the rules and regulations, and we are to abide by His rules and regulations.
I will not speak to the difference in the Bible between the Old Testament and the New Testament, because as a Christian, I believe Jesus came with a kinder and gentler updated program. Plus, as I said earlier, I believe the Jewish people are the children of God, saved by God; Jesus came to save the rest of us.
For me, the embodiment of Christianity is best shown in Galatians 5 verses 22 – 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” In my opinion, the fruit of the Spirit could do a great deal of good in the world, regardless of one’s faith. Based on my friend’s response over a year ago, I need to do better in living by the fruit of the Spirit. I commit to that charge, and I feel better. In fact, I feel good. Thank you my friend.
21 thoughts on ““You are?! I didn’t know that.””
Thanks for sharing this – it is sort of a nightmare come true, isn’t it? Something I fear myself and hope won’t happen – though I can’t say that I’m sure it never will – to have someone be surprised by my profession of faith. Something to be aware of everyday, I think.
Thank you for reading and commenting, Patti. For me, religion is a personal and private matter. By that, I mean, I’m not going to stand on the street corner and profess my faith. (Then again, did I just do that by blogging?) Still, to know in my heart how I feel and to find someone was surprised by that – well, I felt I needed to be clear. This post was personal for me. I am glad you enjoyed it.
Wow – that verse is the theme for my UCC church this year! Small world. And I agree 100% with ‘the fruit of the Spirit could do a great deal of good in the world, regardless of one’s faith.’
I sense from your post that you walk the talk. Maybe your friend was expecting a Bible thumper? I’m surprised that, given my friends’ Boomer ages, they don’t have a good understanding of different religions. Most of my friends are Catholic. They don’t “get” the UCC at all. That’s far less important to me, though, than them seeing me exemplify the fruits of the spirit, if even in a subtle way (which is my general approach). I bet, if your friend reflected on your conversation, stepped back for a minute to think about you as a Christian in the broad sense of the word, she would see that you are one. Does this make any sense?
Hold the phone, AA. You are UCC? I grew up in a UCC church. Living in the South, I find FEW UCC folks. I think there are a total of maybe 5 UCC churches in the state of GA. I love UCC! I attend a Methodist church now, because my childhood church is too far away to attend and be active.
Yes. Your comments made complete sense. Thank you!
I love this post because it expresses very well the way I view religion, too. I grew up Catholic, married a Methodist, and attend a Methodist church. In that sense, I’m a bit of a hybrid Christian–I pull ideas from both churches to help me practice my faith. In the end, though, my relationship with God is very personal, and it’s not something I tend to talk about with many people; I’d rather cling to my own relationship with God than try to stick to a formula someone else thinks I need to follow. I don’t think my friends would be surprised to hear I’m a Christian, but I think they’d be surprised by how seriously I take my faith.
Thanks for this post. It’s always nice to know there are others out there who hold religion dear but still draw their own ideas about it.
Thank you for your comments, 36×37. I am pleased to see my post was well received. Religion can be a hot topic for many, in the sense that it will spark friction. I felt I was taking a risk by writing about my faith, but I felt I needed to write about my faith, too.
I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts.
Lenore, very interesting. Love the gifts of the Spirit, words to live by. Carol and I had an interesting discussion about wearing crosses on our visit. I guess another good thing about Lent is that it has brought religion to a more prominent place in our minds and our blogs for a while. Good stuff to think about. I much prefer those who live by faith instead of those who try to shout their faith at me. God sees what is in your heart and that is all that matters.
Thanks, Lisa. I’m pleased with the response I’ve received. I was hesitant about writing on the topic of religion, for fear of offending one person or another. Though honestly, the fruit of the Spirit can be incorporated in anyone’s life – regardless of their core belief or non-belief.
This season of Lent has touched me more than past seasons. I think it has something to do with no Facebook. 🙂
You have taken a subject that is impossible to put in a box, siphoned it through your heart and life, and given us a license to love whatever spiritual path we are on.
Just so happens that Jesus is my buddy, but I don’t go around talking about it – except to him.
Again, thank you, Soul Dipper. I appreciate your comments. As I said in a previous response, I was nervous writing this post. I am grateful the response has been positive. Thanks again.
Thanks for sharing your personal religious view. I loved the verse at the end.
In my opinion, all religions eventually and ultimately boil down to one thing: our personal and individual relationship with God (or Buddha, Being, Source or even Nothing…whatever word we label “it”) And this relationship is so intrinsically tied to EVERYthing we believe in and feel that we “know” in our hearts about life, death, spirit, purpose…and therefore is why we become so passionate and defensesive in our beliefs. You can’t get more personal when discussing why we’re here or who put us here or why.
You’re welcome. Thank you for reading and commenting.
At the risk of sounding like a yes’man (not that there is anything wrong with that), I agree with you. I believe religion does boil down to one thing, as you wrote.
When I was little, a friend and I would stay up late during spend the night parties. We would go back and forth trying to visualize ‘nothing’. It frustrated us to no end, because there is no way to visualize ‘nothing’. Having said that, I am amazed that some people believe in nothing. I can’t do it.
I hear you. I have had such a personal and natural connection with God since I was a little kid. I’d “talk” out loud to God every night laying in bed about my problems and troubles. Like God was a good friend. I guess I’ve just always had that comforting presense and don’t know any other way of living. I did go to church briefly, but found it cold and uninviting so I discovered my own way to spirituality. Now that I’m older, I am slowly trying to get that relationship with God back by praying, meditating and it’s giving me that much-needed strength.
So well said. It is so funny that we are shocked when what we percieve in ourselves, in our thoughts, hasn’t been “picked up on” by those around us. A small example of how we can deceive ourselves from time to time. Those wake-up calls are always unwanted or shocking, but so necessary for our continued spiritual growth. If we think we’ve got it all figured out, we will stop seeking to improve in faith and in trust…something we don’t ever want to do. Complacency is nothing to yearn for.
You are right, Ester Lou. I agree with you 100%. I am thankful my friend expressed her surprise. Wake-up calls are good to receive, even the tough ones. Thank you for visiting and commenting. – Lenore
:: love button ::
It’s reflections like these that make you golden, Lenore-y.
Thank you, Sheyra-E! I am glad you and that Andy guy put up with me and my babbles. 🙂
This is a really thought provoking post, Lenore. I used to have conversations all the time about religion, but it’s been awhile since I’ve talked about the subject with friends. I like that you asked your church small group about it and reflected on your own choices of choosing not to wear the cross necklace. That’s very self aware of you. A lot of people wear necklaces like that but the actual religion means little to them, or sadly it only means something when they want something. I hope you are able to speak to your religious beliefs in a way that is satisfying to you and to your god, that’s all that matters in the end. Fascinating post. Thank you. I popped over from Charles’ blog, and he recommended this post.
Thank goodness Charles has good taste, eh? 🙂 Thanks for visiting and commenting Jess. I’m sure I sound like a broken record, still – I am humbled by the response I have received. Religion has the potential to be a very controversial subject. I am pleased people are open to my opinion. Better yet, I am pleased a conversation is taking place. Thanks again, Jess.