Author: Melinda McCredie
When I made the decision many years ago to become a Christian, I knew that I would not have a lot of support from my family and friends. Most of them simply didn’t understand and couldn’t see anything wrong with my life the way it was. They were wrong of course, but I had no idea how to explain it to them. The times that I did try to have conversations about God or church, I would literally see their eyes glaze over!
I was surprised by how dismissive people were, as if faith in Jesus was just a phase I would get over. Then there were others who were always ready for an argument about God and treated me like I should have all the answers to life’s big questions now that I was a Christian. I would often be challenged about the state of the humanity, and people would constantly question me about the will of a God they claimed they didn’t believe in.
Christianity cost me some friendships, and at the time that was hard. Now I can see that those relationships were not good for me, but it’s always difficult to lose friends, no matter what the reason. I quickly learned who I could talk to about God and faith, and who I should keep quiet around. This was a great source of conflict and guilt for me, because I knew that honouring God and sharing His love required having conversations with non-believers. I just didn’t know how to do it.
For a long time, I felt like two separate people. At church I was free to talk about God, worship and pray. I loved the sermons and the singing, and I was becoming who I was always meant to be in God. But around other people I kept up the pretence. I laughed at jokes that I no longer found funny and participated in conversations that held little meaning for me. I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable in these relationships, and God was daring me to step out in faith.
I think it’s a difficult challenge for a lot of us to reconcile who we were in the past, with who we have become in Christ. Trying to be everything to everyone never works, but that’s what I was trying to do. I hadn’t been raised as a Christian, so I didn’t have a network of family and friends supporting me. At times it was a very lonely journey. People who grow up in the church sometimes forget how hard it can be for a newcomer.
But I did have God. It took me a while, but I eventually realised that the only one I ever needed to please, was Him. For the rest of my life! For a new believer it’s a lot of pressure to try and figure out who you are. But God is so kind, and He removed that burden so that I could learn to live out my new identity in Him. I took some baby steps towards building new relationships like joining a bible study and attending women’s events. And God started to fill my life with the friends He wanted me to have.
Now, I am me! No matter where I am, or who I’m with. God has taught me that conversation is not always the key to someone’s heart. Actions can speak louder than words ever could. So, I try to show God’s love to others any way I can. Sometimes I just pray and ask the Holy Spirit for a prompting in situations where I feel out of my depth. Maybe all that person needs from me is a hug, or a smile, or a kind word.
So, back to my original question: do you have the courage of your convictions? More importantly, do I? The truthful answer to that is, it’s a work in progress! And that’s ok. As long as we continue to trust in God and live our lives as a testament to His love, I believe He will do the rest.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
About the Author – Melinda McCredie