For many years I walked in shame for my faith and beliefs. Truly mortified to speak them aloud, I even went as far to recant that I ever truly believed in the first place. I thought being a Christian meant carrying this tremendous burden of shame, embarrassment, yet for years I never truly understood why. The moment was truly divine and as if God struck me across the back of the head; I was paralyzing my thoughts, my beliefs and my faith until that moment. My realization allowed me to confront that my beliefs were not about me, but about Him, my life was more than just me and that life was cool to be a Christian.
My friends of various faiths, Judaism, LDS, Catholics, were all staunch with their affirmation in their beliefs, as if they paraded like the emperor in his new clothes. I could not fathom the realism of being myself, in my own skin, with my own beliefs with all the looming disgrace of being me. I never understood, not until I was 35. I felt like Moses, having lived this long in my life with no spiritual intervention and then wham, this life. The life I love came to me. Realization came when I saw how the veil was torn. I saw His grace, love, sacrifice.
That epiphany defined the genesis of shame and embarrassment. Our culture, society, those who truly do not get what being a follower of Christ truly entails, defined who a Christian was “suppose” to be, who I was suppose to be amongst my peers. The skewed and obtuse perceptions, interpretations, and teachings create this shame; finding yourself kicking a toe in the dirt, a low hung head and sheepish voice claiming, “Yeah, I’m a Christian. I believe.” You know that moment, you have felt that burning into your soul. Chills quiver through your existence that you might be rejected by your peers for loving something greater, desiring Greater. Dare you speak a whisper of your faith, the succeeding actions from your audience are of heavy sighs and a possible eye roll. Pity.
As of late I have seen such a beautiful and genuine emergence of “cool” Christians; wearing their flaws on their sleeves, these broken people shout to the heavens how much they love Him, love themselves, love others. These folks aren’t kicking the dirt, they are initiating a new breed, transcending the stereotype. Escaping the traditional fire and brimstone, maladies of classical hymns by a choir on Sunday that would showcase who we wanted to be and hiding who we really are as a people. Sinners.
I ran into a friend from church the other night while dropping the kids off for their Wednesday night life groups. Our encounter humbled me ever more. She told me, “I love your writing. Keep writing. I know very few people who are our age that get it.”
She got it. She got that I got it. Praise God. Maybe my age, our age has everything to do with faith, our faith. Relinquishing the fear of judgment from others, which is a mortal reflection of insecurity and personal fear. Grieving our former selves, loving them all the same as they have shaped us into the people we are today, bounding with love, benevolence, calm and a bit of whimsy.
As I progress into my elder years and I have accepted that life is more than just me, I want, I lust, I desire more of this life, my life, the life of and for my children. Communing with people, tendering a love the way He did, and exploiting the whimsy for life by unlatching the societal norms, the harnesses confining our being.
Some 25 years ago I was confined to my grandmothers Pontiac, the travel from her home in Eloy to my childhood home in Chandler felt like an eternity in her car. The endless stretch of desert was like a sea of beige back then, littered by the occasional eye candy of a billboard. Cruising along as a passenger I remember battling for the radio station. She had her presets, Christian music, as I say that in the most childish, sarcastic voice…possibly with an eye roll. While I, on the other hand, fought to listen to Top40 pop. I was an 80s child, dear God, anything but old hymns. I could feel the yawns and an overall feeling of sleepiness with the suggestion of the organs playing in the background.
Christian music was not what it was today. The best you could get was Amy Grant, but she was like Debbie Gibson, catchy but you would be caught dead listening to her. Yesterday’s Christian is not today’s Christian. My grandmother is a perfect example that Christians today are not as they formerly were. Grams was, is, the strongest woman I know in Christianity. A warrior of faith, love, sacrifice and selflessness; her grace for the love of the Lord has evolved so magically and enviably. Today she rocks her Christian stations, the same one’s I do, she even does so in her Ford Mustang GT convertible. She has helped me embrace the evolution of owning brokenness. Shattering my own veil that I have a perfect love in an imperfect world.
Listening to the traditional hymns and psalms in my grams’ car was reminiscent of the shame, the culture, the secret we all bore but never uttered. Our hidden heathen, God truly forbid we ever let the bastard roam free amongst all the other hidden heathens, declaring our humanity. How could we display the truth outside these ecclesiastic moments; broken people, sinners, lovers of the Lord existed as a singularity. Not today. Today’s music, I can crank in my Jeep with the top down, all windows down and never feel ashamed to be broken, to love worshiping out loud. Bands like Lifehouse, P.O.D, Jars of Clay, FlyLeaf, Switchfoot all derive their music from strong faith, religious roots and stream into our homes on traditional Top40 radio. I have even become THAT parent. While I still have my normal radio stations I find myself cringing and changing the channel when I truly hear the lyrics. These words playing into my children’s ears, minds, and then they are spouting them. Last thing I want is my seven year old daughter spouting off about menage a trois from Katy Perry while riding in the Jeep. So when they ask for “Greater” by Mercy Me…
What is on the other side of your cool? What about your faith, what quality causes you angst? Are you in the disavowal stage? Accepting who we are and in our faith does not mean that we are, for lack of a better term “Bible thumping.” We can be who we are, be in our beliefs, and share the good Word just like we share small talk. Like breathing.
How can life be cool to be a Christian; just do these three things. Get over it! Get over what you thought you knew. Find a home that tells the story of the Bible, but be ready. The story is a romance, a love story of a Father who so loved his children he sacrificed his only son. Get under it! Serve your community, serve the way Jesus did, because you know this life is not about you. Get with it! Be with other people who love God. Do life with these people. Because what is this life if you cannot share with others? In my walk, I have found more people, friends, who have helped me redefine my cool.