I'd like to give a little shout-out to my international following. Yes, this blog apparently has attracted the attention of all those people across the pond(s). Amazing! This month alone, I have had (via this page) visitors from Germany, Poland, Russia, and Sweden! WOW! Hello there people from across the way! The fact that anyone reads my blog at all makes me excited, but it is true, I am a little extra excited that people from really far away read this. Sorry, fellow Americans. You're important too. While exciting, this also makes me feel like I should have something really important to say. Which I don't, most of the time. I'm thinking, but nothing has gotten under my skin lately and so I have no rants. Come to think of it, I've been a pretty happy person and the only thing that's disappointed me today is the rain.
In the interest of writing interesting things, I'll give you an essay that I wrote for my application to YAGM. I'm going to believe that none of you out there are going to steal it, pass it off as your own, and in general, be incredibly stupid. That goes for any of the stuff on this blog. Plus, this one is "How would you articulate your Christian faith and how does this faith inform who you are?" and if any of you have ever had this EXACT SAME FAITH EXPERIENCE, please contact me and I would really like to talk to you further. Also, this application has already been sent in, so if you do try and pass it off as your own, they already have a copy in their office and you will look silly.
My faith is centered in God. My faith is a conversation. A conversation between me and God, a conversation between me and my friends, a conversation between me and my pastor, and a conversation between me and the world. It’s very honest and real. I don’t make it out to be anything that it’s not. I’m imperfect in every sense of the word. I don’t read the Bible enough, I don’t pray enough- just like everyone else, my faith is real. And real often doesn’t mean perfection. You have to strike a balance in your life between your gifts and your sins. Sins happen, they are there, but my identity is not in being a sinner. My identity is being a child of God. I have been through the good and the bad. An illness I didn’t want, people around me who have died too young, a life that’s made me more dependent as I’ve gotten older, rather than independent. Yes, I could say that all of this isn’t fair. Why should I have to go through things that most people haven’t by the age of 22? But my faith is unwavering, dogged in it’s pursuit of answers and comfort and the feel of belonging to God. Though I don’t believe God always causes the “bad” or the “evil,” he is still very present amongst those things. I firmly believe that. In a very genuine way, going through the hard things made my life far richer. He taught me through the bad things and the things I got angry about that I could grow into a better person, a stronger person because of what I’ve gone through. It’s “why me?” but also “why not me?” My struggles have turned to lessons and experiences I can share with people, but I’m the biggest pupil. I’m learning to share my experiences in such a way that does not lament over the struggles, but rather glorifies God as he helped me to overcome and live with them. I think that any conversation with God is a good conversation with God. Even when I’m angry or complaining, the answers that I get are still constructive. He has patience when I do not. I’ve connected with people on different levels; I’ve connected with God through conversations that seemed unreal at the time. My faith is obviously completely focused on God- He’s my father. He’s also my number one fan- the voice in my head always, unfailingly telling me “You can do it! You can make it through!” My faith is also connected to people. I’m a firm believer that God makes himself known, incarnate, through people. I believe he can speak through them (like a sermon), he can love through them (mothers and fathers), and he can express emotion through them (support). I could rattle off dozens of names of people I just know he works through. It’s not just clergy, it’s my best friends and my parents and my mentors and professors and just about anybody who comes into my life and makes His presence known. So my faith is also relational. As I said previously, my identity is as a child of God. That means having a father figure beyond my incredible earthly father and it means having an extended family of billions of people. It’s having a home to return to- as physical as a church or as abstract as a group of people. It means being forgiven for the sins I commit and being saved from darkness, evil, and sin. I have the capacity to be receptive to grace and I believe that I am saved by grace. As a bumper sticker I have says “Grace Happens.” It happens to me and to everyone else. I’m saved from the consequences of darkness, evil, and sin, but not from the realities. I still go through them, but I’m guided and I know I can reach out, and He’ll be there. I’m also saved for the service of the Lord, through my community, the church body and all people I come into contact with. Being a child of God is being born into a family of responsibility, but also a family of love.