This is not the best of times to blog because it looks like it will be a longish post and it’s already pretty late… BUT. I’ve started. Ain’t gonna stop now, oh nooo~ Or maybe I will. We’ll see.
I’ve been meaning to blog or ages and ages. I never really run out of thoughts and things to say but life just moves so darn quickly that sometimes the writing fever just passes or the experience expires before I get a chance to pen them down. 😦
Still. I’m trying my best to keep up. So.
This post just happens to merge one of my own past experiences with one of my friend’s. Yes, Jam, this one is for youu ❤
This is for the time that I felt less. Less than what I’m supposed to be. Not less than other people’s expectations of me, but less than what I expect myself to be. Less than what God wanted me to be.
In a nutshell, Jam (hope you don’t mind me sharing a bit) is going through a bit of a hard time in church. While her church has very good messages where she learns a lot in, her growth is stunted by the people around her, people who are supposed to be fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, who are supposed to care and love each other as a body of Christ. They aren’t… what you’d expect, I suppose, to put it simply. They didn’t show care or love to her, as a fellow sister. They just hung around with each other and treated her as invisible or something. Think of high school cliques as a parallel to this. The result was that Jam always feels ostracised and she went through a long period of “Something must be wrong with me” which just really breaks my heart because it is so untrue. Whenever she went to church, she was always on tenterhooks about having to interact with these judgemental people. I know that she’s been unhappy and trying to manage going to her youth services with a positive mindset but she always comes back sounding weakened and terribly sad.
At first, we thought “oh, there must be a legit reason as to why they appear so cold etc etc” and we’d talk about how she could appear more friendly, more warm and extend olive branches all round. I wish I could say they worked but nothing changed. While there were a few friendlier people in church whom she became fast friends with (because it obviously isn’t her that isn’t friendly), the majority of the youths just wouldn’t and didn’t make any kind of effort at all. The friends that Jam did make were mostly the newcomers whom she extended her friendship to and took under her wing while those who didn’t bother to try were the kids that grew up in church their whole lives and basically knew everyone already. That would explain how comfortable they were and how they didn’t seem to care for newcomers of the church like Jam and her friends.
I know Jam personally enough to know that she is a perfectly lovely person. She makes so many friends in school, even now in a new school and environment. Yet, I’ve watched her despair and dread going for any youth-related events in the church and while it admittedly crossed my mind that perhaps she wasn’t very good and socialising (as I am, as most introverts are), it didn’t jive with the rest of her non-church life. I even thought maybe she was one of those sensitive, high maintenance girls who just misread people as uncaring but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I, for one, as her friend, am the most brash, almost ‘guy-ishly’ blinded to sensitive girl hints etc. and she doesn’t have a problem with me. She doesn’t need an overwhelming, constant amount of attention. She would just like, perhaps, a little bit of “How are you?” or “Why didn’t you come last week?”. Some kind of basic care and concern that shows ‘oh someone noticed’. She’s no ego-maniac. I think this is really the least anyone would expect, the least anyone could do.
So that’s what she’s been going through and all of the little snubs she received (because she made an effort to actually befriend the cliquish youths but got burned and that really sucks for an introvert-ish person) have accumulated and overwhelmed her last week. It’s not even a once-off thing. It seems to be the culture there and she’s been there for quite some time already. It’s getting worse because her own friends are leaving her to study overseas and she has to move up from the teen to youth service where she isn’t close to anyone. I really hate to even imagine her dreading to go to church because of all this unnecessary fear and sadness. She will go, though, because she loves God so not going is not an issue or her, it’s the dealing with it when she gets there.
I think it’s safe to say that where we are now, in this new season of growing up, our identities and images of ourselves have gone through and will still possibly be going through a tremendous amount of influence from the people around us. Especially as girls, we tend to have a weak self-esteem in general so people’s opinions on us matter a lot. It’s where we place our self-worth and value in whether we know it or not. It’s all very subconscious. So it doesn’t take a genius to know that this is really unhealthy for her, for anyone’s growth. It’s poisonous and vile. Some weeks she really tries to face it with a brave front but no matter how long she tries, the strain of all this is tiring and it will show and it will come out somehow, somewhere. It kind of did last week but…I just don’t like this. I really don’t.
I don’t like the fact that this happens in a church. Jam and I are close sisters in Christ. She really helps me out where I am weaker in and I try my best to do the same for her. We encourage each other with the word of God whenever we have doubts and remind each other of His promises when the other is faint. I have matured a lot with her through our fights and our peace, through happy and stressful schooling years and she has matured so much too. I hold her very dear to me and I don’t like it that my friend who has so much to give, is being treated like that.
We don’t claim to be perfect Christians or humans for that matter. No, no one is perfect. No one is perfect and we aren’t trying to set some kind of standard to show off and be all “we are holier than you”. I think you can see for yourself that we are just people, if you don’t even factor in the God aspect, people who have bore the brunt of other people’s hurtful actions. We are just trying to say that how you act does affect us. It does. Naturally, the hurt here is doubled because…well, you are supposed to be our brother and our sister. And if I said that if I didn’t expect anything from our mutual identification as children of God, I would be lying. Yes, I would expect more because I have been surrounded by Christians who have surrounded me with a culture of genuine love and I have been greatly blessed by them. This culture is the norm that I know in church. And I think it should be the norm because we are, after all, supposed to love like God loved, so that by it God can be glorified. If we don’t do that, how does that set us apart as Christians?
I don’t like to write such posts, to write against my own family and people. Don’t you think it hurts me too? It’s shameful. I wish I could write about how the church is united as one, showing love and being a light to the world. But the truth is that these things happen within the church itself. That’s why people leave and they are unsure about God and they are disillusioned and hurt. If Jam were any weaker, she would have upped and left and no one would blame her. I don’t want it to come to a point where someone else has to tell her to “Go anyway. Isn’t God more important to you?” because they don’t know what she has gone through and even though they mean well, it’s not something that should come from outside of her. Jam knows who God is to her and I really admire how she goes anyway. Really. I just feel that as fellow brothers and sisters, we ought to help each other grow and walk together, to journey together.
Having said all that, I can also say that I have been, at some point or another in my life, been that kind of a person that I’m writing against. I’ve been mean, sometimes for no legit reason at all. I can say that my personality is not a spontaneous one such that I will take the initiative to welcome somebody which leads to a whole ‘nother discussion I have with myself of where my personality ends and where God’s influence starts. I’ve…just not been the best. I’ve not been the kind of Christian I want to be, the kind of image God wants me to show. I’ve fallen short and I keep getting in my own way.
Sometimes, it even appears that people who are not Christians behave better, love better and are just generally nicer people than us. There are people who, without God, seem to have it all together better than we do. They seem to have less issues than us and they can love and laugh too. Then what makes us distinct from them? What excuse do we have if we have God but behave even worse than people who live life without Him? We are not even answerable to Man then but to God. So we should be more careful about how we live because God is who we are accountable to.
I’m weak and I’m imperfect and usually blinded. That’s why I need God. That’s why we are even Christian, because we know we need God. Because in my weakness, He will be my strength and wisdom and peace. And then He will be glorified.
In closing, for people, fellow Christians, who have been hurt by the church or Christians, who have rightly taken the church for some kind of haven from the world, I’d just like to say sorry on their behalf. I’ve been there, I’ve been a mean person while carrying the sacred name of Christ in me and I know I’ve hurt people too. I appeal to you to remember that we are still imperfect. We all are, but we are striving for the same thing together. We may hope for the church to be a haven, but sometimes people will fail us and we may even get hurt within its walls. I’m not trying to justify being mean and hurtful but I do ask of you to keep us in prayer. Please pray for us to be convicted by the Holy Spirit to show us where we’re wrong and to guide us from there because most of the times, we are completely blind to our faults and may not mean to hurt you even though we did. So please pray for us and forgive us. For the name of our Father.
For other Christians who have hurt people but don’t think so and continue to do so, well, you’re accountable to God. He died for you and if you’re going to bear the weight of His name and His cross and His goodness and glory, bear it well so that more people will see and know. Don’t play God down just because of how you live. As long as you make the effort and walk closely with God, work with Him to change to be more like Jesus, that’s really good enough.
Because that’s all what we are living for.