i think it is crazy that there are so many different ways to think about something in this world. it’s weird to know that the likelihood of finding someone around me who holds the exact same belief is unlikely. even more crazy is that we lump ourselves into various groups with the false belief that that means we align ourselves to the same belief system.
being seen as a christian, today, isn’t a good thing. when i say i am a christian i am immediately expected to hate homosexuals, be anti-feminist, vote republican, and be pro-life. i am expected to give my money away, pray always, and have some profound biblical statement to say when someone is in need. i’m perceived to be someone who has a zombie-like faith, meaning i simply walk in it, and not participate in it. i must be told what to believe, because if i actually thought about it, i would never believe. but that’s not the case.
i’ve actually had someone ask me this, “how can someone of your intelligence and education actually believe in god?”
with a raised eyebrow, i responded, “i’m not sure how to take that question, as it’s both a compliment and an insult.” as if to be intelligent means you must aspire to believe there is no purpose in life other than maintaining a heartbeat and procreating. on the flip side, to actually believe in God whilst maintaining your intelligence and intellectual abilities, is too far fetched to be true.
i’ve since spent the last several years trying to stand up against the stereotypes of what it means to be both a woman and a christian. of what it means to be a woman impacted by sexual violence yet worship a God who rarely mentions that sexual abuse isn’t okay. of what it means to be an intelligent and intellectual person who also happens to believe that a magical being turned water into wine, fed thousands with one fish and 1 loaf of bread, split the red seas and freed the slaves, flooded the earth, and countless other ridiculous, and questionable acts.
before i called myself a christian, i called myself a victim. i looked at my life as a series of events with which i had no control over. i was being treated unfairly, my brother always got more than me (don’t we always think that about our siblings?), i was sexually violated by others, i wasn’t pretty enough to fit in with the cool kids, i didn’t have as pretty as a voice as the other girls in my school, my parents were making me move my junior year of school across the country, i’m losing all my friends, everyone hates me at this new school, o-m-g i just want to die!
truth be told, i did experience a lot of really bad things in my childhood. i did struggle with depression and suicidal thinking and attempts. i lived a completely different life than many of my friends growing up. my world wasn’t the same as theirs and i didn’t have the skill set to be able to define that for them. i didn’t know how to handle the rush of emotions i got when my world wasn’t rotating the same way as everyone else’s. does that make me bad, useless, pathetic or dramatic?
as an adult, i now have the opportunity to look back and really see things clearly. i’m able to reflect on the experiences of my past and make the choices that i couldn’t make back then.
i can choose to not see myself as a victim of my world anymore.
i can choose to actively pursue a life that is full of experiences, both good and bad, and rather than focus on the lack of control, remember that i always have the ability to respond to the situation in my own way.
in my last post i spoke to the way it felt with certain people in my past. the feeling that no matter what i did, i was never seen for the person i really was, but rather the person they always saw. i was truly seen as as an example of what not to do while growing up, rather than seen as a girl who, despite the chaos, was trying to figure out how to survive in this world.
many of those people are no longer in my life now. and while sometimes that makes me sad, for the most part i know i am a much better person because of it. no longer do i feel the need to explain myself to people who really aren’t listening. not only that, but i can actually be the person they always claimed they wanted me to be yet never allowed me to be.
i’m able to think, to make choices, and to express myself fully. i can say something hurt me without being belittled or judged for that hurting me. i can share my exciting news and others join me in excitement rather than judge me. i can talk about the struggles i am still going through because of my experiences as a child and not have it held against me. i have the ability to reflect on the anger i have without it defining me.
mostly, i am seen for who i am, not who i was.
so, to the people in my life now, i want to thank you. i want to thank you for sticking with me as i matured into the young woman that i am today. i want to thank you for sticking by me in the darkest of my moments so you could share the happiest of moments with me. i want to thank you for allowing me to define myself without your judgments. i want to thank you for seeing me for me.
for those who aren’t in my life anymore (although i doubt you’re reading this) i want to thank you too. i want to thank you for making me know, unquestionably, that i am not a victim of my experiences or my surroundings. that i can make choices, which may exclude you and your ideas, and that i will be a better person for it. i thank you for giving me the opportunity to stand up for myself, to make a choice about what i deserved and to finally pursue that. i’m sorry only that you wont see the person i am today.
i am not that 5 year old girl anymore. i am not that 16 year old crying over her teenage relationships. i am not that 18 year old trying to navigate the world on my own and fit in with people i don’t fit in with.
i am not a victim.
so, to answer that person who asked me how i could be as intelligent as i am and still believe in God, here is my response;
“it is because of my intelligence that i have the ability to believe in God. it is because i am intellectual that i have the willpower to question the things others are afraid to question. it is because of my intelligence and my degree that i don’t blindly walk in my faith, but rather dig deep for a fuller understanding of how i will define my faith. it is because of all of my experiences in life that allow me to know that there is a God who loves the me so much He died for me. it is because of Him, that i know who i am. it is because of Him, that i am not a victim.”
one last thing: many people are under the assumption that our past defines us, but i have learned this isn’t the case. our past merely grants us an easy excuse to align ourselves with the lie of the enemy. don’t fall victim to his lies. allow your past to grant you the insight to who you are, not by how you handled the situations, but by how you have prevailed.
this week i encourage to walk with your head held high. walk free from the grips of your past. see yourselves as victorious rather than as a victim. don’t let the enemy convince you that you aren’t strong enough to overcome.