Posted by: Mad Lamb | 10/09/2015

Sharing important things

This is an open letter to family and friends…

I’m aware that since I moved away from Scotland in 1986, I seldom get the opportunity to share anything with my family and Scottish friends beyond the surface of social interaction to reacquaint ourselves. For my 50th birthday, I wanted to share something important with you all.

Hopefully it’s not a surprise for you to know that I have a deep Christian faith, seeing as Steve and I have been working with churches for over twenty years. I would also hope that you never feel as if we force our beliefs on you. If you have ever felt like that, I apologize, it was never our intention. However, I have been challenged that I haven’t shared why my faith is important to me, so you have an opportunity to think whether it is something that may help you in your life. This is a very complicated subject but I’ve tried to explain it as simply as possible. So please excuse me, if something doesn’t make full sense. Feel free to ask me, or Steve, more about it but be assured we won’t make any assumptions about your interest.

I made the decision to follow the faith of Christianity in my first year at High School, after attending a Scripture Union camp. Although I occasionally attended Sunday School as a young child, it wasn’t anything I really understood beyond the stories that were told about characters, such as Noah and Jonah, or key events about Jesus, such as the nativity at Christmas and Easter. These just seemed to instill the generally polite social values that we should be kind to one another.

It was only at camp that I more fully understood about Jesus: that he came to earth in a miraculous way as a baby, grew up as a Jew, challenged people to live differently, was killed on a cross and miraculously came back to life again. There was a complicated bit in that, not only was he human but also one of three parts of God, known as the Son, so God was whole in those three parts of the Father, Son and the Spirit (told you it was complicated).

It was hard to understand why someone, who came to encourage people to be more generous and inclusive, should be killed. (For info, Samaritans were outcasts in that society and often placed as people others should like and look after, along with widows, orphans, foreigners and lepers). He came to explain that, as humans, we very easily do things wrong, become selfish and want to harm others. Jews were brought up to think that they could give sacrifices (kill and burn the best animals, birds or just use grain, if they were poor. At special times of the year bread and other things wre given in sacrifice) to God to cancel their bad deeds and thoughts, so they could start again. However people never gave up doing bad things as there is a dark side to us (some call the devil) that wants to keep us being selfish and unkind. (Not that we should excuse ourselves for doing bad things, just because it is in our nature – that is the complicated bit of being human – dogs don’t seem to have this problem, they’re not that complex!).

At camp, I learned that God sent the Son part of himself to earth to act as a permanent sacrifice so that we don’t need to keep offering sacrifices. He physically suffered a horrible torture and a real death so every human, and not just the Jews, had an opportinity to believe that God loved them so much that he would go through this pain. ( and I’m still learning what that really means ) It doesn’t mean Christians don’t do bad things but that we don’t need to bring a physical sacrifice but apologise to God, recognise that we need to learn how to be more accepting and selfless, like Jesus, and start again. This includes dealing with the situation in some way and that’s where we also often need to ask God (that’s prayer) to help us face those we’ve hurt to say sorry or do something to rectify the problem we caused.

It’s this belief that is known as Christianity and was so compelling to me that I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to be a better person, someone who wasn’t just out for themselves. That’s not to say all who don’t sign up to this belief aren’t kind, generous and selfless people, I just knew I couldn’t do it on my own as I’d spend so much time feeling guilty about it, I’d be just as likely to harm myself as a payment for the bad I did or the good I didn’t do. Knowing that guilt has been paid for, in Jesus Christ, protects me.

Throughout my life, and epecially when younger, I’ve often felt alone and aware that I was often reliant on wanting other people to like me to have any sense of self-worth. That was also a risk for me to do things I didn’t want to, in order to please others and be liked. Having God in my life and remembering He has my best interest in mind, helped me to like myself for who I am and not worry about what others thought. (we use ‘He’ when talking about God but God is both male and female, and neither, so don’t get hung up on this)

Some of you may say you have friends to talk things over and to keep you on the straight and narrow so don’t need God, and that is great. I have had friends too, but it is in the quiet of your mind in the night or in difficult situations, where your thoughts are unknown to those around you and sometimes we carry feelings others never get to see. It is there, where an all-seeing, all-knowing God can sit with you and help you know how much you’re valued and that He can help. This is where prayer kicks in. I can lay out all my worries, hopes and dreams in a safe place. It’s also a safe place to take anger and hurts without resorting to retaliation and violence. The Psalms in the Bible are full of people who are angry, hurt or frustrated but when they take those emotions to God they end up realising that He, or She, is bigger than all their problems and help them through.

Without knowing God, I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t be the person I am, however still flawed. I believe there is a chance I wouldn’t even be here, either due to substance abuse or just a hate for myself. Even with God, I have still struggled with life, as many have – learning to be unselfish, by share my life with Steve in marriage; knowing life seems to take me away from friends and family; coping with the knowledge I couldn’t have children and, for the last three and half years, living with my psoriatic arthritis. As you can see, making the decision to believe in God hasn’t stopped life’s problems appearing but I can cope with them better and I’m much happier than without it.

Some may call faith a crutch, yet if we had a broken leg, we wouldn’t reject a crutch to help support us then. I’m happy to acknowledge, I can’t cope with my broken life without my faith. As someone who has had to give in to using a stick to get around better in the last year or two, believe me, a crutch or sitck is not a bad thing. I am also not saying I’m better than anyone else. If you have life sown up and never feel like jumping off a cliff nor wish someone would help deal with a seemingly impossible situation then I’m really glad for you.

As mentioned in the introduction, I have been challenged that we can easily tell people about an amazing web site or new cleaning product but not share something more significant. I hope you have had a little insight to my choice of faith so I can share a little more next time we meet. Perhaps, you would like to share something important in your life that I don’t know about so we can chat about that too.

With much love, Elaine

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