It is easier said than done…
As a kid, I thought to get to Heaven, I have to follow my parents and do good things to get to heaven. As a pre-teen and teenager, I found myself depressed because I was trying to be as “Christian” as possible but fell short often. I thought that if I did enough, God would bless me and I would be in Heaven and not in Hell.
Fast forward to college, I still had this “I can’t do this because my parents said so” mentality. I knew I was saved but being in college was a lot. Of course, my peers always said, “you’re 18, you can do what you want,” “why do you do everything your parents say,” “you are your own person.” Like ya’ll, I felt attacked. Like I am trying to check all the boxes of Christianity and follow my parents’ rules. I was being tossed on all sides that I was naive, traditional, weird, and being controlled by my parents yet trying to be a Christian.
It was not until the first night of Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) where my eyes were truly open.
The BCM President said, “I know that some of you did grow up in a Christian home. I know that your parents told you to go to church, do missions, and read your Bible. You have been protected under your Christian parents but I want you to know that your parents are not God. When you stand in judgment, you cannot assume that you will be with Jesus because your saved parents or grandparents. You must give an account for yourself. You must know what you believe. Being a Christian is having a relationship with Jesus, not a list of rules.”
Wait what!?! I have to have ownership for my faith….my mind was blown and that was the defining moment for me.
So throughout my freshman year, I decided to read the New Testament as a quiet time to truly know why I believe what I believe. I wanted to have my own Biblical foundation. So throughout college, I read and kept making personal choices for myself. Once I began to understand that Christianity is not a checklist to heaven, I began to experience a little more grace and freedom in my relationship.
The key to my relationship with Christ is it was all me. It was not just what my parents said (which was correct). It was my convictions that were given to me by God. It was me seeking truth rather than relying on someone else 100%.
But living in my convictions was not easy. It was manageable in my undergraduate life because I had Christian groups that I was involved with and I was mostly around my Christian friends. We were all weirdly Christian together. The challenge was when I graduated and went to law school.
Law school was unchartered territory. I left my Christian bubble for something I had never experienced: real freedom…like 6 hours from home and comfort.
I promised myself that law school would not change me but grow me into a better Christ-follower. The first year was hard to be honest. My Christian demeanor stuck out like a sore thumb..like I wore a shirt that said, “Hi. I’m a Christian and I wore this shirt to let you know.”
There were moments where people looked at me weirdly or whether intentionally or jokingly made fun of the way I talked, walked, dressed, and lived. I felt bad because I wanted to fit in with my classmates but I did not go to bars, nightclubs, or lounge and I don’t drink. I don’t curse in my regular dialogue. I went to church almost every Sunday I could. I posted scripture and encouraging things on social media because that’s just me and I want people to feel good. I like to paint and have sober fun.
I felt very alienated because I felt alone in my faith. I realized that I decided to live for Christ which meant that I would be unpopular. But I am reminded of this: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. – John 15: 18-19
Jesus knew what I felt to be hated. He was perfect in every way but even his family, disciples, and followers did not understand him.
So, I am no better. If I am hated for being set apart, then I am probably on the right track.
But know what the wonderful thing is: the same people who were weirded out by my Christian demeanor have asked for prayer, like the encouraging things I say or post. Some don’t allow people or themselves to curse in front of me. My mom has told me that, “Bianca, people respect you because you stick with who you are. And you don’t change your stance.”
So I treat my walk with God as a banner to the world. Yes, it is strange, uncommon and traditional. But it is me.