Coming Out as a Christian Dudette

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Partly-demolished Takeaway

Partly-demolished Takeaway (Photo credit: harry harris)

I ‘came out’ as a Christian at a curry night shindig on Friday! Yes, I was surprised too. I was with younger friends (20-somethings) and they were dissing Christianity. I did not say anything for a while but then I thought, ‘I am being a coward,’ so I said: “Actually, I’ve recently become a Christian.” Cue shock!

They asked me about it and I explained I was very new to it all, still finding my way, etc, and it went well and I think the fact that I seemed to be pretty much like I always am, on the outside anyway, helped.

I did modify my comment slightly by saying I was “exploring Christianity” and that I have never, until then, said: “I am a Christian” but it was a relief to at least not sit there shirking.

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Crag Hoppers

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Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and Little Langdale, Th...

 The Lake District, Cumbria (Photo credit: SwaloPhoto)

Tomorrow morning, Easter Sunday, there is a prayer meeting/service at 6.30am at a local beauty spot – a looming crag near the sea. I would love to go to this but I can’t as I am still under ‘house arrest‘ (not really, but I can’t travel for some time). Provided the weather stays fine I think that service will be beautiful. Sigh.

 

Ours is “a church without walls” – so such a service is perfect!

 

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Disconnected or ‘Disjointed’

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Feeling torn in two directions. Talked about this with a church friend  tonight. She made the move  to Church Town last year and she hasn’t looked back.

I have long had a desire to live in Church Town. I decided to see if the urge would pass – maybe it was just a whim – but I now think it is where I want to be, need to be, in fact. But affording a place there is a problem. The friend did offer me a room in her house as a way to transition. Worth bearing in mind, though I would need to buy a place really. I am sure there will be a way to get here somehow.

Connecting Rod

Connecting Rod (Photo credit: Daniel Y. Go)

Where I live now is great and I have great neighbours. It’s a desirable area. But it will have to be sold at some point and it is too wrapped up with memories of my STBX – soon-to-be-ex. And others in the area are moving on…

I sometimes think I will never get over this separation. (Even if it was necessary). That, coupled with the loss of my stepdad has been too much (plus other things that have been going on).  Despite the fact that I have so many people in my life – many more than when I was married – I do feel a central core of loneliness in me. This I have felt only since August 2012. I think this loneliness is trying to tell me something!

Maybe I’ll let yo know what it is – when I find out!

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I see you in the storm, I see you in a kiss

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Jesus Culture

Jesus Culture (Photo credit: AdamRozanas)

“I see you in the storm, I see you in a kiss,  I’ve been around the world and never found a love like this.”

I can’t stop listening to this Delirous? song ‘Inside Outside‘. I have not taken to any other their other songs so far, just this one. It definitely sounds like U2 but has a really sexy (yes, sexy!) driving beat, and a love-filled lyric sung in a caressing voice. The bass line is really mellow. 

I do like these songs that sound like they are about a girl/boy but also about the ‘beloved’, the divine. 

Not listened to much Christian music. What I have heard is very much on the soft rock spectrum, a bit sub-U2, rahter earnerst. The only other Christian song that I adore is “Your Love Never Fails” (Live) by Jesus Culture.

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Maundy Thursday

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From one of the pastors at my church:

Maundy Thursday
Latin – ‘mandatum’; command or mandate. Jesus said:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).

My Own Momentous Move

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Chinese elm bonsai group

(Photo credit: 1967geezer)

Motivation for Momentous Moves: Major life stressors such as death, redundancy and divorce; meeting new people or a new person; birth of a child; age-related motivators (reaching particular birthdays etc).

Momentous moves need not be headline grabbing events. Often they comprise a series of smaller moves that lead you in a particular direction.

In recent years my most momentous move would be to step into the divorce course introductory meeting. I had no idea that two years later I would be exploring Christianity, be going to church, be part of a Life Group and have met so many great people, made so many new friends – and tentatively calling myself a Christian. No idea.

I did not think I was taken out of my comfort zone until further down the line when I realised how strongly Christian-based the divorce course was and that I was in the minority. I did not feel a need to join in in order to ‘belong’ though.

However, for some reason I kept making smaller moves – attending other courses at church, starting to attend services, joining LG, reading… then reading some more…that all together have become a Momentous Move. But it had to be a gradual thing (and continues to be so.) It’s been a very remarkable two years. In fact, it’s been so complex and my ‘journey’ is still very much on-going (though it is for all) that I cannot express in this short segment what it’s been like. This blog is my way of doing that, I guess.

 

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Life Group Notes: A Momentous Move

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TITLE & PASSAGE: 
Joseph: “A Fruitful Life” – A Momentous MoveGenesis 45:25- 46:7

REFLECTION: remembering the main points

What were the factors that prompted Jacob to move his entire family to Egypt?

  • Persistent Troubles in Canaan. Genesis Chapters 33-42

  • Providential Invitation from Egypt. Genesis 45:25-46:1
  • Specific Approval of God. Genesis 46:1-7

DISCUSSION: helpful questions[Choose one or more of the following]

  • REFLECTIONS ON THE PASSAGE: Read the passage in the group & discuss insights or questions that come to mind.
  • MAJOR MOVES: What factors do you think motivate most people to make a Momentous Move? Share any time you made a momentous move that took you away from your comfort zone.
  • DIVINE GUIDANCE: How might the factors that helped Jacob decide it was right to move to Egypt help us to make Life Changing decisions? How can we tell the difference between a Providential Invitation & a Diabolical Temptation?
  • THE PROMISED LAND:  God gave Abraham in Gen 17:8 & Isaac in Gen 26:3-4 promises that the land would be an everlasting possession for their descendants. Why do you think that Jacob experienced such difficulties when he was living in the land of promise? How is it that for generations this territory has been occupied by Gentiles not Jews? How should we view the current Palestinian & Jewish settlers’ positions?

INTERCESSION: praying things through

Pray for any you know who need to make life changing decisions

A Plethora of Gifts

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Inside Outside (Delirious? song)

Inside Outside (Delirious? song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

More visitors this week. My Christian mentor has lent me zillions of DVDs, CDs, books etc, all on a Christian theme. Some I like, some I’m not so sure about. Let’s say I still don’t really take to Scottish rabble-rouser, Nancy Goudie and her Oases of….Whatever, though I can appreciate why others might like her. I have enjoyed listening the band Delirious? and a track called ‘Inside Outside‘. I’d never heard of them before. You’ve got to a remember this kid is more used to rap, Hip Hop, Glam Rock and punk…

 

A lovely male friend came bearing super gifts: a huge Easter egg, (praise be, indeed!) Scooby-Doo bookmarks, (you can’t beat that!) quality card and the C S Lewis‘ book The Problem of Pain. I just started reading that last night and I think it will  be a great one.

 

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A Lesson of Role Reversal in the Congo

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Congo Boatmen

Congo Boatmen (Photo credit: International Rivers)

When the Christian missionary, Dr Helen Roseveare, was ill in Congo with cerebral malaria  she was nursed back to life by African-trained paramedics. She found that she had to thank them, “sincerely thank them”, as she puts in Enough “when normally they thanked me for all I did for them.” This reversal of roles was very difficult to accept.

Dr Helen writes that this role reversal was God saying to her: “This is necessary. They need to know that they are needed and that therefore they are fully part of the family.”

The friend I’m troubled by has been an invaluable support to me in the past. It’s been humbling at times. I vowed to this friend, and myself, that I would be there for them when needed.

However, what has happened over recent months is, I feel, a shutting out, a shutting down, on my friend’s part. I have not been allowed to give the support.

You could argue that my friend needs support of a different sort – to be left alone. (“If only they would let me alone!” was Sebastian’s cry in Brideshead Revisited). That’s what I had told myself. But when it keeps happening, when you are basically told you are not allowed to ‘be there’ for someone then you feel not needed – i.e., unnecessary – not part of the cause, not part of the family. That’s probably the crux of my dissatisfaction in this particular case.

You could argue that taking on the role of unwilling recipient reveals an inflated sense of one’s own capabilities or position in the world. Or it may result from low self-esteem. Whatever, it makes the willing giver feel judged, found lacking, excluded and incompetent. I’m not quite sure how you deal with that.

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Let it Be

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Guidance, Home

Guidance, Home (Photo credit: djwtwo)

I’ve been wrestling with a friend issue these last weeks. It’s gutted me. I feel there has been a problem over the last eight months but it has come to a head now. I was turning it over and over in my head: what to do? Was there any guidance in scripture? Should I ask my Life Group buddies for help?

I thought about writing to my friend to set out what I feel has gone wrong. But then I realised that this is not the right time for this friend. I had to put aside my need for expression and answers and think about their needs. (Believe me, this was not my way in the past.) I gave it up to God, with Plan A (i.e., me tackling the issue) as an option for the future.

Then my friend contacted me, friendly as you like, just as I had given up all hope.  Friend possibly has NO idea how I feel or why I am so upset or that I think our relationship has deteriorated. Just as in a romantic relationship I have charted this deterioration. I am still at that stage where I feel my reactions (snappiness, anger) have come about as a REACTION to my friend’s behaviour. The friend probably sees me as a grumpy, spoilt, oversensitive idiot.

I truly don’t want to lose this friendship, which I had thought was very deep. I believed we would be friends forever. But I can’t go on like this either. So I shall leave it with God and see how he might work with this ‘dynamic’.

Another friend said: “If in doubt, do nothing.” I think giving it up to God is an active thing rather than a passive one. What do YOU think? How do you give it up to God?

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Yes, I Am an Affectionate Person

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Niels Larsen Stevns: Helbredelsen af den speda...

Niels Larsen Stevns: Helbredelsen af den spedalske, Healing of the Leper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I tackled one of the questions for Life Group. Here is what I came up with.

Are you an affectionate person? Why| why not?

I am a very affectionate, demonstrative person. This was not always the case.

As a teenager and undergraduate I used to find it hard to express my love and appreciation for people in my life. I longed to hug them but was too self-conscious to do so.

However, I decided to ‘act as if’. This strategy means acting as if you already are an affectionate person (or whatever character trait you wish to develop). So I forced myself to start hugging people. It felt false and awkward at first but before long it became totally natural. I am now a hug addict.  I introduced hugging to a younger friend who reminds me of myself at her age . At first she was awkward too but now she hugs me freely!

Appropriate touch is such a powerful healer and the hug is friendly, and done properly, nonthreatening.  For the single, separated and divorced person hugs and touch are vital because we are just not getting that ongoing level of physical connection that studies prove lowers stress levels and make us feel connected to others.

I read a hugely moving piece in the book Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado this week. He writes a scenario where he imagines the heartfelt thoughts of the leper that Jesus healed. In other words, he writes the story we don’t get to read in the Bible. He writes with such insight into what it must have been like to be a leper in New Testament times. It is hard for us to envisage just how much of an outcast the leper was. He was feared and reviled much as the AIDS sufferer was in the 1980s, before the advent of drugs to treat HIV. (Not saying that drugs are a cure-all and that the problem is not still extremely significant.) The leper wanted to be healed – but more significantly he wanted to be touched because touch meant acceptance. Jesus did not hesitate, moved towards the leper, touched him and healed him.

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A Fruitful Life

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Loving (TV series)

Loving (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are the study notes for this week’s Life Group. I will be absent again but will have a bash at some of these questions, though I have left it a little late this week…

TITLE & PASSAGE: 
Joseph: “A Fruitful Life” – Family Man – Genesis 45

REFLECTION: remembering the main points

DISCUSSION: helpful questions

  • What is the greatest challenge in your family life today?
  • How do you react to the challenges in your family life?
  • What surprises | encourages you in this passage?
  • If you would have been Joseph – how would you have reacted?
  • Are you an affectionate person? Why| why not?
  • What was the root cause of Joseph’s surprising affection?
  • How did Joseph’s theology affect his family? How can you theology affect your family?
  • Jesus is the better Joseph – we need to move from imitation to invitation’. Discuss.


APPLICATION: ideas that work

Think of 5 things you can do as a small group to foster an environment of greater support for family pressures. Then spend some time praying that the Holy Spirit will make your group a place of genuine practical loving care.

 

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Turnaround After ‘Giving It Up to God’

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Christians always recommend “giving it up to God” – that is, problems or situations to God – so I did, that, as you will have seen from my post, Take a Deep Breath. Surprisingly, solutions came almost at once… I also prayed, in a very chatty and somewhat hacked off way, about the things that were upsetting me. Here is what happened:

A friend emailed me late last night to ask if she could help me in any way and I said yes; my Ex came and did a practical job for me and a guy from church text me out of the blue to say he was in my area and could he come and help out? (“Yes!”) And my BFF rang me from New Zealand. The church friend stayed for quite some time and it was great to talk at a more leisurely pace and more deeply rather than just snatched conversations after services and so on. 

Maybe the peace that Christians experience is largely down to knowing they can give it up to God and stop fretting over a situation. 

New Zealand

New Zealand (Photo credit: mdid)

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