I started writing in March of 2014, and since then I’ve been so blessed with the invitation into the lives of others. It’s felt amazing to have people from my past reach out and encourage me or ask questions or thank me for sharing something they resonated with. Some are happy to watch me grow, some come to me for help with their Walk, and some want to walk alongside me. But then, some don’t. Many people have left me because of this change. A lot of my old friends have judged me and walked away from our friendship. And I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. But I can’t blame them.
I used to cringe at some things Christians did. I thought it was weird to see people praying over each other in public. It made me uncomfortable to talk about God outside of church or Bible study. I hated it when people were open to strangers about their faith. And I couldn’t stand it when someone I knew became reborn and went from blasting pop and drinking to listening to praise & worship music and wanting to “get coffee”. To be quite honest, I thought it was stupid and fake. It all made me feel so awkward and out of place. Yet, I claimed to be one of them at the same time.
Then one day I realized that they weren’t the issue. The issue was me. I either needed to walk away from Christ or change the way I viewed the Christian lifestyle. Thankfully, God was the one who had a hold on me, not the other way around, so I started trying to see things in a new light. It took months of prayer and pleading for God to give me a deeper desire for His Truth. It required reading my Bible every day, praying when it felt uncomfortable, and volunteering my time to serve others (when secretly I didn’t want to do any of it). But that’s the way it works. Obedience plays a huge role in the Christian life; it’s not some walk in the park. Some people think you just wake up one day, say a cute little prayer, and bada-boom, you’re going to Heaven! Everything’s fine, my life is perfect, and now I’m better than you! But, no – that’s not at all how it works.
When God calls you, everything is flipped upside down. For me, there was a struggle unlike any other. At first I tried to fit Him into the life I was living at the time, but then I realized that’s not going to happen because the life I was living was a life without Him. So I began changing. Nothing made sense, nothing felt normal – I was playing this internal tug-of-war where the old me battles the new me and it’s like I can’t win either way. Sounds fun, right? But the funny thing is, through it all, there’s peace. Through it all, there’s indescribable joy.
In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul talks about his hardships:
“We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships, and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarding impostors; known, yet regarded unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
It isn’t easy, this changed life – not for me, not for those around me. The old Lauren is gone, and boy does the new Lauren wish people could understand it was a change for the better. Sometimes it does hurt. My flesh doesn’t want to be left out, and at times the label of “the Bible study girl” leaves me feeling diminished. But I know that it shouldn’t. I realize that these sufferings can be endured joyfully because it is for the Kingdom. I realize that this new life isn’t going to be comfortable or easy.
But praise God it’s a life worth fighting for.
Becoming a Christian didn’t all of a sudden make me perfect. It made me aware – aware that I’m changed, I’m free, I’m forgiven, I’m loved, and my source of joy doesn’t come from anything this world can to offer me. Because of Jesus I can now talk about Christ with complete strangers. I don’t mind praying out loud in front of people. I’m not afraid to hold the hand of a dirty homeless person or ask the hard questions my friends may not want to answer. And when I feel deserted by those around me, I fall into the arms of Christ because I know He’ll never leave me.
I still struggle, but I know that the chains of Christ are freedom.
And I never knew how badly I needed that freedom until I found it.