This is going to sound horrible, just awful, but some times I think it would be easier to just go back. Back to a time when "knowing Christ" to me just meant that I acknowledged His existence....when asked, prayed when I thought I was about to die, and try not to use His name as a swear word. Back when I thought that alone would earn me a free trip to Heaven. Back when I thought I could believe in God AND abortion. Back when I thought I was serving God AND the world. Back when I thought I didn't need the Bible. Back when I thought I didn't need church. Back before I actually met Him. Back before He and I started walking hand in hand. Back before I realized what He actually did for ME on that cross. Back before I wanted every thought, action, word and breath to honor Him. Back before I knew Truth.
I didn't say it would be better, I said it would be easier. We all have a conscience, at least to some degree, we all (except people with actual personality disorders) can distinguish right from wrong, etc. I am not some heathen, even back then I wasn't. Even I was raised with some manners. But somehow when you really truly start living your life for Christ it's like your conscience gets a God sized amplifier. I don't know how to explain it any better than that. Suddenly you are hyper aware of every single mistake you make. Every sin, every offense, things that used to only bother you a smidgen now play on surround sound in your brain for a week (or more) until you truly give it to God and ask for forgiveness. It's not that you are suddenly some perfect, over achieving goody two-shoes, that thinks they are holier than thou. It's that you realize that your goal in life should be to live as Christ like as possible, even though you'll never even get close, that becomes your main driving force. You suddenly realize that the world hates true Christians and is watching you under a microscope, waiting for you to fall (and you will, often, more than often if you are me). You realize that by claiming the name of Christ as your Lord and Savior that you are now responsible for shining His light wherever you go. You are suddenly under attack from all sides, and the more outspoken your love for Christ, the more opportunities the devil gives you to fail, and the more the world wants you to.
Now, this is not some awful, horrible burden that He plops on your shoulders to carry, it's a great gift to be able to shine His light, it's an honor to walk so closely with Him and to be so enveloped by the Holy Spirit that you want everything you do to be for Him. But, it's also quite painful to realize that you've let down your Father. I fall short all the time. I try my hardest to shine the light of Christ wherever I go, and to truly love Him, and show Him I love Him. I look to Matthew 5:16 for this,"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." That's all I strive to do. But, I fear that I don't do a very good job, especially where Facebook is concerned (yes, Facebook friends, I heard the collective "amen") but the one place I DO normally do a decent job of shining Christ's light is in public...with strangers. But recently I fell so short, I am almost ashamed to call myself a Christian.
I wasn't going to write this, but it's been almost a week, and it's still eating at me. I think this will help. Last Friday I went to a movie with my sister, I broke my shoe, I had to squeeze my size 12 feet into her size 9 shoes, that was awesome. And then we met my husband for dinner. Everything was fine, our waitress was sweet, we ordered our dinner, we were laughing and having a great time! Then, she brought the food. I ordered a salad and she had to go grab my dressing after she gave us our food. So, we prayed while she went back to the kitchen. She came back with the tiniest little condiment cup of dressing for this big 'ole honkin' salad. I SHOULD have said: "could I please get some more?" life would have been fine. But, oh no, not me, what popped out of my mouth, after looking at my plate in disbelief?
"Seriously?!?! You have got to be kidding me! THIS tiny little cup for ALL THAT? You're not serious?" Where was my brain to mouth filter on that one? As soon as the words popped out I desperately wished I scoop them back in. When I realized that wasn't a possibility, I toyed with the idea of crawling under the table to die of embarrassment. The poor waitress looked like she was about to cry, Tom and Anna were trying to pick their jaws up off the ground, and I was completely mortified and could not believe what just came out of my mouth. The waitress mumbled "I'll get some more" and scampered off before I could pull my thoughts together. Both Tom and Anna looked at me in horror and said, almost in unison, "I can't believe YOU just said that!" Neither could I, I still can't believe I said that.
I know better. I worked with the public. I cried so many times at work. I was called every name in the book. I had all manner of rudeness poured out on me. I had just prayed and thanked GOD for my food not a minute before. I have heard my pastor say so many times "if you aren't going to act like a Christian in public, don't pray in public." I've said that to countless people, I've tried to make that my mantra, and then I say that?!?! I had no idea what kind of a day she had had up to that point, what if I was the one that pushed her over the edge? What if I was the one that sent her to the back crying? What if she had a horrible day, and I made it worse? What if she had just pulled a double? What was I thinking? I felt like the absolute scum of the earth. when she returned to the table I apologized at least thirty seven times, I was almost in tears, she was almost in tears. She forgave me. But, it didn't matter.
The words were out. The thing about words is, once they're out you can't take them back. Those awful, rude words, spoken in disgust have been on surround sound in my head since that night. I just can't seem to get them out of my mind, or the look on that poor girl's face. My duty as a follower of Christ is supposed to be to shine the light of Christ wherever I go. I failed miserably that night. What if she was on the edge of accepting Christ, and I ruined it? We must always be aware of our actions and our words.
The one good thing that came from this is the reminder that wherever I go, and whatever I do I am a representative for Christ, and I need to be a good one. If I hadn't had the close personal relationship I do, it probably would have been easier to laugh it off, to just get over it, and not even think about it. I'm so glad it wasn't easy. I am so glad that I have that relationship, and that even when I royally mess up, He still loves me. I'm so glad that maintaining that relationship, and keeping that light shining isn't easy. It makes me appreciate it that much more.
PS- Those of you from my church probably got a kick out of all of my "light shining" references. See, my poor pastor, the first, probably year, maybe two that he was at our church every single time he preached I would go home singing "This Little Light of Mine" and then post about how every time he opened his mouth I got that song stuck in my head...see what you've done to me? =)