Lost and Found
Even though I’m a recovering care-taker, I still get urges to DO something about situations I don’t like. Most often it’s about things that are none of my business.
But not always. Sometimes it is my business. Not because it’s about me directly, but because it’s about women, men, young people and children being persecuted because of their faith. Some would say their religion. To me, it’s about what they’ve staked their lives on. Their faith.
I’m a woman of faith. It may seem that if someone being persecuted doesn’t share my particular faith, it’s none of my business. But it is my business.
As a woman of faith I’m also a citizen of this world. Not just of my nation. I’m not immune to violence against Christians. Nor, as a Christian, am I immune to my own violent wishes and waves of anger. It is my business. I’m a potential victim and a potential perpetrator.
I’m also a woman of Christian faith. Christians aren’t now and never have been the only believers targeted for persecution because of their faith. So I’ve decided that what I must DO is state clearly that I am a Christian. Without fear and without hedging. In solidarity with Christians and persons of faith everywhere.
I don’t know the date or the time when I first became a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. So I’ve used language that best describes my experience.
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I was born into a Christian family. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t consider myself a Christian. Nor can I remember a time of deliberate rebellion against God. I do, however, remember times when I was lost, and God came looking for me. One of these was a huge turning point in my life.
I was in my 40s. Outwardly I seemed to be following Jesus; inside, I was lost.
- I was filled with shame and terrified that any day I would be exposed as a fraud, an imposter.
- I was plagued by chronic anxiety about events at home and at work.
- I was harshly judgmental toward myself and toward others.
- I felt my life was out of control, yet I kept trying to make it work.
In my mid-40s, I learned about family matters over which I had no control. Secrets I’d been carrying inside me for years began to eat away at my gut. I fell into deep depression. At home I sat for hours doing nothing but staring out the window, or weeping uncontrollably. At night I often asked God to just take me while I was sleeping. I didn’t want to wake up the next morning. I wanted to die.
I had survived by being a good girl on the outside, and hiding what was on the inside. This took great effort. I had also become addicted to running my life, and thinking I could run everyone else’s too! But it wasn’t working; my body, my emotions and my spirit were in turmoil.
I began attending a 12-step program to deal with some family matters. At my first meeting no one frowned, judged me, or expected me to perform. They weren’t shocked when I told them why I was there. They just welcomed me, smiled, listened, encouraged me, and said to keep coming back. So I did. Slowly, I began to relax, join the rest of the human race, and trust that God was in this process.
I believe God was getting my attention through this program. There was a price: I had to come out of hiding and ask for help. I had to make a fearless moral inventory of myself and talk about my failures and shortcomings. Not just to God, but to other people. I had to begin making amends. Change my ways. Allow God to guide me daily in ways that were new and difficult. I wasn’t in control anymore; God was, in and through other people, and the sometimes unwelcome promptings of God’s Spirit through them.
Today I’m still a recovering human being and a grateful follower of Jesus Christ. Sometimes I struggle with shame and anxiety, and try to control my life or change other people. I don’t, however, suffer from deep depression or pray that God will take me while I’m sleeping. I remind myself daily that I am God’s beloved daughter child, and that this is more than enough to bring God delight. When the time comes for my final home-going, my only hope will be to appear before God then as I do now: just as I am. Dressed in garments I did not make or choose. They were given to me freely, paid for in full by Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 March 2015