There’s something I’ve wanted to say for a long time, but I’ve been scared about how people will think of me if I do. It should be obvious, considering the places I go to, the things I prefer doing, the way I act sometimes…but I feel like I’ve been doing my best for too long to make it not obvious, because I’m afraid. And yet I can’t keep hiding it–making excuses and dodging questions–because doing that makes me feel like I’m not myself.
I’m a Christian, and I’m coming out.
Before I continue, let me clear up the ambiguity of that statement: I’m not coming out as gay. Anyway, none of you would believe me if I did; all my ex-crushes will testify that I am awkwardly, painfully heterosexual. I’m actually coming out as a Christian. I’m tired of trying to avoid admitting it. Every time I do; every excuse or sugarcoated explanation I give for why I am the way I am, why I do the things I do, makes me feel like less of a person and more of a lie.
I chose the term “coming out,” because in some ways, my fears about admitting that I am a Christian faintly echo those I hear from my gay friends when they talk about admitting that they are gay. They’re afraid that no one will understand. They’re afraid that people will look at them differently (and by differently, they mean badly). They’re afraid that people will mock and ridicule them. Most of all, they’re afraid that people they care about, they love even, will walk away. I’m not saying that I understand what it’s like to be gay, because that would be an insult to all who live through that struggle. I can’t understand that anymore than I can understand what it’s like to be (how do I find a way of saying this without being unintentionally offensive?) African-American, or adopted, or the daughter of a Hollywood A-lister, or even my best friend Esther–that is, I can’t understand it completely because I haven’t (and won’t ever) live it. But I can find common threads, because that’s as much as understanding (in our limited human capacity) will allow, and this is the common thread I’ve found: that admitting you’re a Christian can entail many of the same consequences (albeit, let me be clear, to a lesser degree). You will be looked at differently. You may get mocked. You might even lose friends, people you love, in the process.
(But, let me be clear, I probably won’t lose my job/be refused a job because I’m Christian. If I don’t go to a country that is full of anti-Christian terrorists, I won’t get murdered. I won’t get refused service at certain business establishments. I’ll keep it real: it’s easier to announce one is a Christian than to announce one is a gay person.)
Okay, it’s an imperfect comparison, and I’m praying really hard that you’re all getting that point without wanting to kill me yet, because I have others to make.
(Also, I feel it’s important to explain that what I’m about to say isn’t a passive-aggressive jab at anyone. I know, I know: saying that will only make people think it actually is one, but honestly, it isn’t. Not even if, at some point in my knowing you (or not knowing you, random stranger of the internets), you decided to bombard me with a militant atheist rant of Richard Dawkins-like proportions as to why Christianity is detrimental to society. Actually, especially if you decided to do that, because usually people who do that tend to have admittedly more rhetorical prowess than I do, and I try not to pick fights where in all likelihood I’ll end up shoving my foot in my mouth. If you feel you’re being personally addressed here, you’re not, seriously. The only person I’m burning with this post is myself, and maybe all the other Christians I know, because as hard as I try, I’m probably going to still end up sounding self-righteous and didactic.)
All right, since I’ve cleared all that up…moving on…
I became a Christian seven years ago, when I was thirteen. Before then, I was an empty, uncertain, and angry little girl, living with scars from my past as a child of a broken family, a bullied kid, and even (I am loath to admit it) a bully myself. When I met Christ, though He wasn’t some magic pill that fixed everything–I will be the first to admit that daily I find things that are still broken–all that started to change. It’s hard to summarize in words exactly how, because words inevitably sound hackneyed and insincere–How can you explain properly becoming an entirely different person, while still remaining yourself, or, rather, your real self? How can you put into writing being shattered and being grateful for that brokenness?–but suffice it to say that while it hasn’t been an easy journey (I’ll be getting to that in a bit), it has been one that is worth it. The best decision I ever made was to come forward and say that I needed a Lord and a Savior, to accept that there was no way on Earth I could struggle through this life on my own steam. It’s a humbling reality, and, being an arrogant control-freak, it’s one that grates on me daily, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, because in that weakness, I am strong. In knowing just how broken I am, I am whole.
When I became a Christian, I became me. My relationship with God is not just a part of me, it is–or well, it’s supposed to be–all that I am. Which is why it hurts so much that I feel I have to hide it, all because I’m scared of what people might think. I know the stereotypes: Pharisee, Hypocrite, Holier-than-Thou. They hurt, because they’re not what I am. A lot of people think that being a Christian means signing up to be a paragon of perfection, a member of a special clique that’s all going to Heaven because we’re so awesome and wonderful and better than everyone else. A lot of people think that being a Christian means we’re happy all the time, because we live in a bubble where everything is rose-colored and pearly-gated; that with God, we have it easy.
It isn’t easy. If it was, I’d be perfect by now, which I will be the first to attest that I am not. I cuss. I pick fights and snap at people. I have been known to humble-brag…or just plain brag. I’ve even been guilty of being those “Christian” stereotypes: a Pharisee, a hypocrite, a judgmental holier-than-thou. And those aren’t even the worst I’ve done, just the stuff I feel comfortable publishing online. Needless to say, I am most certainly not a saint, not as we commonly define it. No Christian is. We’re all people, struggling with habits and hang-ups and demons. The only difference is that, as a Christian, I do not struggle alone–I have God, as cliché as that may sound, and a spiritual family of fellow Christians, an ever-expanding support group of people who understand just how hard it is to be human.
(It also means I’m called to be that self-same support group for people, Christian or no–something that, given my penchant for self-absorption and neuroticism, I still fail terrifically at being.)
I have made choices to do things or not do things because of personal convictions rooted in my being a Christian. Some of these choices, like not killing people who piss me off, make sense to the world. Others, like making a promise never to get drunk, don’t, and it is these choices that make owning up to my faith so difficult. See, in the eyes of the world, these things are accepted, even encouraged, and I won’t lie: I’ve wanted to do them. I really would be a hypocrite if I said I’d never wanted to–don’t still want to, sometimes–just let go and down that drink, or drag my crush into a dark stairwell and kiss him (was that too graphic?!). Read my poetry and you’ll know that I have desires, same as (or maybe even more than; at the very least I’m more dramatic about them) anyone, and it would be so much easier to give into them, not only because I would get to make out with my crush (ha ha), but because I would fit in, I wouldn’t be weird, I wouldn’t have to worry about people thinking I was a hypocrite or that I was judging them or that I was no fun to be with. Which, for someone who,really really wants to fit in and be friends with people and belong, seriously hurts.
But because of what I believe, I feel compelled to say no, I can’t, because it’s not me. Because I am a Christian, and as a Christian I hold myself to a set of convictions that have become part of who I am. If anything, I am not judging anyone. Instead, I am giving people the right to judge me, to hold me to those same standards that I profess, to call me out if indeed I am being a hypocrite. And I will be the first to tell you that many times, I will be, but if you tell me I will be the first to admit that I am wrong.
That I am not perfect, and have no right to behave as if I am.
And since we’re on that topic of not being a hypocrite, it’s why I decided to do this: admit that I am Christian, with all the choices that it entails. No more double lives, or half-hearted excuses; I am what I am becoming. Being a Christian doesn’t make me any less of a human being, which means it doesn’t make me any less imperfect. It doesn’t mean my life is any harder or easier, or that I am any worse or better, than the next person. It just means that I have made a decision to live differently, that I have made certain choices–namely, to take a personal (emphasis, again, on personal) stand to live as I believe, because, as the saying goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” The fears of being misunderstood are still there, but I think I’d be worse off if I kept pretending, so I’m coming out.
I am Frankie, and I am a Christian, and I hope that’s okay with all of you. In fact, as I write this, I’m pretty sure that it is. Because I think that I didn’t actually need to come out to you as much as I needed to come out to myself, to tell myself that the fears are not as important as standing by who I am, in the hopes that eventually, it will lead me to the person I want to become.
Did anyone else think that stylistically, that was a really awkward ending? It was a really awkward ending. Not even sure I managed to coherently make my point there. This sounded like a good idea when I started writing…
Anyway, feel free to comment if I didn’t make the slightest amount of sense, and hopefully by then my brain will be working enough for me to be properly answering. Right now, I’m running on the remnants of my double-espresso Toffee Nut Latté. Also, that’s two rather heavy posts in a row! I’m on a roll! Ack! I promise that next post will be less touchy-feely and more informative: that long-overdue post on my Virus life, for example…
…I’m officially incoherent. Time to make my NaNoWriMo numbers. Ta-ra!