When I say I am a Christian, it has nothing to do with the religion I practice; it has everything to do with the relationship I have with Christ. Who else knows all your deepest, darkest secrets and still loves you anyway?! While I talk about a lot of the good and bad I have done in my life and the decisions I have made, I still keep some of the not so nice under wraps. The only one in my life who has total disclosure is the One who sees all and knows all.
I remember when I took the membership class at my church and we were reading Chapter 1 in Genesis. I finally understood that Jesus had been right there with God at the very beginning. He was/is the Word. When the revelation whispered to me as I read the words, it was a light bulb going on in my head. It was a truth that while I'd heard it before, it had no solid foundation until that moment. The Jesus who would become flesh and walk the earth in his human form also knew me before I walked the earth. He knew all about me and what I was to become even before my parents did.
There are times throughout my life where certain events or whispers have solidified my faith and belief. People whom I love dearly who are are not believers have asked me to tell them what and why I believe. Not in an effort to allow my faith to change theirs, but because they thought my beliefs foolish. For me, it is a lack of believing in something greater and bigger than myself that leaves me baffled and wondering why one wouldn't believe. Not everyone has had such situations in their life where they have encountered Christ's peace or love firsthand either. I don't know what my life or path would have been if that wasn't my personal story. Christ has been interwoven into my life-story and because of that I am never alone.
Growing up Catholic and surrounded by other believers only gave me the details about religion, personal belief and stories of the Bible. It did not present a relationship or the idea of such with me until I was an adult. The Catholic faith actually left me wanting more and not understanding enough. It was about rote and repetition and sacraments and rules and guilt and shame. It was not about Christ and building a relationship with him. Once I actually started to read the Bible, I understood that it was ALL about this relationship. With Christ, to our Father, God, with one another...it's all about this connection to our Creator and this community of believers. When I attended IWU a few years ago to finish my BS, I read a book by Charles Stanley called, "How Now Shall We Live". In the book, he calls out the connection to our creator that is ingrained within us. Reading that was another epiphany. I had always heard that we try to fill our emptiness with different things--sex, love, people, food, drugs, alcohol, etc.--but the only thing that fits in the place within us is God/Christ.
I am not a mature Christian. I learned that today in church through the message in Ephesians 5:15-20. I am progressing and growing, though, and I am happy that is the case. I continue to live through God's grace and mercy. I learn and become more in my relationship with Christ every day. I know him better as I recognize my own barriers within that relationship and learn to remove those barriers or get beyond them by some measure. My goal is to have a more intimate relationship with Christ because through him and that relationship, I find personal healing, love for self and others, and an ability to be more like him in accepting who I am, where I am and the same for the circumstance and position of others.