My labels include:
Sister and Daughter. This means I go home often and celebrate holidays and birthdays with my people.
Girlfriend and Friend. Translates to date nights, movie nights, and long distance phone calls.
College Graduate. I don't even know where the piece of paper is right now, and I sometimes use half of my dual degree.
Marketing and Office Assistant. From 8-5 every day I answer phones and write newsletters.
Christian. I go to church on Sundays and pray (sometimes).
Being a Christian doesn't really change anything though. It adds some things to your schedule and it affects any demographic poll we fill out. But if we're not careful, we can leave it at that. And friends...I did.
I grew up singing Bible songs, coloring Noah's ark pages, and memorizing bible verses. I remember a box of Sunday School artwork in our guest bedroom closest, because there was no room on the fridge for 52 weeks worth of stuff. And when you grow up like that, it is easy to include God on your long list of labels about yourself: student, sister, Christian, writer... It's been part of your identity for so long that you forget that it's actually supposed to change something in you.
It's a dangerous thing to place your God given identity along with the rest of your worldly labels, and go about your life expecting something bigger. And then wondering why bigger isn't happening for you.
I wrote a list - a list of everything I actually believe to be true about God, not a list of the good Christian words that we should use to describe God.
"He is removed and uninvolved"
"He doesn't want good things for me, but gives blessings upon blessings to His other children"
"He's too busy; I have to do it on my own"
I'm sure these broke His heart. Removed, uninvolved, withholding, and busy are not the heart of our Creator. And in my innermost being I know that full well. I know that He has miracles and blessings and goodness in store for me that can't compare with the photos I see on social media of His other children. I know that the distance between us is something I create. I know that I am the one who is too busy, not Him.
But I let these false things slowly but surely become the realities about how I saw God. And the scariest part was, I didn't even realize it until we sat silent in communion reflecting on this question: "What are the old ways of thinking about Jesus that are blocking you from experiencing a new way of living in Him?"
When you've been a Christian your whole life (and I am grateful to have been raised in a Christian home) it is easy to forget that even though we accepted Jesus when we were 8, we are still made new everyday. Our conversion stories might not be dramatic or earth shattering or even that big of a story beyond a simple sentence at all, but they are life change nonetheless. And the newness didn't expire the next day - it's a continual experience.
Everything changes when we understand the truest things about who we are, and about who God is. And the truest things about God...they force us to shift and reevaluate the truest things about ourselves.
Because if God truly is removed and distant and busy, then I need to be self sufficient and in control. If God only blesses only some of His children, then I need to work harder by my own power to earn His favour. And if God is these things, then He must not care. And if He doesn't care, then the promises from His Word begin to fall apart...This "if and then" game could go on forever. But you get the point.
My old ways of thinking about God didn't come from a big life change or traumatic event or even a bad experience. They just snuck up on me, in all of my weakest areas, and suddenly as a twenty something college graduate finally ready to pursue post graduate dreams and goals, my next biggest task is no task at all. No pursuit of my labels or worldly identities. Nothing but a simple pursuit of knowing the truest things, and letting those change me.