I feel that in the current state of our society, Christianity is being eaten away, being diluted by political correctness and sensitivity. People are constantly bashing Christians for their views on hot topics like gay marriage or abortion. The anti-religious are becoming more vocal in their distaste towards Christians, while openly embracing other religions. Young Christians are afraid of sharing their faith in fear of being seen as “uncool” or are content in being in the lukewarm waddling pool of the faith.
I used to be one of those people. I grew up in a strong Christian home, my mother being our example of who and what a Christian is. We went to church three days a week; participated in youth groups, bible studies, and volunteered whichever way we could. However that isn’t to say there weren’t major bumps on that road. I was bullied by other kids in the church for being fat and having a fat family. My sister and I were never invited to birthday parties or outside of church get togethers. That didn’t stop my mother from being active in the church until she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
At that time I was 9 years old and tried very hard to hold onto my faith. But it proved to be difficult whenever my aunt picked us up for church and the church kids would make fun that my mom had a shaved head. Or would be sweaty/weak/sick from her chemo treatments. I hated going to church but not going wasn’t an option. At least not until my mom had a conversation with our then-pastor that we stopped going. I don’t know the exact topic of the conversation but I do know that the straw that broke the camels back was when he said, “You must be so full of sin that God allowed you to get sick.”
My mom never went to his church again. He’s had a lot of success as a pastor and is now known as the “Prophet of Profit” or something in Miami. Good for him.
But his lack of kindness is what darkened my view on religion for the next eight years of my life. How could someone say that someone deserves cancer? That God, the loving man you portray, would use this awful disease as a punishment? I slowly came to hate religion. I hated religious people. I always looked at them warily and tried to steer clear of them before they could hurt me.
I spent those next few years lost, constantly searching for something or someone to fill the void in my heart. I was desperately holding onto unhealthy friendships, defying my parents, and experimenting with things that don’t make me proud today. My mom always tried to remind me of God. That I was His child, that His love for me mattered more than anything, and that most importantly Jesus died for me.
You can imagine how often that conversation led to a fight due to my lack of response. But I wasn’t ready to hear it. I hadn’t yet found someone that practiced the love they preached.
But summer 2003 I experienced one of Gods inexplicable miracles firsthand. My sister had a boyfriend that lived out of state. He came to Miami for her high school graduation and stayed on our couch. One night I was in my room listening to my portable CD player (haha, remember those?) and I fell asleep relatively early. Not exactly sure what happened next but I woke up to my CD player door open, the CD turning backwards and hearing in my headphones, “Michelle WAKE UP, Michelle WAKE UP, Michelle WAKE UP!” over and over again. Needless to say I was creeped out enough where I tossed it across the room and darted for my bedroom door. As I opened the door, there was my sisters boyfriend reaching for the handle to my room. I ran past him, straight for my parents bed, hid under the covers and kept repeating, “Greater is He that is within me than he that is in the world.”
Looking back now, I like to think that God was protecting me from whatever that ex-boyfriend of my sisters had intended for me. Later on I tried showing my mom how the CD sounded while rotating backwards but it didn’t work. I was stumped. At the time I didn’t know what to think other than I was going crazy.
Fast forward to May 2011, a week before Carlos and I got married. My sister, my friend Vivi, Carlos and I were headed to a club when we got into a scary car wreck on the interstate. It was the type of accident where you spin out of control, hit a bunch of cars and pray you don’t die. But right as I was losing control of the car and we were headed for the barrier I felt hands other than my own on the steering wheel controlling the car. Carlos would later try to explain it as the power steering but I know what I felt.
At that point I had already had a personal relationship with Christ. I went to church regularly, was in a Christian sorority in college, and volunteered at a faith-based orphanage. I knew that Gods miracles were possible. But I was still insecure about sharing my faith. God saved me, twice, from awful things happening to me. I should have been shouting His miracles from the rooftops. But whenever it was unearthed that I was a Christian I made sure to explain that I was NOT a Bible thumping Christian. I made sure never to preach or share my faith in fear of chastisement. Whenever I was in church I made sure not to worship too loudly or dance or jump because I didn’t want people to laugh.
I’m so ashamed of those fears. I hate that I worried what other people thought of me. The only person who has proven to be there for me time and time again has been Jesus. He has protected me from the things I wanted and given me the things I didn’t know I needed.
I’m sad that I allowed a handful of negative people cloud my view of Christ. How could I see His glory when I was blinded by hatred? People will always disappoint you, ridicule you, and try to break you. But Christ will protect you and guide you through what needs to happen to reach your end goal.
I came to Uruguay with the obscure intention of spreading the Gospel. And while it’s taken me almost two years to start, I’m going to take the first step and start spreading the love and joy Jesus brings to my life.