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Friday, October 7, 2016

To Him

Or I'd have asked you. . .

The words rang in my ears as my friend looked at me. They were referring to something that I didn't agree with and while I was thankful they respected my personal convictions, my heart ached for a moment. I knew I'd made the decision I needed to. It was a choice I had made years ago, irregardless of the conservative bubble I lived in. It was a logical decision based on a principle I felt was important. 

I don't judge my friend for their choice just as they didn't judge me for not joining them. I know everyone has their own walk with God and it isn't for me to determine someone else's actions or beliefs. I guess I hadn't realized there would be an inner struggle, even if for just a few moments. And then I understood why many of my friends had made choices that led them on a different path than they had started out on. 

Influence can be used for good or wrong. It's as simple as that. However strong our convictions may be, if we are influenced by someone we care deeply about, we may change our convictions to match theirs. We lose the ability to be true to ourselves, true to the knowledge we have within ourselves of God's expectations and desires for us. Influencing someone to change their actions, if they are not convinced within their heart that this is the right thing to do, will result in a split tension between knowledge and experience. Eventually, one will win. 

I think I have an open mind to other perspectives, yet at the same time I have my convictions that I don't apologize for. Leaving the bubble, however, has caused me to question some of those convictions. Is it wrong to wear jewelry, to drink coffee, to eat meat? I'd been surrounded by people who thought coloured nail polish was sinful, who made sure every dessert was made with carob, and who ate a strictly vegan diet. Of course this was in public. In private, I don't know though I'm guessing some ate cheese on the sly or painted their toenails on the weekends. 

I'm beginning to believe that the only conviction that matters is being true to God. I can make my personal decisions but these are not to be placed on others as salvational issues. Behavioural decisions come from each person's understanding and upbringing. 

When I make a decision, I try to do so based on logical reasoning. For example, Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man. In other words, the Sabbath day is a day given to us for our benefit. It was never intended to be a day of drudgery or a burden. At the same time, the Sabbath was given for all men on earth, not just me. If I go out and use a service, whether it be a hotel or restaurant or store, I am taking away the rest from someone else. Yes, I know they will be working on that day regardless of whether I am there or not, and yes, I don't know how to explain conferences that go over the Sabbath such as GYC where meals are catered. Somehow pre-paying for something seems to make it okay which doesn't make sense to me. I know for me, though, if I'm eating out I'm not focusing on God but rather on the music in the background, on the price of what I'm eating, or the TV in the corner, or something else. 

I'm not saying that I am a perfect holy saint--which begs the question What is a perfect holy saint? If someone from my conservative world would see me, they would be shocked that I listen to Christian contemporary music and go to the movies. But what is important to me is to be able to live in synchronicity with my beliefs. 

When I said no to my friend, it wasn't to try to make a point. It was me simply saying this was my choice. I know I will miss out on spending quality time with my friend and that makes me sad because I enjoy connecting with my friends. But I'm comfortable with my choice. I am not ready to change who I am to accommodate someone else--my decisions are between me and my God. 

I am not saying I will never change my convictions. Living outside of the bubble has helped show me that. Things I used to think were important, such as jewelry and diet, are really not significant in the scheme of things. This is not what my Father asks me to focus on. Time after time, God calls His people to focus on matters of the heart. He wants me to be humble, to love justice and mercy, to be patient and kind and have self-control. In doing so, I trust my convictions will be shaped by His attributes as I try to honour Him in my decisions. 

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