I don’t know how many of you went away for university, work or travelling and consequently found yourself/found your faith?
I am a classic example of one of these people.
I became a Christian aged 16, out of a non-Christian family, and left home at 18 still very much in the baby stages of Christian life. Since then I’ve been away from home, and have matured, grown and changed considerably. So why oh why in those few weeks a year that I travel home, do I always fall short of who I want to be? Why is it that maintaining strong relationships from home is much easier over the phone? Why do I still hear: “I thought you were supposed to be a Christian?” And why is it that the honeymoon period seems to be oh so short? Humph.
Patience? With parents and siblings? Surely that’s not in the Bible? They’re an exception right?
Church? But I’ve so many people to see and so little time, and anyway I don’t really have a church there any more.
Devotions? Oops. Didn’t bring my Bible. Aw well.
Watch my tongue? But it’s okay here because they all talk this way and so don’t really care when I do. In fact they’d probably notice more if I didn’t, don’t want to seem too holy.
These are only a few of the virtues I just can’t seem to maintain when I’m back in the comforts of the family home, no matter my good intentions or how hard I try.
So how DO we become more consistent people who reflect Jesus both at home and away?
1. Practise the presence of God. When I’m in a huff and being a madam at home, God is with me and beside me and in me and through me. If that doesn’t motivate me to change my attitude, nothing will.
2. Don’t be idle. Fill your time well; include church. Exercise, see friends, prioritise enjoyable time with family, volunteer…just don’t sit on your bum and get grumpy.
3. Remember your Bible. Have time in the morning when you devote the day to God. When you are packing, prioritise your Bible. That fancy pair of shoes ‘you might just need’, can be sacrificed for the Word of God, right?
4. Pray before you go and ask God for more of the virtues you slip into easily.
5. Be prepared to examine your behaviour and apologise when you get it wrong. This one’s hard – moody teenager syndrome is difficult to admit to. Sorry mum.
6. If you journal, continue it on your holidays – don’t get lazy. And if you don’t journal – take it up!
Family is a precious gift from God, even if your home life wasn’t all that it should be growing up, God dwells in your home and wants to bring healing where there is brokenness and hurt. Participate in what He is doing. Don’t waste it. It’s okay to show you have changed – in fact people then know your faith is real. It’s a great opportunity to witness to the life changing power of Christ.
I’m finally starting to see the benefits of trying hard to maintain my faith across the boundaries of my ‘two lives’ (even if I do fail from time to time), and now my family know it’s not just a phase! Hooray!