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Writer of fiction that reflects the light of Jesus. Sometimes the grit mixes with beauty to make up a picture of this life. That's where my fiction lives.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Faking the Christian Character Award

My good friend Kendra Shriver at "The Joy of Sneezing" wrote this great blog post about life in the "club". She inspired me to do the same.

Okay...I can do this...I'm a little nervous...whew.


I've worked very hard for almost all my life to keep up with what other people thought I should be. I never misbehaved in class (I used to whisper jokes to the kid next to me so he could say them and make the class erupt in snickers). I tried to be kind to everyone, even when I should have stood up for myself. I played sports because other people wanted me to. I even pegged (or tight rolled) my jeans even though I thought it was the DUMBEST fad ever!

The problem, however, is that I felt other people expected me to be perfect.

 I went to a small (very, very small) high school. Instead of homecoming kings and queens we had the "Christian Character Award". Each of the classes (9th-11th) would elect a guy and girl from their grade to be on the homecoming court. They were the representatives for that class. They elected the kids who best displayed the character of Christ. I was chosen by my classmates each year. Then senior year the entire school voted in. I won that year too.

Every year I was sick at the thought that everyone thought I was like Jesus. Because I wasn't. I didn't even know what it meant to be like Jesus.

So, I'd borrow a dress from one of my sisters. I'd try to do my hair. I'd worry about walking in heels. I'd thank God that I had to hold onto the arm of a guy who would most likely catch me if I sprained my ankle or fainted. I'd stand, waiting for it to all be over.

Then I'd hear my name.

I would walk/stumble/quake/trip onto the basketball court. Everyone was cheering. I distinctly remember hearing my name chanted by a few friends. I got dizzy if I looked at the crowd. So I looked at my feet or off to the sidelines.

And the whole time I felt so very unworthy. If they only knew that I wasn't perfect...they wouldn't have given me that honor, they would have talked about me, they would have kicked me out of the club.

That was so long ago. More years have past than my feeble math mind cares to count. I went to Bible college, had a "real world" job where EVERYBODY was in love with the F-bomb. I got engaged and dumped. I was a Bible teacher and a children's minister. I got engaged and married. I had kids. I changed careers.

Love, joy, pain, gladness, sorrow. Life. It happened.

And this is something I've learned. This is the important part. There is no club.

Being like Christ has nothing to do with behaving in class or letting people walk all over you. It has nothing to do with awards...in fact, that is so incredibly opposite of what it is to be Christ; being honored for being the best (the greatest among us is the girl who won the Christian Character Award...wait...that can't be right).

Being like Christ has everything to do with getting dirty, digging a latrine in a 3rd world country. It's about feeding poor people, not expecting a "thank you". It's about forgiving and loving and giving up what you hold most dear. That is Christian Character. It's love, joy,  peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.

Christian Character is nothing more than fruit that blooms from the Holy Spirit's work in our lives.

I still struggle with this. I will most likely always fight against the urge to be what others think I should be. But I'm getting there. Or, more accurately, He is leading me there!

7 comments:

  1. Susie, this is beautiful. Thanks for sharing and being vulnerable!

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  2. An interesting post, Susie. Coming from a completely different background than you, I was surprised how much being a Christian at college was about faking the Christian character. How much of that lifestyle takes its roots in appearances, rather than the truth, or even the Truth. We may not have dropped F-bombs and I think both you and I know of some people who used God as a scapegoat for their own unwillingness to do something like going on a mission field.

    Walking the tight rope between high expectations from others and being true to yourself is a form of art I never mastered. The older I get, the more I get to know who I am, the closer I draw to the genuineness in other people rather than their appearance. I believe Jesus saw that realness in others. It is why he spent time with sinners. They were ever real compared to the religious community at the time. To do that, however, takes maturity, growth, and often adversity. You reveal your true nature, your character, your faith when you struggle.

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  3. I can so see you whispering jokes to the kid next to you....:)

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  4. Isn't it funny (and more than a little sad) how so many people's vision of "being like Jesus" is something so very far away from anything He ever lived or taught? Thank you for writing this.

    Oh, and "There is no club" totally just flashed me sideways to The Matrix ("There is no spoon"). :)

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  5. Bravo, Susie. You are so correct.
    Let's not forget Jesus and the woman at the well or the adulterous woman whom Jesus told to go and sin no more. Or the fact that he dined with sinners. Jesus was bursting with authentic love and forgiveness.
    He so didn't care what other people thought.
    And just a little fyi, I think you still would have been nominated as homecoming queen, regardless. ;-) Flaws and all, you are a beautiful person.

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  6. Thank you for sharing. As an educator who has voted in the past for the Christian Character award I am now sickened at the thought of it. What have we created in the Christiian schools everywhere? How many students live their young lives trying to push the right buttons to please someone and never find out who they really are. Seems as though it is time for a revolution.... or just let the performances continue.

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    1. Marlene, thank you so much for stopping over and commenting. I'd nearly forgotten all about this post!

      I hope you have a lovely evening.

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