Tag Archives: blog for young christians

The Problem I Had With Jesus

crucifixtion

This year, I have had major issues with Jesus.

This is usually the part where I start spewing some wild and outrageous tale of heartbreak, a job loss or an incurable disease. If you read the blog regularly, you will have noticed that (as with most people) when ish hits the fan, my faith is also impacted (until I put my big girl knickers on and fight the good fight). Sorry to disappoint you, there is no headline here, no major event, just a host of concerns and questions that I didn’t have the answer to. I woke up one morning and felt 2,000 years was far too recent for the Messiah to have come (via immaculate conception), died (by crucifixion) and risen again.

*cue laughter*

Yeah, I know those of you with unshakeable faith have no idea what I’m on about, but those who have wondered a similar thing, walk with me for a minute.

I wanted to believe, I did believe (kind of) but it was all too much for my small mind to comprehend. God had come in human form, died and risen in order to save my sins. It sounded like a fairy tale, a Disney classic, where the hero had saved the day and rescued us all. Except, the day hadn’t really been saved. A few weeks ago, a White terrorist thought it was acceptable to enter a Church and shoot its members. Last week, a handful of extremist Muslims went on a beach and shot 21 people to death.  People continue to die of Cancer, thousands of people are trafficked every year and Black lives still don’t matter. I wondered why the coming of the Messiah hadn’t brought about the happy ending that we needed.

As we get older, our childlike innocence fades and in its place remains questions, logic and cynicism to all the things we once accepted as true. Our belief in the tooth fairy and Santa disappear and for some of us, so does our belief in Jesus. They say that without faith it is impossible to please God (well, they don’t say, Hebrews 11:16 says) and it’s true. If you can’t even believe that God can truly do anything in and of Himself, how can you expect Him to do the seemingly impossible for you? Why would you give your all or try and stay on the straight and narrow when His mere existence is met with cynicism and rejection? How can we seek the One when we struggle to accept that there is One at all?

I often wonder how I’m still a Christian with my liberal views and my growing heap of questions. Want to know how I’m still here, in faith, striving towards Jesus? Ok, here are my secrets:

I never stop reading my Bible. I don’t close my Bible or turn away from God when I have questions, I delve deeper and I take my questions to Him (and Google). Neither has failed me yet. The scripture that reignited my faith this time around was:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 1:1-3

In other words, Jesus was always there.

I don’t expect for things to make sense any more. I think the moment you accept that a virgin had a baby without having sex, whose life you know very little about from the age of 0-30, who died and rose again, and dwells in you today through the presence of the Holy Spirit, you kinda have to stop using logic to navigate your Christianity; you have to use faith. And that’s not to say that faith is illogical or that you should cease to question elements of your Christianity that would be stupid. What I am saying is that every detail making sense to your human, limited mind shouldn’t be the highest thing on your agenda because you will never have all the answers. You weren’t there; you missed it, you will never have an eye-witness account concerning the life of Jesus. What you do have is that conviction in your heart and all those times where you were down to nothing and he came through for you.

I try to have childlike faith. I worked in a Primary school two weeks ago. While my Jesus crisis was at an all-time high, a 10-year old turned around, looked at me and exclaimed “Jesus ain’t real.” I responded, “Get behind me, Satan!” I joke, I joke. I put on my politically correct hat and asked him why he felt that way.  As he was about to tell me, his friend quipped “Jesus is real, ‘e was ‘ung up on a tree!” I highly doubt that this boy was actually a Christian; it’s more likely that he had heard the story and simply accepted it as truth. His belief made me smile, it challenged me and I felt something shift within me once again.

Of course Jesus was real. Of course Jesus is real. ‘E was ‘ung up on a tree, after all.

Lots of love,

Joy xx

I’m A Christian And I Love Caitlyn Jenner

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I am indifferent about most things that don’t concern or affect me directly, particularly celebrity culture. Sometimes I want to care and I try to, but I am more content in my sphere, where my biggest concerns are my on-going dramas, and whatever my friends are going through. I am trying to do something about this. I think in order for me to be an effective Christian, I have to care about the world around me. How can I care about issues I know nothing about? How can I pray about wars I don’t even know are happening? Given my nature, you shouldn’t be surprised that I was indifferent when I first heard that Jenner was becoming a woman.

I’m quite a ‘liberal’ Christian in that I can, and often do, accept the lifestyles of those who do not hold my religious beliefs. Acceptance does not necessitate agreement. This is a very important point to make. I do not agree with Jenner’s change. In saying that, I also don’t think it is my place to agree or disagree; Jenner is not my friend or my father.  Jenner is a stranger, a public figure who made a decision. While I do not agree with his decision, I do think what he did, openly declaring his perceived gender publicly, was brave. It took immense courage. I know that if I were in his position, I would have kept silent about the matter and taken the secret to my grave. What if people laughed at me? What if my family rejected me? These fears alone would have kept me silent.

When Jenner decided to make this change, he put everything on the line, including his family. Now, just from a rational perspective, I cannot flippantly dismiss this change as whimsical. No, there was much thought, agony and fear surrounding this decision. We almost lost Jenner to suicide and that would have been an even greater tragedy. The opening words of his documentary were ‘I am still here’. Having battled various mental illnesses, I know what those words meant. They meant ‘I made it, I didn’t die, I didn’t give up, I kept going’ and anyone reading this, who knows how it feels to be overwhelmed by the darkness, would have been moved by these words.

I must admit that I don’t get it. I do not understand their experience simply because I haven’t lived it. I don’t know what it means to wake up in the morning and feel as though I am in a body that does not represent who I am. I am privileged not to have experienced this, and I think if more of us were more emphatic, and considered the psychological impact of their experience, we would be filled with greater compassion. Transgendered individuals are at risk of suicide and are often assaulted and discriminated against; they are usually also rejected by their loved ones and the fear that they will be rejected by society keeps them living in the shadows, marginalised, tortured and lonely.

I hate that. I hate there are people who feel alone, who are scared to live for fear of rejection. I hate that they are ridiculed, attacked, murdered and stoned. A study posited that there may be a death of a transgendered individual every three days. Do you know how harrowing that is? Surely we, as Christians, should be seeking ways to protect these individuals? Or do we only love people as long as their lifestyles reflect our values? Is it that once they step outside of what we consider to be normal, we stop loving them? I’m sorry but I cannot prescribe to that variant of Christianity.

I despise the way that some of us Christians, the people who are supposed to revere love above all else, have used God as a way of justifying our hatred for Jenner. Our cries have been loud and bold, yet we are far quieter on issues that we battle with – you know, gossiping, abstaining from sex and trying to stay sober at the raves we aren’t even sure we are meant to be at.

“Those sins aren’t as bad” you say.

Well, yes. They are.

I wonder if we will ever be as intolerant of drunkenness, gossip and premarital sex as we are of homosexuality and transgenderism. I wonder if we will condemn our friends and family members, whose lifestyles are equally despicable in the sight of God, in the same manner that we have condemned Jenner.

I do not believe that God hates Jenner. I think God loves Jenner regardless of how he presents himself. If what I read in my Bible is true, then there’s nothing that can separate him from God’s love (Jenner identifies as a Christian and is religious). I do not think my opinion is very popular one amongst Christians. I’m sure other Christians will question the depth of my Christianity as result of this article. I probably should have included scriptures in this post to substantiate my views but I don’t want to abuse or manipulate scripture – these are just my views.

I love Caitlyn Jenner; I love her because she is human, because she is flawed, just as I am. I love her because I’d rather a living Caitlyn than a dead Bruce. I pray for her, that she finds the peace that eluded her as Bruce, and that she continues to connect with Jesus, someone who loved her as Bruce and continues to love her as Caitlyn. I know that he can heal whatever she feels is broken and give her the love and acceptance she needs.

I love Caitlyn Jenner – why wouldn’t I?

Thanks for reading,

Joy xxxxxxx

They Say He Will Either End Up Dead Or In Prison

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I had the perfect blogpost to write, one that would have probably gotten us more hits than usual and may have even given us the exposure I often dream of. But this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yvo620cGMyw has moved me to the point that I can’t help but share a real moment with you, one that I experienced this week, a moment that I will never forget.

My profession isn’t the most glamorous. I am not a lawyer, an investment banker or any of those professions that cause people to raise their eyebrows and look upon you with a newfound respect. The nature of my job means that I can, at times, feel insignificant and ignored. The moments where I feel like I have a purpose in the workplace are fleeting and infrequent. Getting out of bed each morning an be difficult because I question whether my absence will have any real impact.

There was a boy who gave my Wednesdays meaning. Not just my Wednesdays, but my presence at work somehow felt validated because of the difference I knew I could make in his life. He was the reason I made the journey, the reason I didn’t quit despite feeling as though I was slowly becoming part of the wallpaper.

This week, he got expelled and the news broke me. It broke me because hearing statistics about Black males in Britain and seeing these statistics play out in real time are two completely different experiences. I see their short-sightedness, their anger at a system they don’t yet understand but they know has been designed to cripple them, their inability to articulate their experience in a way that ensures they are respected, their desire to affirm their masculinity, and how this works in tandem with their brilliance, their confidence and their charm.

It broke me because I always knew deep down where he was going to end up if he wasn’t in school. I was always afraid. Later that night, I cried out to God on his behalf for the first time. I wonder why it took me so long to pray for him despite being aware of his issues. Maybe if I had prayed earlier, things would have panned out differently.

He was there one day and gone the next.

His friends make jokes. “He will probably end up killing someone or in prison” they say and I pray that they are wrong. I pray that even though I can’t reach him, the God I serve will remember him.  I hope he remembers the times I told him that he was brilliant; I hope he recalls the times I marvelled at his mind. I hope he defies the odds and ends up in the places I know he secretly dreams he can go. I hope he remembers that he can get there.

I have to believe that God will place someone else in his life that cares enough to pray for him and to guide him away from what appears to be the inevitable. A lot of these boys don’t get out: they just become statistics. You read about them but you don’t know them.

But I knew him.

I know him.

I wonder if he knows the impact he has had on me, that I am changed because of him, that he has not only fuelled my desire to remain in this profession but has also made me realise that I can only stay in it for so long.

He probably doesn’t; he knows he is special but often underestimates how special he really is.

From the end of the earth will I call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Psalm 16:2

Though I feel disheartened, I will continue to pray because right now, that’s all I can do.

Joy

6 Things I Am Grateful For

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1) My friends

I made a tough decision last weekend – the kind of decision my future self will thank me for but my present self is weeping over quite sad about. I am so grateful for the friends that I have; they have spoken so much light and love into my situation over the past 24 hours. I have only shared the basics of the situation (literally two lines in some cases) and yet they have rushed to my aid, armed with hope and healing words. I also let them know my decision so that I could be accountable to them. Making life-changing decisions in secret is cool but making sure they are executed takes a special circle of friends that will keep you grounded and remind you of where you said you wanted to be.

2) Getting accepted into a university

At the end of last year I got accepted into one of the best universities in the world *pauses and scratches head*. Yeah, I don’t really know how I managed that one either, I can only give God praise and point you in His direction if you’re also wondering how. I haven’t really told anyone because sometimes telling people good news can be awkward (or perhaps I am just awkward and this awkwardness pervades all areas of my life) so apologies if you are reading this and felt I should have told you sooner. God is so good; I’m still in disbelief!

3) My tutor

He charges so much for our sessions but I am so grateful for him! I have an exam coming up and he’s really helped my Maths skills. I am feeling a lot more confident (even though he is bankrupting me).

4) My joni jeans

For my ladies: if you are looking for a good pair of high-waisted skinny jeans, I couldn’t recommend these Topshop jeans more. They are a little pricey (I bought two pairs at once because they fit so well and my account was pained) but they literally fit like a glove. You won’t have to do that annoying pulling-up action you have to do with those horrible Primark high-waisted jeans because these should sit properly on your waist. I would also recommend getting a size smaller (if your stomach is complicit) I bought a size 10 and an 8 and the 8 fits so much better (but I can’t wear them if I plan on eating a full meal…obvs)

5) The Bible In One Year app

I love this app. It is concise, sound, challenging and it is helping me get through the whole Bible this year (if I remember to read it every day). If you’re struggling to read your Bible or don’t know where to start, I would really encourage you to download this app; it will change your life. I’m not saying this lightly. I’ve learnt so much already and it’s only day 19. Check it out!

6) My fresh outlook

This one is a little harder to write because is quite literally Day One of the new outlook. With all new and tough decisions, I don’t know how I will feel in the morning but I do know that regardless of how I feel, I’ve made the right decision. It’s always tough when things fall apart instead of falling together but during these times, it is important to trust God and trust the process. If you committed it to God right at the start then you have to believe that whatever you are left with is entirely His plan. Yesterday my Pastor said “what you end up with will be more than what you started with so why are you worried?” I’m holding onto those words this week.

I hope you have a great one,

Joy xxxx

Why I Already Have Problems In 2015

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Unlike my sister Dani, I am not a ‘New Year, New Me’ kinda gal. I’m more of a ‘New Year… already?!’ kind of girl.

You see, the New Year always takes me by surprise because I never see it coming. Even now, I still think it’s November 2014. I realised by the age of about 14, that New Years Resolutions have a tendency to fall apart around the 15th January.  Furthermore, I realised that New Years Day always felt a bit like birthdays –although it felt like everything should have changed by 12:01am, in reality, nothing changed except the time. I’ll admit, I went through a ‘New Year, Same Me’ phase where I completely opted out of resolutions and all the wishy-washy stuff, but as I grew older, I began to see the benefits of a New Year; a New Year will always represent a clean slate, a chance to start over and to do things differently.

I think even as a teen, my immature mind understood that while the ‘New Year, New Me’ slogan could work for some people, it would never work for me because I continued to battle with issues from the previous year during the early parts of every New Year. Those issues didn’t disappear because the clock had struck 12. No matter how many declarations I made on January 1st, the problems from the 31st December walked with me right into the New Year (how many times will I write New Year this post?!)

I wanted to love 2015. I wanted to feel different and new on the 1st of the month. I wanted to fling open my windows and shout from the rooftops.

Okay. The above isn’t quite true.

I didn’t want that much from this year; I just wanted to attain the peace that had evaded me in the final months of 2014.

One of my Rules For 2015 was to read my Bible more regularly; every single blessed day, I hope to be wrapped up in some quality Jesus time. I really thank God for this rule because it is the sole reason I was able to arise from the slump I had been in since 2014.  Here are some of the things I read that helped me to find my joy (no pun intended)again :

1) God sees

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”

Genesis 16:13

I became obsessed with the idea of “seeing” a few years ago after watching Avatar. In order for my relationships to function and flourish, I need you to “see” me. My intentions won’t always match my outcomes, my words often come across as brash and my passion is often mistaken for aggression. It is important that those closest to me “see” my heart and that they “see” where I am because I am constantly tripping up and offending people. Imagine my delight when I opened my Bible last week and was reminded that I serve a God who “sees” me: a God who sees my heart, my anxieties, my hopes, my dreams, my flaws and my problems. This gave me hope. I wasn’t alone. God was watching over me, “seeing” me.

2) Lay down your requests

Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

Psalm 5:3

After reading this verse, I realised that I had been treating God like my shrink.  Every spare minute I had, I would reach out to Him and complain about my problems but not once did I say, “God I need you intervene.” I failed to tell God what I needed, I just kept telling Him what was happening. This verse challenged me – what did I actually want God to do? After I figured that out, I brought my request to Him.

3) Lift up your eyes

The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward.

Genesis 13:14

After you’ve prayed, it is important to look up. It is only when we lift our eyes that we will see what God has in store for us. Every time I have been knocked to the ground over the past three years, God would say “if you knew what I had in store for you.” Sounds crazy, right? I would be looking at the ground, broken, distressed, hurting and God would remind me to lift up my eyes because He knew that better days were ahead. Better is coming than what we have experienced but we must look up because it is only by looking up that we will realise that where we are is not the end.


I want you to know that you are not a victim. You have control over what you think and how you feel. And even if you happen to lose that control, don’t worry, God is bigger than what you see, how you feel and what you’re facing.

All my love,

J xx