So, it’s a new year, and I’m back in the city.
One day I was writing a blog post about the first week of college and then all of a sudden fall term was over. How to sum it up? Crazy fun. I love New York (even if most of the time my senses are MAXED OUT beyond all capacity).
Winter break gave me time to think. There were days when I was 95% sure I was not coming back to NYU for spring semester, and days when I just wanted to move to Mexico or Africa or really ANYWHERE and just get away from here. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE school (especially my friends), but is it worth the money? Last year I helped organize a dance that raised 5,000 dollars – enough money to build a whole school in Sudan. Do you know how many schools my tuition could build after 4 years? 40. Yep. Enough to buy the tools and supplies to build 40 schools, give kids uniforms and books, and pay for teachers. FORTY FUCKING SCHOOLS. IS MY EDUCATION REALLY WORTH THAT?!!?
This question is fucking. with. my. mind. It’s destroying me.
But, one thing is for certain. I’m a city girl now. Not the stereotypical NYC girl—I still like smiling at people in the elevator and being friendly to people on the street; I like taking my time and I hate Times Square; I sing and dance in the streets, and I close my eyes and imagine what the city would look like in the 1600’s; but the city is an amazing place, and I am thankful to be a part of it. The city humbles and challenges me, and when I look—I see God everywhere. I’m pretty sure I’m learning more here than I could anywhere else. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself.
On that note, being a Christian in the city is not easy. Some days I think I simply fail. Living in the city where millions of people from different backgrounds with different views of religion and morality live on one small island—wow, it’s an expected jolt. There are 600 people in my building alone.
But, I am affirming my faith. Sex, drinking, and drugs—well, I’m not going crazy with any of them, but I am definitely not abstaining completely. I’ve come to the conclusion that kissing someone I like, having one or two drinks with friends, (etc.) are all good in moderation. I’m not flirting with the line of what is right and wrong nor have I conveniently moved it over. I just think all of these things that Christians are “not supposed to do” are a bit off.
God isn’t about rules, He’s about love. I don’t want to be known because I follow the “rules” but for how I love. “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law” (Galatians 5:22-23). I want people to know I am a Christian because of these qualities or because they see Christ in me, not because I refuse to do things that aren’t considered in line with Christ.
What do I love about the city most? All the different people. So many people think that religion is just an outgrowth of your culture. People say, “I’m Presbyterian because I’m Scottish, I’m Muslim because I’m Bosnian, I’m a Roman Catholic because I’m Italian.” Christianity started with Jews worshiping a Jewish Messiah, but suddenly, for the first time, people began to realize that there was an experience of God that was so profound it brought everyone together. It’s an experience deeper than culture. The Gospel brings everyone together.
For the first time in history, Christianity brought people across walls to worship together. There is a reality and truth that is not just culturally constructed. That’s hard to believe when every teacher is telling you life is just socially and culturally constructed.
Well, God isn’t. God is real. God can break barriers that nothing else can break and bring people together who would normally not be friends. That’s obviously not a REASON to believe, but it is a pretty awesome thing to just recognize. That Jesus was maybe the first person to bring together radically different cultures. Hm… C.S. Lewis, a popular British theologian, continues,
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, The MacMillan Company, 1960, pp. 40-41.)
But, I’m not going to cover up the fact that I still have so many underlying doubts. I am giving myself time to answer all my questions about God, Jesus, and living a life of Faith… but I’m still open to the potentially explosive possibility that I need to be more selective about what I believe. This year, however, I am throwing myself into it. Absorbing it all. On my own terms. With my own Christian and non-Christian friends. Next0