|Image credit: http://www.a2church.org
I read a quote years ago by Goi Nasu that read, ‘An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.’ It is a quote that I love for it’s simple truth; negativity will only impact us if we allow it.
We live in a world that can be very negative and depressing. You just need to watch TV to see that. But the TV isn’t the only thing that can be depressing and negative. If we stop and look around I am sure we will all be able to name someone that is at the best of times negative and depressing. We can all find ourselves in environments that are full of naysayers and people that want to point out all that is wrong with the world. Or people that want to point out what they think is wrong with you. In my past life I worked for a secular organisation that held very secular views. In fact, my faith was at times mocked and I was made to feel like I was naive and silly for believing in Jesus. There was a very negative view of Christianity and Christians and it affected me in ways I didn’t realise it could.
I remember reaching a point where I felt myself starting to compromise in some areas and realised that my environment was starting to change me, and not for the better. There was a negative attitude and perception of ‘religious people’ and it had started to influence me. The negativity had gotten inside the ship, so to speak. This realisation not only devastated me but was also the catalyst for change as it was in that moment that I realised that I was the only one that could control what influenced me. That was the moment that I understood, really understood, what Proverbs 4:23 meant. I understood what it meant to ‘guard your heart’ because I had seen just how much had infiltrated my heart and changed me from the inside out. My actions and words weren't reflecting Jesus in any way and I knew that I was walking a fine line. In that moment, I decided that I would no longer let my environment shift but that I would instead shift my environment. I was going to change the climate around me and not let the climate change me, so through a lot of daily praying and pleading for God to help me, I walked into work and tried to shift my surroundings by living out my faith.
It was hard going. There were days when I questioned whether or not it was worth it and whether I should just leave, but God kept all doors firmly shut, so I stayed where I was. I draw a line in the sand on certain things and I said no to things. No longer bowed down to social pressure and expectations but set my own. Again, it was hard going but eventually, I stared to notice things. Little things, such as people refraining from swearing around me (I don’t get offended by language by there are some words I draw a line with). People stopped sending me certain jokes and memes. A couple of people asked me to pray for them. People could clearly see the line I had drawn in the sand and they respected it not because they agreed with it, but because I extended grace while I stood for my convictions. I showed love but also stood my ground. I refused to conform to the expectations of everyone and instead kept my eyes fixed on Jesus. I even left behind my bible when I resigned in the hopes that someone would pick it up and read it.
Living out your faith can be hard when you are surrounded by people that want nothing more than to tell you that what you believe is wrong. It is getting harder for Christian’s to voice their opinion, whether it be vocally or through writing. But what better time than now to stand our ground and be change makers? What better time than now, when the world around us is in such chaos, to influence those around us by using our pens (or keyboards) to show the love of God? To show the world how gracious and loving God is by extending the same grace and love through our actions and the writing we put out into the world.
At the end of the day, are we not called for such a time as this?
Leila (Lays) Halawe is a Sydney based coffee loving nonfiction writer and blogger. She has published a short devotional, Love By Devotion, and shares her views on life and faith via her blog page Looking In. You can connect with her via Facebook at Leila Halawe Author and via Twitter at Leila Halawe.