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Lessons I’ve Learned About Christianity by Being Christian

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It’s never been easy to be a Christian. Even though it’s a dominant religion in the United States, it’s fairly common for others to speak disparagingly about Christianity. I’ve felt this especially when other people have said or done off-putting things in the “name” of Christianity that sort of makes the rest of us look narrow-minded and self-righteous. What’s a “good Christian” to do about being a good example without getting angry?

I bet you will have some advice for me (which I’d love to hear in the comments!), but here are a few lessons I’ve learned from being a Christian.

Correlation Doesn’t Equal Causation

In the past, you may have had to explain to people that one member of a group doesn’t in fact represent the whole. I remember one time seeing a badly Photoshopped image on Pinterest that misinterpreted my beliefs. I thought one woman was interested in hearing what I had to say when I wanted to explain why the picture was wrong, but instead she responded with a crude and negative rant, and a few other users joined her. It was like a trap sprung up and caught me.

I reported the image, and the ranting stopped, but it hurt. I thought Pinterest was a place to get good advice, not debates! I sought one of my really good friends about it because I knew I had to talk about it or it would ruin my day.

My friend comforted me by saying she knew that I was the better person in that conversation, and the others didn’t know who I really was. It helped me realize that those who truly care about and understand me are the people I should surround myself with and listen to—regardless of their own religious beliefs.

In short: Do what you feel is right, and the right people will notice your efforts and good heart.

When People See Limitations, Look for Freedom

A lot of people who were once Christian or disagree with Christianity see it as a religion that seeks to constrict people to a set of rules that don’t allow anyone to “be free.” As a Mormon, I get this a lot. People are funny that way; they think they have us figured out based on how they see other Christians live, make decisions, and interact with others. But as a son or daughter of God, you don’t fit in a box.

You can do “surprising” things like be Christian and a feminist; be Christian and have respect for Muslims, atheists, or those in the LGBT community; or be Christian and have questions about your beliefs. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have it all figured out or that you have a free pass to be self-righteous; it means you know you’ve been saved from your sins thanks to Jesus Christ.

When people make assumptions about what you believe, sometimes it’s not worth trying to argue. It’s often better to remind yourself of why you chose to be Christian, and it’s likely because you’ve discovered that your beliefs make you feel free, complete, and happy.

Know What You Believe and Don’t Let Others Question You

I used to think that part of sharing my beliefs meant showing others that they would have more blessings and happiness if they joined my church. But after I was a missionary for eighteen months, I realized that there’s more power in being empathetic than being right. God knows everything about everyone and knows just how to take care of us on a very personal level. What we see isn’t always the complete picture.

Jesus loves everyone, but He doesn’t love sin. The definition of “sin” will always be up for debate by society but not to God. We can still respect others even if they don’t agree. Someday they may come to Christ because of our example, but that’s not why we do it; it’s just the right thing to do. I’m trying to be the best version of myself, and part of who I am involves how I help or hinder other people from doing the same.

I think we can find solace in the fact that despite how negative people are online, the world is still full of really good people. We may sometimes feel alone, but God does a good job of putting friends and family in our lives to buoy us up and find a place where we belong.

I know I’m not the only one who has learned important life lessons from being a Christian. I’d really love to hear about your experiences and how they’ve helped you gain insight and strength. Please share your thoughts with me!

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