on you---your personality, your idiosyncrasies, and all other things specifically unique to you. Nodding while others are shouting doesn’t make you any less (or more) of a believer. It just makes you you.
Still, there is considerable value in putting an act behind a belief. Especially if this is an act where the difference between doing it and not doing comes down to you getting over yourself. For me, that meant overcoming my introversion, joining the church and allowing myself to be baptized in front of a captive audience in August.
It’s been three months since that day. And, aside from the initial rush from completing the process, I have to say that I don’t feel much more Christian now than I did before I joined. In this sense, it’s not much different than how many married couples describe the act of getting married. Basically, the wedding doesn’t (and shouldn’t) make you love someone more. You were (hopefully) already in love with each other. The wedding just announces it to your family and friends.
That said, those types of public proclamations do make you both publicly and internally accountable, and just how there are societal and internal expectations for how a husband or wife should comport themselves, a Christian is expected to act a certain way. This has been---and will continue to be---a process as well. While my faith is strong, my understanding of how that should affect my behavior is still a little cloudy, and I do find myself bargaining and compartmentalizing while talking to God in an attempt to justify certain things. (“Yes, I know premarital sex is frowned upon, but what if you intend to marry her? Also, if you don’t want me to use so many cuss words when I write, why would you even invent them? Huh, big guy? Can you answer me that?”)
This has also been a struggle. But, with this struggle, this burgeoning want to be better at being a good person, this humanity, lies my growth as a Christian. So, I’ve embraced it. That I’m a work in progress is undeniable. I’m not done, and I doubt I’ll ever be. But I’m still progressing. (Well, at least I think I am.)
I received a text from one of the women from the blackout night a couple months ago. She was celebrating her 31st birthday in a few days, and planned on doing a scaled-down version of her 30th that Saturday. A club, a cake, and some Ciroc, but no private tables and a smaller group of friends. Although it sounded like a good time, I remembered that my girlfriend and I had other plans for that night (although I couldn’t remember exactly what they were.) I replied.
“I’m going to have to pass this year.”
“Word? Why? Still shook after almost killing us all last year?”
“LOL. Nah. Just won’t be able to make it. Have other plans.”
“What could you two possibly be doing that’s more important than my party?”
“Honestly, I can’t even tell you what we’re planning to do, lol. But I'm sure a plan exists."