The first time I said the word Jesus Freak was right after my first date. A church doesn’t normally serve as the setting for a first date (or any date, really); but when your eighth grade boyfriend and his church community are those "crazy people" who hold signs on the street corner saying “YOU NEED JESUS” in big bold red letters every Friday night, a Sunday night service seems kind of fitting.
According to the always reliable Urban Dictionary, a "Jesus Freak" is defined as, "someone who displays an usual or embarrassing amount of enthusiasm for Jesus."
I used to think of this term as an insult, but now I see it as more of a compliment (but maybe I’m a little biased). However, why does having an underlying love for Jesus Christ have to be "embarrassing?" Just because we possess more enthusiasm, passion, and excitement about a certain thing, in this case a person referred to as Jesus, does not automatically make us "freaks" does it? Why is loving someone so unconditionally as we do our savior have to be something people see as embarrassing? Is society threatened by us? Are humans simply just struggling to fathom that type of unconditional love for a person they don't quite know themselves? I'm not sure, but society seems to have told us to call those people Jesus freaks, even though they aren't freaks. We're simply just passionate about something. It would be like calling an aspiring actress an acting freak. Or someone who really loves playing the guitar a guitar freak. Now because these activities are seen as "cool" and not as "weird" in society, they're not referred to as freaks, now are they? No, I didn't think so. But why does society see followers of Jesus as weird, unpopular, and rejected from the cool group?
I don't feel like we're freaks. When I walk into church on Sunday and I see my friends and people I consider family, waiting to learn about the gospel, I get excited. I love learning and every week I go there I'm learning about God, which is something I never got to do when I was younger.
I wish I could tell you I grew up in a cute little Christian family with rock solid morals and how I’ve always known I had a relationship with God. But as a 17-year-old girl who previously considered herself an atheist, a sister who practices witch craft, and has two divorced parents, I cannot tell you that with an honest heart. Don’t get confused though. I had a great childhood and I’ve accumulated many hours in a large room with stain glass windows, bibles so old they’re practically falling apart, and a giant cross hanging on the center wall. That was my image of a church; the old building, the old people, the old hymns that literally make no sense. I'm not even sure I picked up a bible.
I never understood the Bible when I was young, but who really does at that age? When it came to church, all I ever cared about was the bread and the cup of juice they served you in the middle of the sermon (even though it was supposed to be wine and we weren’t even Catholic). At my old church we never went through verses, and our pastor never explained them if we did. I never went home and talked about the sermon over dinner with my family. I never talked about it with my friends or took notes. I never even wanted to talk about it, because what was there to talk about?
Now don't get me wrong, my parents often tried with me. They tried to get me to believe in God and heaven. Like when my grandmother, my best friend, died and they told me she was going to a better place? Yeah, I hated that. It felt like they were pushing it on me way too much and at the time I just wasn't open to it. My grandmother's death is the worst thing I have ever gone through. It still is. It makes me want to die whenever I think about it. So, having them repeatedly telling me she was better off in this magical place called heaven, did NOT comfort me AT ALL. If anything, it aggravated me even more. I didn't believe heaven existed or maybe it's because I didn't want to. Why would she be happier in a place where she couldn't sing annoying rhymes to me? Or play scrabble with me? How could she be happy without me; when I was so lonely, lost, and broken without her? Sometimes I still don't want to believe it.
Having God in your life doesn't make all the pain go away. Knowing she's in heaven doesn't always make her death easier. At first, having God in my life didn't help ease the pain or comfort me even the slightest bit. But now as I build a closer relationship with Jesus, I realize that bad things have to happen. Did I expect my grandmother to live until she was 265 years old? I know that God is looking out for me, he gives me love and praise. God sees the good and the potential in me, even when I don't see it in myself.
Now I could sit here and start telling you about the miraculous moment I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart, but I am not going to do that. You don’t need to hear about when I get saved. Instead, you need to hear WHY I chose to be saved.
Basically, depression sucks. There isn’t much more to it... It's, well, DEPRESSING. Every week I go to therapy and my therapist continues to tell me the same thing, “There’s a difference between wanting to be happy and actually trying to be happy." Every week I tell her that's stupid. I’ve been in therapy for almost five years now, how could I not be fighting depression? I get up in the morning. I go to therapy every single week. How is that not enough? Apparently it's not enough though, because like I said, it’s been five years and I still have depression and I don't think I've gotten any better.
I decided one day that I haven’t been fighting. I’ve been watching as depression sucks the life out of me like a vacuum. I'll admit it, I secretly enjoying being miserable. Sadness was a blanket I wrapped myself in when life got hard. Wallowing in self pity was my super power. But that was going to change. I needed it to change. Now I have the best tool in the world to fight sadness and help me turn my life around, and his name is Jesus Christ.
We don't find God to be happy. We don't go to church, to youth group, or to bible study to feel better about ourselves. We don't read the bible to become "good" people. We are put on this earth to serve him and in return he loves us and protects us. God lives through us all.
Since I've accepted Christ as my savior, I feel like a different person. Instead of watching raunchy shows like "South Park," I'm watching sermons on my phone. Instead of listening to explicit music, I'm listening to gospel music. Instead of seeing everything in a negative light, I'm actually attempting to be positive (even when it's really, really hard). I'm in no way trying to be "holier than thou". I'm the farthest person from perfect, and faith isn't a "get out of jail free" card. I still pay for my sins and suffer consequences.
Maybe Urban Dictionary was right. Maybe we are weird or overly enthusiastic, but you know what? We're honest to God happy. It doesn't mean life is candy and rainbows, but we have God on our side and that is more than enough to be happy about.