I have only learned in the last few years how much the gospel and following Christ is about relationship. I am embarrassed to think how I let things like politics, lifestyles, and opinions get in the way of pursuing friendships with coworkers and colleagues in the past. Sure, I was busy with school and all, but I reserved all my relationship energy for other Christians like myself.
Part of my hesitance was a fear of not having all the answers lined up. Part of it was a fear of being judged or labeled (which is essentially what I was doing to others internally). I cared about my colleagues; I prayed for them. But I failed to love them. I failed to ask God to help me love them unconditionally, to take genuine interest in their stories, in who they were, without thinking about how I could correct or guide them, or about how I would represent the Christian perspective (as if any one human could do that).
So I was paralyzed by fear, and then next by guilt when I was too shy to be the kind of outspoken witness so highly prized in evangelical culture, and I failed to simply enjoy relationships with them. Instead of thinking about how to “be a light,” I should have been praying about how to love better.
I am experiencing more of the freedom that comes with surrendering to Jesus these days, particularly the freedom of not having to have everything figured out, the answers to every question. The freedom to just be with people and accept them as they are.
The freedom to say I don’t know. The freedom to share about God’s grace in my life. The freedom to be vulnerable, to admit my flaws and foibles. The freedom to enjoy being with people without worrying whether I’ve done enough to witness to them. The freedom to love. The freedom to be childlike.