Painting Bold Colors on My Pastel Faith

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Living a faith of pastels is safe. Pleasant enough. We certainly won’t offend anyone. Bold faith is challenging, but with those challenges come blessings.

I spent too many years pursuing a faith of pastels.

Soft and comfortable. Pleasant enough, but not particularly bold or especially memorable.

I went to my Christian conferences. Did my ladies’ Bible Studies. Led a “good” life.

I talked about faith — with people of faith. I passionately shared my convictions — with those who agreed with me.

I loved God. I felt strongly about my beliefs. But my people-pleasing nature resisted the idea of making too many waves. Of risking that someone might be upset or uncomfortable with me — or, horror of horrors, not like me.

The best thing that ever happened to my faith was my daughter entering middle school.

Unlike her mother, my girl is a fearless, natural-born boat rocker. If she isn’t a little seasick, she’s not happy.

As she hit the preteen years, her questions and boundary pushing intensified. She refused to take anything at face value (still does!).

Without even knowing it, she held up an unforgiving mirror to this image-conscious, complacent, people-pleasing mom and dared me to get real.

My harmless, pastel faith wasn’t going to meet the challenges of messy, middle-school motherhood. Not even close. 

I had to dig deep and decide to stop living a soft, comfortable brand of Christianity.

Because I suddenly had a child who desperately needed me to show her why it was relevant to everyday life. She didn’t even know it, but she needed me to be a flesh-and-blood example of walking out faith courageously and consistently.

We can try to pursue our faith in pastels, but to what end? That kind of faith inspires no one — perhaps least of all our children.

We can pursue our faith in pastels, but to what end? That kind of faith inspires no one.

Children have a natural way of sensing a lack of genuine conviction and passion — even if we’re able to fool others.

As Christians, we increasingly live in a world where we can no longer be “pastel.”  As we speak, Christians are dying for their faith by the thousands in Iraq and other parts of the world. More and more, we are being forced to take costly stands for our beliefs right here in America.

Making a commitment to bold faith, dear moms, is a tall order. At times, it overwhelms me.

I am still very much on that journey to unrelenting boldness. I find motivation in Hebrews 10:38, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”

With the power of the Holy Spirit, here are a few ways I’m trying to be bold in my faith:

Bold in suffering.

Pain can easily make us bitter. I’ve struggled with chronic illness for almost two decades now. I have a child with a chronic illness. At times, I’ve been very mad at God. Unable to comprehend why He could end my suffering, and my son’s, but chooses not to.

But I’m determined to continue to come back to this truth: God is good and just. Even when He doesn’t answer my prayers the way I’d like. Even when I’m in pain that seems to have no end.

As moms, we try to protect our children from pain. It’s not possible — or even in their best interest! They’re better served watching our example of grace and dependence on God through our suffering.

Bold in truth telling.

It’s not politically correct or popular to take most of the stands outlined in the Bible. They’re  often labeled as intolerant and hateful.

God’s principles are always about our protection and blessing. Always. When we violate them, it’s to our own disadvantage. The most loving thing we can do for each other — and for our precious children – is to speak the truth in love, even when it’s unpopular or difficult to hear.

Bold in self-examination. 

Change in any area can’t begin until we’re willing to be honest with ourselves. Confronting those dark and unpleasant aspects of our character is never easy. It requires us to be humble and courageous.

When I first began confronting my people-pleasing issue, I spent lots of time in counseling. I asked good friends to help keep me accountable. And I made lots of mistakes. I sometimes took the easy way out.

It wasn’t worth it.

Once God opened my eyes to a better way, pleasing others didn’t hold the same attraction and power that it had in the past. I craved the freedom that I knew God was offering me. Once choice at a time, I got stronger and braver.

Years later, I still struggle at times with people pleasing, but I’ve come a long way. As a result, so have my relationships with my children.

It has definitely been worth that harsh look in the mirror.

Bold in spending time with God.

So many things compete for our time. We have to be deliberate in setting aside regular, quality time with God.  As moms, I know we’re busy. But our kids need to see our faith is number one in our lives. If it’s not, why should they give it a place of importance in theirs?

It is the foundation we need to confront the hard places and make the tough stands that life and motherhood demands. In the Bible, Daniel, Paul and Joseph were all men who faced incredible hardships.

Daniel went up against lions. Paul spent much of his adult life in prison. Joseph weathered slavery and prison.

These men met these challenges with perseverance, integrity and courage. Those qualities didn’t develop overnight. They had been cultivated over many years, as they boldly pursued a relationship with Jesus.

None of us knows what our lives will bring. I want to my heart and mind to be ready for whatever God requires of me.

Living a faith of pastels is safe. Pleasant enough. We certainly won’t offend anyone.

But I’m finding I like the challenges and blessings of living faith boldly.

Maybe there’s a little boat-rocker in me, after all. 

 

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