Saturday, February 11, 2006

Online Versus Real Life

“Jesus loves you just the way you are,” I cannot tell you how very many times I’ve heard that in my life. And fine, yes Jesus loves you. He loves me. He loves Bob down the street and Mary two blocks over. But when He calls us to be His own, when we accept that marriage proposal, we are called to change. So, while Jesus may love me as I am - if I truly do love Him, if I have truly repented of my sins and embraced the freedom found in His love, shouldn’t I therefore desire change in my life?

Indeed, I am changing. I’ve seen God work wonders in my life. And I know that He will continue to work a miracle in me, so long as I am willing to allow Him to do so. He’s not going to force me to change, but if I really love Him won’t I desire to lay down my old nature, my old habits and hang ups and desires, for a fresh start in Him?

Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my writing (especially my blog) and my real life. It may surprise some of you to know that in many ways my online presence is much different than how I am in real life.

Don't panic. I’m not saying I am really some 45-year-old man who lives in a shack in the woods of Montana. My name really is Kristina and I really do have two beautiful children whom I love deeply. Rather the difference I am speaking of is simply my boldness. Online I am more...bold? Intense about some things? More outgoing. I can ramble a lot online, but in my day to day life I tend to be more quiet.

Now, those of you who are close to me may need to take a moment to recover from the choking fit I’m sure you just experienced over your coffees before we continue. Better? Good. Let me clarify. I hate crowds, I loath new situations, and I detest public speaking as well as anything that is going to force attention to be focused upon me. You are more likely to win the lottery - even if you’ve never played in your life - than you are to ever hear me speak publicly. It just does not happen. I tend to be quite introverted and it takes a ridiculous amount of time for me to get comfortable in new places with new people. A perfect example of this is church. I attended the same church every week for 4.5-5 years before one person in that entire congregation could have told you my name.

The few friends I do have can attest to this fact. I have been like this since I was a child. I was the kid in the corner reading or playing by themselves on the playground. I was the kid who would be playing solitaire at the after school program while everyone else was playing UNO or Chinese Checkers. I was the kid who was over prepared for their presentations in class, but you would never know it because of how badly I stammered during it. I was the kid who, assuming they didn’t throw up before hand, was in the bathroom immediately after the speech was finished. Even if it wasn’t a presentation I rarely said a word during my classes. In fact I don’t remember participating in class discussions until I was a junior in high school. And I still hated doing it, but the things being discussed were either too interesting to pass up or I was so bored out of my mind that I had to participate to keep from falling asleep. I think my senior English teacher liked to bring up certain topics simply to rouse my interest and get me to interact with the rest of the class.

Anyway, I am still very much like that. And truthfully I’m not thrilled about it, though I am most comfortable not being noticed. I blend into crowds easily, and that’s what I’m used to. I would rather be by myself with a stack of books in silence than in a crowded movie theater. If it weren’t for email most of my family and friends would never hear from me.

But my question is, for those of you who only know me online, would you have ever figured me to be like this? When I read the things I have written over the past year I see confidence. I see strength, I see someone who can articulate their ideas pretty well...even if they do tend to ramble a bit. But I don’t see that in my real life. At least, not yet.

You see I truly believe God is still at work in me. He continues to bring things about myself to mind that need attention. And I’m glad for that, though I must admit it can be frustrating and painful at times. I know He is at work in me. My writing is a proof of that. I never used to write like this, my blog and the articles I have written are so very different from the writing before I knew and desired Him.

My writing before was much more weak than it is today. It wasn’t as fluent, it wasn’t as brave. But the Lord has changed that. He has given me confidence to write and I know the strength I see in my writing is not my own but His. And I am sure He will continue to cultivate that.

But sometimes I find myself wondering if He is going to work on me in the real world? When? I worry sometimes that I will always be this “wet noodle” of a girl. But I realize that He is at work! The fact that I can shop by myself is a miracle in itself. Occasionally I even speak to the people at the check out line. That is huge for have no idea. And so I know I need to relax. He is in control and He is molding me (despite my worry and my fears) in His timing for His glory. Do I know what the end result will be? No. But I don’t need to. All I need to know is that my God loves me enough to change me and save me from myself and my sin. And that, beloved, is my peace tonight. I am being changed, imperceptively, from the inside out in more ways than I can imagine.

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