< Upheaval: Post #9

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Post #9

This past year, when I was in graduate school, I made a new friend. She was the same as me: a woman, a teacher, funny, and very sarcastic. We hit it off and we ended up grabbing dinner before class once a week and visiting when we had time.

Now, I am a Christian. I believe that there is nothing I can do on this earth that will make me good enough for the grace that God has extended to me. I believe that once I accept His offer of forgiveness, I am free and clear. This is not an excuse to live a life of abandon! But I know that I can't make myself look any "purer" to Him.

That being said, let me tell you that my graduate school friend is Pentecostal. Long skirts, long hair, no makeup, the belief that you are not "saved" unless you are of her faith.

That was an awkward situation for me. I knew that she "pitied" me and probably prayed for my salvation at her church group meetings. I knew that she lived a "holier" life than me, and probably disapproved of my favorite blue jeans.

We had several discussions about our differing faiths. I listened to what she had to say, and she presented verse after verse that supported her ideas. She told me that she did not believe that I was "saved" because I had not been filled with the Holy Spirit and spoken in tongues. I am secure in my faith, but I lack in the confidence to evangelize, so I was very comfortable just listening. And asking sincere questions. I would like to think that I was open-minded, without being naive. This went on for several months. Her persistence in sharing her ideas made me think hard about my own faith, but I never traded my jeans for a skirt.

After we graduated in August, my friend and I kept in touch. We emailed and made plans to get together after we got settled into our school routines. I was excited to see her and catch up. She came over last week, and Daniel let her in.

His eyebrows were about half-an-inch higher on his forehead as he showed her into the living room. I choked on a grape when I saw her standing there in khakis, with jewelry on, and with short hair.

"She is UNPENTECOSTAL!" I shouted.

(I don't even think that is a word, but it was all I could think of at the time.)

My friend laughed. We had a really long talk and she said that the whole time that she was preaching to me, her heart was softening. She said she realized that many people in her church were living hypocritical lives. They put themselves on a pedestal because they have the "strength" to shun worldly things, and look down on others who don't do that. They consider themselves an elite, judging the salvation of those around them.

She said that she didn't want to live that way any more. She had lived a Pentecostal lifestyle for more than 14 years. She cut off all ties with her church, including her best friend. The kicker was that her best friend accused her of "being Baptist" and having "struggled with that problem for years."

She is now happily involved in a non-denominational church. The members fully accept her and know where she is coming from. She said she hasn't been this stress-free in a really long time.

It is so strange to me that our conversations had any affect on her at all. I never even had anything intelligent to say! But it seems to have affected her greatly, and for that I am thankful. She has lost the fear that accompanied her faith before.

Isn't it funny how the Lord chooses to use us at times? I never would have thought I could ever have a hand in unconverting a Pentecostal person, but I think that is just what happened!


Blogger Sharkey said...

Wow, what a great post and a great story. I'm like you--I know what I believe, but often feel uncomfortable expressing it. So I'm very encouraged by your experience--to think that I might be able to express my faith and help others think about theirs without coming off as preachy.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Jennboree said...

I think anytime we can look hard at our own faith and why we believe what we do, it is healthy for our spiritual growth.

Often, people have strong beliefs that come more from others' grooming or insistence rather than truly exploring their faith.

Perhaps those months of conversing with her even made you stronger in your own beliefs?

6:54 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Wow...the freedom this lady must be feeling now! Good stuff!
Thank-you for sharing.

9:13 AM  
Blogger koyama said...

My hubby came from a pentecostal background and I have never heard of skirts/long hair being any part of it! Sincerity is a powerful thing...

10:27 AM  
Blogger Amanda Sue said...

i hope your husband didn't wear skirts, but long hair wouldn't have been too bad.

okay, just kidding. i think it depends on the strictness of the church. some pentecostals don't do anything that i mentioned!

10:11 PM  

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