Monday, February 27, 2012

3Generate as a Youth Pres Candidate

Ok, this is only three months late, but after Emma blogged about 3Generate a couple of days ago, I realised I hadn't blogged about it. I'm not going to talk much about what happened for the weekend (partly because others have done it, partly because of the situation I was in I missed parts), but more about my experience of it.

For those of you who don't know, I was standing for Methodist Youth President (you can see my post about why I was standing here). In the lead up to the weekend I was getting very nervous, as the next two years of my life were going to be decided by the outcome of the vote. And when I got there, my nerves didn't really ease. The Friday evening and most of Saturday was made up of trying to chat to as many people as possible, explain why I was standing, who I was etc. It was strange being in the same place as a load of good friends I hadn't seen for a year, but not really spending much time with them. 

Saturday morning I woke up feeling terrible. I hadn't slept at all well (nerves mainly) and I just felt sick. But a packet of Extra Strong Mints (which I find settles my stomach) later I felt able to socialise with people. One of the advantages of being a Presidential Candidate was that we got to go to things across the three age streams. The 9-13s worship was great, we got given chocolate!

As Saturday drew on, the nerves got worse. At about 5 o'clock, the five Candidates were taken into a little side room, along with Jude (the Youth Participation Officer), Ruth (the adult Vice President) and two chaplains in preparation for the voting. This was a strange atmosphere, the five of us waiting together, all biting fingernails, chatting, playing jenga and eating sweets. Each of the three age streams voted separately, so three times we had to walk in front of a room of people, watch our 'campaign' videos and give a little speech about ourselves, before returning to our little room. After the final time, we had a five minute wait until Jude came in with the results. She walked in, paused... and announced that Hayley would be the next Youth President.

I can't really remember what happened next, but I know that there was a lot of hugging, and quite a few tears. The chaplains were amazing, so supportive, giving us space to be on our own, but letting us know they were there. The results had been publicly announced while we were hugging. So after a while, when I got up the courage to leave the room, I found Rach and got a massive hug, before going into the main room to get a load of support, and plenty more hugs.

Obviously I was upset, initially. But fairly soon I felt ok. Disappointed, but ok. All I can say is that God had comforted me. I had been called to go through the process, but so had four others. Jude had said to us that it would be difficult knowing that God had called us to a point that could seem to be failure. But I didn't feel like I'd failed. I honestly would have been happy with and of the candidates winning, and I know that Hayley will be great.

Since then, I have explained it to people like this: I was obviously called to go through the process, and the was obviously I reason for that. God know what that reason is, and I'm sure I'll find out sooner or later. But the fact that I wasn't as upset as I thought I would be, was my sign from God that it would be ok, and that I would be ok. I was reminded of the Covenant Prayer (which now have as a poster stuck up in my room).

I am no longer my own but yours.
Your will, not mine, be done in all things,
Wherever you may place me,
in all that I do and in all that I may endure;
when there is work for me and when there is none;
when I am troubled and when I am at peace.
your will be done when I am valued and when I am disregarded;
when I find fulfilment and when it is lacking;
when I have all things, and when I have nothing.
I willingly offer all I have and am to serve you, as and where you choose.
Glorious and Blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
You are mine, and I am yours
May it be so for ever.
Let this Covenant now made on earth be fulfilled in Heaven

There are times when God calls us to great things, and there are times God calls us to be set aside. And I am learning to accept that, trusting that God has the OS Map and is giving me the directions I need for now.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Being a Christian online

Isn't it strange the amount of power individual Christians have in the media, especially through social media.

The views of a Christian often become the views a all Christians. The words of a Christian become the words of all Christians.

And what makes this more dangerous is that it much more likely to be the negative words and views that get picked up, while all the loving, graceful, caring, Christ-like words and views are lost. How often have we heard stories of people who claim that they aren't a Christian because of a they see Christians as judgmental, sexist, holier-than-thou. Now my experience of Christians is usually different than this. I'm not going to say there are no Christians like that, stereotypes have to come from somewhere, but most of the Christians I know are awesome people. It is the negative that makes more of an impact, that is more noticeable, and often more quotable.

In my twitter profile, I describe myself as '22yo Christian, Rugby fan, interest in politics, and ginger!' I've never (to my knowledge) had my views taken to be the views of all 22 year olds, of all rugby fans (or even all England fans), or of all gingers. So what is it about Christianity that draws such scrutiny? I don't have an answer to this. Maybe it's that people are always looking to criticise the 'holier-than-thou' Christians they believe we are. Maybe it's a belief that our faith makes us one single homogenous blob who all believe the same thing. Whatever it is, I believe that it puts quite a burden on us. One angry tweet, one sarcastic Facebook post, could turn someone of Christianity, and could drive a wedge between them and a relationship with Christ. Man, having just seen that written down makes it a very daunting thought.

When using social networking, I always think twice before sending a post. Often I write something, leave the curser hovering over the send button... then delete it. Maybe someone won't get the friendly sarcasm, the inside joke, the silliness of my brain (in which case it usually goes into a private message rather than on a public stage). Maybe I'm being too negative, and my post isn't what Jesus would post. There are times I'll get into debates or arguments and get to a point where I just have to leave it, because I'm getting angry and will say something I regret. (A case in point, I have decided to take a 'sabbatical' from a group on Facebook because I found I was getting very negative and being on it wasn't helping me. I'll give it a try again in a few weeks).

I'm not perfect, I know I have made comments I shouldn't have, said things that weren't helpful. But I'm trying. Jesus calls us to be the light to the world, and we need to ensure that we are shining a good light that we want people to see, the light of Jesus, the loving, caring, Saviour.

(PS, Please note, all views expressed are my own, not those of all Christians :-p )

(PPS, I had to get this proof-read before posting to ensure I wasn't being too negative or holier than thou. If you think it is, blame my proof-reader.)