What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
I struggle with my labels. There is so much attached to anything that we choose to identify as: the pressure of expectations, the disappointment of failing to live up to those expectations, the way our choices and decisions are informed by that identity, the ease that we are afforded in forming alliances based on perceived similarities and conversely, the ease with which we can 'other' people.
I think a lot about the things I choose to identify as. Some of my labels are easier to handle than others. 'Woman' comes to mind first. Even though I don't perform femininity like the average Nigerian woman is expected to, I can get away with it because I don't care enough about other people's expectations in that regard. 'Mother' is a bit harder. I never wanted to be a parent, but life had other plans. It's still taking some getting used to. 'Feminist' is one I'm still figuring out; I haven't worn it long enough for it to fit well.
But this post is about how I am unable to discard 'Christian' and be done with it for good.
Of all the labels I have, this is the one that is most demanding and painful to live by. I was born into a family that lived (lives) Christ, but somehow I never quite caught the bug. I've been running from God my whole life (a really tricky thing to do when the majority of the people you love are making daily decisions that scream 'Jesus!'). My rebellion is made doubly difficult because I don't have enough faith to become an atheist. So eventually, no matter how far or how long I run, He catches me. (The upheavals thereafter invariably cause me to run again, of course.)
But I'm tired. It's an endless cycle, each iteration more painful than the last, each excision of habits and relationships more heartbreaking, each prodigal return more costly.
I don't want to do it anymore.
This is why I'm going public. My soul can probably take some more breaking-to-be-reformed, but I am loath to find out. It hurts too fucking much.
I'm a Christian.
Here's why: painful as my returning to the foot of the cross can be, there is little that can be compared to knowing God so intimately that I become like Him; to being known so intimately that before I speak, my thoughts have been answered; to the insane peace that He gives, the shameless grace that I am availed of, the endless, boundless, incomprehensible love that is mine for the taking, simply because I believe.
This is why I am choosing, in spite of and because of my tendency to run, doubt and falter, to call myself a Christian. Not 'religious', 'spiritual', 'theist' or 'believing'; Christian.
I will likely be no better at embracing this label than I am at being a 'real woman', a 'good mother' or an 'effective feminist', but i have the next fiftyish years to practise. If you're still reading my blog when I'm 75, please remind me to do a Label vs Life evaluation.
I hope I pass.