Central to my faith journey is being the person God has created me to be. This might sound incredibly selfish. What about serving others, fighting injustice, self-sacrifice and so on?
When Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) I don’t think he was asking us to force anyone to become a Christian. I think he was modelling how to be yourself and by being yourself and not some caricature, you will attract others to following Jesus. As Catherine of Siena once said,
“Be who you were meant to be and you will set the whole world on fire.”
It’s about listening to God and listening to others as well as being heard. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “The first service of love one owes to others is listening to them.” The first word of the greatest commandment in Deut 6:4 is שְׁמוֹעַ “Shema” which means “Listen!” “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD God is one.” And following on from that is the command to “Love your neighbour.”
I started my working life teaching RE and taught for 13 years. Although I enjoyed teaching, most of the time, I felt deeply unhappy and restless. One Lent I decided to take up exercise. A friend of mine persuaded me to try karate. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to hit people, but I gave it a go and found that I really enjoyed it! The karate gave me a new lease of life and energy and helped me to reconnect a part of myself that I suppressed. Eventually I found the courage to leave the security of teaching, the year I achieved my first brown belt grade.
I’d also heard an excellent sermon at the start of that academic year by an ex-Anglican priest where he had referred to a talk by JK Rowling to Harvard graduates about the importance of failure and the use of the imagination. I had become too comfortable, even though I was unhappy. I had forgotten how to be bold and daring. It felt like one of several nudges from God. It was time to move on.