How do you call yourself a Christian?


If they knew my inadequacies, struggles with sin, and who I really am—

Oh they’d never love me.

In college, I was riddled with fear over people finding out ‘the real me’.  At times, I still am. I wear masks of self-sufficiency and carefree elation. I want everyone to know that I’m a sinner, but not a BIG sinner. We all do this, right? Only show our brightest faces to the world–until we nearly convince ourselves that we are not just as desperate for a Savior.

It’s a lie many of us believe—that no one else sitting to our right or left struggles like we do. That we can achieve some resemblance of piety on our own. We believe that it’s easy for those in the pew next to us to have faith like a child and never enter seasons of doubt. We are riddled with anxiety and fear about someone finding out about our secret habits or the addictions that still reign strong. And many times, we lose sight of our own transgressiosn and are surprised when the old monsters rear their heads.  

I was at a jewelry store last week and overheard a woman at the store saying to her friend,

“How does she call herself a Christian? Disgraceful.”

Her friend shook her head and they leaned forward and continued their conversation in a whisper. Ironically, both women wore white—and I think we all do on some level to hide our true selves. The pendulum often swings back and forth between thinking we are the only ones struggling and then promptly forgetting our own sinfulness and pointing fingers at others.

What if everything done in secret and all our thoughts were displayed for the world to see—what would our church friends, coworkers, and families think? Even on a small-scale it’s terrifying. I’ve started examining my thoughts recently—and noticed I’m  judgmental (and I would have told you I wasn’t). I walked into our cafeteria last week and first judged the man wearing stark white Reeboks and then the coupon-clipper in the corner. I felt like God had one thing to say—seriously?!  

I wish the moment we became Christians or started reading the Bible that all our selfish tendencies, inconsistencies, and dark areas of our lives vanished. I long for relationships where no one is ever offended or hurt and we say what we mean and mean what we say. I dream of the days where living in close community with friends or a tiny space with a Martian (remember: men are from Mars and women, Venus) was a crockpot of goodness and ease. No tears, no gossip, no selfish monsters rearing their heads. My utopia is of course neither realistic or even possible, so I shouldn’t be shocked that the world is not as I wish and I am still me, a wretched sinner.

I’m here to confess that I need Jesus.

For His grace washes over a multitude of sins—but must be drunk straight, with no masks of self-sufficiency or traces of ‘I’m not all that bad’ mentality.

I want to leave you with a passage that makes me want to weep with joy that we are fully known, yet fully loved by Grace (Paul Tillich) :

“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restless. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life . . . it strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us and they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice is saying,

 “You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not seek for anything, do not perform anything, do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that ‘you are accepted’. If that happens to us, then we experience grace.”

You are accepted. He is greater than the inconsistencies in your life, the addictions that take hold, and the dark areas that have yet to be illuminated.

Will you drink grace straight?

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10 Responses to “How do you call yourself a Christian?”
  1. Brent Dumler says:

    ‘…not just as despirate for our Savior.’ Great wording! Our level of commitment to this life of faith, our longing to spend time with Jesus, our hunger for more of His Word every day, and genuine compassion for the unlovable around us….all revolves (in large part) around how despirate we are for Him. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Danelle says:

    i love this, Ruthie. I wear masks all day long. Working with youth girls has helped remove those masks – basically b/c the youth girls see right through them and call you on them! lol Chelsey updated me on the fam and I just want you to know I am praying. God IS a great dad. xoxo

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Danelle! Missed you around here! Yes, I can imagine working with youth tends to strip you of masks…living in China certainly did that for me! But I think our tendency will always be to hide the dark areas of our lives. IF only we could always believe that exposing our sins to the community, broings light!

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Oh and yes. He is a good Dad. ALWAYS.

  3. Mayra says:

    I love how God is! I really want to treat me in this area .. His love is amazing!

    For three weeks we are seeing a home study (cell) about criticism and judgment .. wow! I do not know God as a daily confronted with this .. I know that he wants to take something away, a new level … is a 5 confirmation!

    Thanks friends!
    I bless you in Jesus name.

  4. L says:

    ‘I want everyone to know that I’m a sinner, but not a BIG sinner’…so true and so convicting.

  5. Edward Lin says:

    The hardest part of evangelism is selling what you yourself don’t think necessary.

  6. Isabel says:

    I found your blog today through a friend and I am so grateful. You are like a breath of fresh air. I’ve been hopping around your posts and have realised even though I’ve been trying to live with integrity I haven’t been 100% honest with God and others about my desires and dreams. Part of it was not realising that as a Christian, I can still really want a husband, to travel just for fun, etc. basically to continue being myself. Thanks for your honesty and transparency. I am truly encouraged :)

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Isabel! Yes–please be yourself! Why do we often think that God wants us to become a shell of ourselves in order to follow him? He gave us desires for a reason and wants us to live in passionate pursuit of holiness. Which oftentimes includes doing things that we enjoy, ha! Thanks for commenting. I know you will find other people here you can relate to…

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