Dear Christians: We need to talk.
That's right, Christians, this post is for you. I've got a bone to pick with you. But first, some context.
I, myself, became a Christian 11 years ago, after having lived much of my youth avoiding God, and the idea of a "superior being". God kinda showed up one day and kicked my ass a bit and revealed His grace to me, and it was a beautiful, overwhelming experience, after which I got baptised in a bathtub. Haha.
Today, I'm still a passionate Christian, and I try to base most of what I do in my life around God, like that time I dropped everything in my life to become a photographer.
Two things have happened to me in the last little while that have irritated me somewhat, and I want to talk about those things.
The First Thing.
The first was during a coffee hangout I was having with my mom. A dude approached our table and politely asked if he could join us for a moment.
He then proceeded to say "You know, I noticed your tattoos, and really had a sense that you're hurting inside, and that you're broken from things in your past".
I couldn't help but think "Uhh.. you got that from the ink in my skin?"
He continued - "I want you to know that the same way you've got this ink on your arms, God has your name on HIS arm. He loves you"
Then he started saying things like "You know, God will always accept you" and "If you ask...", and I immediately realised this guy was about to preach the salvation message to me.
(Now, before I continue the story, let's talk about my skin for a moment so that this makes a little more sense to you. My entire right arm is sleeved up, and I've got a tattoo on my left forearm as well (two, actually, but the second is still new). My right arm is scripture about God's love, and my left forearm says "Jesus". Cool, that's the context I wanted you to have about my skin. Let's continue.)
I stopped him. I won't bother telling you how the rest of the conversation went, but I politely stopped him, told him what my arms say, said thanks, and off he went.
Here's my problem:
If I weren't a Christian, this guy would've put the nail in the coffin for me. That would've been any hope of my salvation down the drain, because I'd think "Judgemental Christian. What a plank". This guy didn't bother to ask what my arms said. He didn't bother to read any of it. He made a judgment based on my appearance, and just went with it. Now, we ALL do that; show me a person who doesn't judge a book by it's cover, and I'll buy you lunch. However - it's not acceptable to do this, not ever. We're supposed to be a group of people loving others unconditionally, yet we create a ridiculous set of "conditions" for the people we're supposed to love before we even meet them. It's ridiculous.
The Second Thing.
I got an email today from a guy who recently proposed to his girlfriend, asking for my pricing. I sent it through to him, and he responded by saying that I'm far too expensive, and that "if I aim for a normal class market, I will get more clients". Yes, all 100% true. But then, this gem:
"I truly hope that you will not make your big business decisions based on money, but rather on God's word.
Money is not more important than family; treasure yours above any business plan"
Again, some context:
I used to shoot for a "normal class" market, and I was WAY busier when I was. I was shooting no less than 3 weddings a month, but usually around 4-6 (that's 1-2 weddings a weekend). I was busy, and business was great. At first, it all seemed amazing, until I realised that I hardly ever saw my girlfriend, my family, or my friends. I was so busy working that I didn't have time for anyone. So I remedied this issue by doubling my prices, and adding a little extra on the top, overnight (literally overnight). Business slowed down dramatically, and I started making far less bookings. I was also having far less meetings (I used to have meetings 3 times a week, in the evenings). The result of all of this is that, today, I shoot about twice a month, and I might have one meeting a week, two on a busy week, but I'm earning more or less the same as what I was earning before, and, most importantly, I actually get to see the people I care about.
Now, back to the email I received. This guy looked at my pricing and appears to have thrown me in the "money hungry" category in his mind, without understanding the context. Again, if I weren't a Christian, and someone said this to me, it would immediately be a nail in the coffin for me.
Here's my point:
You've got to understand that many people who aren't Christians think that we're judgmental, that we don't consider context, and that we throw huge statements around based on very little. People think this because that's what has happened to them in the past. I thought it before I became a Christian, and you probably did too. The real struggle is that our stupidity could cause people to be pushed even further away from God, and that's NOT our goal. Jesus is rad, and we want people to meet Him. We become the hurdle that Jesus has to jump when we do stupid stuff like this.
So, before you make bold, potentially dangerous statements:
- Understand the context
- Don't Judge
- Give the benefit of the doubt
That's all. This has been on my mind for a while - I hope it challenges you.