Remember looking forward to summer in high school? Waking up for the last day of school was kind of like that “Christmas-morning-can’t eat-can’t sleep-just want to get out of bed” feeling. Once testing was over and we had watched one too many Disney movies in class, we would sit at the edge of our seats waiting for the bell to ring to announce the start of our break. Shouts of joy could be heard bouncing off the walls in the hallways, and students would literally knock one another over as they ran to the buses.
In college, though, I dread the summer months more and more. When I wonder what has made such a vast difference between then and now, the answer can be summed up by two words: Jesus and community. Before entering college, I thought I had truly authentic Christian community in my life; however, as my love for the Lord grew deeper and my faith was strengthened, I soon realized that my InterVarsity community at Virginia Tech had played a pivotal role in this transformation.
At school, my faith thrives.
I cannot seem to go more than a few hours without someone asking deeper questions about my life, without meeting with someone for discipleship, or without running into the IV “rule of three” (the idea that when two InterVarsity students are gathered together on campus, at least one more student will, inevitably, show up).
But at home, I don’t feel directly supported by a group of students, interning at my home church has often become simply another job, and my own space to spend time with the Lord remains elusive.
More than anything, however, I’ve noticed that my ability to articulate the passion behind my faith has been severely lacking, especially when it comes to talking with my family. For instance, here was an encounter with my dad two weeks ago:
Dad: Angie, you haven’t eaten anything today have you?
Me: Erm . . . no. But, uhhh . . . I’m fasting today.
Dad: Wait, are you being serious?
Me: Ha ha, yes . . .
Dad: That is not healthy for you!
Me: Dad, it’s fine. Plus, it’s biblically commanded.
Dad: Yeah, and so was slaughtering animals at one time!
Me: Dad, ha ha, it’s not the same thing. Okay, I gotta go. See ya.
BIBLICALLY COMMANDED? Really? That was my response?!
Yep… that is what conversations with my family are like. Instead of using the same passion, boldness, and articulation that seems to come so naturally to me at school, I end up getting that “deer in the headlights” look and stumbling over my words until I spit out some answer, any answer, in order to move past my discomfort.
After this particular conversation, I spent the next twenty minutes beating myself up for how I had responded. God had granted me the perfect opportunity to share with my father what the Lord had been teaching me through prayer and fasting, and I let that slip through my fingers.
Why is it so hard to talk to my family about my faith?
This is the question I have been pondering throughout the summer. I’ve been a Christian for nine years; I’ve seen the Lord comfort, heal, and save; I’ve done ministry in rural and urban areas all over the country; I’ve shared the gospel with friends and strangers numbers of times; and I’ve been in leadership with InterVarsity for three years. But when I talk to my family, it seems like none of that preparation matters.
Last week, as I was spending time in Scripture, I felt the Lord lead me to 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. As I read through the passage, I realized that God has given us the message of reconciliation to share with his people, and it is my responsibility to pray for opportunities and for the ability to share the love of Christ with my family. Paul writes, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us” (verse 20). If this is true - if I am Christ’s ambassador to those around me - I must begin to pray that the Lord will enable me to speak truth in love to my family.
A week ago, I boldly approached my dad to apologize for the frustration I have showed him this summer. For the first time in our relationship, I explained to him why I have felt so distant and how hard it has been to express myself, especially on spiritual matters, to my family. At the end of the conversation, we decided to select a passage of Scripture to study together each week. While this may only be one small step of obedience in living my life as an ambassador for Christ, I know that God will enable and strengthen me as I continue to pursue His will in every situation.
Take time this week to think about how you can embrace your role as an ambassador for Christ. Is there anyone in your life that you need to extend grace to, anyone that you need to love better, or anyone that needs your encouragement? Pray for opportunities; be bold, love big, and let Christ make His appeal through you.
Angie Giancola is a senior and president of the InterVarsity chapter at Virginia Tech. She blogs at www.a-giancola7.tumblr.com. This post is part of our Student Summer Discipleship series every Tuesday.