Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Hidden Faith

" So I had to guard my growing enthusiasm...especially around my kids and many of my friends....There was this odd role reversal going on: years ago, I was worried about my parents finding out that I had lost my faith and now I worried that my children would find out that I was looking for it. One of my best friends was on this same path toward belief, but had an even greater dilemma. She was Jewish and her parents were vigorously anti religious, having had a fight of epic proportions with a Rabbi decades ago. Mara worried what her parents and her equally atheistic siblings and college-age children would say if they discovered that she was trying out different temples one by one..."I'd rather tell them about my affair with Antonio!" she said, shuddering at the memory of a disastrous fling with a married man. "
                                    ~ Stalking the Divine, p. 108-109


The above passage was written by  Kristin Ohlson. She had discovered a small cloister of nuns whom she started writing about, intrigued by their contemplative lifestyle. Something within her was both moved and perplexed at their choice of removing themselves from society and becoming entirely devoted to God. It sparked within her skeptic heart a pull towards the Divine and as she entered on her journey of discovering God she feared the reactions that her family would have towards her new found sense of faith  that was slowly unraveling a path before her towards God. I wonder how many people live hidden lives of faith, keeping the pearls of wisdom they find covered, for fear of shame, criticism, rejection or embarrassment.

Have you ever kept your beliefs secret from others for those reasons? Your journey towards God, a path covered and hidden from those most close to you?
There has definitely been a major shift in our culture where many circles that some of us find ourselves in consider a choice towards religion a step away from the rational and away from the logic of science. While there are many of us that feel religion and science can be compatible and don't necessarily contradict one another when perspective and context is maintained, many others feel one has to either choose one or the other and, for fear of other people's thoughts towards them, keep their choice to themselves and develop a faith that is hidden.

I can relate to this. When I first began on my journey towards discovering God I embarked on my quest  on my own. I was a junior in high school and raised never having gone to church. My parents were highly critical of "church-goers" and cynical towards missionaries and evangelists.  When, after having explored many other philosophies and religions, my heart started opening up to the gospel, I decided it was best to keep it to myself. Faith is such a personal decision and choice and, especially at its conception, criticism  can have a profound effect on the person who is beginning to open up to it. 

Well, my faith wasn't meant to be a secret for very long. Really, none of our faiths are meant to be. Biblically speaking we are called to openly profess and declare our faith with a boldness that is ripe with confidence. I'd like to say that that's how those closest around me found out about mine. But it wasn't. My mother actually discovered my new found beliefs by reading my journal! Oh yes, that's another blog entry entirely! She confronted me that very day and it initially did not go very well.  But God is faithful, because after that point, even though my parents weren't thrilled, I was able to practice my faith in a purely open manner, no longer keeping it to myself. Yes, I experienced criticism but it wasn't as bad as I feared. It was like a wind began to take form beneath the wings of my heart, lifting it higher, allowing me to experience more of God as I began to profess Him more and more to those around me.

The most beautiful thing that happened after my faith was revealed was that a couple of years later my parents and sister came to know and trust in Christ. I can't help but think that if I continued on keeping my faith to myself and didn't go through that initial path of discomfort, that they might never have considered the gospel.  God doesn't call us to be comfortable but to be confident. In fact, He promises us in His Word that sometimes our road won't be easy but we must still press onward and be true to ourselves, to Him and to others as well.

So, dear reader, if you find yourself identifying with this article and perhaps have been keeping your beliefs hidden from those closest to you, I'd like to encourage you to step out in the boldness of Christ. You might feel like you don't have the strength or the confidence but the amazing reality of it all is that we have everything we need within us to reveal the gospel to those in our lives. We have the Spirit to provide us with the strength and discernment that is necessary. His Spirit is within us and can be experienced as a very real presence that will help prompt us with the words that are necessary.

Know that many times the rejection that we sometimes fear from those who might seem hostile towards our beliefs oftentimes doesn't take full form as those that are close to us realize the positive impact God has in our lives. May God use all of us as lamps, shining His light and love to those around us. And if we are rejected by some, though that is tragic, may our words echo Paul's when he said in Philippians 3:8 "  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus...", for surely the greatest treasure we can ever experience is knowing the God who breathed out Creation and sustains the world through His love, living in each one of us.

Thoughts? I would love to hear them in the comments section! Thank you! :)


  1. Okay, Jessica:
    Don't let this go to your head (LoL) and take it in the spirit it is given. You've actually been instrumental in moving me closer to the divine. Seeing how easy it is for you to relate your thoughts in this blog has inspired me.

    I've been on a spiritual reading kick recently after seeing some of your entries here regarding some of the books you've read and discussed. I'm now reading The Prodigal God. Think you'd like it.

    Anyway, I wanted to thank you for helping me move a little closer.

    I respect someone who can openly discuss their faith with so many anonymous people. I've been more open with my own growth recently.

    I still have a block when it comes to sharing my spiritually tinged blog entries w/my entire group of Facebook Friends and now that I'm on Google+ I still haven't shared those blog entries w/EVERYONE there yet either. I'll get there.

    Be Happy! Be Well! Be Positive!
    Blessings, Jessica.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Jessica, what a wonderfully written post. This is such a sensitive topic for some. I believe there have been times where I have hidden my faith to avoid the sarcasm I felt I would receive, but as I get older it doesn't seem to be a concern of mine any longer. I believe in Jesus Christ and am a born again Christian. I am human and make mistakes, and sometimes bad mistakes, but I still believe and ask God for forgiveness. Thank you for sharing this Jessica. I enjoyed my visit :)

  4. Ya know what?
    After having some time to think this over, I forgot, in 2004 I went to visit my Dad on Martha's Vineyard. I ALWAYS have a book wherever I go and when I arrived on the Vineyard I began looking for the book I was reading. My Dad came in and saw me going through my bags.

    I told him I was looking for the book I was reading and I started to explain it. The book was Many Lives Many Masters by Brian Weiss. I started to tell him some of my belief system. He actually got angry w/me. It's the first time I saw that. I tried to explain to him about past lives and reincarnation. He wasn't hearing it. The argument put a damper on the rest of my stay. Now I know not to bring it up. I feel bad because I'd like to discuss it with him in a calm manner. I tried again one other time a couple years later and simply walked out of the room. Guess I received my answer.

    Too bad!

  5. I have kept my faith hidden sometimes, after having learned firsthand what ‘casting pearls to swine’ means. Not a pretty picture when you 'give to the dogs that which is holy' :( Therefore I tend to err on the side of caution.

    I have a friend who came to the US from Jerusalem, and when she became a Messianic Jew, her mother was disturbed. One night when Aggie (the mom) was over for a visit, she said to me, “What do you think about someone who leaves their old religion and goes over to another one?” I knew exactly who she was talking about: her daughter. I like to think that I was influential in helping her come to the knowledge of Christ. My reply: “If the old religion isn’t working for them, then they should try one that does.” She is still being challenged by her family. Pray for her if you remember. Her name is Danit.

  6. Great job! When I had a lot of adversity in my life, I turned towards religion and began to read the Bible. Something that I had never did. My religion doesn't do that much. I started church hopping to see how other churches talked about God. I became obsessed with the word of God. The words gave me peace in my heart. For a short while I was with a cult like group and we did some Bible slinging. I did it well, I might add. I moved beyond that group. My faith in God, helped me through those hard times and I realized that I wasn't alone anymore.

  7. Really interesting post, I think most Christians go through a period of keeping quiet about their faith and we all have times when we take the easy road and just don't mention Jesus. As you say though God is working in us and as we read His Word He equips us and strengthens us. Thanks Jessica :-)

  8. Jessica, a very sensitive topic. I must say that on and off, I keep "quiet" about my true faith, especially in the academic circle. Faith is usually a very delicate path. Like Mary, I believe in Jesus Christ. I would add ditto to whatever she has written.

    Glad that you chose to tread on this topic.

    Joy always,

  9. A very good post Jessica, and thought provoking. I have found there is a difference between religion and faith. I have had my faith in God since I was a small girl, but have become disillusioned with religion over the years after seeing so many hypocritical people in church, who behaved one way there, and completely different when out of church. So I vowed long ago to live my FAITH daily, and witness when I saw the opportunity. This was especially true after I became a nurse. My practice as a nurse was also my way of witnessing about my faith in God. And I have never regretted my choices in this.
    ~cath xo

  10. Great post Jessica! One Bible verse that sticks out to me is found in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building." I believe that it is all about to us to share our faith but to ask God to what extent. My part to a particular person may simply be a smile and an encouraging word and later on that same person that experienced my brief kindness may be open to a discussion of the gospel from another person. So, it's up to us to ask God for divine appointments throughout our day and to naturally be ourselves, without fear, and allow God to orchestrate His plan through us. Great article!

  11. Christopher, thank you so much for your comments. Don't worry...nothing is going to my head! When my head starts to get big, life tends to help shrink it back to size! ;) I am blessed to know, though, that what I write could have a positive effect on you. That encourages me, thank you!

    I can understand when you wrote that not all of your fb friends get your posts that are more spiritual. I have many people that are my fb friends-some bloggers, some christians I network with, family members, old hs friends, etc. and it took me a long time to share my blog on my wall. At first some of the things I'd write I'd just send to one or two people to see what they thought. Eventually, I just felt a pull to share it with more people and more still, through time, I started realizing that those that didn't like it could simply not read it and I felt an urge to be more open. It takes time though..it took me months and months to be so open about my spirituality to others..strangers and even more precarious at times, those closer to me. Sometimes it's easier to open up to those that don't know you that well than to those that already have preconceived ideas on what you believe and your character.

    I'm really sorry about your father's response. Just know that sometimes time can soften people's hearts and minds, opening them up a bit at least to just listen in a more open-minded way. There's a lot more to my story and it can be really hurtful when those closest to us won't even listen to what is most important to us.

    Thank you so much Christopher for sharing :)


  12. Mary, THank you so much for stopping by and sharing. I think it's great that as you've progressed you've cared less about the sarcasm we sometimes receive from others for our faith. I have found that true for myself too. In the beginning I think it can be more of a delicate situation but as we get stronger and stronger in our faith we get more resilient.
    Thanks again :) ~blessings

  13. Debra, thanks for sharing your thoughts and story about your friend. It can be difficult for so many when another path calls them to leave the one chosen for them by their family. But really, we have to be true to the whisper that calls from within. I will be praying for your friend. That she grows ever deeper in her relationship with God and that her family starts to soften and open up more to the religion she has chosen.

  14. Cathy, thank you for sharing. I think it's beautiful and inspiring how you fell so much in love with God's Word. I can't imagine going a day without reading it, it has truly become spiritual manna for me. I pray that you find some more fruitful fellowship...I know how difficult it can sometimes be to find meaningful and appropriate fellowship and a church that fits. It's not always easy!

  15. Mike, thanks for your thoughts. Yeah, I think even seasoned Christians that are strong in His Word can take the easy road and shy away from sharing their convictions even in conversations where it is appropriate. I think the more we grow in our faith, the stronger we become and the more opportunity God will give us to share...and we are definitely called to share, His word and message. May we never neglect doing that and always seek the discernment and strength to do so.

  16. Susan, thank you so much for stopping by. Yes, the academic circles can be the toughest circles to abide in and raise one's voice to share one's faith. Sometimes it's honestly not relevant and perhaps appropriate to wait for a more appropriate time. Other times perhaps we are called to rise up from the masses and speak our convictions. I agree with Debra, about casting pearls to swine..and I think it can be like that sometimes when amidst some circles of academia. Thanks for sharing :)


  17. Cathy, thanks for coming by and sharing. I think you bring up a very good point...actions speak much louder than words and oftentimes the way we live provides a more stirring testimony than any words we can relate to others. Bless you for living out your faith daily! That's more than many do. May we all strive to do just that.

  18. Some great thoughts Bill! And I love the scripture you included...thank you! :) I do believe that the SPirit will direct us to how much, or how little, is appropriate to share with another. Whether it's because He doesn't want us to cast our pearls before swine, or because our audience is just not ready for the full dose of our message or that perhaps the person we are communicating with just needs pure compassion and the it's up to us to live out the gospel, and not speak it at that moment, regardless, the Spirit will direct us as to how much or how little we should share.
    Thank you for your comments :) I love the idea of planting seeds to be watered by the Spirit. When it comes to sharing faith , that's all we can do is share...it is up to God to actually awaken faith in other people's hearts, not us.

  19. That was an interesting post Jessica. I am fortunate I come from family that has believed in God. My mother is a religious person and I have grown up believing there is a higher power and all my years of trials and tribulation this power has guided me out of my darkness. But I am sure there are many who are afraid to openly profess their belief in God. In India people are believers of god so as far as I am concerned I am yet to across who will criticize someone for his or her faith in a god.


  20. Thanks, Jess. I've already told you what you have done for me. Once again, hitting close to home. Thanks for being the guiding light on this journey to find God.

  21. I have kept my faith hidden ........Therefore I tend to err on the side of caution.
    Response: If a person is thirsty, he will drink. If you have a glass of water, offer it to a thirsty person- do not try to offer water to a person who has no thirst. A waist of your precious time. Pray that they become thirsty- that God feeds them salt :>)

  22. Hi Jessica:
    You said:
    I'm really sorry about your father's response. Just know that sometimes time can soften people's hearts and minds, opening them up a bit at least to just listen in a more open-minded way. There's a lot more to my story and it can be really hurtful when those closest to us won't even listen to what is most important to us.

    Thanks for your comment. One thing I've learned through life, is that holding onto anger/disappointment/grudges only hurts the person who is holding those things.

    Honestly? I'd forgotten all about the event w/my Dad until I read your posting. It does no one any good to hold things in. I feel the anger, the disappointment, breathing it in then on my exhale I let it leave my body. It really is the only way to remain at peace and stay positive.

  23. I am grateful that during my younger years having parents that were neither judgement or critical...as I got older my thoughts and feelings became very conflicted. Today however I am in a place of peace when it comes to my beliefs and understanding.I find my spirituality to be personal and I share my beliefs when the opportunity presents itself! I've had to many life experiences to believe anything other than in...God!

    I too agree w/Adnama and her quote!

  24. You reminded me of the first Korean Christians we had in the missions. It started with one child and everybody else in her family followed. It wasn't much what she said but her very own life and unconceivable joy that led them to believe that God is true.

    You know it cannot be kept hidden. It's like a lamp that should glow for everybody else to see (Mt.5,15 paraphrased). It is the Spirit that'll give us strength.

    I loved this post Jessica :)