By Geila Rajaee
I can clearly remember the moment that I decided I was going to become a Christ follower – I was in church one Sunday morning and I simply thought, “Yeah, this is it.” There was no fan-fare, no warming of the heart, no conversation with anyone about what I had just acknowledged to myself. Truthfully, it was easy. It’s been everything since that moment that has been incredibly difficult.
Over the past fifteen years or so, there have moments that have called for seeing the world differently, to being invited into a life that asks for so much more. While in college, I learned from one of my professors about the nuances of conversion and that work of becoming in one’s faith life takes a lifetime. He talked about the importance of personal conversion, of finding new life in Christ but only as a first step. This, for me, was the easiest since it felt the most natural.
But there is another part that was and is more difficult for me – allowing God to renew my perceptions of the world and challenge what living as Christ follower really looks like. For me, it meant challenging my understanding of what it meant to care for the ‘other’ and realizing that perhaps there is no ‘other’ in the eyes of God. During the start of Afghani war I remember sitting at my desk and drawing two stick figures – one of an Afghani person and another of an American person – and being terrified to realize that both were people made in the image of God.
The categories of ‘American’, ‘woman’, ‘Christian’ are valued (or de-valued) in the eyes of some people but when God looks at us, we are simply “child of God.” Being a Palestinian, Israeli, immigrant, gay, straight, or any other ‘identification’ that we use to categorize others sometimes only disconnect and separate us from our innate belonging as children of God.
This has been the more difficult ‘conversion’ over my lifetime because it asks me to look deeper and relate to people with the eyes and heart Christ would have for them. For me this means celebrating the diversity of God’s beloved children and welcoming them into my heart. Honestly, it can be a struggle sometimes to love people who are so different than me or have different values than my own…. But this is where God works. Challenging me to see them as my sisters and brothers.
Where have you been challenged to be converted or transformed? Does God continue to call us to something more…?