I believe in Jesus Christ. I understand this is generic, and I understand that many of you will not agree with me. I know this can seem preachy and can come across wrong. Nevertheless, I can’t deny this belief. I formed it when I was young. One main contributor was my twin sister. I would find her many days writing in her journal, trying to know Jesus Christ as a friend. She often complained that she wanted to be closer to God but she didn’t know how. I watched her struggle with questions and wrestle with things. This is what she was best at. But she didn’t just sit there and lose sight of the world around her. Because of her belief in Christ, she had a deep passion for social justice: the genocide in Darfur, slave trafficking, sex trafficking, the genocide of Rwanda.
I watched my sister. She didn’t know I watched her. I secretly envied her faith, even though she struggled so hard at times to be good enough for God. My dad would often tell her that God didn’t expect perfection; he just wanted her heart. I heard this too. In my life, I struggle. I want to be good enough so that Christ will accept me. But in the back of my mind I know that Jesus is not looking for my good deeds. He wants my acts of service to come from my heart as I give it to him. I watched my twin try to grasp these things, and subconsciously, I learned from and struggled with her. We both grew together in our interest for justice. We didn’t often talk of our combined interest; again, on our part it was subconscious. We were twins, growing together, learning together, extremely different and yet in many ways the same.
Then something happened to level me, something that would make me really come to terms with my own belief. On December 9th, 2007, my twin Stephanie and my 16 year old sister were shot and killed in the New Life Church parking lot. I was there. I saw it all. My twin died in front of my eyes. In that moment there was only stillness, a vacuum. The next few months were a blur as I tried to fill this vacuum and grasp my current situation. My only constant was a belief that both of us had held: Our belief, my belief, in Jesus Christ.
Yet I, like my twin, wrestled. I never doubted my belief was true. I knew that there was more out there than just nothingness, that the vacuum wasn’t truly empty. However, I wondered about some main tenets of my beliefs. How can Jesus Christ, who is supposed to be love, protect me, and not my sisters? Is he really with me, or just with a privileged few? I have been angry, cursed at God, yelled at him, and questioned him. He answered. It was not with anything big and dramatic; he simply showed me that faith is not without hardship. There is a passage in scripture that speaks of faith gaining victories. But then it goes through a list of all the hardship that faith also gains. Hardship is not a lack of love or a lack of evidence that Christ was there. Instead, it shows one thing we all know to be true: faith must be challenged. Our views must be challenged. Mine were, and at this moment I can still say that Christ loves, and he has not abandoned me. I have an increased passion for social justice because of what I have been through. I am stronger today through wrestling with my questions. And it is because of all of these things that I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe that He is with me, and that He is love.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.