Natalia Temesgen

Natalia Temesgen: Faith is a work in progress

Today is Easter Sunday. For some of us that means something, for others nothing at all. For me, it is a day on which I reflect on the resurrection of Jesus Christ -- and the day six years ago that a part of me died.

I am a Christian. My faith is, like a website that someone got excited about and forgot to finish, always "in progress." Though I grew up attending church, I understood my Christianity as more of a title than anything.

From a very young age, I loved to please, at almost any cost. It gave me a deep sense of pleasure and purpose to know that I could make others happy with me. Sometimes people wanted me to be two contradicting characters. Whenever possible, I would play each role. In 2009, I was a grad student in Manhattan, finding a way to study while pleasing all the new friends I could. It was an extremely

demanding and taxing lifestyle. After a few months, I was desperate for a sense of the familiar.

I found a church service that started at 6 p.m. on a Sunday night. It was taking place in the Bowery Ballroom, a grunge glam nightclub of sorts in lower Manhattan. This is not the kind of place you would ever expect to be worshipping Jesus.

It was in that service at CityLight Church that I heard the gospel for the first time. I knew it before that and could have explained it to anyone, but this time I heard it as if it was a story between God, Jesus and me. Amazingly, my ability to be self-interested was the bridge between an ego-centered mindset and a God-centered one.

With each recurring service, as I read the Bible with what felt like fresh eyes, I felt the desperate, needy part of me dying. I was shocked at the speed of it all and afraid of what my friends were thinking. Sometimes, hoping to please everyone, I tried resisting this transformation. It didn't work. Some of my closest friends dropped me altogether from their social agendas. It wasn't always pleasant. But I believe now, something greater was happening.

Today, I want to deepen my understanding of love and sacrifice. Being in a committed relationship tests and teaches me about those things regularly. Having a baby around takes it to another level. And currently I'm sharing my body with another little someone, which really pushes the boundaries of humility. It's not always pleasant, but it shows me that I still have a long way to go to prioritize serving others over myself.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked God three times if he could forgo his inevitable end. God didn't give him an out. He died not because it brought him pleasure, but because sacrificing himself for humanity's sake brought something greater than that. In the spirit of loving sacrifice, I hope we can each choose to love even when we'd rather not, even when it doesn't feel good, even when it hurts.

-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent correspondent. Contact her at nntemesgen@gmail.com

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