Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jesus Freak

“What will people say when they hear that I’m a Jesus freak?
What will people do when they find that it’s true?
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus freak,
There ain’t no disguising the truth.”
DC Talk


There he goes again, driving slowly, voice shouting out through a loudspeaker, “Jesus saves! You heathens are doomed without him!” It is impossible to miss the black station wagon plastered with scripture verses and the huge plywood billboard on top usually displaying a message about the end of the world or the hopelessness of the sinners in America. Day in and day out, he drives up and down the downtown streets hoping to convert others with his message. My husband pointed to him and asked, “Is that going to be you in a few years?” After eighteen years I am used to Paul's teasing as a way to display some humor in his love, but still, I shudder. Is that how people think of me? Am I really that obnoxious in my efforts to share my faith?

Although I am a lifelong Catholic and have always had a strong faith, it wasn’t until the past few years that the label “Jesus Freak” began to seriously apply to me. I felt a deep conversion as if God had moved from my head and landed directly in the middle of my heart and burst it wide open. I couldn’t get enough of God. I couldn’t get enough of prayer, daily Mass and spiritual reading. I began journaling about my experiences and would not consider leaving the house without a book to read and a journal to write my thoughts and prayers in.

Soon there were signs that maybe I was going overboard in my faith (is that possible?). I couldn’t stop talking about God and church to anyone who would listen. Every day when I would go to work, I’d share stories about the latest fabulous homily I had heard, or the spiritual book I was currently reading. One of my friends at work told me that as she was waiting at the bus stop some Jehovah Witnesses approached her, wanting to share the Good News. But she stopped them cold “Please don’t share your stories with me today” she told them. “Anne is coming to work and I get all the religion I need from her!” Yes, my coworkers were definitely at my mercy. But gratefully, they are very sweet and loving and indulge me by listening to my church prattle day in and day out.

But there came a day when I felt I might have really crossed the line. We had a new employee starting. I had just finished a visit with an extremely inspirational client and was very excited. I told one of my coworkers that I just had to go to Mass on my lunch break so that I could pray about it. She turned to our new co-worker and said “Anne talks about God and church all the time.” The new employee’s response took away all of the joy that I was feeling. “Oh no!” she said, “I don’t believe in anything or anyone. You aren’t going to be preaching at me all the time, are you?”

I fear that even my loving family feels burdened from time to time by my expressions of my faith. My son, Joe, who seems to feel the sting of a teenager’s embarrassment towards his parents very keenly, asks me questions like “Do you remember life before you became a Jesus freak, mom? It doesn’t matter what we talk about at dinner, somehow you always find a way to bring Jesus into the conversation, it's all you talk about!” And, “ I don’t mean any disrespect Mom, but do you think we could sleep in once in a while instead of going to daily Mass? All of the kids at school tease me.”

On the positive side, every now and then I see signs of deep faith in my children, spouse and coworkers that makes me feel that my constant prayer life could be a good inspiration for them. For example, my son Jack was recently playing in a baseball tournament. John was with him and was sending text messages to Joe and Mary at home to let them know how the team was doing. When I called from work to check on my children, Mary told me that Jack’s team was losing 15-1 and Jack was scheduled to pitch the next inning. “So, Joe and I are praying the rosary for him. I never saw Joe so Catholic before!” she said.

Still, I wonder, am I over the top? Am I ruining my kid’s lives, making my husband question his choice in a wife, and turning off my coworkers? I certainly hope not. But I readily admit that I am head over heels in love with God and whether I am experiencing joy or sorrow in my life, there is nobody with whom I’d rather share those emotions with than my heavenly Father in prayer. I do try to curb my religious expression so as not to offend anyone or turn anyone off to the Lord, but I just can’t seem to resist sharing the joy of Jesus with the world. I guess there just ain’t no disguising the TRUTH; if the “Jesus Freak” label fits, I will just have to proudly wear it!

13 comments:

  1. Anne! I love you!
    This is my life. But you wait and see the miracles soon. My husband has a friend Ed who would tease me all the time. He would say, "Linda, what church holiday is today that no one else in the whole world knows about but you?". I said, I am going to adoration to pray. He chuckled. A few weeks later he called me in desperation, My heart could feel his pleading for his dad needed a liver or he would die and they could not find a donor. Within 10 minutes he called me back and said, his dad got the liver. Praise Jesus! It was the Lord's way of being a grace giver. They said when they took out his liver it was like a think peace of leather. They do not know how he was still alive. His dad is doing wonderful now and we had a miracle on top of it. I have so many of these stories. If I was a writer I would write them down, but I am not good with words.
    Bless you!
    Linda

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  2. I understand how you feel, Anne, but it's not wrong. Wouldn't a young girl or boy in love want to sing in joy, and talk about the beauty of the person they love, and desire that everyone share in their feelings?
    When one just but stops to ponder that we are loved by our Creator, and how much love, love to die! How can we then get enough of God? How can we get enough of prayer, daily Mass and spiritual reading?
    I don't believe you're over the top - I don't think you are ruining your husband's and your son's lives, not more than an Italian father who speaks only of soccer day and night ;) and ... gone the difficult teenage years, your son will admire you :)
    Anne, if your faith gives you so much joy - believe me, you can only spread joy!

    You are a good example for me :) I'm going to start trying to be like you as I tend to keep everything inside.

    Linda, that's a lovely story :) Thank you for sharing it.

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  3. Linda...I loved that comment about "What Church holiday it is that only you know about"...THAT'S PRICELESS!!!

    Anne...consider yourself and the guy in the station wagon as two versions of a modern day
    St John the Baptist!

    The guy in the car "cries out in the desert" and you "bubble over with JOY in CHRIST"

    I say the world has room for BOTH of you and MORE LIKE YOU TOO!
    Thanks for being who you are!
    xo

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  4. Anne,
    I can relate to your post completely. I too sometimes become the "religion consultant" for family and co-workers. I take it as kind of a compliment.
    That being said, I am reminded of the words of St. Francis to one of his brothers, "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."
    You may have heard the story that quote comes from: The saint and one of his Brothers were going out to preach, they got to where they were going, walked around the town square and left. The brother said to Francis, "I thought we were going to preach." Francis replied, "We just did."
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on Fr. Barron.
    God Bless and wear the "Jesus Freak" label proudly :)

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  5. If you are labeled a "Jesus Freak" by the world's standards - so be it! Wear the label proudly girl!! And don't let no one take that JOY away from you!

    I pray that one day I can be as bold to share my joy with others as you are without fear of rejection or ridicule. I'm still taking those "baby" steps... the Lord has been convicting me in this area...

    You're living for God as the scriptures says in 1 Peter 4.

    "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

    You are such a bright shining light in this dark world Annie!! ♥x♥x

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  6. Anne, what a great post. I love how you are willing to show everyone your questions and struggles. I have often wondered a version of the same question myself.

    I too love the quotation Karinann mentioned: "Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words."

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  7. I agree with everyone else, there's nothing wrong with loving Jesus so much! A Jesus Freak is nothing to be ashamed of.

    And as far as the new employee at work, why should you curb your love for Jesus just so someone can feel comfortable in themselves? Do not change how you act, because for all you know, some day this person may convert because of you. If they are comfortable in their belief that there is no God, then they should not be uncomfortable with your love for Jesus. If they are uncomfortable, it shows that they really do doubt their belief that there is no God.

    That's the way I see it anyways :)

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  8. A little note to my sister Jesus freak; I could relate to this post so much, I can see the eyerolling in some of my friends and even family members, "Here she goes, AGAIN!" But,really...maybe we should start a club, The J.F.F.s[Jesus Freaks Forever]. Couldn't resist! LOL!

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  9. We have XM radio in the car, and I listen to The Catholic Channel all the time. My oldest son likes to listen to the classic rock station, but being the driver I get dibs on what we listen to. He said the other day that I was obsessed with that station. I heard him tell one of his friends that I was a religious fanatic.

    I don't think I'm quite as brave as you, openly talking about your faith at work; although everyone I work with knows where I stand. One of my personal goals is to be more courageous in that area. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Anne--sharing beauty,love and enthusiasm is nothing to be ashamaed about. This reaction of your coworkers, etc. has been going on for 2000 years--being persecuted for righteousness sake--you are affecting so many hearts for Jesus! This is how conversion begins in an unbeliever--they see your radiant love for Christ, they see your love in action and slowly but surely they inch towards God and the Church.

    You are a beautiful example of the salt and light of the world.

    There are a group of nuns that really inspire me--they literally radiate the love of Christ in their pictures and when they are on EWTN: The Dominican Sisters Of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. http://www.sistersofmary.org/

    Our culture loves to feel superior to those of us who choose God over the useless (for the most part) of things that will rust and turn to dust. Please keep up your visible love of Christ--you never know who you will affect--even the most negative person can be transformed just by your action.

    God Bless! Lara

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  11. Keep your freak on, girl!
    I used to mutter under my breath: "if another lady says "praise Jesus" I'm going to freak out!", but it was only 'cos it seemed the only other thing Southerners said that wasn't "Oh, bless your heart". :) Just kidding.
    Look, sometimes we cannot help ourselves! In this respect, I believe it is more important that you LIVE what you say if your going to say it, right? I reckon, your co-workers SEE that you live it, and that at least you are genuine - and a person who they can come to. I also think since they say what they say out loud, in your presence, they know you have a funny bone, too. We are made of tougher stuff! I also believe you know when to back off. Just keep asking God to keep directing you.

    Just keep letting Him shine on through!!

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  12. Hi Anne --

    You just gotta "keep on keepin' on," as we evangelicals like to say. :)

    You gotta live what you love -- and you love Jesus and His Church! So continue singing HIs praises at all times and in all places!

    Speaking in joy as you are is very different from calling down damnation like that guy with the weird car. Your joy is infectious and inclusive; his message is not loving and exclusive. It seems to me that calling people "heathens" doesn't win too many people to our loving Christ while your loving enthusiasm can and will. It's all in the heart attitude, and your heart is simply overflowing with His love and grace!

    You inspire me! :)

    Blessings in Christ,
    Susanne :)
    http://MeditativeMeanderings.blogspot.com

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