My journey through my faith hasn’t been smooth by any means, but it’s been there to various degrees for as long as I can remember. My relationship with God changed dramatically when Abi died and what had become a passive sense of anger, resentment, ridicule and distrust (mine, not His obvs) became an active relationship of love, reverence, worship and trust.
I sometimes wonder if I would have revived this relationship had Abi not died. Would I still be living apart from Him, not knowing anything about the ways He could make me better, happier, content? Still blaming Him for all the bad?
I don’t know. God shows up when we need Him and I believe He would have used another event to help me find Him again. It just happened to be that at my lowest, darkest, bleakest place I felt the presence of a man next to me, between me and my husband, there for us both. It’s so hard to describe how this felt without sounding a little crazy, but having read countless similar experiences and met people who have known the same, I know I’m far from alone.
I needed to know more about this Christianity stuff, after all it had become infinitely important. If Abi had gone to heaven, I needed to know how and whether it made a difference to my life.
So months of research, attending church, meeting Christians, listening to experiences, praying, waiting, reading… I realised that I had found Jesus! I understood who He was and what He did, that He was more than a painting or statue… He was everything. He was God. Not a man on a cloud, a ghost or a fairytale. And I found a love relationship like I never knew possible.
It has been a long, bumpy road to get here, even with confidence in what I thought I knew, but for me, it is important that I try to build on my relationship with Jesus for as long as I can, because when it’s my turn to meet Him I want to be running into his arms.
The name of Jesus, however, has long been a cliche, a joke, a curse, a flippant remark, an angry word. I’ve used His name this way myself, to my utter shame, along with For God’s Sake, Oh God!, Heaven’s Sake, Oh My God, Crikey, Lord… the list of ways I’d inadvertently been taking His name in vain is endless!
The more I came to know this beautiful man of peace, who loves me despite all that I’d done to myself and others, despite all I had said about Him, the more the way He is treated hurts.
It’s now that I realise how much the name of Jesus is used. People shout it, whisper it, write it in frustration, pain or anger, on TV, in books, on social media and in conversation. It’s so common that we don’t even know we’re doing it.
I wince. I feel uncomfortable, like when you hear someone slag off someone you know well and you don’t know how to respond.
But to curse the name of Jesus is to curse hope. It’s saying no to hope, that hope is hateful or abhorrent, that there’s no need to care one bit about hope.
And, without hope, there is nothing.
Millions of people draw hope and comfort from Jesus. Why is his name used in vain at all? Why not a genuinely bad human like Hitler or Stalin? I expect over the years, as language and meaning has changed so has how the name is used. It was likely used as some form of protection in the past, and has gradually become slang. But words are very important to us. People are particular and mindful of how appearance, gender, race or sex is referred to. We are respectful of other people’s beliefs and sensitivities (in the main!), choosing our words carefully so as not to offend, so why not with this?
For me, Jesus has become a beautiful word. A word filled with hope, comfort and friendship. A name that Abi loves. It’s the only word I can depend on. After all, there are over 170,000 other words in the English language I can choose from to express how I feel.
26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”