I grew up in Romania, a country where the cultural and religious focus is placed on Eastern Orthodoxy. I lived with a semi-religious family who, I felt, observed the cultural aspects of religious festivities without focusing on the actual core messages of Christianity such as salvation, grace or holiness. For most of my childhood and adolescence, Christianity was a brand of spirituality at best, and an oppressive dogma at worst. The only interesting thing about Christianity, to me was the intellectual aspect of its doctrine. It’s fair enough to say I sidelined God and the prospect of an intimate relationship with Him early on in my life and moved on to find more interesting things to do.
At the start of my adolescence, problems in the family plunged me into a philosophy of life which was characterised by anxiety at first and then apathy and cynicism; it involved depression, an eating disorder, and more generally a selfish pursuit of my own ambitions and desires. Academic perfectionism made me idolise goals and achievements, so it was a time during which socialising and friendship became virtually unheard of. I soon reached a moment of questioning the point of everything. It was painful to think that “meaning” was a comfortable lie that some choose to cling onto. And so to live an intellectually dignified life is to accept that life never meant too much. So I thought to myself that this was just a pain I might as well start getting used to.
When I was first started hearing about God after coming to university, I dolloped as much cynicism as I possibly could on the subject. However, after a while I realised that this was really actually fear and resistance. Fear of having to consider this whole meaning business all over again, fear of a God that might hate me for what I have done, fear of having to subject myself to Him and lose autonomy.
I think Tim Keller’s The Reason for God speaks about one of the proofs for the existence of God being the fact that we innately feel a desire and a need for Him in our hearts. We are, after all, his creations. That made me realise that my hunger for meaning and universal purpose was nothing less than a product of my divine origin - the fact that I had not found the right thing to satisfy that need in the past does not annul the fact that I do have a massive longing for purpose. I can lie to myself and say that that’s not true, or I can accept that it is. Within me, I had all along felt the very proof of God’s creation and plan.
To the rest of the fears themselves, I found three distinct answers: why would I be reticent in letting go of my ideas about a meaningless universe and, instead, embrace a universe created by a genial powerful God who is love? God’s love will be there for me not in spite of but because of my return to Him, as Jesus' Parable of the Prodigal Son teaches us. And as for autonomy - I know what me leading my own life looks like and in these few weeks since I’ve become a Christian and have drawn near to Christ, I can say that He has changed my life through the Holy Spirit for the better in every way. So, I have no hesitation to dedicate and give over my life to the love that suffered more torture on the Cross for me than anyone could imagine, who gave Himself over for me even as I disdained Him, who knows what is best for me and who alone can teach me true purpose, true life and true love through loving Him.