Shanará Phillips questions her place as a liberal Christian at university in Falmouth.
“Well you don’t seem like a Christian.”
I’m half-way through my second year at Falmouth University, and I still hear that from my friends. I see myself as an ‘Invisible Christian’, someone who’s a Christian, but you can’t see it. Before I started university, my faith was at its peak. I was excited to start a new stage in my life and meet other Christians around my age as I hardly knew any at home. I was excited to find a new church and begin a new journey in my faith. But once I got here, things didn’t really go to plan. I’m a pretty liberal Christian and I’m definitely not a ‘boring’ one either. So yes, I made sure I enjoyed fresher’s week to the fullest. I partied, I drank. I did embarrassing things like any typical student. I soon found that, because I did those things, people would instantly assume that I’m not a Christian, or religious in general.
When I eventually caught fresher’s flu and couldn’t stand looking at a bottle of vodka, I tried to refocus and I joined Falmouth Christian Union (FCU). I went to a church crawl, coastal walk, and the Christmas free meal, before, I guess you could say, I lost interest. It had nothing to do with the FCU itself. They were absolutely lovely to me, but for some reason, I just didn’t feel as though I fitted in. I didn’t fit into the FCU, and I didn’t fit into any of the churches we visited. Being the small town that it is, I knew my chances of finding a church in Falmouth that I liked were very small. So in the end I just gave up. While I never lost my belief, I lost the lifestyle.
After a while, I stopped telling people that I was a Christian. I’d wait until someone asked. I did this because I noticed that some of the people I knew began to treat me differently. They had created new opinions of me simply from knowing this one fact. Some of my friends for example felt as though they had to watch what they said around me. They couldn’t make certain jokes or invite me to do certain things with them because they thought it would go against what I believed in. I mean, I for one can definitely handle a little Jesus joke every now and then. God also isn’t going to be mad at me for hanging around a group of people who are down for 420.
I had to reassure people that they could be themselves around me and do whatever they wanted because when it comes to me, contrary to popular beliefs, I actually won’t judge you. Day by day, this invisibility cloak was covering me up even more. I wasn’t living the lifestyle of a typical Christian like I used to before I started university, and I didn’t want people to treat me differently because they knew I believed in God. Some may say that the way I live my life is hypocritical to Christianity, but I believe what I do doesn’t go against it. Yes, I like to drink. Jesus turned water into wine. And I love my neighbours (flatmates), no matter how dirty the kitchen may be.