My life growing up is what most people would classify as a Christian upbringing and that’s definitely true but it should be said that not everyone in my family are Christian. From a pretty early age I was going to church, doing the youth group scene, playing drums in the music team, playing sport in the weekend and for my primary and intermediate years I attended a Christian school. So, all in all I had it pretty good growing up with the only significantly detrimental thing being the ridicule I got for being a ginga and having freckles.

At 12 years old, at a youth group camp located in the wop wops of Canterbury the reality of God’s great love for me became real and in response I placed my faith in Jesus. One of the things that happened in that moment was God coming to live in-a-kinda-crazy-but-very-true-way inside of me and began his work of making me into the person he created me to be. One thing he worked on was acceptance.

I’ve heard it said that acceptance attracts while rejection repels meaning we are drawn towards that which accepts us whilst hiding from any sort of rejection. In my story this underlying fear of not fitting in or being seen as ‘uncool’ largely impacted the things I did and said. So when my friends acted in ways that gave them status I would try to imitate their behaviour but albeit from me to stand up and do what I knew was right when I knew that indifference and rejection would follow. I just truly desired to be accepted amongst my peers and this was never truer than when I headed to Otago to study PE.

I had intentions before starting my studies to be the bold and respected Christian but when I arrived at Cumberland College (A.K.A scumby cumby) my desire to fit in took over and I joined the masses shouting “Scarfies on the piss! Scarfies on the piss!” However, that whole time I felt a small voice in my head saying “there’s more to life than this.” At the end of the semester I went to a conference with Student Life and it was here that God made me look again at the relationship I had with Him. I remember asking myself the question, “if the God of the universe is for me, why am I afraid of what my friends think?”

That’s what it means to be accepted – when someone dies for you.