You May Be Hated
I have been an Apostolic all of my life. The shy girl in class with uncut hair and long jean skirts on every day? Yep, that was me. As a child you just do as you are told. “Don’t touch the stove! Don’t push your sister. Come inside before it is dark.” The reasons behind all of these commands seem arbitrary for a long time. However, the older we get, the more we comprehend these commands are meant to keep us safe. Two commands my parents expected me to follow with no complaints and simple understanding were to wear skirts and have my long hair. No complaints? Easy. Understanding? Lacking.
I was always teased at school for my long hair and long jean skirts. “Why do you always have to wear skirts, Amber? Just be like everyone else!”
“My parents make me do it,” or “it’s part of my religion.” I would quietly reply as color rose to my cheeks. Even the teachers treated me differently. As a child, these embarrassing moments resonated deeply within my heart. I feared no one liked me. School became a place of torturous pain. I was ignored, rejected, and uncool. I felt hated. I thought things would get better with adulthood, but I was wrong. I wasn’t prepared for the new levels of teasing I faced by fellow co-workers and college peers. I was bullied and emotionally hurt every single day.
It wasn’t until Joel Gray spoke at a Hyphen retreat on holiness that I fully understood my faith’s holiness standards. I felt no one else understood or cared about what I was going through. Joel Gray said holiness is not about what you do; it’s about who you are. Holiness is your closeness to God. Whether you choose to read a devotional over a dirty book or buy a Bible for a child in Sunday school instead of new clothes to add to your already overflowing closet, holiness is your walk with God. Holiness is your way out of darkness. I realized my walk with God on the inside had to match my outside.
Immediately I was flooded with emotion as everything I once questioned now had answers. It wasn’t just head
knowledge anymore; it was a heart understanding. I dress like I do to show the world, God, and myself that I am 100% devoted to Him. All those years of abuse and hatred seemed to melt away as God whispered His reassuring love in my heart. He was proud of me. He was with me when they persecuted my belief. He understood my pain and rejection when no one else did. Tears of love and freedom rolled down my cheeks.
Then, something very strange happened. As I was showered with love and God washed away my pain and hurt, I started thinking about Luke 21:13-15: “They will lay hands on you and persecute you…This will result in your being witnesses to them.” All that time, in complete obliviousness, God had sent me to my school to be a witness. Those tears only moments earlier were so happy and free, but they quickly turned into tears of regret, guilt, and mourning. How many kids could I have won to the Lord if only I had been okay with being different? If only I could have realized that my suffering was nothing compared to the sacrifice He paid for me to be a witness and a light to this world. If only, if only, if only.
Over 2,000 students passed a representative of the Light in the halls of my little school, but that light was hidden under a bushel of embarrassment and fear. After that Hyphen retreat, I made a promise to myself. No more would I be ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Matthew 10:23). No more would my light be hidden (Matthew 5:15).
You may be the only one-God Apostolic believer in your school or workplace. You may have been subjected to some of the same teasing that I was, but I want to encourage you to not conform to this world (Romans 12:2). Be looked at funny. Be teased. Be mocked for your faith and be proud of it. Go into this world and represent your love for Jesus Christ. Hold your head up high when the mocking begins. Will it always be easy? No. Will it ever be easy? No. But your strength is found in the One who sent you to be a witness to this world. You are a child of the one true King, inside and out.
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22).
Amber Wilkey is an energetic and passionate Hyphen member from central Illinois and attends Apostolic Life Church UPCI under the leadership of Pastor D.L. Rogers. She is involved in music, children, and the CMI ministries at her church and has a servant’s heart. Amber is a song writer and enjoys writing devotionals about her greatest love: Jesus Christ.