My smelly ‘Christian’ dilemma….written by Stacy Westfall

Last week, in one post, containing only 35 words I managed to offend both Christians and Non-Christians alike. Quite an accomplishment, if I may say so myself. But it did get me thinking.

I haven’t always been a ‘Christian.’

As a teen, I referred to myself as an agnostic.Atheist

When I was angrier, an atheist.

But one thing I HAVE always been is a ‘seeker’.

I am willing to challenge my own thoughts as well as the thoughts of others.

I am able to hold an idea in one hand while weighing out its seemingly opposite idea in my other hand. This gives me the strength and knowledge to choose.

I believe this makes me stronger.

I believe that I can learn from everyone and everything around me.

But I also struggle.

I struggle because I do not want to offend. Strangely, when I was an ‘atheist’ or ‘agnostic’ I was fine with offending; would seek to offend.

That I no longer seek this is evidence of the change that took place in me.Offended

I am tempted to ‘hide’ my faith at times. When I ask myself, ‘why?’ the answer is not fear of attack. It is fear of offending.

I was offended BY Christians when I was not a Christian.

If there was a person that I wanted information from who happened to be a ‘Christian’, I would ‘hold my nose’ and try to avoid all that ‘stuff’ while trying to gather what information I did want from them.

And now, here I stand on the other side of the fence.

Torn.

Remembering when I was offended. Fearing now to offend.

And my wise husband put the choice into words.

“It’s simple,” he said. “Is it just going to be a business or do you want them to know you?”

And I already knew the answer before he asked the question. I just didn’t have the words for it.

To be known.

So hold your nose if you must. Or avoid me completely. But one thing that is true, if you are seeking to know me. Here I am. All of me.

How many 'Christian' symbols can you find?

How many ‘Christian’ symbols can you find?

149 Comments

  1. Scottie Treesh on December 22, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    A personal opinion is just that..an opinion.. some peoples sensabilities & egos are so delicate and fragile that they get bent or bruised and have to backlash..i believe allowances could be given & lee-ways to people who have a different idea about religion or religions.. Christian, Agnostic, Athiest, Catholic, Baptist, Wiccan, Buddist or Pagan {i know there are many many more but i cannot list them all} to have your outlook is fogiving

  2. beth anthony on December 22, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Stacy we do or dont make mistakes either way someone will get a Burr under their saddle. I didn’t see the previous comments that offended people but reading this one surly does let me know where you stand. Your not alone. I think god used phil to open our eyes and make us realize that as Christians we need to stop hiding and stop being afraid to spread his word, even if it steps on toes. God bless and Merry Christmas.

  3. Susan Shields on December 22, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Sad and strange testimony to our culture that to commit oneself to authenticity is to be a target of judgment and disapproval. As a child growing up on a farm in Maryland with the abundance of Nature surrounding and impressing me with her messages of Oneness, I once had asked my father, as we were searching for a lost cow and calf, why he didn’t attend church like all my little friends’ families did. His simple answer, “I do!” Then, sweeping his broad arms about him, taking in sky, earth, growing crops and creatures alike, he added, “This is my church!” I went on a mission later in life to find an institutional church [ to fit in, of course! ] Quakers were to first to embrace me; now after having broadened my scope of spirituality to include Shamanic practice as solace to others, and Buddhism as everything spiritual, philosophical, political and life-affirming as I dance through my time here, I must remind myself that being judged, even condemned by others is a mere reflection of their limitations. My job, then, becomes one of accepting them to be as imperfect as I am – simply in different aspects of their humanness.

    • Michiela on December 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Well said! If others become offended it becomes a reflection of their limited thinking. All ought to be questioned, only then do we really find freedom.

  4. Krista on December 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

    With social media and everything in the public eye, I would find it difficult to not be offensive, these days, but realize that the offensiveness is not so much you as the person who is offended. I often ask myself why is it that people have some sort of negative reaction or outrage to something someone else has said or done? Isn’t it better to focus on the the positive, ignore what has been said, and just move on instead of dwell on the negative? It could be that people who look up to you have a perception of you being similar or like-minded to them, and we have to realize that although we are similar in many different respects, its the differences that make us special and unique. Life would be so easy if we all thought the same, it would also be incredibly boring. I think that being open-minded is the key. I know some so-called, “Christians” who are a major turnoff, because they focus on everything that they disagree with and seem to think that it is evidence that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, instead of focusing on the joy and sense of purpose that being a Christian brings to their lives. If I grouped all Christians in the former category, I would not have a great opinion of people who followed that path. Similar with those who followed Atheism or are agnostic. Many people have an opinion that an atheist would be devoid of spirituality or conscienceness, but that may not be the case. The point is to be true to yourself, lead by example, and people will gravitate toward you because of your example.

  5. Sharon Wiley on December 22, 2013 at 11:50 am

    I had just commented on another post when I scrolled down and here is your post. . My statement is this “Everyone wants ‘all equality’ until someone is offended.” is what I shared. I prefer honest open sharing, it allows me to get to know someone, such as yourself. How boring if we all we’re exactly alike??, clones are boring 🙂 love your post and blogs that you share all aspects of your life. Thank you for sharing!

  6. GimmeADream on December 22, 2013 at 11:41 am

    If I was to pinpoint my religion all I can say is “I’m not….” That’s a very negative point of view, and is probably the only thing negative in my life. Offending someone…, I try not to offend or be offended. But if it happens or if I think that it has happened, I’m the first to apologize..No, I’m not here because you offended me but because I want to get to know you and learn from you..I just wish your attitude was around when I was a lot younger. Maybe life wouldn’t have been quite so confusing, lol. I have a 15 year old Canadian mare whom I want to start working with using some of your techniques that you’re using on Jac.

  7. Country Girl on December 22, 2013 at 11:40 am

    You would not believe how excited I was to hear that you were a Christian a few years back. It’s not very often that the famous person you look up to is a strong believer.

  8. Brenda Downey on December 22, 2013 at 11:35 am

    In getting to “know” you, I’m loving what your sharing…keep up the good work and remember no matter what you do there will always be someone to criticize it

  9. Connie on December 22, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Well said.

  10. Melissa Helmick on December 22, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Being a christain is more than just being religious or believing in a religion its about having a personal relationship with the Lord…that’s what most people don’t understand.. People simple don’t understand the message of the cross… Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorites please read it…don’t be afraid to take a stand for your faith..we as christains are always being watched. We maybe the only scripture that some may ever read. We may never know how many lives we change here until we get to the other side.keep the faith and let the light of the Lord shine through you..he will equip you for the journey.

  11. Gina on December 22, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Nicely written. :o)

  12. Deanna on December 22, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Stacy, this is awesome! I am not religious and feel like you are able to reach out to me, just as I have to you, in spite of our differing beliefs. It’s perfect!

  13. Julia on December 22, 2013 at 11:30 am

    It sounds like you and I have a very similar history! And believe it or not I have offended folks in my church even. Last year there was a bit of a tiff because although I attend a “progressive” and I guess you could say “liberal” (though I hate the liberal/conservative labels) I also have some friends who are in denominations that are considered “on the other side of the fence” (Pentecostal, Jehovah Witness, Mormon). Good friends at that. And when that came out I had a few people confront me at my church on WHY would I be friends with people like that? They are so WRONG and DESTRUCTIVE and FULL OF HATE!. Well, I would not be close friends with anyone who is destructive and full of hate, and as I stood there listening to this I gently suggested maybe my fellow congregants who were saying this to me were … um … a little full of hate themselves right then. Well, that didn’t go over well. So, I am right there with you in that I’m tired of hiding who I am and what I believe. I’m a seeker who offends both the progressive and conservative Christians a like apparently (the whole supporting gay rights doesn’t go over well with many of my fellow Christians). So, my stance is that I accept people for who they are right now and choose whether I want them in my life because of that and they can do the same for me. And if they are offended by what’s in my heart, then all means don’t have me in your life. That really isn’t my problem 🙂 You go, girl! I wish we lived closer so I could take lessons from you and be your friend!

  14. Jennifer Salvate on December 22, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Very well put Stacy!
    You are a good hearted genuine Christian and I am happy to see that you are not hiding behind the fence! 🙂
    l also love watching your training videos with Jac. He’s doing so good.
    I hope someday you will ride him bridleless like Roxy…
    PS.. You’re doing something right.. You already have over 100,000 likes. Go you 🙂
    Not sure if this is sending. Sorry if this is a repeat….

  15. lisa gideon on December 22, 2013 at 11:29 am

    “I am tempted to ‘hide’ my faith at times. When I ask myself, ‘why?’ the answer is not fear of attack. It is fear of offending.”….EXACTLY! Well written Stacy!

  16. Sheryl Togami on December 22, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Stacy, I don’t need to hold my nose! I am right there cheering you on. I love reading your posts and so many times you exactly articulate my thoughts. Keep up the good work.

  17. Hillary on December 22, 2013 at 11:20 am

    This is so well said and honest. I love it! Thank you for choosing to be known and choosing to be open and honest. I love following your blog everyday.

  18. Leslie on December 22, 2013 at 11:19 am

    I commend you for standing up for you because about life this I know…we can not please everyone!!! I feel that for some people, “being offended” is a way of being. I can’t imagine having time in my busy day of teaching grade 7 and 9 students, feeding horses/cats/dogs, keeping up with the daily shoveling of decks/driveways and then of course…the just enjoying life part of the day (snow shoeing, riding horses, walking dogs, baking, quading…) to have time to complain about someones life or way of being! I am too busy enjoying my own life…and just being!!!

  19. Jennifer Salvate on December 22, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Very well put Stacy!
    You are a good hearted genuine Christian and I am happy to see that you are not hiding behind the fence! 🙂
    l also love watching your training videos with Jac. He’s doing so good.
    I hope someday you will ride him bridleless like Roxy…
    PS.. You’re doing something right.. You already have over 100,000 likes. Go you 🙂

  20. Tom on December 22, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Be who you are! If someone is offended by the presence of God (and/or our Savior) in our lives, then they need to take that up directly with Him! He is more than up to the challenge… 🙂 Your husband gave you great advice though…. A lot more folks will appreciate the fact that you are “genuine” than would want to see a false front.

  21. Maggie Smith on December 22, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Never be afraid to show your Christian faith.

  22. Jen on December 22, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Thumbs up. No one, no matter what they believe should be chastised.
    What I do not understand, is why is that if you are religious it is ok to spread that word, but if you are athiest/agnostic, you can’t, or people will be offended. That is wrong and goes against everything religion stands for.

    • QHBabe on December 23, 2013 at 8:00 pm

      Really? If I’m a pedophile I should not be chastized? Or a robber? Killer? Cheater?

      • Michelle on December 31, 2013 at 11:31 am

        Now, this response is the knee-jerk reaction we non believers have come to dread. How does being atheist or agnostic offend or affect you personally? To lump it in with pedophelia, robbery,murder and cheating is hysteria. No one “believes” in those activities, they are crimes against humanity. Agnosticism and Atheism are not.

  23. Barrie Getz on December 22, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Stacy, you’re amazing regardless of any religious or ‘offensive’ beliefs that these people think you have. If they are offended by you, and your statements, then they are the ones who are offensive.
    People are often blinded by the religious ‘titles’, and fail to see the real truth behind the meaning of the words they preach. I am jewish…. but I keep an open mind, because I agree with you, and want to seek out the real things which make me feel whole!
    Don’t let them get you down; you’re perhaps one of the most generous and kindhearted people i’ve ever met, and i’m honored to have learned so much from you. <3

    It's like what you wrote on the belly of my Roxy model, back at Equine Affaire in 2010….. "Ride with Faith!". Well, not only ride with it, but live with it too. 🙂

  24. Jody Brittain on December 22, 2013 at 11:11 am

    You know, there are many people in this universe which leaves it open to many beliefs and practices. “I” have MY OWN beliefs, and am always interested in what others believe and for what reason or purpose. THEIR beliefs have never ever offended me! Sometimes it all makes sense and others, I just think they are off their rocker. But it is THEIR BELIEF! I was raised by a mother that when she met someone, and they believed something different than her, (even something as minor as which store to shop at), then she was no longer their friend. ME…well I have many friends. All of whom believe in something different and offer something different to the friendship I share with them. I do NOT JUDGE them for their beliefs. It is not my place. AND, my hubby always says, “You can not please everybody all of the time”. If someone is going to be mad at what you believe in, or what you have to say, then they are superficial. It does not matter what ANYONE BELIEVES in! It matters that they have a good heart! Compassion! Empathy! Kindness! Carrying!

    We are all FREE to believe in what we want to! That is AMERICA!~

  25. Bridget Goldsmith on December 22, 2013 at 11:10 am

    You go Stacy. One of the first Sundays that I read your blog I realised that you had faith in our wonderful Father. That encouraged me. That made me want to know you more and more. We are all His children, some just don’t know it. You found Him. I found at least 4 symbols there are probably more. I hope I can meet you at Ohio Equine Affair.
    Bridget

  26. Wendy Russ on December 22, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Hmm…must have missed something. I read and digest every word you post and have never been offended by a single word or would think anyone else could be offended. You are honest, passionate, forgiving and loving. Values all can benefit from, Christians and atheist alike! Please continue being You!

  27. Rhonda on December 22, 2013 at 11:05 am

    People will get offended no matter what you do. It’s a sad fact of life. You just have to be yourself, be authentic and if people have a problem with that, it’s for them to deal with. All too often people have the attitude that “I’m very tolerant … as long as you agree with my beliefs/opinions.” Just be yourself and don’t stress over others!

  28. Julie on December 22, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Truth. Simply and lovingly put. Thank you.

  29. Mary Ann Harris on December 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Good for you Stacy! Wisdom usually comes with age. You are very wise for your young years! god Bless you and yes I will say this, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  30. Megan Eldridge on December 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Stacy,

    Never be afraid to be yourself. If people are offended, so what, you are you. There are people who have differing beliefs, opinions, etc. than I do. If we all got along and agreed on everything, the world would be a boring place. Sometimes people with different beliefs/opinions than me say things that offend me, but I know arguing is pointless. When someone has their view, no one can change that except them.

  31. Karen on December 22, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Stacy,
    Over & over in the Bible we see Christ offending. Now days, just His Name seems to do it. He even warns His followers that it will happen…..that people will persecute them just as they did Him. I think all believers struggle with this……at least I do. I am grateful that The Lord has given you a platform you can use to demonstrate how to live as a Christian in the every day world. It helps the rest of us know we are not the only ones struggling with issues like offense. Thank you for being real.

  32. Rae Lynn Boyer on December 22, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Well said. I am agnostic on my good days. But I don’t hold people’s religion against them, or at least I try very hard not to, unless they try to force it upon me. I don’t think you do that. From what I have read, you simply share yourself with us. (As your husband said) And for that I thank you. Your horsewomanship is inspiring. I can’t watch your “Roxy ride” without bawling throughout the whole thing. <3 Thank you for sharing yourself with us…..

  33. tessa on December 22, 2013 at 10:57 am

    “amen” to that Stacey. No matter wich faith/believe someone has it will offend at the end someone else just because it seems now a days people are looking for a reason to feel offended and to shout it all over the internet. Aslong as we have faith in ourself, care for others, are happy and accept ourself with all bad and good sides we are fine. We cant make everyone happy no matter how hard we try and that should not take us down but make us stronger as we look at what we have
    accomplished in our lives. Dont be upset about the ones that dont want to get to know all of you because they are making a mistake…..in life its about forgive and forget and that counts for all believes and faiths.

  34. pferdeakademie on December 22, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Dear Stacy, thank you as always for the chance to get to know you, your work and your thoughts about life. Greetings from a fellow horse trainer from Switzerland, kind regards, Virginia

  35. Diane on December 22, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Smart girl Stacy! I doubt that anyone who is interested in learning from you would object to your being a Christian. And I hope you and yours have a Blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

  36. Kim on December 22, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Authentic. People are looking for authentic people whether you agree with them or not. Be true to yourself. LOVE your logo!

  37. Tammy on December 22, 2013 at 10:55 am

    You are awesome…I’ve grown in a similar way. Knowing more and choosing wisely.

  38. Dawn on December 22, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Good for you. When I unintentionally offend someone, I remember, “Those who matter won’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.” At least you’ve made them think, and that is always a good thing.

  39. Darlene Wuolle on December 22, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I respect anyone that stands up for what they believe in, no matter who they are with!

  40. joyreaper on December 22, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I want to know you and appreciate all of your advice!

  41. Anna Oltman on December 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Praise the Lord! The bible says we are not to be ashamed. I admire you even more now.

  42. Lisa on December 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Amen, Stacy! I have been afraid of offending, due to my faith too. In fact, just yesterday, on Facebook, there was something I wanted to share, but was afraid I would offend my non-Christian friends. Sometimes, it is like a double edged sword…God Bless you, Stacy. I for one, love reading this and knowing the real you!

  43. juanita on December 22, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Thank you Stacy for being you

  44. Tina Glidden on December 22, 2013 at 10:52 am

    VERY well stated! Keep allowing us to know you, that’s what attracts me to you.

  45. Jamie Waterman on December 22, 2013 at 10:51 am

    AWESOME!!!!!!! LOVE< LOVE< LOVE!!!!!! If you ever come to Indianapolis, please let me know!! I would LOVE to meet you!!!! Thank you sooo much for sharing not only your talents but also your faith!!! 🙂 🙂
    Have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

  46. susan talmage on December 22, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Go Stacy! God has given you the ability to have so many people in your audience to WANT to know you. God has given you what you can grow from and share how to know him.
    Susan and Chloe

  47. Diane Bernard on December 22, 2013 at 10:50 am

    To each his own. You live your life to the fullest and do your best for everyone it’s all a person can do Merry Christmas and all the Best in the New Year

  48. Chris Hatcher on December 22, 2013 at 10:49 am

    I like you more and more. Be true to yourself, it’s impossible to please everyone. The people that get mad because of your beliefs or the way you live are the ones that are just angry, maybe with themselves. Everything I’ve read and seen about you makes me wish you were closer to where I live. I have a QH colt, born blind in one eye, that I would love to have trained. And with you I know he would be treated with kindness and patience. That’s rare with most trainers. Be blessed Mrs. Westfall. And Merry Christmas

  49. Ray Petty on December 22, 2013 at 10:48 am

    This is what i love most about you. All of me. We are who we are, and I am SICK AND TIRED of those who are critical of who we are because we don’t conform to the beliefs that THEY have. Being me is the only thing I am great at……..so over the years, I’ve learned to embrace it. Thank you for your willingness to share who you are with the rest of us!

  50. Karla on December 22, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I applaud you Stacy and I want to know you – even more. And I wish I could afford your training invoice!

    • weindsth on December 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      stacy, it is refreshing to read and hear you share your faith. God has put you in a place where you can reach many people. It encourages me that you are so willing to share. Don’t stop

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