Have A Little Faith: Michelle Tepper
Michelle Tepper is one intelligent lady. An Oxford graduate and gifted communicator, she speaks on a variety of faith issues across the globe. Born in the US, Michelle met her husband Peter at Oxford University where she studied Political Science. They currently live in Beaconsfield with their four-year-old daughter, Sophia…
My favourite city is probably Rome. [My husband] Peter and I went there when we were first dating, then we spent a day there on our honeymoon – and for our fifth anniversary.
My daughter Sophia makes me laugh more than anyone else. She is four going on ten –when she tells stories, she’ll pace back and forth and [gestures] to emphasise her point!
I was scouted to audition for the Mickey Mouse Club with Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. I thought I was going to become a singer – but my parents didn’t really think that was the right track!
I’m inspired by people who take what they believe in, mesh it with culture, and live it out. It sounds easy, but hats off to anyone who can have an incredible faith that makes sense and is relevant – whether it’s in arts or culture or fashion or the academy – and then live it out.
Why do you think faith is important in today’s world?
No matter what background we come from, we all practice faith in some way on a regular basis. And true faith comes to life through trust. You give a little bit of yourself every time you choose to have faith in someone or something; faith is what makes us relational.
What does doubt mean to you?
We are all human, and it’s hard to believe and trust in someone that you can’t see or feel on a regular basis. But I don’t think the doubt disqualifies us from the Christian faith. I think if anything, we should use our doubts to push us further into the deeper questions that we have about who Jesus is.
How did you come to have a faith?
For a long period, I thought: God if you’re out there, I don’t think you love me. I’d heard about the goodness of God all my life, but the things happening around me just weren’t lining up with that. And then I heard a sermon from the bible on John 3:16. It was like a message straight to my heart – that it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t matter how you perform, it doesn’t matter who accepts you, it doesn’t matter if you accept yourself. That no matter how dark your secrets are, no matter how dark your behaviour is, no matter how dark your life seems, your value is set by the fact that God came down to earth for you. Suddenly it all made sense.
How does your faith affect your day-to-day life?
It gives my life direction beyond just living by a set of rules, arguments or feelings. Faith is the glue that holds everything together – not just those desperate moments when I reach out to God. If it’s true that God loves me, that He’s out there and that He came to meet me through Jesus, then that changes everything.
If you could get a woman in her 20s-30s, living in a city, to spend 30 minutes thinking about three questions, what would they be?
I would ask, ‘How happy are you in your relationships – both platonic and romantic? If you’re not happy, how are you going to go about finding fulfilment in relationship and love, and if you are happy, what makes that sustainable?’ And I’d ask her if she thought God was out there – and if so, if He loved her. As starter questions.
How does your understanding of truth influence your identity?
Most of us base our identity on one of four things: how we’re feeling, what we think about ourselves, what others think about us, or how we behave. My identity is rooted in the truth of what God thinks about me: I am valuable to Him forever.
What does the word ‘confidence’ mean to you as a woman who has faith?
Being at peace. Not because I control everything well, but because I know that God loves me, He is for me and I don’t have to defend myself.
How can you believe in the idea of a good God in the face of so much suffering in today’s world?
There is suffering in this world, whether you believe in God or not. So the question is really, ‘If I didn’t believe in God in the middle of all the bad experiences, would I be any better off?’
Even when pain comes my way, I think: where else am I going to go? My life knowing Jesus is so full of truth, beauty, hope, peace and confidence, that even when there are bad things, I know I’d rather be with Him than on my own.
What does the bible mean to you and how does it change your life?
For me, the bible is so important. It brings joy to my heart, reminding me of who God is. It centres me when I’ve got too much else to think of, and all the other words and messages of life are coming in and crowding in. It gives me direction for the future.
Interview by Ruth Awogbade
Photography by Anna Bnan
The interview was shot at the beautiful Alice House in Queen’s Park, London. We highly recommend a visit!