I haven’t been blogging much in recent months. There are a few reasons for that. But primarily, I’ve been processing. I’m a processor by nature–usually I need to think things over and come to place of peace and understanding before speaking about them. There are also situations where I need to process things verbally and discuss things with people before I can come to that place of peace and understanding in my spirit. Sometimes, I need to WRITE in order to make sense of something and reach that settled place. But I resist it…for a secondary reason.
A secondary reason that I haven’t been blogging is out of fear. Fear of being judged. Fear of getting it wrong. Fear of being too unfiltered. Fear of stirring all the pots. I’m in a pot-stirring kind of mental place, these days. I end most interactions with people lately by asking myself, “Have I said too much? Am I being too honest?” So I’ve started hiding a little bit. Just until I figure out how I feel. And how I want to present myself. Blogging is a weird thing. The internet is a weird place. Friends and family have come to enjoy my writing and perspective and I want to continue to exercise this gift God has given me. But sometimes, the spotlight is a little frightening.
Here’s what’s up, friends.
Since I was 16, I’ve been following Jesus. I experienced salvation and then I fell in line. I followed and imitated what I saw other Christians do and what Christian writers told me was the right thing to do, but I wasn’t spiritually mature enough to know to question the scriptural basis for these things. I just gave a salute to the local Family Christian Store/Northwestern Bookstore and Brio magazine and moved along. By the grace of God and the influence of Christian people in my life, my relationship with God deepened and became more genuine as the years progressed. I leaned into my faith during college when new brands of hardship fell on my heart that I’d never experienced before, and He loved me back to life. After college, I befriended and led a group of high school girls for four years with my friend Juli. I tried to share wisdom and knowledge from my own life as we worked through the inevitable challenges that come with growing up. But in the last couple of years, since losing my friend Christie to cancer, since being disappointed by the Church in a few different ways (that’s another post altogether), I’ve become confused and jaded. And it’s heartbreaking. But I haven’t quit.
God and I? We’re eternal. Nothing is ever going to change the fact that we’re besties, he loves me, I love him, it goes deeper than anything else. We’re blood. Literally. There’s no budging on that. I’m nothing without God in my life. NOTHING. I know this, because until 16, what I had with God was inauthentic, ritualistic, forced and fake. I remember what it felt like to be without hope. I’m never going back there. He’s legit. He’s real. He’s alive. I’ve seen it and I can’t deny it.
However. Certain topics continually have been brought to the surface in my mind and in my heart over the last year that I suddenly have a million reservations about. What it looks like to live out my faith has become difficult and murky. A few examples:
- What happens when we die? What is the real definition of heaven?
- Are certain things really sinful or is their perceived sinfulness something the Church created long ago?
- Is X a cultural belief or a God-influenced command? Is X a cultural mandate of the time in which a biblical passage was written, and should we still abide by it now–or is it something God commands of all people in all times?
- If I don’t have the on-fire desire to be evangelistic, does that make me an inauthentic Christ follower?
- Do I HAVE to do X, X and X to grow in my faith? Or are there other ways?
- Can Christians really make blanket rules that are “best for everyone” in the long run, or is there wiggle room for redefinition and grey space?
- Are we really all SO BAD? Aren’t we beautiful and broken simultaneously?
- If I have a spirit of critical-thinking that often borders on cynicism, does that mean I’m not currently connected to God enough to be part of a body of Christ-followers that are expected to be unified and on the same page about everything pertaining to our savior and what it means to live out our faith?
- If what I decide about a topic of faith differs from how the majority of Christ-followers around me feel about it, does that mean I’m getting it ‘wrong’?
Oy. You guys, it’s exhausting. It’s scary.
In Philippians in the NIV, we’re told:
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,”
That sounds like exploration and working through doubt and questioning, doesn’t it?
But in the NLT, we’re told:
“Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.”
When I read that, I hear FALL IN LINE. GET IT RIGHT. SHOW PEOPLE YOU ARE A CHRIST-FOLLOWER BY YOUR PERFECT OBEDIENCE–AND IF YOU DON’T GET IT RIGHT, YOU DON’T LOVE (REVERE OR FEAR) HIM ENOUGH.
And what is the RIGHT way to obey? Is it just acting like everyone else in my faith community? Or do I have the freedom for it to look different for me?
Maybe I’m not interpreting these verses as accurately as I could be. But it’s confusing, right?! No matter where I look, I’m required to unravel, redefine, to translate–to WORK at getting to a place of peace and understanding in my spirit when it comes to living my life as a Christ-follower. And I’m starting to think this painful, crazy, scary work of pulling it all apart in order to put it back together again MIGHT just be what it’s all about. Because without it–how strong is my faith?
I worry that for some people in the Church, this type of thinking isn’t acceptable. Or that they say it’s acceptable, but really actually doing it is too dangerous to talk about much less actually embark upon. Or, that until I’ve reached peace and understanding about ALL of my doubts and questions and redefining of topics–I shouldn’t be working in a place of ministry. After all, shouldn’t everyone in ministry be in agreement about most topics of following Christ as we lead others to do the same?
All I can say is that I still believe that reaching people with the message of Christ’s love for them is not only paramount to what I want to do with my career for as long as I’m given the opportunity to, but it’s the core of what I hope I can accomplish through my life. And lately, I’ve felt like maybe I’m being a little clunky about it. But my hope is that by coming clean about the faith challenges I’ve been facing, I am doing the best thing–which is to show people that following Jesus is not the easy path, and if it is? Maybe it shouldn’t be so easy.
In wrapping this up, I want to reiterate:
I still love Jesus. He still loves me. I hope you still love me, too. 😉