I sat here on my bed, pondering how to start this blog.
At first, I figured I could say “If you have been in church for any amount of time, you have probably come to find that people in the church will hurt you just like any other kind of person will.” Although that’s great, I thought it might come off a little bitter, or pull things in a certain negative direction.. Not only that, but although it is true that you will get hurt in the church just like you do outside of it, that isn’t exactly the main idea of this blog.
I guess I’ll start by saying this – I truly believe that no matter who we are or what we’re doing, we’re all on this journey to know Jesus.. Who he is, who we are, the purpose in it all.. I can pinpoint certain times in my life when my heart and mind were completely blown and I saw things in a way I had never seen them before; several times, actually. (I’m sure a lot of you have, too.) Maybe you’re the conservative girl that just found out it’s okay to wear makeup and pants. Maybe you’re the one who just realized that God wants to heal everyone, and doesn’t just do it on special occasions. Maybe you’re the one who has come to realize that God is so much better than you believed him to be, and so much more patient with you than you have ever been with you.
Regardless of circumstance, it’s so easy to look back on the way we had believed prior to that mind blowing experience and get disgusted with ourselves, as well as the theology involved.
..this blog isn’t about how horrible it is to be disgusted, though, and how wrong it is to be frustrated. I’ve known those feelings too well to call them wrong.
It is difficult to be on a journey of self discovery and God discovery and for your entire world to be turned upside down. It is beautiful, incredible. The freedom in your lungs and the thrill of things being so much greater than you had known is such a gift.. But it isn’t all easy.
I’ve been on quite a few journeys. The truth is, that people are not always going to get it. They won’t always agree, and they won’t always be nice about it.
I would argue though, that the disagreements and the ugly stuff that can sometimes come is not because people are mean. It’s usually out of love or genuine concern that they are brave enough to speak up against what you’re saying, what you’re living out.. And if it’s not for concern or love, it is at the very least in the name of doing what they believe to be right.
I say all of that to say this – we have all labeled the folks that disagreed with us ‘religious.’ You know what else? They probably are. I’m not minimizing hurt. I know what it means to be crushed by people that your trust was invested in. I know what it’s like to have arguments built up against you for all of the things you believe. It is true that church people hurt people just like everyone else.. And sometimes it can hurt more, because in our minds they should know better.
I know one thing, though.. I don’t want to be bitter. You can hear the bitterness in someone’s voice.. The tone they have and their choice of words. Someone can be bitter and saying things that you typically agree with.. But because of the attitude behind it, it just doesn’t feel right. Shaming people for carrying bitterness isn’t the answer either.. don’t get rid of bitterness because its what you’ve been told to do.. Get rid of bitterness because within its hold, you’re not living in the very freedom you were given when your life was turned upside down.
I have heard Jonathan Helser say on different occasions that God wants us to step out of our religion and fear and walk into His endless love.
That’s it.. Our religion. Not possessive as in it is yours forever with no cure, but possessive as in everybody has some. Everybody has some, and there is no immunity theology where you are exempt from it.
So maybe religion doesn’t just affect people who grew up in church, or pastors’ kids, or those heavily involved in ministry for awhile.. But religion is something the flesh does no matter what side of the boat we’re on. We have religion to step out of not because of our church background (or lack of it), but because we have a flesh. Religion assumes things about God that we don’t actually know with our hearts. That can be “God’s angry!” Or “God wants you to wear pants!” ..but it can also be “God didn’t come through for me, so it’s must be my job to come through for myself.”
We are all his kids, just trying to make sense of things, and we all get it wrong. Having a great relationship with God doesn’t look like believing all the right things about him, because we all believe wrong things about God right now.. But it’s being willing to let Him show you that he’s better than you thought he was, over and over..
I PRAY this makes sense. I have read it over and over, hoping to portray my heart. I pray this brings you the freedom it has been bringing me, even today.