My mind and heart have never been this rested and peaceful.
I feel like God has grabbed me by the chin and has said, "It's actually true, child. Believe it, please? I do LOVE you, just as you are."
My pride has resisted these freedom words for longer than I would like to admit. I am accustomed to striving and attempting to live in shame for just long enough to punish myself rightly.
For most of my life, I held Jesus synonymously with shame. A few months ago, I actually said these words out loud to my mentor as I cried because...just, wow. "Jesus equals shame for me..." and the thought of Jesus being love sounded scary and obscure, it sounded too big, too uncontrolled for me to subscribe to. (read: I like everything in a nice, controllable box, even Jesus, thank you! )
Growing up in church, it took me about 5 seconds to realize what I should and should not do.
1. Don't listen to Blink 182 and definitely not Limp Bizkit. I mean, nookie?! Sin!!!!
2. Don't sleep with your boyfriend. (if you ask "how far can I go? Shame!! naughty! You shouldn't even be asking!)
Those are the ones I heard 450 times throughout my Jr. High and High School years.
This became the biggest deal. Was I or wasn't I? Also, was my neighbor sleeping with her boyfriend? If so, I needed to bring her to church and save her stat just in case she dies.
This is murky water here, I understand that. I am anything but a theologian, but I just don't think God intended the rules to be THE THING. Do I think sleeping with a ton of people and listening to certain types of music is the best thing? Honestly, no, but those are details to me. There is a bigger something that matters here. My husband continually reminds me, the Pharisees were doing all of the beautiful religious things and Jesus loved them fiercely, but also told them that they were missing it.
I think of my 5-year-old. I want her to obey, but you know what I want for her more than obedience? A soft, open, and kind heart that understands the grace and love of Jesus. That she might know her confidence can be in a love that nothing can separate. That she never has to look right or left to see if she's loved. She is loved by her maker, it's just a fact, now go and live and love the hell out of yourself and people of all kinds.
I think of my 16-year-old self, broken completely on the inside. My heart was passionate but absolutely confused. I had so many questions I was scared to ask. I wanted so badly to follow the rules, but I also wanted to freaking sin a little and talk about my doubts. (insert:this is NORMAL for a teenager/person, ammiright?) There was no room to breathe. I couldn't admit what I felt in my heart at church, so I sang on the worship team and acted like I was the virgin Mary, eventually rebelling hard against all of it. There has to be a better way.
I wonder what it would look like if the church ( i.e.: people) were safe and non-judgmental. That faith and humanity can be integrated and full of freedom and understanding. That people don't have to pretend or walk on egg shells. That we can invite people in as they are without a weird agenda. I believe with all of my heart that this is the remedy for shame. I want to be someone who will listen and not judge. Someone who sees the person..and guess what? That's so much more difficult, to reach down deep and sit with a person in their despair, in their questioning, in their hurt. It's easier to say, "you're in, you're out" this is what is required of you and if you aren't meeting that, well..shame and shade and rejection to you. Awful.
I don't know, I'm still in the middle of all of this. But here is my wish for you and I, for my babies and neighbors and yours too.
I pray that you have someone safe. Someone that can look you in the eye and remind you of who you are. Someone who is not put off by your hard questions, someone who reminds you that we are all in this together. You are NOT alone, you are NOT an outcast because of how you look, what you have done or what you are still doing or thinking. You guys, Jesus hung out with prostitutes, He freaking loved them. I am learning that He is actually the ultimate safety. < now that's freeing
Let me know what you think about all of this. Welcome to the journey!