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A few years ago, I’d suffered a spiritual midlife crisis that propelled me into trying to find my way back again. I’ve endlessly felt like I’m tip-toeing trying to not offend anyone while I work this all out. The truth is I grew up with a different picture of who God is than I hold now.
Some might call this backsliding or being lukewarm.
I hear talk of “winning people to the kingdom”, “covered by the blood” or “it’s not a religion – it’s a relationship” thrown around so unmindfully it’s become hollow and the lack of depth teeters on irreverence. Perhaps I’m just a bit jaded at religious language, but what does this stuff actually mean when it’s thrown around as casually as rain in the PNW?
I’ve come to venomously object religious culture said to “have all the answers” and designed to alienate and see others as weakened. You would never find me saying “love the sinner, hate the sin”, “tell the truth in love” or calling Jesus “daddy” (which totally weirds me out).
But I’ve sat in churches long enough to see past my grievances, so I thought I’d try to put into words what I aspire to be.
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I’m absolutely no Biblical scholar but if I dare put words to the indefinable, I’d say choosing to believe this Jesus thing means that we have a calling to live better than we are currently living while simultaneously being 100% okay where we are now and moving through the world with a confidence and peace. We not only get let off the hook for all our failures, flaws and fears but we are sternly urged to separate ourselves from the ugliness and lies that depreciate or disesteem us as less than, not enough, or too much, anything that tells us we need others approval, or anything other than what we were already born with to be complete. We stop measuring our lives by our achievements, our power, and our fancy belongings and throw out the entire loser yard stick. This act makes us perfect in weakness.
Weakness is our most beautiful element because in weakness our fragility and susceptibleness to criticism, loneliness, and inadequacy is blocked by our fierceness to love others, our courage to take a stand exactly where we are and our heart to make a difference in the world. Weakness is what stretches us.
Being stretched is not something we can do passively.
Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” I believe it’s both me and God, co-sculptors of my heart, together chipping away each little piece of shame, contempt, and heartache to reveal my true, whole self.
The barriers of a peaceful life, like hopelessness, scarcity, pride, shame from our past, poor body image, fear of being judged or judging others, keep us from fully reaching God.
But by making the decision to do the hard work of sorting all this out and growing our emotional intelligence, we get a true glimpse of God in the process. Most of the time we’ll feel incomplete and wrestle with one issue or another, but we find God in pressing forward.
I see religious people who believe they are “set apart” and wear this as a badge of overinflated confidence causing divisiveness. The only confidence we should have is a mild humility of knowing we are going to be okay.
I believe the only way we live out this calling is with other people. Meeting them exactly where they are not to “win them for the kingdom” but to treasure them. Being sad about what makes God sad – hatefulness. And loving what He loves – people. 💙 💙 💙
If you’re still with me, thanks. I’d love to know your thoughts on all this or if you’re been stirred by religious talk, good or bad.