I’m wondering how to speak these words tumbling and churning inside, begging for release. The trouble is, the conveying…the truly nailing it on the head with explanation. Lately, I’m feeling rebellious. And, by lately, I mean for several years now.
These molds we try to force ourselves into. They aren’t fitting. Just like when we try to force our very big God into a box. He will never fit.
Do you feel sometimes that the closer you get to understanding who Jesus really is, the further you drift from fitting into molds, or identities, or expectations, or even friendships? I think it’s a challenge, to try to fit in places we were meant for. But, oh…the sweet freedom when we stop trying. Even if my freedom is a rock of offense to some, I can’t go back.
I’m surprised by how alone we sometimes can feel when we delve further into knowing the One who shed blood for us, while we spit in His face. How separated…even from those who sit beside us in the church pew, professing His name. Or those we’ve known as family all of our lives. Or those we call friends. The connections change. The path narrows. The numbers dwindle to a close few, real friendships. The ones who know all your broken and love you anyway…the ones who get it…who get you.
When my oldest son was young, I felt fiercely protective of every nuance of his being…physically, spiritually, emotionally. The weight of that responsibility on my young momma shoulders drove me to many prayer sessions on my knees. I never wanted him to taste a drop of sin, or harm, or disappointment in this broken world. The thought left me undone.
I had buried three children before I was 24 years old. So, I knew that there were no guarantees in this broken place.
I never wanted him to have unsaved friends, to hear or speak a curse word, to drink, or lie, or drive too fast. I wanted him safe.
A friend who’s currently trying to make sense of our desperation for safety in a very unsafe place spoke truthfully about that wrestling we do prior to surrender. There is a frightening freedom and the strangest sense of peace in surrendering. In knowing that there is no safe place from loss, from death, from sin.(In case you’re wondering, I’m not offended or frightened by her wandering in this wilderness, or by her questions. And, I don’t believe our very big God is either. I believe He is wooing her to find him, even in the wandering.)
Something stirred within me, in the depths of grief, when all had been stripped from me in the burying of babies…and in the surrendering…in the clinging to the hem of His dirty garment…the One full of muck from all the walking with broken people. Something life changing. In my letting go. In my learning that true faith is gritty and messy and dirty and full of way more questions than answers…way more believing without seeing…knowing, even in the desperate broken places when prayers can’t be uttered…that even in that, His grace would meet me and it would always be enough.
It began to fall way, the lie that faith is about my performance…that my Christian witness has more to do with a perfect picture with a checklist of rules than a real gathering around my kitchen table to listen to stories, offer good food, and cherish the gift of lives and friendship….being the hands and feet of Jesus, rather than merely speaking of Him with a bunch of shoulds and requirements attached. Letting His love ooze through and pour out in the sharing of laughter. In the shedding of tears. In the holding of hands. In the walking alongside. In the breaking of bread. In the telling of our stories. Letting that speak louder than eloquent prayers prayed just right. Not covering the cracks and mismatches in my “picture” which upon closer inspection reveals so much more beauty in the imperfections.
Ironically, I’ve learned the most about that freedom from the son I was once so desperate to protect. He brings a wide range of friends to my kitchen table. Some who maybe have never set foot in a church. He is one who loves his Savior, and shows it much more in the living than in the words he speaks. Not perfectly…in real life, messy fashion. The kind that leads to discussions on truth. During a recent conversation, he said, “If you really want to share your faith, you can’t only surround yourself with people who think like you. You have to live out among everyone. Share conversations. Get to know people. Listen and discuss differences with respect.”
And, do you know what happens? In the sharing. In the living. In the gathering and telling of stories. Naturally, easily…opportunities to share what you believe and why.
I love that.
That’s how our Jesus revealed Himself. Humbly, quietly…in the living amongst the people. No one…not a leper…or a drunk…or an adulterer…or the mentally ill…the poor….the sick…the broken….the dirtiest sinner…the thief on the cross….no one was too far gone…no one too dirty for Him to touch….no one worthless. Every life mattered to Him.
And, if we say every life matters to us, we really ought to live that way. Instead of spending so much time trying to keep our pictures looking perfect. Trying to measure our own performance, or that of those around us. We should be so busy in the loving and following the lover of our souls, that we don’t even notice that bologna. If I can boldly keep it real, I’m done with it. Disgusted by it. And, don’t have the time for it.
Anything that wreaks in the slightest of performance, I feel a rebellion rising within. I’m not talking about disobedience. Not rebelling against God and His ways. Rebelling against man’s…or in most cases, more accurately, women’s ways. Ladies, we can’t grow if we’re divisive and not encouraging and loving, if we’re so worried about our measuring sticks, we can’t see the hearts around us. Put them down, for the love of Pete. Put them down and just look at one another with love and grace. Can we do that? Can we walk worthy of this calling for a bit?
This grace rebel is longing for the grace to see the measuring sticks broken and tossed aside with the fervor that the feminists displayed when they were burning their bras. (I’m not advocating that, of course! But, if you did, I won’t judge you or quit speaking to you….just sayin’. )
If you’re wondering what I mean when I speak of a grace rebel…and if your heart is perhaps longing to be unleashed with the freedom with which we were meant to love…here is my best attempt at a definition: