“God wants you to go deeper, get more personal, and invest more of you–the real you–into someone else. Sharing your story and the many ways God has moved on your behalf is a beautiful and timely privilege in this digital realm…Often, it’s more than what’s comfortable…Reach into the shared places of sameness and awaken people to the notion that they may have missed Christ.” –@stickyjesus
This week’s reading has hit me hard. The entirety of it was about relationships, and the fact that we were created to live in them and through them. And even beyond that, HOW we were created to live in them and through them. And as I’ve been going back over the sections I’ve highlighted, these thoughts keep coming back to me.
It’s very tempting to do religion and opt out of reality. It’s tempting to get up and go to church or go about our daily business with this perpetual smile on our face because, hey, the joy of the Lord is our strength, right? Sure is. And yet, we’re still beautifully, wonderfully, absolutely flawed and frail. Beautiful and wonderful because it keeps us relying on Him.
Or does it? I fear that if I were to answer for myself, more often than not, I’d say it doesn’t. It’s far too easy to do one of two things with the dark and dirty parts of us that we don’t love to fess up to. Either we wallow in self-pity and self-loathing over them, or we pretend they don’t exist in the first place.
I frequently move right past the first and along to the second. There are a lot of broken parts of my heart, ones that I don’t ever let the world see because it’s a very messy Audra that I don’t care to relive. Which is pretty easy, in reality, because I was born into a great family and was raised in church and haven’t had any really truly public scandals, so for the bulk of things, people seem to expect that things have gone pretty well throughout my life. Which is true, if you look at the outside. But in reading this chapter of @stickyjesus, I’m reminded that that method of knowing and being in relationship with someone couldn’t be farther from the depths in which we were created to live together.
So here comes a little bit of the dirty. A little bit of my story, in chronological order and to be expounded upon later:
Since I was in middle school, I have been addicted to pornography. I struggle with it much less now, but as they say, an addict is always an addict. It has been a HUGE problem at various times in my life, and to this day, there are images in my head that I would rather not recall. And yet, I do, whether I care to or not.
My childhood best friend and first love is now an open homosexual. And while I can now say that out loud with a fair amount of peace in my heart, not wondering as much as I used to about what that says about me and my femininity, it shattered a young heart in a way that I can’t describe. Nor can I say whether or not the wound will ever entirely cease to nag at my heart from time to time. Though he and I remain great friends, and I have never at ANY point doubted that he had no intentions of hurting me, it’s a blow that redefined my life, in many aspects. Not in entirely bad ways, mind you. But redefinition and refining is always painful and dirty.
I had sex before I was married. Which would likely come as a great shock to many of the people who watched me grow up, who know the great lengths my parents went to to keep that exact thing from happening, from enforcing an early curfew until I moved out to not letting me date until I was sixteen to not letting me attend school dances. But, all precautions aside, it happened. And if I could go back and rewrite that part of my history, I would. I feel as though some of the struggles that I currently struggle not to entertain might not exist. And I frequently wonder how I will handle that issue with my own children. It seems a challenge beyond my understanding.
I am currently dealing with a good deal of bitterness with my dad. Again, ridiculous if you know he and I at all, because I am and always have been a daddy’s girl. But he’s a pretty old school kind of guy, and 100% intolerant of anyone whose beliefs differ from his, in anything from women not wearing pants in church to the consumption of alcohol to the importance of travel and adventure. Throughout my life, I have heard him speak harshly of people whose opinions differ from his, and in the silence of my head, I have often felt the sting of pain in recognizing that he could easily have replaced that person’s name with my own. I fear that if my father could see into my head and my heart, really see, he might not like me very much. After twenty-six years of my life, I still have no idea how to address these fears with him.
My head and my heart are messy places to be. And so frequently, it’s all too easy to skim over those parts. And I truly believe this is accurate for most of our culture. It’s how we’ve been raised, it’s how our upcoming generation is being raised.
I’m called to be different. And I’m praying with all I am that contained within my story is a place of sameness for even one person. A second of recognition, a feeling of connection. And maybe, just maybe, the beginning of a relationship.