Tag Archives: Christianity

from the dust

I love the last day of the year.

New Year’s Eve has always been one of my favorite days. Because it feels like one last chance to breathe deep before the canvas is drenched in white again. One last chance to sit in the quiet with myself, contemplating all the remarkable possibilities that are held inside the walls of a new thing.

This year, the inhale of possibility and the exhale of a year feels more like relief than it has in many years. So much so that I’m starting my own quiet festivities early. Husband and puppy tucked into bed, I take to the kitchen to make some vegetable soup. Because chopping vegetables feels a little like liturgy, and God knows 2014 has needed more than its fair share of that. So I stand at the stove, and I chop, and I breathe in the smells of things that have risen from the ground, that have been brought up from the dust, and sometimes everything I need to know is in a pot of vegetable soup.

God’s best things are the things raised from the dust. The things that have been buried. The things that have been made into something new, the things brought low and destroyed in the process.

This year has been so very hard. Is it okay to say that? I hope so, because it has been.

Hear me when I tell you that I don’t say that for pity. I don’t say it to open up a public forum for me to air my personal grievances with life

I say it because I know, to the depths of my soul, that I’m not the only one.

I’m not the only one burying dreams.

I’m not the only one desperate for the clean oxygen of a fresh start.

I’m not the only one thinking, “Is it okay to say this year has been REALLY damn hard?”

I’m not the only one who needs a pot of vegetable soup and a reminder.

A reminder that God’s best things are the things raised from the dust.

You have not been left buried, dear one.

You’re being raised from the dust.

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on ferguson and the edge of hell

Because some days I can’t even string words together except in the form of letters. And even then, they’re mostly word vomit that may or may not make sense. But words, for me, cannot be left unsaid.

I just want to have coffee with you today, and have a safe place to fall completely apart.

My heart is so broken. I don’t even know how to explain it. I cannot stop crying. Ferguson is ripping me apart. I feel like we are standing on the edge of hell, and so many of the people I have known and loved and respected for most of my life are just sitting back and fanning the flames, rather than running to the center of the mess with water and a rescue. And I don’t know how to be a decent person in the face of that. I don’t know how to be a decent person in the face of the fact that if many of those same people knew how deeply and intensely I feel about all of these things in the “wrong” direction, they would have nothing to do with me.

I am not who I was, Mel. I am so, so very much not who I was. I got tossed into the African-American community five years ago, and God broke me over it, and my heart beats for it. But I still have one foot in both worlds. And I have SO much anger at people who can’t even see a need to extend empathy or compassion, except to those who have their shit together enough to earn it. Who read people who resort to violence as just a maniacal, animalistic group of people who deserve every terrible thing they’re dealt; because it’s much easier to see that than it is to see a group of people who are so hurt and grieving and DESPERATE to have a voice that’s loud enough to be heard. We have so little ability to sit with grief. We have little ability to hear pain. 

I get so angry with people who can’t see it, and yet I know how silly that is. I know that the only reason I see it is because God gave me that blessing. He dropped me in it and took away my option of NOT seeing it. The reason I see it is because I have spent every day for years witnessing it all first hand.

But man. Having one foot in two worlds feels like it’s pulling my chest apart some days.

I cannot get ahold of myself right now, and usually that’s a sign that God’s prepping me to do something nuts. Pray? I could sure use it.

I miss you. Let’s run a rescue mission on the edge of hell.

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fear and flying

Dearest one,

It’s a rare day when I genuinely feel like I have some thoughts worth offering, thoughts that might be worth adding to the noise of your already crowded mind. But today, the stars align and the words just keep falling out of my mouth, and I feel like maybe I do. 

You think me this brilliant, amazing creature. And I love that you see that in me. But here’s the truth, a truth that’s not far from your own.

I can’t get myself to commit to a practice of writing every day. 

The reason I can’t get myself to commit to a practice of writing every day isn’t because I don’t have things to say. I do. It isn’t because I don’t have a decent command over the English language. I do.

The reason I can’t get myself to commit to a practice of writing every day is because in my mind, I’m already thinking about writing a book. And none of my thoughts are connected enough for that. I have so many thoughts about a million different things, but I don’t have enough thoughts about ONE thing to justify writing a book.

And so I don’t write. Because I’m so busy thinking about the end product that I am paralyzed. I feel like none of it matters until I know exactly what it’s going to look like in the end. I feel like none of it matters until I have a plan. Until I can nail down what it’s going to look like. Until I feel safe and secure and like its all something I can control.

I am a walking, talking definition of missing the beauty of the forest because I can’t see past the trees.

And so it is with you. 

See, for all the credit you give me and all the shame you so effortlessly give yourself, you and I are not that different. Not at all. Steps without an endgame feel pointless to you. And I know that feeling. They feel pointless to me, too. But the thing I’ve been thinking about today is how there is no endgame until you take steps. If I don’t start taking some steps without knowing where I’m going, the endgame is RIGHT HERE. This is it. The endgame is me, sitting around and wanting to say something worth hearing, but not saying anything because I want a roadmap first. If I don’t start taking some steps, I will still be this person in forty years, only with a whole lot more regret and a lot more untold stories and a lot more unlived life.

And so it is with you.

I remember his words to you one day, months ago, about how the greatest enemy of the next step is the fear of what’s across the room.

You and I, dearest one. We are one and the same. We are both so focused on what may or may not be across the room that were frozen in place. Stuck. Afraid to take a step for fear that it might be the wrong one.

But grace, man. Of all the things I’m unsure of, and there are many, Grace doesn’t make the list. Not even close. Grace may, in fact, be the one thing I know like I know my own name. Mostly because of the frequency with which I’ve had nothing else to fall on.

I believe that our steps will be messy, and some of them will be the wrong ones, because we are nothing if not fully human and prone to being and creating disasters. But I also believe they’re all important, every last one of the steps. All necessary. All growth. All Grace.

Some of my biggest missteps have turned out to be my biggest graces.

And so it is with you.

And so it will be.

Breathe. Crawl. Step. Leap, even. Jump off a cliff knowing that your wings get built while you fly. Growth and movement and purpose doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Doesn’t happen at a standstill. It only happens in midair. In discomfort. In dirty soil. 

All you can do is this one moment. You can’t handle the overwhelm of a lifetime, all at once. All you can do is this one moment. One moment that looks like crawling, but is really more like flying, when you’ve spent all this time standing still, rooted to your fear. 

Fly, mine. Don’t stand rooted to your fear. There is nothing worth fearing more than that.

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words are sharp and shiny things

Words are sharp and shiny things, and I am good with them. I always have been. I can twist and shape them into whatever form I wish. I can take you places and bring you back; I can make you feel things and ask questions and draw pictures and crave adventures.

Words are sharp and shiny things, and I am good with them. But I have learned to wield them reverently. I’m good with words in the same way I would imagine a sniper is good with his rifle, holding it with a healthy dose of both adrenaline and fear, because he knows that what he holds has the power to decimate anyone in its path.

Words are sharp and shiny things, and I am good with them. I am also terribly afraid of them. Because I know my words, the words close enough to my chest to be called mine. They aren’t easy ones, to write or to hear. They might be packaged neatly, but there is no resolution. I won’t ever give you a conclusion, and the loose ends don’t sit comfortably.

Because the words close enough to my chest to be called mine aren’t even completely mine. They are mine, but they’re also the words of at least five different people, from five separate conversations that have taken place in the past month. They’re also the words that I haven’t heard, but have seen in the eyes of more people than I can count. Words that don’t get a voice because they’re terrifying, and they can plunge a person into a rabbit hole that may cost more than they’re ready to pay.

If the North American church is a true reflection of who God is…

It feels a little bit like God doesn’t have space for messy people, for broken people, for lamenting people.

It feels a little bit like all God wants to hear when He asks how I am is “Great! How are you?” And then for me to be on my way.

It feels a little bit like God doesn’t want my love and affection as much as He does my blind and unquestioning acceptance.

It feels a little bit like I need to be successful and happy to belong to God. 

It feels a little bit like issues of race and poverty and slavery and gender and sexuality only matter to God so far as they can be dealt with as “issues” rather than dealing with the messiness of the real, vulnerable people behind the issues.

If the North American church is a true reflection of who God is…

…then I’m afraid that God maybe wants nothing to do with me. And I’m not positive I want anything to do with Him.

And if all of that isn’t true, if it’s my perception that’s flawed…

Who IS God? And what does He care about? And where do I find Him? And how do I reflect Him? What is my responsibility in this? How do I love like Jesus does, in real life and real time?

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terrifying and true

31 days of WTHKW

There are days when I hold words close to my chest. Because words are wild and powerful, and sometimes I just have to wield them quietly, carefully, reverently. As though they’re capable of most anything.

And they are. Don’t ever underestimate the way that words are capable of most anything.

These past couple of days, words feel like that. I keep writing them, but in the way that I always write the things that feel most sacred. On paper, with my own hand, in the quiet of the morning. Sometimes I think that’s the space my best words were created for. I don’t kill my darlings. I don’t have the heart. But I shelter them, and I hold them close to my chest.

And sometimes I don’t know why.

On my better days, I believe it’s because I’m aware. Aware of myself, aware of my tendency to need people to approve, to need feedback on my own soul in order to feel validated. Aware of how easy it is for me to put myself out there to people and let those people affirm me, rather than God Himself.

Some days I think I hold my dearest thoughts in private places because for once in my life, I want to express my own thoughts without worrying about what anyone things about them.

And on my not-so-much-better days, I believe it’s because I’m afraid.

I’m afraid of myself sometimes.

I said it last week, out loud for the first time, that sometimes one of my major disconnects with the church these days is that sometimes when I speak about things that actually matter to me, one of the most common reactions I get is something that closely resembles fear. Is it okay to say that? Sometimes I worry that people, particularly good God-fearing church people, are a little bit afraid of me. That I’m just too much. I have All of the Big Thoughts and All of the Big Feelings and my brain wades into All of the Grey Areas. Literally nothing is off limits to my questions.

And sometimes I think that’s terrifying to people. I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that it’s terrifying to me. And so I find myself holding on to those parts of me.

The parts of me that I would define as the most difficult…but also the parts of me that I would define, without hesitation, as the most lovely. The most genuine. The most true.

The most me.

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under the sky

Sometimes, church is pipe tobacco and a shared bottle of wine.

In moments like that, the Texas sky seems exactly as big as all the old country songs claim, freckled with stars and nearly swallowing the moon with all its navy blue.

I didn’t know that first night, months ago, how immediately they would be our people. You know the ones. The people you sit around the dinner table with, laughing and talking, and a split second later, you look up to find that hours have passed and it’s tomorrow already and you instinctively know that this conversation has only just begun.

The night ends and months go by, because life is busy and there are jobs and kids and soccer practice and piano lessons and all of the things, but eventually you’re gathered around that same dinner table and it just feels like you never left.

So you take it outside, under the sky, because all the best things should always happen under the sky, and conversation like that is the best thing. Honesty like that is the best thing. Laughter like that is the best thing. Hope like that is the best thing.

In those moments, with the voices and and the stories and the sky and the same pipe tobacco Tolkien loved and the red wine, I feel it in my chest again. Church. I believe in it. I always have, but some days it comes easier than others. Some days it’s a picture I can see clearly, and some days the picture looks like nothing, clouded as it is by my own imperfect vision.

I sat out there, stars blinking and wind blowing my hair, and I wondered if this was what it felt like in the beginning. If this was why Jesus felt so strongly about gathering with people around a table. If maybe, when Jesus talked about the church, he was talking about this. This lack of pretense, this lack of politics, this lack of a business model, this lack of programs, this lack of agendas, this lack of cultural success. This presence. This presence of real, messy, disastrous, beautiful human beings who just want to know Jesus and do things the way he did, love people the way he did. Even when that feels impossible, wrapped as we are in humanity so frail it’s been known to shatter.

I want that. I want so much more of that. All of the fibers of my being strain toward it. Toward Jesus. Toward his people. Toward church, for the first time in so very, very long.

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because i don’t know where i fit as a woman

Here’s the truth:

I am a woman, and I don’t know where I fit in the context of the church and ministry.

I have spent most of my life, not all but most, in fairly-to-very conservative evangelical churches. This is the dominant frame of reference I have to work with. And while my adult life has given me plenty of opportunities to see faith in new ways, wrestling through those kinds of big questions has not been a quick or easy process.

So this whole struggle is coming from a person who still identifies, in part, as a conservative evangelical. At 29 years old, I am a mutt when it comes to faith, but that world is my mama and her DNA is written into my genetic code. I don’t always agree with her, and I often wonder if I got switched with someone else at birth, but still. She’s my mama, and her words are heavy in my ears.

It’s a really easy thing to get mixed messages about where that limb of the Church places women, as far as leadership goes. For men, it feels very open-handed: whatever God calls you to do, do that. For women, it feels like there are a whole lot of conflicting distinctions as to what callings are acceptable, what leadership roles are okay for us.

Women can teach, but only other women and children. Women can teach mixed-gender groups, but only when a male co-teacher is present and active in the scenario. Women can write books and Bible studies, and men can read those books and Bible studies and learn from the women who wrote them, but her physical, real-life, verbal delivery of the exact same material isn’t okay. Women can teach mixed-gender groups in Bible studies, but not on Sundays and not from the pulpit, because that’s preaching, not teaching. Women cannot be pastors, under any circumstance. Women can go overseas and preach the gospel to anyone they come in contact with, but on American soil, it’s a different story.

See what I mean?

There are many parts of me that wrestle with this, and not from a place of wanting power or control or even to be perceived as “equal” to men. I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions about women who struggle with the role of women in the church. While I know for sure that there are women who desire power and control, I can tell you from a very personal place that it’s not the case for all of us.

For some of us, Jesus is just All of the Big Things and we have All of the Big Feelings about him and we are literally ACHING to share it from every possible platform. With our words and with our actions and with our love. With everyone. Women, men, children, friends, strangers. And it feels so awkward and weird and hard that there seem to be so many limitations about how we can share all that stuff, and with whom. It is a truly disorienting disconnect. Like we’re exactly what we’re supposed to be, we’re truly mad about this man who flipped the entire world upside down with the biggest of all Loves. And at the same time, we’re not what we’re supposed to be because we don’t know how to manage it within the boundaries we’ve been told are acceptable. We’re not what we’re supposed to be because we’re not 100% sure that we buy into the boundaries at all. We’re not what we’re supposed to be because we want our voice and our Jesus-story to matter, to be heard. Because we believe someone else, maybe even a man, needs to hear it. Because we believe that we were made (as women) in God’s image, and we see His heart in a uniquely feminine way that’s real and true and valuable. Because we don’t know how to see God’s image in its entirety until we see it from all angles.

And I know this isn’t the case for all women. There are these astonishingly beautiful women in my life, women who are wives and mothers and lead women’s ministries and children’s church and support their husbands in their ministries, and they are absolutely stunning pictures of God’s image. They are in their niche, doing exactly what they were created to do, even when it’s not easy. Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not in any way think that women who fit easily into that profile are women who love Jesus any less than I do. Not for a second. They are some of the most inspiring, generous, courageous, passionate people I know and they are changing the world by being exactly who they are. They’re warriors. And I know that they are fighting battles of their own, insecurities of their own. Feeling like their gifts are insignificant or wrong or don’t matter much.

And that, I understand completely. Anytime we compare our gifts or callings to those of another, it can feel very much like we don’t belong. For women who don’t fit seamlessly into the shape of wife, mother, women’s ministry, children’s ministry, it can feel as though we’re prideful and selfish and engaged in a power struggle that’s really just indicative of our own sinful desires. When genuinely, even in our worst moments, at the bottom of our hearts, this is the issue: We. Freaking. Love. Jesus. He has messed us up, and put us together, and he is creating and recreating us. And we suck at boundaries, and we feel like if there’s one place they shouldn’t even exist, it should be in our love for and sharing of Jesus.

So what about you? Are there any places in your life where your passions and loves mean that you don’t really know where you fit?

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on life reimagined, as not-a-mama

It’s funny to me how sometimes, your least proud moments become the moments you’d give anything to get back. To dive deep into them, soak up all the beauty you didn’t see at the time, breathe deep, taste long, savor.

I was wrapped in Italian sheets, four feet away from a window overlooking one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen, lying in a hotel bed in Venice with a beautiful friend who is more sister than friend. As picturesque as that moment sounds in words and after the fact, the beauty was entirely lost on me.  I remember the feeling thinking my heart was going to explode. Counting down from three many, many times over in an attempt to get myself to say the words out loud.

I think I might be pregnant.

Finally, I spilled them, along more tears and shame than I could wrap fist or heart around. That moment held so much shame for me for so long, because it meant admitting that I’d gotten caught up in something pretty damn high on the heirarchal list of sins that I’d grown up on. I wasn’t married. I wasn’t even engaged. I was dating a man for whom I’d fallen hard and fast, all blue eyes and straight teeth and big thoughts and wild promises.

That man was everything. He still is, while we lie on our sides in bed at night, skin to skin and holding hands, wedding rings clinking against one another. He’s always been something magical, always had something magical that no one else had.

And so at 23, after years of being the girl who could shut down the progression of physical intimacy without batting an eye, I gave the first of everything I had to that beautiful man.

I have had the shame that comes so naturally to a people pleaser when she makes a questionable decision. For a long time, I had shame, but I have never had regrets. Not once.

And so there I was, shaking and afraid, telling my best girl that I thought I might be pregnant. And I hated that moment. I actively, truthfully hated that moment. 

And today, I feel no hesitation in telling you that I would give most anything to get that moment back.

Because in that moment, I believed it could be that simple. That we could have sex and I could simply get pregnant, stay pregnant, have a child, start a family. It didn’t look like hope at the time, but looking back on it, there was hope abundant in that statement–I think I might be pregnant–and I didn’t even know it. I never thought to look for the hope, because all I could see was the shame.

Today, I feel no hesitation in telling you that I would give most anything to have that gut feeling that I was going to give my forever love a child. Even if it would have been out of the prescribed order. Because it’s been three years tomorrow. Three years since we stopped trying not to have a kid. Two years since we started trying to have a kid. And somewhere along the way, I have stopped having that feeling, the one I had in Venice, like I might be a mama some quickly-approaching day. Like I might finally give birth to the possibilities I feared years ago, when I was young and short sighted.

I can’t tell you the last time I had that feeling, that combination of sheer terror and boundless potential. 

And I am caught in an impossible tension, because I am a lover of adventure. I am a lover of new dreams and life reimagined. But to reimagine this dream requires the grieving of another. Grieving that doesn’t stop. Grieving that is triggered every single month, like clock work. Grieving that doesn’t allow for days off of work. Grieving that doesn’t call for casseroles and flowers and drop-in visits from friends just to check in. Grief that feels almost inappropriate in its very existence, because no one really knows how to talk about it, including those of us grieving. 

But I know it’s a conversation that needs to be started, because Josh and I aren’t the only ones. We’re not the only ones vascillating between the hope that it might happen and the reality that the life we’ve dreamed about may not be ours. Between the thrill of the unknown and the fear of it.

Because we know. I know. I get that our life doesn’t begin and end with the existence of a child who is biologically ours, or the lack thereof. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep a grasp on that, particularly in a culture where it’s easy to feel like being part of a traditional family unit is a mandatory part of being a Christ follower. It is a hard and daily choice to lean into my identity, not as mother, not as wife, not as daughter, not as sister, not as friend, not as teacher, musican, writer…but as His.

And I guess that’s kind of where we all are, really. Regardless of what it looks like, we’re all just learning the same hard and lovely thing.

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ love and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.”

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a warm drink and few good reads

I am a little bit in love with the world of blogging.

Because, in my experience, it is the one place where it’s basically impossible to feel lonely for too long.  There are so many voices out there, people.  Beautiful voices who are saying really important things, things worth hearing.  There are people who are saying two very, very important words with their stories and their lives:

Me too.

They say it to me all the time, and if you look long and hard enough, I am certain that there are people out there saying it to you as well.  No matter who you are, where you are, or how long you’ve been feeling like you’re probably the only person who and where you are…you’re not.  Search the voices, and find your “me too” tribe.

Today, and probably a lot in the days to come, I will share a few of my favorite “me too” moments.  These kinds of stories, these kinds of voices, are the reasons I sit down as often as possible with a warm drink and an open heart and some time on my hands.  Some of them will be new, some will be old, but all of them will speak, if you have a moment to listen.

Please understand from the onset that I don’t edit the blogs I read for language.  If you’re looking for a person who values the idea that this messy, dirty, unfathomably broken world can or should always be expressed in pristine language, you’ve unfortunately got the wrong girl. However, it’s never been my intention to offend or disrespect those whose convictions run parallel to my own, so I like to put a disclaimer out there.

 

“Teachers- you’ve got a million parents behind you whispering together: ‘We don’t care about the damn standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind. And we thank you. We thank you for saving lives.'”

I just recently found Momastery, and every word out of this woman’s mouth is a heart-stopping brand of gold to me.  I have long harbored the suspicion that in order to love messy people well, we have to live our own messiness out loud.  I have yet to find anyone who does that with the grace and audacity that Glennon Melton does.  Her words and her story and her heart are shocking and brave and beautiful, and she gives me hope that my own loud messiness can help others heal.

“For me, the process of rebuilding and redefining has taken time, and it’s something I continue to struggle with and work through. And looking back, there’s a million other ways I could have done it.

 

But I didn’t.

 

And Grace found me anyway.”

I just discovered Addie’s blog this week, and I cannot even start to put words to all of the me-too moments I’ve had in reading her story.  She is a questioner and a cynic who grew up in a very similar evangelical culture to my own, and she is a lovely example of what it means to be a questioner and a cynic who is caught in the arms of grace and Jesus.

“Then Sabo I say it brave, my voice refusing to shake as it stands in the truth: God looks at you and he looks at me and he sees exactly the same thing – the righteousness of Jesus. 

Sabo laughs a little, shaking his head. Truth be told, it’s a little bit of a hard pill for me to swallow too. How can we be the same when I’ve done so many GOOD things and he has done so many BAD? But the gospel stares me in the face, with deep brown eyes and a stubborn set to his jaw. Because ALL sins nailed at Golgotha. Not just mine, not just his. All of them. And the ground stands surprisingly level here at the foot of the cross.” 

I have never met Becca, but it took me about two of her blogs to understand that our hearts beat the same rhythms of grace for the same brand of kiddos, and that she knows how quickly that grace-beat can tear up your whole heart and your whole view of life and faith and grace.  

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It feels impossible to write down how I got here, how I got to all of these bitter and hard places with God and the church.  Because I know that if I were to say this to my sweet mama, her pure-intentioned heart would be broken, because it’s genuinely not how she and Dad meant for me to see it all, this business of faith.

But I know I have to.  I know I have to learn to separate myself from that feeling of guilt in speaking the truth.  I have to put it all down anyway, because regardless of intention, it’s my story.  Everything I do and say and believe is tangled up with it, and it’s time to work out the knots.

I grew up with the suspicion that God’s love for me was directly related to my ability to perform well, to not screw up.  To live a squeaky clean life on the outside, even if that meant my outside and inside couldn’t ever match.  Even if it meant that, on some level, I spent 100% of my time lying.  We never called it that, clearly.  But the older I get, the more I am convinced that when your outside doesn’t match your insides, you are living smack in the middle of a lie of monstrous proportions.

Maybe that’s what this is, ultimately.  Me learning to fight for truth.  For my truth.

I remember waking up Sunday mornings, putting on a dress, a little makeup.  Making sure I was perfectly presentable, but not pretty or alluring enough to be distracting.  But always, that dress or skirt.  Because God wanted my best, and for a teenage female in my world, that meant dressing up for church.  For the longest time, it never struck me as strange, being the only version of reality and truth I’d ever encountered.  It never struck me as strange that our pastor referenced the Scripture that talked about how God looks not on the outside but on the heart.  It never struck me as strange that the same man who preached that sermon also shamed a woman for wearing a pant suit to our church; a woman who stopped coming.

And no one said anything.  No one openly questioned it.

The more I think about that, the more angry I get.  Mostly because I find it completely representative of that church culture, of my raising.  That God wants our best, deserves our best, and when God says He wants and deserves our best, He mostly just meant that He wants us to look our best, needs our lives to look their best.  He mostly cares about how things appear.  Because essentially, we are God’s PR people, and it’s our job to paint a pretty picture, even if the canvas is rotting.

That’s why so many people don’t fit, I think.  Why there is no place for anyone who doesn’t fit the mold, who lacks the desire or the ability to just fall in line.  Because to some degree, it’s easier to worship the mold, to worship a cleaned-up appearance of God, than it is to actually worship a messy, wild God that none of us can even pin down.

And I’m smart enough to know it’s not that black and white.  I know that this world has been home to billions of people who have experienced God in a billion unique ways, and I know these beautiful, maddening people who raised me really DO see God in this mold.  I know the mold has helped them make sense of God and faith, and isn’t that what we’re all looking for in our own imperfect way, really? I know that hurt doesn’t cancel out grace, and I know there will be a day when the grace will feel weightier than the hurt does to me.

But for everything there is a season.

Today I’m in the middle of a season of hurt.  On behalf of myself, a girl who spent decades trying to stuff a massive soul into a tiny frame.  A spirit with sharp and fragmented edges simply does not fit in that world, and for years I lived with the hand-me-down philosophy that since the mold was one purely of God’s making, it had to be me that was broken and in need of fixing, so I could fit into it.

Today I’m in the middle of a season of hurt.  On behalf of the wandering ones, the friends I grew up with who sensed the same things I do, felt the same skepticism and disillusionment, but weren’t ever found by someone able and willing to suggest a new approach to God and faith.  The ones whose hurt whispered you don’t belong here…give it up one too many times, until they simply believed it, and did.

Today I’m in the middle of a season of hurt.  On behalf of all the people who have missed out on precious people and precious experiences because those people and experiences didn’t fit the mold.  The ones for whom fear won out, fear of what might happen if they let themselves really, truly Jesus-love someone who didn’t fit the mold.  I know the beauty those people have missed out on, and my heart aches at their loss.

Today I’m in the middle of a season of hurt.  On behalf of God Himself, for all the times His heart has been missed, so that we could water things down to a level we can understand and quantify for ourselves and others.  For all the times we’ve forgotten that Jesus once said that whatever we do to the least of His kids, we do to Him.  When we neglect them, we neglect Him.  When we refuse to try to see their hearts, we refuse to try to see His.  When we submit them to a system of scales and balances and find them wanting and therefore unworthy of our genuine love, we find Him wanting and therefore unworthy of our genuine love.

Which was the one thing He asked of us above every single other thing.

to love God more than the mold

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