Recently, I had the pleasure of a long-overdue coffee with a sister in Christ and she mentioned how churches need both “progressives” and “conservatives” in order to thrive. “Too many Progressives”, goes the theory, “and we’re always changing and moving but sacrifice tradition.” Too many Conservatives, it goes to follow, “and we’re set in our ways and never make good changes.”Continue reading “Unpacking righteousness and our individual versions of morality”
So I went ahead and created a Facebook page and had all these great intentions to write daily and purposefully when suddenly, Other Stuff Hit.
And then suddenly, I realised I couldn’t publish anymore. Not in my actual name anyway. It’s one thing to have a stream of consciousness documented in the public domain when the most scandalous thing to report is our uphill battle with toilet training The Younger.
It’s quite another when it’s about a very personal journey that involves your former truths crumbling to dust and the utterly bewildering and lonely experience of figuring out where your next steps should be.
That’s cryptic. Even as I type now, I’m wondering how much to divulge. The last two years have been a marathon that’s continually tested my stamina, my optimism, my thick skin and my courage. Meanwhile, my most entrenched ideas of what it means to be a Christian and a woman have been repeatedly called into question — along with my motives, my attitudes, my faith in God, and my character. I now swear more than I ever have in my life. I’ve lost a lot of friends. (That’s unrelated to the swearing but it probably doesn’t help.) Then again, I’ve found new ones in the unlikeliest corners of my life. If anything, the last few years have crystallised who my truest friends are. And while it’s been spiritually, mentally, and emotionally bruising to find out that the set of people I’ve relied upon don’t actually fully overlap with the set of kindred who continue to come through for me, the new relationships and the depths of honesty and authenticity I’ve found in brand new quarters have renewed my faith in God’s humanity.
Church is bigger than church, y’all. And God is the biggest of all.Continue reading “So what’s next”
I’ve been on a small Facebook fast. It started out as a cold-turkey thing that eventually evolved into a 5:2 diet.
I am finally sorting through my mother’s things in earnest. Yesterday, I woke up with a keen sense of wanting to get things done, and the feeling didn’t pass by this morning. After a very slow start to the morning (try rushing a toddler, while still respecting her limitations and independence), I almost bulldozed husband and child out the door, before settling down to fill up boxes.
I’ve only stopped because of this poem scribbled on a slip of paper. My mother, I am learning through this packing process, kept a lot of journals and prayer diaries. She didn’t blog and didn’t do the whole Dear Diary… but God was her diary, her sounding board, her fount of wisdom. Really.
For those of you who think I write well, for those of you who keep urging me to write a book, I just want you to know that this ability to put thoughts on paper came from somewhere. In this last week, I’ve only just really come to understand how much I’ve always been my mother’s daughter.
I found this poem that she had scribbled on a scrap of paper about 25 years old (can tell from the letterhead), and even though she didn’t compose this one, it could just as easily have come from her heart.
A Real Christian
A real Christian is an odd number anyway.
He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen,
talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see,
expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another,
empties himself in order to be full,
admits he is wrong so that he can be declared right,
goes down in order to get up
is strongest when he is weakest,
richest when he is poorest and
happiest when he feels worst.
He dies so he can live,
forsakes in order to have,
gives away so he can keep,
sees the invisible, hears the inaudible and knows that which passes knowledge.
~ A.W. Tozer
This morning, I woke up with a complex.
Usually, I wake up because Arddun’s been calling or crying in her room and when her Daddoh finally frees her from her cheery white prison bars, the first thing she does is run over to me and squeak, “Hi Mumma!”
And that still happened today. But this morning, I also woke up with a complex. And it all had to do with this blog, or rather, what I project from it.
Sometimes, I get depressed that I am not the poster child for Christianity. I still fret. I still say the wrong things, I still think the wrong things, I injure others – sometimes deliberately. Often, I look at myself and my life and my impulses, and wonder how I dare to claim I’m in the field of public relations and marketing. Because I am not the poster child for Christianity.
I woke up this morning and wondered if blog posts like this very one I’m writing are counterproductive to the cause for Christ. Because if I’m a Christian, and I believe I’m washed and shiny and new, then why am I still so insecure? I woke up this morning and wondered if perhaps I am being too honest. Too quick to air my dirty laundry, to turn my insides outside and talk about how I continue to struggle as a wife, as a mother, as a Christian. Because the consummate PR thing would be to talk about the good and the great. To project effortless joy and quiet confidence, to talk only about the upside because there should ONLY be an upside to living a life in Christ.
Except, it has always gone against my conscience to project nothing but the smooth veneer of polished Christianity. Especially when I am not a smooth, polished, glib Christian. Not by a long shot.
This. This struggle is one that I mull over often, because I wonder about the cost of brutal honesty. And yet it strikes at the very heart of my personal identity. The biggest insult you can ever give me is to question whether my insides match my outsides, because I hate to think myself a hypocrite and I work very hard at not being one. I fiercely guard my authenticity and my sincerity. I don’t ever want to live a double life. Or a quadruple life – a version at home, a version at work, a version in church, a version at Mother’s Group. I understand that there are layers of ourselves we reveal to others over time, like the peeling of an onion. I am the same. But it is always important to me that I never fake out.
And yet, in always being stark and honest to those closest to me about my sins and struggles, I wonder if I’ve inadvertently turned them away from seeking Christ. Has my word-of-mouth advertising for the flawed Christian life that I lead so uninspiring a product that it’s gotten them to try out the competitor’s? They say that your personal walk with God is the greatest evangelism tool there is, and yet my track record for baptisms hasn’t been great – so maybe it’s telling me something about my PR spiel. “Lighten up, Blogger. You’re scaring away the tourists.”
And yet, it is so, so, SO important to me that my friends and loved ones know about ALL of it. That it’s not all Happy Clappy because sin sits at the door like horrid spiders waiting to come in and spin webs, and that’s normal. That they see that I fall down all the time, but that I want to get up for Christ – not because I’m this religious powerhouse with a rock solid faith, but because there is a God who forgives plenty and gives me a fresh slate each morning if only I ask. That they wonder how that someone – who continues to muck up big time, who sometimes gets super hurt or disappointed by people in the church, who in turn sometimes hurts and disappoints loved ones and people in the church – still stubbornly holds on to this notion of God. I hope they see that it isn’t blind faith, but a relationship I’ve entered into with eyes wide open.
That the honesty – blogging about the good and the funny and the bad – is my way of ensuring I don’t glory or boast, except about Christ.
That’s my prayer. That’s my one consolation. That in spite of my life and my tongue, I can still be a poster child for God.