I’m about to get personal.
I know, I always do. It’s my nature to let it all hang out and this post has been rattling around in my heart for years. Like, seriously. A long time.
Before I go any further, I have to tell you….I’m deeply indebted to so many people that have walked alongside me in my faith path. I’m not where I should be, but I am certainly trying to get where God wants me to be. Every day.
In my teen years when my heart was pliable and mold-able, some really dedicated leaders loved on me and helped plant the Love of Jesus in my heart. It worked. I fell hard and in my own foolish ignorance, bumbled around trying to figure out just how to do this Christian believer lifestyle. I lived in a house of unsaved people. Following Jesus was going to be really tricky. Plus, I was a brand new Christian. I didn’t know how to be Christ-like. So, I joined the ranks of other followers and did what they did. Talked like they talked. Acted like they acted.
DANGEROUS. SHEEP-LIKE. NORMAL.
Fast-forward many years. I met a guy, he loved Jesus and we fell in love. We walked the aisle, said, “I do!” and started our happily ever after. Kids came along and we thought we were doing all that God required of us to live a happy and blessed life.
Then, we got restless. We started to wander. Life as we knew it didn’t feel complete. Something needed to happen. So, we hooked our wagon to seminary and took off for the ministry.
My first few weeks at Bible college were filled with anxious thoughts. Not thoughts of – did we make a mistake? But, thoughts of – What am I doing here? I’m a tiny little baby Christian and I don’t know anything about this great big God. I’m weak. I’m naive. I’m simple. I’m not Bible savvy. I’m just a normal gal.
It seemed like every person I met had a super power of Bible knowledge and I was way behind the curve. I prayed for God to help me not feel so insecure. I knew what I needed to do to change that was study God’s Word. So, I did that with a house full of babes. I read my Bible and I studied every lesson I could find. God provided other women for me to lean on and grow alongside while I was there. Those friendships are still solid and longstanding because they were genuine and linked to a common desire – to know and love God more.
They were authentic.
We left seminary because that’s what happens. God sends you out to do THE WORK of ministry. We were warned. We were cautioned as to what REAL LIFE could and would do to our fragile egos and ministry muscles. Like an obstacle course of Jesus Ninja Warrior, the real ministry trenches challenge you. Just when you think you’ve made it to the buzzer goal, you slip and fall. Ministry life bruises you and knocks you around. It leaves marks on your heart and mind that take a long time to heal. It feels like it’s going to kill you some days. It’s also amazing.
And that’s just what ministry is like in the American church. Don’t even get me started about crossing an international line of safety. That’s hard work. That’s hard living. That’s struggle. My life, not even worth comparing to the missionaries of this world. God, love them hard.
We didn’t stay long. We slipped out, quietly around year 10. Something we were warned would happen. Ministers leave the church and its people at record numbers. Churches are unhealthy and so are some in ministry. We’ve seen both. Sadly, we’ve experienced hurting churches and deeply hurting leaders. Satan has tricked and trampled many and continues to wreak havoc on those trying to live for Christ. We weren’t any better.
It’s been about 8 years since my hubby was called Pastor and our kids PK’s. We’ve missed it and then we’ve boasted at how we made it out alive (barely). I have no clue if we’ll ever go back or why we ever would (except, Jesus). I just know, that the past I’ve lived has jaded me.
I long for authenticity.
No matter where we’ve lived or what jobs we’ve worked, I have searched for those that are genuinely sold out for Christ. Oh, there are plenty who call themselves followers or Christians. But the ones who are truly authentic have been rare. Why? I don’t know. I used to think that I was just from another planet. Not literally, but culturally. The south is known as the Bible Belt and just about everyone I know…loves Jesus. Moving north felt a little like I was leaving behind the open trust of living out loud for the Lord.
Honestly, it felt like most people were ashamed of loving Jesus. Like, it was something to keep a secret. Or to yourself.
So, I fell into that hush hush society behavior too. And I felt miserable.
Christians do a great job of being so-so. Me included.
I love God. I am totally His. I don’t have anything to lose for loving Him and yet…..I live like I don’t even know Him some days. I’m ashamed.
He is never ashamed of me, ever.
This topic is heavy, I know. Who wants to fess up to being a lukewarm Christian? I’ve been one and I’ve let my faith sit stagnant on a back burner for too long. Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t offer rest to His children who wander aimlessly. He lovingly allows discomfort and even misery to keep us linked to Him and our true calling in this janked up world. (Welcome, Holy Spirit)
Thank you, Lord.
Here’s what I want you to know – I am just like you. I’m selfish, greedy, foolish, quick to judge, easily angered, wishy-washy, broken, needy and full of myself. I brag about my guaranteed spot in the Kingdom and still I fall flat on my face when it comes to sharing the Gospel. I live with all the blessings God has to offer and I miss out on a million chances to be the face of Jesus to a hurting world. I do a great job of living FOR WANDA!!
And when life gets rocky….. I cry out for help, from G O D !
I’m pathetic. I’m exactly the opposite of what I want in others around me, AUTHENTIC! I want real and I want to be real, to myself….to God and to those around me.
The reality? I can’t do that on my own. I will more than likely fall short. I’ll mess up. I’ll break in two and that’s okay. The Christian faith is a journey.
I’m dedicated to being authentic. Please be patient with me while God works and continues to mold me into the person He wants me to be.