This post stems from a burden deep inside my soul. It is a burden for those of us who call ourselves sisters-in-Christ. For those of us that aknowledge that there is nothing in us that is really good even in our best efforts...that we need a Savior and have found one in the Lord Jesus. It is a burden that has been awakened recently through conversations that I've had with beautiful friends. All of whom come from different backgrounds but love the Lord and have been found in Him. Please keep this in mind as you read. My intention is always to encourage. Always. There are things about the Christian faith that can not be unwound from each other because if we do that then we have unwound it all and have nothing to call Christian. Those things, I do not wish to address here. Those foundational truths aren't up for debate. This, all of it that I have written, is something I struggle with and have for years. It is not something I am proud of and want to be free of. Lets just say I'm done. I am so over it. Done! And yet, it's still a struggle...and perhaps as you read you'll find yourself here with me too...
I know there is a lot to complain about when it comes to church. I mean really, people, if we could just get our act together and stop being so hypocritical people just might get saved. That's what I read and hear all the time anyway.
Except, that we can't.
That's kinda the point isn't though isn't it? That we just can't get our act together. That we have this superb need inside our very selves that just can't do it all alone...a need that is so much greater than the act of going to church or trying to be good. Say it with me: We. Need. Jesus.
There's no hiding it. Oh, I know we try. We try and try and try. Just like the little engine that could. "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can," we say to ourselves as if we can just think ourselves out of that big hill in front of us. I know it's trendy to talk about how messy we are and how much we need Jesus. I'm not trendy (ask my friends) or hip or anything associated with cool (ask my kids). It's more than messiness. But messiness is not my point here (well, not in this post anyway.)
Here's my point: the church is made up of broken, hypocritical people (and if you're going to church and don't know you're broken you've got a big problem... only broken people need fixin'...just sayin'). I'm the first to raise my hand to agree to this. BUT and this is a huge BUT (thus the capitol letters) these people are beautiful because Jesus has taken these broken, desperate people and made them beautiful.
Like my friend Gab. who writes over at Dishes and Dreams. She's a wife (like me), a mom (like me), writer (like me), Jesus lover (like me), struggler (like me) and sends her kids to public school (not so much like me). And I love her for it.
And here is why: she is a kindred spirit. She is my sister in Christ. She is my family. I look at her and I see someone who Christ bloodied himself on a cross for. I see a woman who wants, above else, to love Him with her whole heart. And I've known her all of 8 months. If nothing else we have Christ in common. As broken and messed up as church can be, there is an unseen beauty here. Can you see it?
Many days I miss that.
I don't see a soul who Jesus died for. I see someone to put myself up against and to compare myself to. I don't see that she is "fearfully and wonderfully made." And then my faith becomes about what I think others are doing or not doing and what I "should" be doing in light of what others are doing or not doing. And I go around shoulding (yes, shoulding it's a new word my friend Louise made up for just this reason...add it to your vocabulary and don't do it to yourself, please) all over myself and forgetting Jesus in the process.
And then there pride right? The kind that assumes that if I'm doing well because I'm doing all the "right" things the "right" way and if everyone (especially that woman in the checkout with the screaming kid) would just do what I am doing then all would be right in the world.
Ok right about now I feel I must include a disclaimer...again. Ya'll know where I stand or at least if you've read anything round these here parts, I think I've made it clear. There are things that are black and white. There are things central to the Gospel message that cannot and should never be cast aside for the sake of post modernism's favorite quotes: "well, whatever works for you is best for you." That's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about things like: cloth diapering, using essential oils, gluten free eating, clean eating, shopping at Wal-Mart, feeding your kids things that have dye in it, bedtimes (like when you put your kids to bed and where they sleep), playing sports and how much time to put into these activities, public school or homeschool (yup, I said it), how clean my house is, how much time do my kids watch TV or do we even have at TV, can a mom work, if a mom works should she work only from home....seriously, the list could go on...and on....and on...and on but I won't do that to you b/c I KNOW you have your own list.
This list of things that you're passionate about. These things that the Lord has lead you to. You have taken the steps and the Lord has directed your path toward. And in no way do I mean to diminish the important value in some of the things on my list. Certainly, they are valuable things (well, mostly) to be talked about and above all, prayed over between you and your husband and/or church family. I know you are like me, doing your best to "work out your own salvation" as Christ works in you. I love that word own used in Phil. 2:12 by the way. Own, as in yours...not any one else's. Like leave theirs alone and work out your own!
Anywhoo, these things, like the things on my list are important to us as well they should be, but they should never hinder us from seeing the person on the other side. We miss out on so much when we miss the person behind the position. Because here's the thing: I would have missed Gab 7 years ago. I would have disagreed politely with her (in my mind) and her huband's decision to put their kiddos in public school and probably done my best not to get into a deep friendship with her. Not because of anything she had done but because I so wanted to be validated in all of my decisions in my life (hello, Facebook but that's a whole nother post). I didn't want to be challenged. I would have missed a kindred spirit. I would have also been easily offended at her most recent post on her sweet blog which is not at all offensive.
I know, I know, you might be thinking, "Goodness, kari should we all just hold hands and sing Kumbya?!" NO! That's not the point here. The point is grace. Grace, Grace God's grace...The point is that all of us have got to stop this craziness (I'm including myself in us here.) It is stealing our joy, leading us to despair or puffing us up in our pride. I realize there are going to be people we look up to...that we admire. Gab is one of those people for me. However, there is no cookie-cutter believer out there. No one-size-fits-all. Our lives will look similar in many ways but because God is so amazing, He didn't intend for us to be working out all out the same way. Amen? Amen!
So go ahead and stick to your positions but remember the person. Chew over and be challenged by what Gab has to say over at Dishes and Dreams, but mostly seek the face of Jesus and lay your decisions that impact your life and dear ones at His feet, as you come to him begging for wisdom as if it is the gold you desperately need to survive another day. At the end of the day, that's what matters most anyway right?!
PS the lack of photos is depressing me too. just go check out Gab and her lovely photos and maybe pray that I'll dust off my DSLR and get around to taking some "real" ones sooner rather than later.