Monday, September 19, 2016

A Golden Lining

I used to think I could be separate from others and still be connected to God. I now reject completely the idea that Christians can be separate and please God. And standing next to each other in church does not mean I am connected. It is entirely possible to be surrounded by people and still be alone. I have lived much of my life that way. I reject the philosophy that asserts that God cares about our goodness, our strength, our faithfulness and that it's enough for us to be "good" for him.

This is an excerpt from the novel I'm trying to write:

I think Christians act according how they imagine heaven to be. I think many Christians have come to believe that heaven will be a blend of country club and orchestra concert. They’re highest goal is to have clean hands, properly clasped, and small appetites for adventure. That is not what I imagine heaven to be. I believe heaven will be like a playground. There will be order, as the playground has rules for sharing and no shoving or hitting. But the playground is also full of loudness and laughter and messes. One child might skin their knee but kisses from our father will set us running again. With encouragement from our Father we will find new courage to conquer the big slide . Two children might fight over a toy but with the guidance of our Father we will learn to be like him, full of goodness and grace. That is why I don’t bother with my buttons or my tie being straight. My heaven has no dinner jackets to practice for.

Yesterday in Church I struggled to worship because many songs we sing are about us feeling happy in God's presence. I continue to hurt in his presence and I no longer see my identity as "strong" or "good." But during worship I heard God tell me that he had allowed me to be broken because that was the only way to break off my false self. The real me was so hidden that even I didn't know it existed, but God did. And he wouldn't settle to love my false self. He wanted the real me- the broken, hurting, bleeding real me. And he allowed me to break so the real me could be found, for my sake, and for his sake of being able to love me fully.  

My identity was built on the foundation that God is good (my definition of good) and that I am strong (my definition of strong). As many of you know from my last post, those two foundations were shaken to the core. So shaken that I thought there was nothing left but empty hopelessness. Because my identity was "strong,"I never allowed myself to acknowledge  emotional pain. I was in denial. I hid my pain so deeply that I often didn't know it existed. And the little I did know of, I never let it out. I kept up appearances and kept people at an arm's length, even Chad. I even kept myself at arm's length. The pain was an area no one, not God, not even myself was allowed into.

I recently heard a sermon from Freedom church, and the pastor said that God does give us more than we can handle. He does that because it forces us to be a community, to rely on each other, and in that community we experience a unique aspect of God. I can say that this is true. It is very hard for me as friendships and openness are difficult for me, but I have felt God's love through others. I have experienced his acceptance because of others. I don't feel alone when surrounded by people...I feel known.

I have since talked with several close friends and with Chad and explained an even deeper version of my pain. All of it. All the pain, the hurt, the fears. I like to have answers and I like to be in control of myself. Being that open took away all my answers and control and left me vulnerable and I was not rejected. In fact, the acceptance and patience and love I received was so overwhelming that my hopelessness is melting. I am still in a lot of pain but I am no longer afraid of facing it alone.

The acceptance of others has allowed me to attribute it towards God. I now know he accepts me as broken. This is how community is meant to work. This is why we were called to be the body of Christ, hopelessly intertwined and dependent on each other.

I continue to struggle daily, but I am no longer afraid. I am no longer alone.

1 comment:

  1. You and Grace and Luke are cyberspace, too.