I do not remember when it happened exactly. But it was as if the glass that had been holding up my fragile faith fell, shattered to a million pieces and exposed the lies I had believed.
My “salvation story” reads as a big news one, or so I’ve been told. Drug addict, four months pregnant, gets saved, God removes her addiction and she is suddenly redeemed.
Those were very high expectations to live up to and there wasn’t alot of Jesus spoken. What was spoken were the truths that others held.
No you cannot be a Christian and vote Democrat.
Cover up your body because it’s your responsibility to protect your brother in Christ from lusting over you.
Oh and those tattoos….. Please read Leviticus
Non Christian music is unholy and not sanctified.
Homeschooling is the ONLY right way.
Homosexuality is the worst sin.
Next to abortion and you MUST stop women from having them.
TV is the devil and so are movies.
Swearing is filthy and God condemns bad language.
You must evangelize wherever you go. Memorize Romans Road so that you are always prepared.
I could go on and on with the things that were spoken whether outright or subtly to me in the first few years of coming to know Jesus.
I was in such a vulnerable spot having swung from one pendulum to another that I was willing to believe anything if it meant not going back to “that life”
Except now I had a baby to take care of and that made things harder. I struggled to see this God that was spoken in the midst of the struggle that Abigail and I were mixed up in. I was told my problem was anger, a parenting problem, a strong-willed and undisciplined child problem. I was a sinner, still sinning.
I needed to pray more, read a book, take another bible study or go to a conference. Then I needed a mentor (dude she was WACK)
I did all of this but there was no clarity, only a foggy and murky puddle of water and I was thirsty.
I would certainly have moments with God where I felt Him move and life was progressing forward.
But forward is different when you look at it later. It was lip service I paid to Christ. When I took communion I thought that was enough. Raising my hands in Worship felt like the right thing to do, my morning scheduled devotions were planned in advance and if they didn’t happen I was angry. Because if you don’t have your morning “quiet time” well then how on earth are you going to reflect Christ to all those lost people (oh how I wish for sarcasm font)
My faith and my story seemed to make sense to everyone but me. I mean I could talk a good talk, share “my story” but what was I really sharing?
Some candy coated version of salvation that church ladies wanted to hear because it made the cross look nice and pretty and sanitized.
Even as it was happening it didn’t feel right. I mean, it was what I wanted. I wanted a platform right? I wanted to be like Beth Moore (shakes head) and man I was working my way up.
Then the shit hit the fan by way of a trip to Africa.
Now I struggle with the theology that God hurts us to heal us, or allows bad things to happen for good so lets just lay that aside for the purpose of this story.
When I was in Africa last summer my view of God began to shatter. I began to see Him as a larger being, that fills time, space, nations and speaks in 2,000 different languages (that’s just in Africa) Worshipping God in a church with men and women who love Him and thank Him when they actually have nothing threw me sideways.
I went to different churches and sang to Him where there were dirt floors, wooden benches, certainly no fog machine and squatty potties. In a language that I did not understand but was more beautiful to me than anything I had ever experienced in America. It seemed as though this is what I had been missing. Bare bones faith.
My heart started to quake and as my view of Him started to change. I came home and my life started to unravel.
Fast forward eight months. It’s now February 2013 and I am about to have brain surgery. Not what I thought was on the agenda for my life but it was a catalyst for actual forward movement.
When one’s life starts to unravel the people who are involved can react in a certain number of ways. Some are great, some just are there in the midst and some suck.
I experienced ALL.
But it was the ones that sucked that showed me that I had been depending on other’s people’s truth’s about Jesus. That I had been absorbing their ideas and interpretations of scripture and logic and had allowed them to become my own instead of seeking out truth for myself. In the midst of spending the five months before my surgery mostly in bed I learned that I had allowed the opinions of others to mold me into who they wanted me to be, rather than who God SAYS I am.
When the wrecking ball hit my life (okay so maybe it was more than a fraction of a second) and one thing after another fell apart and I was left standing bare, vulnerable and naked before God amidst the pieces, it was then I learned who He REALLY is. Based on the truths He had been trying to speak to me all along. Yet I was so hell-bent on following the rules, playing a part and wearing my pretty little church girl mask because underneath was a chaotic, traumatized mess.
It took awhile for me to grasp it though which is funny. It could have been the massive amounts of post op pain meds I was on, which does explain why I don’t remember the month of March 🙂
Yet the moments He used to help me grasp the beauty of His truth and His truth alone are so sacred, so intimate that I am thankful, in a gripping the armrest kind of way that I went through some of those things.
I am still learning, leaning into this God that isn’t wrapped up in a box with a pretty bow on it. The truths that I have found have exposed that He loves with a radical, all-consuming love. A love which has no prejudice or blinders for gender, sexual orientation, race or any identity because He loves all of His children. A love in which no one is put outside the doors because of how they vote, dress, whom they love or where they live.
It is hard to go from one pendulum to another and then stop swinging. I am seeking now to rest in the comfort of knowing that He is who HE says He is and not a list of rules or a copy of a purity clause to follow.
There is a tension though. A lack of in person support for my newfound excitement of fresh faith. Also a lack of people to sit with as I sob because as my friend Caris puts it, it’s like shedding skin and sometimes the shedding hurts.
Beauty in the ugly and out of the ashes rises something new.
Whether it was that fraction of a second moment or one of the wrecking ball ones I am not sure, but He is.
And I can be sure that there will be more moments like that where truth is revealed. In dark moments and in moments where I can say it is well.
I cannot say it is well right now. Maybe I will tomorrow but for now I have the assurance that the God I know now doesn’t expect me to clean up before I pray. And if I scream “FUCK” at the top of lungs during those intimate moments with Him, He’s sure to look at me just the same. As His beloved daughter.
August 13, 2013 at 12:39 pm
wow, Bethany this is so great, you tell it like it is but you don’t jump into self-pity or condemn people…. and I think sorties very much like yours are shared by more people than you’d expect. two thumbs up!
August 30, 2013 at 8:08 am
Yes and yes and yes and yes and YES.
Also, this: “When I was in Africa last summer my view of God began to shatter. I began to see Him as a larger being, that fills time, space, nations and speaks in 2,000 different languages (that’s just in Africa) Worshipping God in a church with men and women who love Him and thank Him when they actually have nothing threw me sideways.”