So I was chatting with a dear friend the other day, and she was telling me about this new initiative she’s starting, to share with people what she’s learned, to encourage others…in one particular area of life, which she has discovered is her passion.
She’s setting up a website and getting really excited about it, about how it could potentially help and encourage others. I was getting really excited hearing her share too. There is nothing more beautiful or inspiring than seeing someone discover and live out their God-given gifting and passion.
But there’s this one wee aspect of her point of view, which she’s shared is a worry for her. She really believes in what she’s doing, and really, passionately believes that it’s a point of view that would help people, or at least give some perspective.
She’s worried because the point of view she will be sharing – and I won’t go into detail here – may be extremely controversial in some circles she moves in.
Specifically, religious circles. Specifically, churchy people circles.
Sigh. Religion strikes again. It’s robbed so many of so much, century after century after century. And it continues to rob, kill and destroy to this day. In ways both extreme and subtle. We don’t have to go much further than world news to see that being played out in horrifying detail, every moment of every day.
My dear friend is worried that after the work she is doing with this website – once the things she is saying becomes visible to her church, churchy people may at best subtly awkwardly shun her, or at worst outright vilify her as a heretic or worse.
She’s quite concerned about it. Not about what the general world at large will think, but about what churchy people will think, of what she’s got to say.
So sad. That in the one place where there should be freedom, love, acceptance and grace…there is fear of condemnation and rejection.
And I totally understand how she might feel that way. Because I felt that way too, not long ago.
I said to her erm, sooo, what do you think it was like for me to write all those blog posts about my dating experiences last year? Off the back of more than 2 decades of living a ‘model’ Christian Single Girl ‘lifestyle’?
To write all those blog posts about dating (gasp) ‘non-Christians’? Falling in love with a (gasp) ‘non-Christian’? And coming away from that entire experience having lived more, scared the crap out of myself more and learned more about God’s heart and grown more in the depth of my relationship with myself and with God in those few months, than in the previous 23 years?
I said to her I’ll tell you what it was like. It was freaking terrifying. Outing myself like that.
But I did it scared. Most things worth doing are worth doing scared, perhaps.
Before those blog posts, churchy people saw the religiousness of my lifestyle, of my choices, and many deemed me a ‘Good Christian Girl’, by what they saw as a ‘biblical’ standard. Many couldn’t see past that to what was really going on, to the unhealthy fear of closeness that was really driving those choices, and taking my voice away, and keeping my heart shut down, and holding me back in so very many ways.
In writing those blog posts, I took more than 2 decades of mind-numbingly consistent, religious, sensible, goodie two shoes ‘biblical’ behaviour, and called it out for the superficial BS that it was, and, well, *hairflick*. I never liked sensible shoes anyway.
And what was left, was me. In all the glorious messiness of my human frailty. My heart. My truth. My good. My bad. My ugly. My scared. My cheeky. And My Crazy. What was left, was all the real stuff God showed me. The boundless compassion of His heart for every one of us. The incredible creativity He brings to every part of our lives in His pursuit of us…because we are His desire and He wants nothing more than a genuine, life-giving connection with each of us.
Since I wrote those blog posts, I have to say…well, there have been one or two times when I’ve seen a churchy person who may have previously openly celebrated me as a Good Christian Girl, and they now are clearly, well, not all that comfortable around me anymore.
I’m not fitting into their nice tidy little box anymore. But they know, I know they know, that I am So God’s Girl and I love God with all of my girly heart and that God has Got Some Stuff For Me To Do For Him And Say For Him. And perhaps this is perplexing for them. I don’t come in the usual, familiar, comfortable, Christianese’ified ‘package’, so to speak. But that’s their stuff. I don’t judge them for it. I totally get it. I’ve been there. But it is their stuff. It’s not mine. Not anymore.
So whilst, yeah, I have definitely encountered, erm, awkwardness from some churchy people since those blog posts, well, the world didn’t end.
And the dissonance of a few churchy people really doesn’t intimidate me anymore – especially when I’ve received more amazing feedback from people who, understandably, wouldn’t normally go anywhere near traditional religious structure, but who seem to keep reading what I’m writing. They’re not necessarily agreeing with it. But they’re definitely thinking about it, maybe in a different way.
I have also come to realise that the Stuff God Has For Me To Do For Him And Say For Him, well, it’s probably not going to get done or said in a traditional religious structure anyway. Cos I’ve never really fitted into the traditional religious structure. I tried to, for years and years. Yeah, nah, that really, really, like, really didn’t work out for me. At all. But hey. I’d rather be who God made me to be, than try to fit into a box that religion tells me I should fit into.
If there is one thing I have learned in the last year or two, it’s that God was serious when He said that there is No Condemnation in Him. None. But there is grace. So. Much. Amazing. Grace.
He doesn’t just say that stuff for a laugh. He says it because it’s true. And it’s His heart. This grace. For every. Single. One of us.
So to my dear, beautiful-hearted friend. Finish that website. Say what you feel has been placed into you to say. Believe in the Stuff God Has For You To Do For Him And Say For Him, even when it doesn’t fit into a traditional religious structure, and even when it might challenge traditional religious thinking and make some churchy people squirm a little bit. The poorly-informed squirms of a few churchy people will pale in comparison to the many precious lives you will touch and encourage with your heart, your passion, and your desire for their best.
And babe, when you mess up and make mistakes along the way, don’t let it knock you out – that is just a little thing we call Being Human. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself space, room, to be human. To feel what you feel without judging yourself for it. To be imperfect. It sucks that religiousness tries to take that away from us, to condemn us and shame us into silence because of our imperfections. Haters gonna hate. But don’t back down. Give yourself some grace. Learn from your mistakes. And keep going.
Because sweetheart, at the end of the day, it’s between you and your Daddy God. You do You my dear. If He’s called you to Change The Game, then Change The Game. Come what may. Because you totally can. Because you have an amazing, extraordinary, fearless, resilient heart. Love you. Love you loads and loads.