Friday, July 18, 2014

Dear Church, I'm #Messy

Dear Church,

In some ways this resembles a love letter. Well, not exactly love. More like a "breaking up from love" letter. It is a letter I've had inside me for a while...

...but it takes guts to spit this out.

And I don't usually have guts.

Funny thing though, once I came to grips with the leaving part, the spitting it out part is coming easier.

I'll never forget the day we fell in love. Not the first day we met, but the day I was struck in the heart with a deep fondness for you. It surpassed superficial attraction. It sparkled with a newness and life and grace...yes, grace. That day seems shadowy now, far away and a bit vague. So much has happened and so many names, situations and circumstances have torn at our relationship. It's hard to make out what's left of it. It is badly damaged, which is why I'm writing to you. I'm leaving you. Saying that takes guts. But saying it also takes an awareness of freedom. Freedom that, ironically, you taught me.

Too Hot To Handle

Photo Credit: Bangor Daily News
I know you want answers. I'm sure you would like to know the reasons why. In time, they may come. For now I only know that the overwhelming reason is, I feel like I'm too messy. I've become too much of a problem and what some might call "high maintenance."

I have not said the right things or done the right things. My Christianity did not measure up, my theology was off and my idols were too hot to handle.

Put it all together and I was not good enough, not sane enough, not balanced enough, not tame enough.

I saw it in your eyes each time I exposed the truth of who I really am.


Gospel Reassurance

Friends that know me tell me I look better and seem healthier. How is it that the further I get from religion, the better I feel? How is that? How is it that the sun looks brighter and the landscape looks more diverse? How is it that my freedom feels fuller and my anxieties seem smaller? I am quite sure it has more to do with me than the church. 

This is the reality of my mess right now. As I've said before, I am forcing myself to write in the midst of it, not on the other side of it. I am trying to express the gritty, raw and not so pretty realities of this Christian life. Someone asked me last night,

"Are you reading your Bible?" 

"No."

He pressed, "Are you praying?"

"No."

Shocking, I know. But it's the truth, in all it's messy glory. Here is what I am coming to understand though. God has not changed. None of this catches Him off guard and He is able to handle it all. Every last drop of mess. You see, the religion of the triune God is not cookie cutter. The Christian walk is not easy, not sane, not routine, and there is no template. All of this is of great comfort to me now.

I don't know much of anything right now. But this I count on,

If the gospel is what it says it is - radical one way love for rebels like me - then I don't have anything to worry about. 

I don't have to wring my hands over my prayerlessness right now. I don't have to narcissistically focus on getting my Bible reading act together. God's got this. That is what I'm banking on. If everything I've believed, talked about and written about is true - that God's hot pursuit of me will outrun my attempts to squirm away - then I can relax. 

And breathe...

I have posted this quote before, but it is one I needed to read again:

“Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last 'trick', whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.
'But how?' we ask.
Then the voice says,
'They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'
There they are.
There *we* are -
the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life's tribulations, but through it all clung to faith.
My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.”
Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out

So, there it is. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I won't see you Sunday. I'm not sure when we will see each other again. But I know,

God's got this.

Sincerely,

A so wanting to be faithful, defeated, soiled by life, bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life's tribulations, but clinging to faith christian. 


4 comments:

  1. I so loved this! Cried most of the way through it. Can relate to most of it. And also, best quote ever! - Jenn (a fellow so wanting to be faithful, defeated, soiled by life, bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life's tribulations, but clinging to faith christian)

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    1. thank you...we can trust together that this crazy radical gospel is true, clinging all the way :)

      blessings friend,
      Lori

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  2. Beautifully written Lori...and yes he does...we are ALL a testament to that.

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    1. i appreciate your encouraging words and thankful you stopped by!

      blessings,
      Lori

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