I’m a person who’s deeply affected by those around me. I notice things they do or say. I am very self conscious. I’m easily intimidated. I over think things. I have pretend conversations in my head. I remember things about people. I learn from their mistakes (sometimes long before they do). I observe them and read them well, usually finding the right questions to ask them. I care about them. I get so excited about other people. I love hearing their stories. I remember things they tell me. Sometimes I scare people with my memory. Usually my memory is a blessing, but if often becomes a curse when someone’s hurt me.
About 2 1/2 years ago, I’d just heard/read stories of Christians being cruel and unkind. That stuff never happened to me. I had never experienced the hate that some people had. Then a few people, claiming to be moved by the Holy Spirit, hurt me very deeply. My wounds still ooze and my relationships still suffer. I had experienced pain from others, but never to this extent, and never while they were talking about God. Thus began a journey of trying to redefine and figure out what it is that I believe. I still don’t know.
It’s been tiresome. I’ve learned a lot about myself and have had to face a lot of the lies I’ve believed. My black and white standards have been shattered. My belief that Christians are some elite, highly moral group has gently been revealed to me as absurd. I used to think real Christians don’t make mistakes, that they don’t sin, and when they do sin, it’s just “small sins.” I grew up hearing that, “if someone is really a Christian, they won’t engage in a repetitive sin. They won’t struggle with/give in to sex/alcohol/lies/cheating, etc.”
Recently I’ve been negative and harsh towards Christians, greeting the title with skepticism and waiting for them to “prove” it. I remember their words (with my annoying memory) and compare it to their actions. I’ve found many Christians are mostly talk. They talk about church numbers and growth of bible study groups, of theology and sermons, but if I rarely hear them talk about how God moved in them this week, or what heart changes God is making in them. I don’t care about how much your church has grown; I care about what God is doing. I crave emotional depth with these people, not theological discussion. I want to see lives changed, to see relationships healed, to see forgiveness.
I now realize the stupidity of where I’ve come from. Christians aren’t perfect. That’s the point; they’re exactly the same as everyone else. They’re a big huge messy, adopted, blended, dysfunctional family.
I haven’t found the ability to pour out grace and love yet. I still greet the name of Christianity with skepticism and am judgmental when I see a Christian doing something stupid or unloving, or not making the effort to love me and get to know me (because I’m selfish).
I also realize I crave emotional depth and deep relationships because I’ve never had them (in the context of church). I judge people who are just “talking big” because that’s what I’ve always done; I’ve always had the right answers, but rarely stepped out in faith to do the uncomfortable, right, loving thing. I’m judgmental because I think their faith is as great (small) as mine. I want to get dirty, to cry, to hurt, but nobody seems interested. They want to live under their umbrella of knowledge and hope their deeds and numbers get them somewhere.
I’m getting close to believing it’s okay to love Jesus, want to be like him, identify myself with the church, and still be disturbed and upset with the state of the church. Because if we truly love Jesus, we’re not going to just sit back and complain about it. If we love him, we’re going to go out there and obey him and do what he said to do (John 14:15).
Is the opposite of this true? If we’re sitting on our bums doing nothing, is this a sign that we don’t love Jesus? That we don’t know him?
I don’t know, and it’s not for me to say. I just need to worry about myself and doing what I know is right.