I Am Not a Trashcan

I am not a trash can for your past.

It has been such a long time since I’ve felt like myself. Since I’ve given my soul the space to be who it really is. Since I’ve set boundaries in place so that no one else but God can influence the core of my identity. I let other things come in and take little pieces of me – chip them away and carry them off like thieves. But no more. I am Awake. And I am free. Nothing can tame me, because I stand on the solid rock that is Christ. To people who don’t believe in Him, I’m sure this sounds silly. I’m sure you’re embarrassed for me. But that no longer matters.

I’ve always tried to give the people in my life the benefit of the doubt. I’m not put off by differences or quirks. I like to celebrate who people are and I appreciate the differences and the huge variety in personalities and beliefs that my circle of friends contains. I truly love and appreciate the people who are in my life, even when I disagree with them. Can you do the same for me?

Sometimes I hide what I believe because I feel I have to make up for the bad experiences people have had with Christians. But you know what? If you walk around pinning all of your baggage with Christianity on the people around you, that’s something you need to work through. If your first reflex when speaking to me after you hear that I’m a Christian is to only take what I say half seriously, that’s something you need to think about. I’m not trying to undermine the hurt some have experienced in church or at the hands of Christians. I recognize it and I know it’s a problem. But:

I am not a trash can for your past.

And I can’t keep quiet about this very big and important part of my life, because it is exactly that. Whatever you might believe about the truth or lie of the Bible, God is the reason why I’m still here. He’s the reason why I’m free. He’s the reason why I have the courage to get up in the mornings and face the day. He is the breath in my lungs. He is the lava in my lamp. He is the coffee smell in my coffee. Basically, I love Him. And I shouldn’t have to apologize for that, or justify it, to the people who call themselves my friends – just like I don’t expect my friends to apologize or justify to me why they are who they are.

I lost myself when I started to try and hide Him away. I hate admitting that I even did that, because it breaks my heart to imagine how that must have hurt Him. But this is Attempting Authenticity, and here is where you’ll find raw truth. And there will be no more hiding. I am free.

Photo cred: Debbie Orolowitz.

Advertisements

Hello, My Name is Anakin

I get up and it’s still dark. I stumble to the kitchen and make coffee, still half asleep, and greet my cat when he comes in from his nightly adventures. I take the coffee back to bed with me and prop up my pillows so I can read my Bible. The day starts well.

And then, the more awake I get and the further away from my Bible reading I get, the more my head starts to cloud up. Other things creep in: fear. Guilt. Anxiety. Chaotic thoughts about academics, deadlines, work, life things, whether or not I’m choosing the right thing to do at every moment. The desire to live well and the fear that I will fail. The feeling, the irrational feeling, that if I misstep just a little I will completely veer off the path I’m supposed to be walking on and end up somewhere I was never meant to be. Fear that I will make a huge mistake. Because as self disciplined as I try to be, I am a human being.

This is our condition. We are human beings. When Paul said that he does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he wants to do (Romans 7:15), he was describing our condition. Because no matter what, no matter how hard we try and how many routines and structures and rules and roadblocks we put up around us, we are human, and we will make mistakes. It is inevitable. And it becomes overwhelming and even terrifying, at times, that knowledge that I. Will. Make. Mistakes. Despite my best efforts.

And I struggle. And I doubt. And I worry. And I am uncertain. Because despite what the world would like us to think, it is a fallen world, and there are many things wrong with it. Our struggle is proof that something is wrong. It was not supposed to be this way. And perhaps that is the first step: acknowledging that yes, the world is flawed and the systems are flawed and we are flawed and everything has something wrong with it. Everything is out of sync. It is too easy to do the wrong thing and too difficult to do what is right.

So, yeah, let’s not kid ourselves. It is freaking hard to walk this road. It’s nearly impossible, in fact. We can be real about that, yeah? We are pretty much Anakin Skywalker. It’s just how it is.

But let’s also not forget that we have a God who gets it. His standards are impossibly high, yes. Do you think He doesn’t know that? He is our Creator, literally. He made us. He knows. It’s even in the Bible: we all have sinned and (as it is popularly translated) fall short. We fall short. That’s the point of sending Christ to die for our sins and rise again, defeating them forever.

So instead of making God out to be this horrible, scary, judgmental monster in the sky who is looking for an excuse to punish and kill us, let’s go to Him instead. Because the problem comes when we allow our failures to drive a wedge between us and Him. When we give up. He never gives up, not on anyone. He never gets tired of hearing the same thing over and over. He never stops loving us. He never stops waiting for us. We don’t understand Him and the way He does things, and we never will. We don’t have to. He understands us. He sees us. And despite understanding us and seeing us, He loves us. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. In our brokenness and failure, not after we got all squeaky clean and righteous. In the hole. In the abyss. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So trust Him.

My Heart in Pieces

image

There is something so profound and deeply sorrowful about coming face to face with yourself. When God puts a mirror in front of you, it’s never condemning, but it is heartbreaking. With the most lovingly spoken words he breaks us – not to tear us down, but so that he can build something new in place of the old. He is the Restorer, the Renewer, the Builder, the Maker. When he convicts us and lets us see, bit by bit, our sins and shortcomings and areas-to-be-worked-on, he does it with love. There is no condemnation in his gentle revelation, no judgment or guilt tripping. But that, of course, makes it all the more heartbreaking. Because when you see your sins in front of you as if they are laid out on a table, you are suddenly so aware of the sorrow you’ve inflicted, of the nails Jesus took for you on the cross because of these things, these things in front of you; and yet God does not strike us with lightning or accuse us. He simply says, “Be done with these things so that I can transform you and give you my peace and love.”

We will never be perfect. We will keep on sinning. We will keep on having to repent. But God’s love is truly unending and unconditional; not the way in which we understand those words, but in their true meaning, in their infinite sense. He is God. Let him break your heart so he can form a new one in its place.

A Little Something Like This

Take that book you’re always quoting. Yeah, the Bible. Take it in your hands. Feel the pages, shuffle through, bend the covers. Have you read it through?
Take God’s word in your hands. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word is Jesus. Take Him in your hands. Feel the pages. Those words you fling like weapons, feel them in your hands. God’s word. God. Those words you fling like weapons.
Using them to back up some theology. Using them to judge and hurt and lacerate. Each sting like a whip, taking lines out of context. Have you read it through? Who is God to you? What are you trying to do? Build a kingdom for yourself and prove your intelligence, or humble yourself before the King of Kings? Where is love? What do you want in the end? To convince everyone you’re right at the cost of Christ, or to say what HE says? To be His love, to be His light?

Speaking truth versus speaking lies; they can’t coincide. Choose one and stick by it, don’t defend lies with twisted truth, taking a word here and there. Are you afraid? The Word is fire, refining, unflinching, burning up all impurities. Can you take Him as He is? Can you face Him in all His glory, not the little god you’ve created and put in a box you can carry around like a dog in a purse?

Open your eyes. Open your heart and your arms, stand, terrified if you must, but stand before Him, let His fire rush through. Salve can only be applied when there’s been a fire, soothing can only come when there’s something to soothe. Let your hard heart be broken out of its shell, somewhere – somewhere – there’s still a live, beating one, a pulsing heart.

Integrity; consistency; humility.

Why so determined to make lies out of truth? Only the truth will set you free. What’s more important, God Himself or your theology? Make up your mind and call it like it is. The world needs no more lies, no more rules and regulations, no more burdens. God’s yoke is easy and His burden is light. The truth is in His Word and the truth will set you free. Make up your mind; no more compromise. Choose between pride and God’s freedom, truth, and light; it’s one or the other. Decide.

The Naked Truth

Why are we not real with God? Why do we hide things from Him, as if He doesn’t know already? Why do we think that showing Him our wounds and the rotted flesh of our sin will make Him turn away from us? It is when we don’t show Him our true selves that we feel far from Him.

He is God.

He knocks on the door of our hearts

He sees everything; He knows everything. He knew all the wrong we would do in our lives before the universe was even made. He knew every wrong thing we would do even after we’re saved, even after we’re washed clean by the blood of Christ. All the times we betray Him, deny Him, spurn Him…He knew these things, yet He died for us anyway. Hiding things we are ashamed of only hurts Him and us more, because it prolongs the agony of being separate from Him. He delights in us; He loves us; He sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17). He longs to be with us. When we hide things from Him, just as much as we feel far from Him, He longs to have us face Him again. The moment we let go and lay ourselves open before Him, we feel His healing touch. He does not condemn us or harshly rebuke us; He forgives us and heals the deep wounds sin has left in our lives.

 

Let all be stripped away, Father, only do not let me go from Your holy presence.