I’m sitting at my dining room table, the crumbs of another take out dinner close by and the to-do list a mile long. I am very aware of these things. Instead, I breath deep and choose the semi-quiet of an unexpected moment. The cicadas sing outside and I have the heaviness of summers remembered settle down on my shoulders.
I remember the first time it happened as a young adult.
I was in church, beginning to worship God and I saw a person I worked with that was having an affair with a coworker. They were both open about it, he was married with kids and she was beautiful and young.
Honestly, I hadn’t thought of it much before this moment. it wasn’t a “Christian” company and they were so open about it- I didn’t expect them to act in agreement with my personal beliefs and actually thought they were pretty nice people overall. I think regardless of a personal belief system that cheating on a spouse is pretty crappy of you- but outside of my faith, I didn’t expect much of people.
Until I saw him sitting in my church with his wife.
I was confused. wondering if he had broken it off with his girlfriend or if SHE knew he was with his wife. Don’t worry, I get it. “Worry about yourself- the log in your own eye-” GOT IT- and what not, but this is a transparent piece on where I used to be. I was young and grew up in a bubble- this was confusing to me.
Church is for the broken, the desperate a
nd the ones hoping to network in the NWA CPG world. (I digress.) I understood in concept WHO needed to be in church, but if someone was actively engaged in a life pattern that was so in conflict with the core beliefs of almost ANY one- whether secular or in the church- I didn’t know what to think or do.
In that moment, that person became an accidental idol that I fixated on, loosing sight of Jesus.
Hindsight being perfect as such, there are a hundred things I’ve have told myself.
One of the things that happened is that I questioned a lot of things. I had a lot of wrong ideas about who Jesus was and what the church was about very innocently. I let humans get in the way of how big he was. Like a thumb in front of the moon, my smallness was blocking out something so huge.
I realized that over the years, I’ve continued to do this in different ways. Giving humans way too much power over my own responsibility to pursue God. It starts out so innocently, subconscious statements we begin to believe- like,
- “Wow, I completely agree with this person (or author) I’m going to read what they have to say to better define my own belief systems and quote them at church people gatherings.”
- “That sermon was so great because it validated my feelings and now I have talking notes to “prove” my point.”
- “I can’t believe THEY are in church. I need to protect people from them. I almost feel like I should warn people there is a wolf in our midst…”
- “WOW. Those people are SO COOL. They really have it together, embodying the way I feel a Christ-follower should look and sound. I need to try to connect to them because they are living life RIGHT.”
Each of us has a responsibility to pursue God for ourselves, not letting anyone or anything get in the way of that. A newer version of letting someone get in the way of pursuing God started to happen to me as I got older, the idol pendulum swung over to the other side.
The trendy folk. The ones that make Jesus just seem so much cooler. The story tellers and the “authentic” ones that shock us all with the boldness that they live life. I am besotted by the transparent ones, elevating them to idol heights without thinking through what I’m doing- so starved for authenticity that I am BLINDED.
I have to daily choose God and balance. Failing more than not. But I have to choose not be starry eyed over influencers and the cool ones. Because- we are all imperfect. we all make mistakes. and guess what: The ones that talk so openly about their struggles don’t have a better connection to God than I do.
I preach it daily to my weak self:
Stop putting faith in people to tell you what to think and do– as if they know us better than we know ourselves! It is an easy out to take away the responsibility that we have ourselves of listening to God for ourselves and being patient to wait on his voice when he whispers. We look for translators to discern God for our lives- when he speaks freely to each of us. We must pursue the humility of asking for fierce fearlessness and boldness to do his work.
Believe your worth. You are WORTHY. Without blemish or defect. Forgiven and clean. Let go of the shame and failure that drive you to receive the scraps of the words of others to fill you and leave you still staving when the source of THE WORDS is for you as well if you sit silently. God is equal. For all of us.
And this is for YOU-
“That feeling that drives you on, that you listen to and pursue… that place of sometimes anger and thinking you are missing IT, missing something, struggling to find your place and crazy adventure you know God has for you. Don’t settle for another man’s words and guitar strums and VALIDATION. Don’t be satisfied with less and give up the striving! Be still and wait, wait and wait and then finally…you will find him in the least likely place. But- warning friend, he may not look the way you wanted him to. Because he’s sitting with the real broken ones, the disenfranchised and the ones on the fringe. You will find God if you let go of your love of comfort and love for connection and position.”
These words are for YOU, and spoken to me frequently. Because not only do I get this struggle we all have to project God-like qualities on frail humans, I also have to stop myself from pursuing vain temporal glories and the praise of others.
Real living is so imperfectly flawed, untrendy and ugly but worth it. In vain pursuit do we do anything else.