Archive for June, 2013

June 14, 2013

This is not going to be a fun, feel-good post. Just putting that out there. This is also not a personal slam or vendetta against anyone. It’s just me doing what I need to do, saying what I need to say, because I need to say it. Period.

Something a lot of people tell me that a big thing they admire and like about me is my honesty and straightforwardness. I really hope so, because you’re about to get a big dose.

Let me start by asking – have you ever felt desperate? Really, truly, desperate?

Let’s look at the definition real quick just to clarify what I mean when I say that:

des·per·ate, adjective

1.reckless or dangerous because of despair or urgency: a desperate killer.
2. having an urgent need, desire, etc.: desperate for attention.
3. leaving little or no hope; very serious or dangerous: a desperate illness.
4. extremely bad; intolerable or shocking: clothes in desperate taste.
5. extreme or excessive.

Ok, good. That is a perfect and accurate definition.

How do I know, you ask? Because I’m there. Right now. And I’ve been there for months, if not years now.

I’m desperate for community. For transparent, Jesus-centered community.

Several years ago, right after Jared and I were married, we visited a community group at a local church and were awestruck at the immediate fellowship and community we had there. People were totally open, honest, and in it for us and WITH us. We were all in it together. We were a part of that group for 3 years, until, eventually, literally every single family/couple/person moved out of state. We tried out other groups – many others – to no avail. There was always a certain level of formality and facade, and we just couldn’t get past it.

Now, let me include a disclaimer here: I’m not saying that everyone else should always put forth all the effort – you should do YOUR part. Don’t be lazy and sit back and say, ‘everyone has to pursue me while I do nothing’ – but usually, I think it’s safe to say, that you get to know pretty quickly in a social setting who your people are and who they’re not. And if they’re not your people, they’re just not. All the Bible studies and fellowship in the world isn’t gonna change that – and that is ok. God made us all different – one body, many parts. But we ALL have people somewhere.

Especially as believers! Even unbelievers have “people” – people they click with, or people who form relationships easily and quickly..and even people who don’t necessarily have an easy time of it, but are committed to making it happen. How much more, then, should the church have and do those things? How much more, then, should believers make that community a priority? The Gospel necessitates this – we have, of all things in the universe to have in common – the BEST and most WONDERFUL thing in common. We are also commanded in Scripture to have community and fellowship together – and this doesn’t mean, “Waltz into a building once or twice a week and be fake for two hours and then leave”. Jesus said to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

All that to say, of all places in the world we should find and have deliberate, frequent, rich community (a.k.a., not be desperate), it’s the Body of Christ, the church. Right? RIGHT??

The troubling thing about this is that this hasn’t been the case for me in the last several years. In fact, it’s been quite the other way around. I have had more natural, consistent relationships form and last from and in other areas.

So, now, the Big Question is, WHY?

Let’s start with me – right at the source. Have I put forth all of the effort I can in pursuing it? Yes and no. Have we been there every time the doors are open? No. Have we been as consistent as we should be, even? No. Do we take responsibility for that? Absolutely. Anyone who knows me at all should know that one of my pet peeves is people not taking responsibility for their own actions. I am not going to sit here and lie and say I’ve given 100% effort 100% of the time.

I am a human being – and the reality of that is that sometimes stuff comes up, but sometimes I just don’t do what I know I’m supposed to do. Period. So, yes, there are days when the girls decide it’s party time when bedtime rolls around and they’re up every hour on the hour all night and I only sleep 3 hours. On those days, I’m not going to go subject the world to myself, even – or, daresay, especially – at church. There are the weekends that we go out of town. Or, days that someone is sick. (Now – a LOT of people are more liberal with concern for illness than I am. I have always had the philosophy that if anyone is anything other than normal, we stay at home. Not because we want to – but we don’t want to share whatever it is that we have with everyone else. I would and do want that same consideration from other mothers and families. It’s no secret that children – although precious gifts from God- are also festering hosts of sickness.) And, while we’re here, let’s just get real ugly, shall we? Sometimes, we get in the van on the way to church and Jared and I get into an argument and turn around and come back. Sometimes one of the girls has a poo explosion all over themselves, us, and/or the van (that actually does happen with startling regularity). And sometimes, I just think “WHAT IS THE POINT?” and hit snooze, and that’s that.

So, there’s the bad and the ugly. Now, let’s talk about the good.

I have gone consistently. I have been friendly. I have been sincere. I have initiated conversation, even when and if it made me uncomfortable. I have been generous with my time and my attention. I have praised others and put others before myself. I have told myself that I have to pursue others, not wait to be pursued, and just to keep at it. I have – and this has increased in frequency over time – gone totally in the “DISCOMFORT zone” and said, “I like you and want to hang out sometime.” Or, “I want to get to know you better.” I have believed people when they said they enjoyed time with me and wanted to get to know me better. I have repeated to myself to not give up, to give people the benefit of the doubt, to keep trying. I have gritted my teeth, smiled, and repeated my requests when I didn’t hear anything.

How’s that going for me? Not so good. And I don’t know why.

People seem nice at first, people even seem sincere the first one or two conversations I have with them. People have been generous with their time and attention as well. But then, just as fervently as it was initiated, it’s gone. It’s as if we have never met or known each other. Which is really weird to me.

To me, that says that 1) I have offended you in some way or you have just suddenly decided that you don’t like or aren’t interested in me, 2) you were not being honest, but instead overdoing a facade of friendliness, or 3) I am just at the bottom of the priority list, relationship-wise. That third one isn’t so bad if it’s a temporary thing – not because I’m awesome, but because if you said things to me that certainly implied you were committed to actively pursing a friendship and then don’t actually do it – well, that’s a lie. And I hate lies. (And guess what? God hates lies, too.)

What I don’t want, like, or appreciate, or need, is people lying – or, if you want me to go easy on everyone and say something more fluffy like “giving false hope”- when they know good and well they have no intention of following through.

And trust me, before you go all “Oh NO SHE DIDN’T” on me – I am not saying anything I haven’t said to myself in the mirror (well, not LITERALLY, cause that’d just be weird) a thousand times. I promise. My own sin is the biggest burden I carry on my shoulders, daily.

But, what all people – and especially those of us in the Body of Christ – MUST remember is HOW OUR ACTIONS AFFECT OTHER PEOPLE. If you don’t mean something, don’t say it. Don’t lie to each other, especially in the name of or for the sake of seeming like a “nice, friendly Christian” or a “welcoming Church”. A loving liar – what an oxymoron!

I have had to learn this myself the hard way – when I have overcommitted myself or just outright said something insincere to “be nice” – it hurts people. There are consequences.

It really sucks when you think “Hey! Awesome, I really liked them, and they want to hang out again! I can’t wait to spend some more time with them and get to know them better and live life and the truths of the Gospel alongside them” and then you never hear another word from that person.

Again, am I part of the problem? Definitely. Am I the whole problem? No. The thing is, though, I can work – with God’s help – on my side of things. What I can’t do anything about is other people.

And that just sucks. Because the view from where I sit right now is one that looks like everyone else has their own perfect world of Christian love and fellowship at a table somewhere, and there’s not an empty seat in the house. And that’s a pretty crappy feeling. No – it’s a REALLY crappy feeling.

A feeling that leads to desperation. The first part of the definition I listed above is “reckless or dangerous because of despair or urgency: a desperate killer.” That seems a little extreme, but people – let this sink in for a minute, ok? There’s a reason God wants and commands us to be in fellowship with one another. You’ve heard the adage, “No man is an island” right? Same principle applies. It’s unnatural and dangerous for a member of the Body of Christ – be it a man or a family – to be in isolation.

We have to labor in working out our salvation together. We need each other – to see things about ourselves that we can’t or don’t want to see, to confess our sin to one another, to encourage one another, to speak the truth to one another. To keep our lives from being THE (enter your name here) SHOW 24/7. And, if you believe what Scripture says, that’s what we naturally want to do. All of us.

Heck, the irony of all of this? This entire blog post? That’s the root of the whole problem! SELFISHNESS. I’m selfish, you’re selfish, we are all FREAKING SELFISH.

That’s why desperation is dangerous. Because, without others, we WILL – due simply to our nature – fall into a vicious cycle of self absorption and eventually collapse in on ourselves. In isolation, we have no accountability and no checks and balances, and we -and our sin – becomes extreme, excessive, and hopeless.

“Why should I care?” you may ask. That’s an excellent question, I am so glad you asked!

If you’re a Jesus lover and follower and part of the church, the answer is: because you’re commanded to. Because it’s your responsibility to. Not just that – but if you love Jesus, then you should necessarily love the things that Jesus loves. And He loves the Church. So much that he DIED for the Church. Get it yet?

Before I wind this suck-fest up, I first want to acknowledge those that may be thinking, “What am I, chopped liver?” My people who have been and are with me – though few – you aren’t forgotten. I am very very thankful for you. I don’t want to think about how much worse things would have been had it not been for your constant encouragement. You’re my sisters. You know who you are.

On that note – I hope that everyone understands that there is a BIG difference between good friends and a church family. They can overlap, but one isn’t a substitute for the other. I – we all – need both.

As always, I am going to end with some wise words from a wise man – an artist, believer, and person who will probably never know how much God has used him to teach me and encourage me – Derek Webb.

Going off of what Derek says, this is why I am writing this blog post. A lot of people- even most, I’d say – wouldn’t write a blog post like this. That’s ok. You all should know by now that’s just how I am, that’s how I roll, whatever.

I am liberated in being my real self, because I know and trust who Jesus is.