But Oh, To Be Free

When someone makes a blog post with instructions to follow a link, I rarely follow it b/c I’m just that lazy. So, it wasn’t until last night that I again went to my sister Bekah’s blog and clicked on her link, in my head thinking, “My sister is cool. This must be something worthwhile or she wouldn’t have linked it.” And it was. It led me to a blog called “Jamie The Very Worst Missionary” Which is a title that I think would grab anyone’s attention. It did mine. And this is what I read. Haha, yes, if you want to read it. You have to follow the link.

Anyway, I couldn’t stop reading previous posts from her and wanting to meet her. She writes in a way that I love. A way that I wish I wrote myself. Actually, it’s a way I think I would write if I didn’t care what people thought about me.

Which brings me to the basis of this post. I care too much what other people think. On one hand, this is good. I’m conscientious of others and because I care what they think, I feel like I’m pretty good at not hurting people’s feelings and being aware and sensitive to their situations. But on the other hand, I feel like I tiptoe a lot. And it’s starting to hurt my feet.

A recent example. The other weekend we hung out with some friends and one of them told me that my baby was going to come out brown because of all the coffee I drink. This is not true. I have 1 cup in the mornings….ok, 2 half cups because it makes me feel like I’m drinking more and it stays nice and hot. And on some evenings I have a cup of decaf.

I have read up on drinking coffee probably 11 times and I know that you can safely drink 300 mg of caffeine a day when pregnant. Furthermore, I fully drank the amount of coffee I’m drinking now when I was pregnant with Tucker and he turned out nice….I think…And furthermore, Americans just need to get lives sometimes. We are so health conscious that we get our panties in a twist over EVERYTHING.

All that to say. I know my stuff. But my friend said that she thought you weren’t supposed to have ANY caffeine when you’re pregnant. Not true at all. But did I say this? Nope. Just nodded my head and said, “Oh, really? Hmmm.” Speak up, woman!

So, later that night I was telling Josh how she had made me feel guilty for drinking coffee and I don’t remember exactly how he said it but something along the lines of, don’t let her misinformation on the subject make you feel bad when you know the right information. And it was so true! I knew she was wrong but I was still feeling guilty? So stupid.

Anyway. I care too much about what others think. I censor my mouth. I don’t always speak my mind. I’ve given myself strict rules of what my Christian life should look like and it’s taken years of joy out of a thriving relationship I could have been having with Christ because I’m focused on what it’s supposed to look like and not what it needs to look like for me.

And if Josh stays in ministry, I am going to live the rest of my life fighting the box that people are trying to fit me in of what a pastor’s wife does and doesn’t say and how she should and shouldn’t act and what ministries she’s involved in…and what instruments she plays. However, I have a bit of a rebellious spirit and when I find out people have certain expectations for me, I purposely do not fulfill those expectations just to prove a point. I know. I’m so B.A.

Anyway, I hope to start living more honestly with myself. In closing, here is a post from the very worst missionary that completely spoke to me and encouraged me.

Every once in a while, I get an email or a comment from someone who knows me, like, someone who for real knows me, in real life, and they’ll say, “I love it when I read your blog because it’s like I can hear your voice.”

There’s something within that small statement that stirs my needy, little soul.

When I became a Christian, I thought the name of the game was conformity. I thought I was joining a club and the rules of the club were simple:

Dress this way.

Use these words.

Do this on Sunday Mornings and that on Wednesday nights.

Be appalled by this, this, this, aaaand that.

Get indignant about such and such.

Above all, pretend that everything is ok, even when it most definitely is not, because you have Jesus and Jesus takes away your problems.

So I went and got a bob, which seemed like the right haircut for the part. And I started wearing a cross all the time for no other reason than so people would know I was in the club. And then, in an effort to use all the words at once, I took my little sister to Carls Jr. and tried to evangelize her over Western Bacon Cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes. She got up to use the bathroom (or possibly to call for help) and the old ladies in the booth next to me leaned over to tell me what I good job I was doing. They were obviously in the club and had recognized me by my words… or maybe by my hair.

It was ugly. But it was me. That was who I was – the result of a lifetime of pretending to be someone I wasn’t so that I would be liked, or accepted, popular, worthy, wanted….loved. I had gotten pretty adept at speaking in someone else’s voice, using their words, playing by their rules. And walking into the church was no different. Except it was worse. Because when you go against social norms in the church, the people in the club will call you things like “dangerous”.

I don’t know when, but at some point I stopped watching what the people in the club were doing and I started to look at Jesus. That dude broke all the rules.

I watched him sit in a market place braiding for himself a whip. And when he was done… He went ape-shit on a bunch of scumbags, overturning tables and going all Indiana Jones with that whip until the House of God had been restored to just that.

I watched him sit on the edge of a well in the countryside, where he had a quiet conversation with a sordid woman that would change her life and the lives of many around her. In that little chat, he challenged her honesty and invited her to become one who worships God in spirit and in truth.

I watched Jesus tell stories. I saw him talking to normal people about normal crap and pointing out God along the way.

And I started to realize that I had been created with a distinct voice and that God was calling me to use it, whispering, “Be who you are, Baby Girl. I made you. You were meant to tell an honest story.”

What a HUGE freaking relief. Permission to leave behind the empty shell of false pretense you’ve built up to be part of the church and BE YOURSELF. Live out loud. Share your struggles, your doubts, your furcked up-ness. And to do so in a legitimate non-douchey way that says nothing less than “There by the Grace of God go I.” Sweet, sweet mercy! There is no better feeling in this world than when someone who knows you, really knows you -because you haven’t been faking it- says, “I can hear your voice… and I love you anyway.”

What a gift.

Long before I ever posted a single word to this stupid blog, and way before I became a missionary, I stopped trying to be what the church wants and started trying to be who God wants – one who worships in spirit and in truth. Sometimes the club doesn’t like it. Sometimes a few members protest because they think I’m dangerous.

And I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me because, when I look at my life, it’s like I can hear His voice….and I hope you can, too, ever since so long ago when God nudged me and said…

Speak up.

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