Tag Archives: christianity

the ministry of authenticity.

I love Sundays. I work at the church in the morning and then take my sleepy, almost two-year-old son (who already thinks he’s two, thankyouverymuch) home for his nap. He still takes teenager-long naps, usually four hours, which gives me time to either keep working or tidy the house (ha) or enjoy a little quiet “me” time. And although our cool but perpetually gooey white tiled floor is begging for a sweep and a mop (after, of course, all the toys and clothes are removed) I am here, painfully aware of the time that has passed since I last blogged, feeling guilty and ashamed.

What better place to be raw and exposed than in front of my blog/the entire Internet?

Being authentic has been a sacred echo in my life lately. Because I work at a church, most of my interactions and friends have been born out of that building, and many of my friends in the church have explained to me that they struggle with being their full selves all the time. They have separated their personalities into little compartments — the “church” self against the “social” self, the “intellectual” self, the “vocational” self, etc. People feel like they can’t be the same person they are around their pastor that they are around their friends and I don’t like that.

I remember when I first moved here, I told someone what my favorite movie was, and they were shocked that I had the courage to admit that fact about myself in public because it’s “so inappropriate”. (It’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, by the way.)

A few weeks after that interaction, a dear friend of mine was upset at church. When I asked her what was wrong, she choked back her tears and said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m just going to hold it all in and pretend I’m okay like we’re supposed to do.” I basically blew up at her.

“NO!” I shouted. “You can’t do that! You have to be okay being upset right now, because when the time comes that I need to be upset, I need to know that this is a place where it is okay for me to be upset!” (For the record, we miscarried a month later and I let the whole world have it.)

It was in that moment that my eyes opened up to this idea of dividing ourselves into different people and the danger it poses to us as Christians because, by falsifying our testimonies we dilute our ministry. 

I’m not entirely sure why but I’ve never been able to be more than one person. I literally can NOT be someone I’m not, despite the pressures put on me by other Christians. Like it or not, I’m all me all the time. I’m a Christian who also has the mouth of a sailor. I’m a Christian who gets angry and frustrated. I’m a Christian who (thankfully!) has friends who aren’t Christians. I’m a Christian who, by the grace of God alone battled (and overcame!) an eating disorder. I’m a Christian who likes admittedly bad Jim Carrey movies. I’m a Christian and there are dark parts of me that are dirty and messy and need to be washed clean every freaking day. And I’m sure I’m not alone, but so many people are afraid to admit it.

Why does this happen? Why do we Christians (or people in general, honestly) feel so much pressure to be perfect all the time? Why does the world end if we are seen with a beer, or seen walking out of a counselor’s office, or seen angry at the world for a minute because — gasp! — life sucks sometimes?

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Maybe I’m reading the wrong translation, but that doesn’t look like Jesus said, “You know what? Make sure you’re burden-free before you come to me. Make sure you’re smiling 24/7. Only come to me when you are in the best mood ever with no desperation or fault. Check your baggage at the door before you come chill with me.” So where do we get this crap from?

How can we fully expect to lead other people to Christ when we put on this unrelatable show of perfection? How can we expect anyone to buy into our faith when they can’t even buy into our own bullshit?

Let me be real. In about two weeks, we’ll celebrate our one-year anniversary of leaving the brown baby hills and crunchy sorta-dead grass of Tallahassee to live/do ministry/perpetually sweat in the ever-paradisical Naples. Moving here completely wrecked me. Much like ripping the bandage off of an infected wound, the pain was big and fierce. I feel like if I had felt comfortable enough to be authentic about my pain, I might have healed more quickly. But that took a long while.

But the good news is that healing has definitely happened. Scars remain, but the blood flow has ceased as I’ve done my best to bring people into my realm of authenticity. And I am grateful for the little changes I’m seeing: the tears shed on my own shoulder, the angry text messages, and the willingness to accept grace and love amidst it all. And just like that, both feet are inside the door. I am here, planted, ready to continue this life in this place with these people. My shoes no longer straddle the metaphorical threshold, the outside foot ready to bolt and drag the rest of me with it at the first chance. We are here. We are living. We are doing authentic life together and each day it becomes more beautiful.

That’s what Jesus came for, guys. In Luke 5:31-32 he says, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Amen.

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a christian’s open apology to gay people.

Dear gay people,

Yesterday World Vision, a Christian organization that sponsors needy and hungry children all around the world, announced that they were lifting a ban they’d previously had in place on hiring people who were married to/in love with someone of the same sex. And I, a Christian, was elated.

“Oh, this is going to be huge!” I told my youth pastor husband when I got home from work. “Finally, we’re turning a corner!”

When I went to bed last night, I thanked God for this public proclamation and I also thanked him for making you, each and every one of you, just the way you are. And I thanked him because in that moment, I felt like you might actually know that you are really loved by Jesus. Because you are

This morning my son woke me up at 5:30 (he’d had a bad dream, I think) and after I snuggled him back to sleep I found myself having a hard time drifting back myself. So I mindlessly checked my Twitter feed, hoping the methodical scrolling through tweets would make my eyes heavy enough.

What a huge mistake.

I tumbled down a black hole of tweets from fundamentalist Christians and Christian organizations who were withdrawing their support from World Vision. Unfortunately, it seems that these people/organizations hold doctrine over love and serving the poor. And I got angry. And very awake.

I tossed and turned in my bed, fighting the anger, and then thought there was only one way to go about this. So I got out of bed and opened my laptop just to say one thing:

Gay people, on behalf of all Christians everywhere (including the ones who treat you this way) I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you’re consistently battling against a group of people whose entire platform is love. I’m sorry that you are made to feel like you’re broken by a group of people who are called to lay their own brokenness at the foot of the cross. I’m sorry that you’re made to feel like the “least of these” by a group of people who are called to serve and love the least of these and who also somehow ignore that call when it refers to you. I’m sorry that you’ve been told that your marriage is any less God-honoring than a heterosexual one, even if that heterosexual marriage ends in divorce.

Please know that you’re not alone, gay people. While I’m not gay and have never had to endure the pain you have endured from Christians, I’ve been hurt by them, too. And I grew up in the church!

When I was nine years old (a baby!) I was brought into a meeting with the children’s director and the lead pastor of the church I was attending. They sobbed as they told me that I was too outspoken and too loud and that, “God didn’t like that.” Being an opinionated kid without a shy bone in my body, I furrowed my brow.

“But didn’t he make me this way? And doesn’t he love me? Why would he make me be a certain way if he didn’t like it?”

They didn’t have an answer for me.

This was the first of many encounters like this; I’ve always had Christians wag their fingers at me for the way I talk, behave, or think. And as a Christian, sure, I believe that God does call me to be one of his priests. I do believe that he calls me to a higher standard of living. But he also calls me to be an ambassador for Christ, the one who dined with sinners and threw parties with tax collectors. And above all else, he calls me to love him and love his people. (Mark 12:30-31)

People have told me that I have a low view of scripture because of my love and affection for gay people. Maybe I do. But if loving others regardless of their sexual identity (and, you know, also occasionally sporting a polyester cotton blend) means I have a low view of scripture, then fine. I’ll concede that argument.

One last thing, gay people: if it makes you feel any better, my marriage isn’t any more biblical than yours. Sure, I may be a woman who is married to a man, but last I checked, my husband isn’t splitting his time between four other wives and 700 concubines. So fret not. You and your “unbiblical marriage” are in good company.

I love you. Each and every one of you. And Jesus does, too.

And once more, I’m so very sorry. Please forgive us/them. We know not what we do. (Someone said that once.)

Love,

Lindsay

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