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…