Sunday, August 24, 2014

In which I get real (and rant about Christianity in America, the church and my own brokenness)


I’ve always had issues with the church, some of which I’ve discussed publically before. There are crazy statistics about the number of youth that leave the church, and to be honest I always thought I would be one of them. It’s not that I don’t love Jesus, but the idea of organized church services never seemed to fit me. I didn’t understand in a real way what the church was supposed to look like, and despite growing up in it I had all these misconceived notions about what the church was.

I was terrified about being judged for my mistakes by the Christians who sat in church every Sunday. I grew up with this image in my head of having to get ready for church. You got dressed up, put on your I’m a Christian and I’ve got it all together face and you went to church.

My view of church has changed in the past year or so, thanks to some wonderful people who pushed me to be real. But I still tend to see the flaws in the church. I see that we’re a body of people gathering together trying to follow God but I also see so clearly the fact that we are a bunch of broken people.

 I think the church would be so much better if people lived this way. If, on Sunday morning or whenever, people got together and said, “You know, this week I’m really struggling with this…” or “This is one of the worst things I ever did and God is still working through me on this.”

I know I’m not totally innocent. I am still a part of the problem. While there are many issues I’ve been open on with my close group of friends or those I’m involved with in different areas inside the church, its so much easier to put on that paper doll face and pretend everything’s fine. It saves me from being confronted with things I don’t want to face, or bringing up things that would be painful for me to deal with.

I rarely write on my blog about my faith directly, not because it’s not important but because it exists separately from my art.  Often what I believe influences what I write about, but what I write about is not limited to my faith and what I believe. I also find it hard to try and capture the essence of what I believe or face big issues in my writing without taking away from the issue and the importance of it, so I often tend to stay away from writing about the topic directly all together. It’s one of the big problems I have in Christian music, or any form of art. The idea of God and his grace and love and power is so big and mighty that when it’s confined to a catchy pop song and made to be entertaining, I often find it’s taking away from the bigger picture.

 This morning in church one of the things that was brought to my attention was the idea of being real. Yes, it’s one of my big issues within the church, but aren’t I part of the problem? I do try to be real and talk about my struggles within the areas of the church I am involved in, but I need to have that constant desire to stay real, and not retreat into myself when life gets hard.

Lately I’ve been struggling with the idea of not being enough. I often feel like I’ve exhausted grace. I am so aware of my faults and shortcomings. Things I’ve dealt with in the past keep coming up, and while it’s been amazing dealing with all of this and experiencing radical grace, it often leaves me feeling undeserving. I’ve been struggling in different areas of my life, and while I’m trying to get better it feels like I keep falling on my face. There are often times I doubt what I’m doing, or the strength of my faith. And while I want to not struggle and not doubt and be confident all the time, I know I probably will never be that person. I will always be the person who is wrestling with my faith and what I believe and the big issues. Odds are I will walk away, and come back, more times than I can count.

 I’m scared about the future, and the big steps that are going to be happening over the next few weeks. And while I know it’s what I’m being called to do, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it will be hard work. It’s not something I’m excited to do. It’s not exciting to shown truth and faults, but the amazing grace that I know is coming, and the grace I have already experienced in such a huge way has been amazing, and exciting.

There is a lot I don’t understand. I am an absolute mess, and if anyone is the least deserving of God’s grace I’m probably at the top of the list. Today it was mentioned in church that if you’re looking for the worst sinner, I’m it. We’re all it. And I definitely feel that. I feel so flawed, and so imperfect and undeserving. I feel like I can never get it right and that the weight of the mistakes I’ve made sit on my shoulders ready to crush me.

 I feel weak, and small. I feel like nothing compared to the giant that is my past and my mistakes that is staring me down. And I struggle with accepting grace.

 I’ve always tried not to be that cliché Christian who finishes a long rant with “But by the grace of God…” but I don’t think there’s any other way. Because I am an absolute mess. I am a dirty, broken sinner who has made so many mistakes and bad choices. I am the worst of the worst. I am weak and small and nothing, and I absolutely feel it. I’m a bad Christian, if there is ever such a thing.

 The only thing that I have going for me is that I have a great Savior. I won’t even try to fully understand it, because I know I will never understand how someone could look at me and everything I’ve done and still call it worth loving. Some days I can’t even accept this because I feel so shameful and guilty. But I have encountered grace in a real way, and while I doubt it at times I know I can never escape this radical grace that has been offered to me. I don’t deserve it, I wish I didn’t need it, but I do.

 I’m just one person, but frankly I think the church and Christianity would be a lot better off if more people were more real. Maybe they are and I just haven’t met them. To all the people who have modeled this in my life, I thank you.

 There is a lot I don’t understand about Christianity and God, and a lot I have to and am currently wrestling through. But none of it matters. What matters is this: I am an undeserving, broken, sinful, awful person who has been saved by grace. For some reasons which I won’t pretend to understand, I am loved by a great Savior.

 And despite the feelings of inadequacy and failure, in this moment all I can be is grateful.

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