A Personal Interlude

Any of you grow up in a Christian family? If you did, how much did they live up to what you think a Christian family should be? My dad was a preacher. My mom was and is a woman of faith. There are things I’m greatly thankful to my parents for. But there are also things I’m not thankful for. We grew up Pentecostal, met in lots of houses and churches. Gifts of the Spirit. Holy Spirit working and speaking into our lives. I remember hearing about dead churches and what other churches weren’t doing right. I had some people tell me, in essence, I was a second-class citizen if I didn’t speak in tongues. I heard lots of things, lots of words.

In recent days, I’ve been dealing with, still, my inclination to worry about other people’s expectations, what it means to be emotionally honest, and how I just try too hard to be a good Christian. And these things, in part, come from my upbringing and early church experiences. While I’ve known and felt disappointment about the imperfections of my family, it wasn’t until last Sunday that I had a conversation that made it all feel more real. It was both freeing and disconcerting. Despite all the words and expressions of faith, there is still pain, still failure, still disappointment, and even when we all believe God can make it right, He doesn’t bow to our wishes, and we don’t know why.

I’ve watched as my trust in God has gone up and down over the years, and this week, had to wonder if I trusted Him at all. In something I read recently, the example was given of two types of Christians, one who is trying hard to follow and hard to feel close to, and one who has a humble simplicity and what it’s like to be around that kind of person. I immediately thought of examples of both. Too often I have been the first, and in my heart, I desire to be the second. When Christianity becomes a bunch of methods, it really becomes a burden. And when I worry about how good a Christian I am, it becomes a burden. It’s freeing when I learn that my will is weak, and that I have to repeatedly approach God humbly and weakly. I’ve started to read The Cost of Discipleship, and he talks about trust/faith and obedience being intertwined, and I think he’s onto something. For if we don’t obey, do we trust?

We can say we trust, but we don’t always, and when we pretend, it is death to life. Coming to God with our lack of trust is a step towards trust. In the end, though, I choose to trust with all my heart, to trust like a child who believes that his parents will take care of him, that they’ll seek good for his life, that there will be food on the table, that there will be shelter. Trust. Trust doesn’t mean that I’ll always understand. I won’t. But it’s not about understanding, it’s about trust. And if I truly trust, I’ll worry less, and move towards simplicity of heart. So that’s where I’m at right now. Wounds are part of life, and I’ll respond by either allowing them to bring me closer to others or by keeping people at a distance. I pray to feel deeply and love.