Recently I was told that Christians are weak and that’s why they need religion. ABSOLUTELY! I think I was supposed to be offended by the comment, but I found it very relatable. I could totally relate to this perspective because of a song I listened to frequently in my angry youth days from the album Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette. The song is called Forgiven. The lyrics I’m referring to are: “We all had our reasons to be there, We all had a thing or two to learn, we all needed something to cling to, so we did.”
You know, I realize not everyone participates in worshipping a religion, but I feel like especially in our culture, there are many idols that are worshipped or things that people hold onto because they need strength. And I’m not here to pass judgement. I am just sooo grateful that I stumbled upon the community of believers that I did who recognize that people have TOTALLY been wounded by the church (as Alanis implies in her song) and that’s probably the number one reason why people turn away from it. Some never come back. People like me took a 20 year hiatus ( you can read about why here: Burnt Buttermilk Biscuit) But the community I belong to does not see a problem with weakness. There is no expectation that after you attend for a while you will be transformed into someone who doesn’t sin.
On the contrary, they are a group of “meet me where I am” Christians who will walk with me through my valleys and hills as long as necessary.
To be honest I didn’t believe that people like this really existed. I was accustomed to feeling like nothing I could do was good enough and there was a long list of things keeping me from getting into Heaven. Then one day I took a chance, went to a service and heard this song: Mandisa – Not Guilty . I remember sitting there with goosebumps thinking “What?! Why haven’t I heard this perspective? People want to love me even if I’m so flawed? They aren’t just gonna tell me I’m going to Hell and I need Jesus?!”
And let me tell you, when I showed up on the scene, I was one hot mess! Like the song title used for this blog, you could almost hear me scream, Give me something to believe in!” But, I grew up not having been taught that it was ok to show weakness. Serving in the military probably did not help with that concept either. I thought like so many people do, that no-one would like me if they knew all my flaws.
I am very thankful for other people I’ve met in my life who called me out on my BS. One such friend told me straight up that talking about myself like I had no weakness made me sound like a total snob. OUCH! But I needed to hear that. A manager took me aside and told me if I wanted a promotion I needed to be seen as someone who was not so ominous! Let me tell you that really slapped me in the face too! But you know what, I had a thick shield built all around me at that point in my life. I can totally see how that could make me look ominous!
Ideas like that set me down the road to discovering myself, getting out of denial and being VULNERABLE!
If I hadn’t gotten laid off in 2014 and decided to pursue my calling (to be a counselor) I never would have done the work it takes to truly understand just what it means to be vulnerable. In my program I repeatedly had to put myself under a microscope and not only list my flaws, but explain the conceptualization for them and how they affect me and others. Hands down BEST thing I ever had to do. Some people would just call this taking a personal inventory. I feel like this is so important because it’s not very likely that I could begin to feel safe being vulnerable if I did not have an awareness of who I am.
When I think about how long it took me to get to this stage in my life, I just want to scream it from the rooftops to younger women out there to do the hard work it takes to discover who you are, including your weaknesses. It’s ironic that God used some of the very things I thought were my weaknesses to help me discover who I really am!