It’s been awhile…

🎶It’s been awhile

since I could hold my head up high 🎶

That’s the opening line from the title song by Staind. I guess you might not expect a blog like mine to include songs with explicit lyrics. So if that offends you, I’m here to say that it’s possible the reason people don’t want to come within a 5 mile radius of a religious establish might be because they listen to songs with explicit lyrics and feel like that makes them judged as less than. And maybe nothing Christians are putting out there is reaching them because they just can’t relate. I’m all about meeting people where they are. That’s how God met Saul on the road to Damascus. Right. Where. He. Was. At.

Everyone likes to focus on the reformed Saul, the man who became Paul, an apostle known as one of the greatest of all Biblical messengers. But I think the thing I like the most about Paul was his humility. He’s the first to admit he was the greatest of sinners. In Paul’s own words:

That’s so relatable to me! I don’t see the need to hide all my past sins under a rug, even though I’m not proud of them. It doesn’t make me more relatable to others to act like I’m sinless, at least not to others who aren’t trying to look more perfect than they really are. Have I lost friends because I was authentic about where I came from and the kind of raw person that I am? Yes, on more than one occasion.

But Jesus cautioned against being fake and acting like you’re perfect when you’re not and he had major beef with the Pharisees who acted like they were perfect, yet who played an important role in his crucifixion. I don’t want to look like a hypocrite.

The other day I heard a song that went like this, “There’s a sign on the door that says ‘Come as you are’ but I doubt it.” (Truth Be Told -Song by Matthew West).

If you feel that way, I don’t blame you. I’ve tried to go to a church and be transparent about my past and found out I couldn’t. They were too legalistic. I felt judged, even excluded. If that has happened to you, I’m sorry.

You see, as a therapist, I feel like we’re all a bit broken. I talk a little bit more about that in another blog post here: Broken

I’ve definitely had days when I felt like I’d screwed things up way past the point of saying “I’m sorry”. As the song goes, there were so many times I felt like:

🎶 And it’s been awhile

Since I’ve gone and

F#%&$@ things up

Just like I always do

And it’s been awhile,

But all that s#%$

Seems to disappear

When I’m with you 🎶

Can you relate, trying to fill that void inside with a person? Somebody who makes you feel good and helps you forget your pain?

In the bridge of the song it says

🎶Why must I feel this way?

Just make this go away

Just one more peaceful day…🎶

You see, physically, I’m a weak person. I’ve really struggled with my health in recent years and just felt so un-usable by God. I just wanted the pain to literally GO AWAY.

I was wrong though. God can use me like this. Because maybe some people aren’t willing to meet you where you are, but God isn’t like that at all. Somehow through my weakness and loss of faith in some of the people and things in the world around me, an unexpected thing happened. My faith grew. Exponentially! People repeatedly let me down. I lost trust in humanity at one point. I became rather cynical.

Then I thought about it. God was true to his word:

All the people that let me down didn’t break me though. I learned to stop putting my faith in people; in relationships, fair weather friends, politicians, leaders. It might be hard to believe, but I can now think about the song “It’s Been Awhile” as me telling God how much I’ve screwed up and hear him say “That’s ok child. Nothing you can ever do will stop me from loving you.” Isn’t that what we all need to hear?

Give me something to believe in

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!

Inspiration:

Something to believe in – Poison

Forgiven – Alanis MorissetteIMG_7264

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