Over the last few days, I’ve been drafted into various conversations that I could not have foreseen being witness to. I’ve listened to people of faith from various Christian subcultures, and many people on the outside of the Christian bubble thing, and many people who just have a lot of ideas, period. It has been a lot to take in.
Noticing how desperately we as the body of Christ justify who we are based on our subculture rather than Christ Jesus has made me angry, sad, and oddly, more aware of how everyone is wrong and everyone is hurting. We all need the love of Christ. Coming away from conversations that would have never been a place of learning to me before, in listening I realized how much we all really need a Savior, and we need him to not be us. To be better than all of us. Because after what feels like months (in days) of listening to people who are very different from one another and somewhat more radical than I hope to be, I can tell you for a fact that we are all wrong.
I listen to so many people who are older than me sometimes in a state of blind resentment. It feels like so many people in leadership have taken these houses of worship with them into wherever they go in life, and used them as places to dodge and deliver bullets. I am at a loss for how the simplicity of the gospel has been so thoroughly lost, and I still do not understand why the body of Christ is more about political, racial, financial, or regional identity than it has to do with the truth and grace found in Jesus. Healing cannot come from a subculture, or the sum of subcultures, or the opinions of all of our human brains that all inevitably turn out to be wrong and hopeless without the blood of Jesus. It makes me sad that it cannot just be simple.
I am trying to figure out what I want to do after I graduate in May, and honestly, it’s kind of scary. I know God is good, but waiting on his promises and hoping they turn out to be true is like waiting to be healed of clinical depression, and working my butt off without seeing a way out just yet. I cannot go back to school yet. My interests and identity remain certain. I know who I am in Christ. I just don’t know how God plans on using my gifts and the things I most love to benefit him in service. It’s a very open ended question at this point, which was still the right way to do things. Uncertainty makes me doubt not whether God is good, but how long he will require me to wait before I get to teach, or to be walking out my faith as a job, or anything of the like. Once I have a plan, I’d be golden, but it’s scary to be at a state of transition and still being strengthened and have no idea what any of it will be used for. Singing helps me remain calm, and remember the love that I’m looking for and trying to obey. Life is more fun that way.
As a whole, it’s a good life. When I work with elementary school age kiddos, I feel conflicted because I know that I love teaching in most any capacity, but I’m not sure how to take my degree in Psychology and make it work out. My most mainstream option wont be happening, so let’s just see what God brings. I think it will be alright, and it’s only a matter of time. One thing is for sure, and that’s that when you get closer and closer to doing what you love it becomes harder and harder to not see yourself doing it in it’s entirety. I should definitely view that as a blessing.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how there is a vibe in church sometimes (not mine, but the body of Christ as a whole) that if you’re a young woman, your most pressing need for church should be finding a husband than full-heartedly pursuing Jesus. Maybe it’s just me that is picking up on that lie, but we don’t exactly provide many venues for women to become full participants in their faith in leadership. I love scripture. If I volunteer with the Kids’ ministry, it’s not because I’m looking to learn more about raising children. It’s because I believe that children should have a continuous experience with Christ, and that their faith is just as important as anyone else’s. Why is working with children or youth something first of all that mostly women invest in, and second of all, less valuable? How can there not be a desire to give these kids the best that we can?
How can it be that ministering to kids is effectively viewed as the same thing as babysitting? How can it be that we pump so much into campus ministries but so many churches don’t delve into the meatier parts of scripture until you are past high school? I’m sorry, but in too many cases, those kids are already gone. Show them that they can set an example and lead out of genuine passion from whatever age they are, and there we will find victory.
Why is it that instead of being recognized for how much I love scripture, in so many churches I would be praised for being somebody’s potential wife? Really? Why is the default setting future babymaker, instead of sister in Christ? I want to be able to view the guys roughly my age as brothers in Christ, not with the emphasis being on dating. That is a whole other ballgame, and it comes with a different set of criteria than just being your friend. Be a brother in Christ, and prove that you’re a guy worth spending time with rather than only interacting with girls to reinforce your subculture or check off a box on what your life is supposed to look like. Marriage actually isn’t meant for all of us. How will you find out why or whether it is legitimately for you if you only show up at church for the prospect of babymaking? Just no.
I like that my church makes these questions easier to unravel by not complicating the structure with which we all must come to Christ. To this day, I feel like an equal with everyone I go to church with, including those older than me, including the children, including the people I know, including the people I don’t know. I feel comfortable seeking after Christ, because from what I’ve seen, we all are. It’s not about worshipping our Pastor, who is admittedly a pretty nice guy with a really kind wife and some precious kids. Even if you don’t agree with people at my church, they don’t out your for it, and condemn you. One of the pillars of our church is “celebrating risk”, which is why I am capable of feeling like I belong there.
Dating should not be our goal, because then it cannot naturally follow from worship and an understanding of who God is. As just another golden calf, it makes us forget what will actually keep us happy. We clutter up our unmet need for God by focusing on fitting into the Christian worldviews we are immersed in, which often conflict. Satan is our enemy, and he isn’t white, and he isn’t black, and he isn’t a woman, and he isn’t a man, and he isn’t Christian, and he isn’t Non-Christian, he’s all of those things and just about anything else than can be called human, working within us to kill, steal, and destroy. Sin is a much stronger enemy than our Christian subcultures will allow us to prevail against. We need God, and we need his grace, and his patience, and his love, and his joy to get through all of it. Loving Christ isn’t about drawing straws for a place in that.