We sat in a corner together, cloaked by the shadows. After a bit of banter, she looked at me wearing a guarded expression. “You don’t act like a Christian,” she said.
It was a sudden, air-sucking blow to my spirit. But her weariness turned into a weak smile as two words filled the unspoken gaps in her story. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome” would have been awkward. So I added two words of my own. “I’m sorry.”
Because my family—the body of Christ—who were supposed to love her, gather her up, and make her feel safe had somehow done the opposite. The thing she thought she should be—a believer in Christ—turned into the thing she least wanted.
She said when she entered the sanctuary, she felt stupid. Faith was new, and big, and utterly complicated and she didn’t understand; she wondered if she ever would. No one seemed to bear the same burdens or hurt the same hurt. Her load seemed larger than life compared to the “other girls.” They were bright and shiny; she felt dark and dim. She questioned if she’d ever fit in, and she’d gone searching for [grace, approval, acceptance] among her own, and hadn’t found it.
It’s a distant memory, but I still see her face and the tears that trailed down her cheeks. A knot forms in my gut every time I relive the anguish that anchored her to the past.
If I met her today, my story might sound dark and dim too. And at her, “you don’t act like a Christian,” I probably would be the one offering a thank you.
Because my deepest hurts, biggest disappointments, and struggle-to-forgive-and-forget trials have come from among my own. From God’s family, the church, and the people who should have done better at being better.
Which makes me want to be SO MUCH better.
But, what if we were honest?
As believers, we shoot for one target … to be like Jesus. We often miss that bulls-eye by a mile, and yet we pretend we don’t. We don’t do the body of Christ any favors when we fake our way through faith. (←Tweet that.)
I’m not advocating doom and gloom, but please, no more ribbons and bows. Wouldn’t folks stick around longer and hash out faith if we didn’t sell bright and shiny as the standard, but were willing to admit there will be bumps and bruises along the way?
What if you came with your “stuff”, I came with mine, and we acknowledged it’s all a bit of a mess, and we loved each other until it wasn’t anymore?
What if I admitted when I’d faltered, and you had freedom to share when you failed, and together we overcame and kept going?
What if instead of sympathetic glares and dismissive glances, we linked arms and stood together—united, unwavering, and fierce.
Would more people say, “So that’s what a Christian is? Then I can do that too.”
I love Jesus. I cannot imagine a single day not knowing He is with me. Even the days that I don’t talk to Him, or read His word, or pray. And the days I get angry, forget joy, and say things I shouldn’t. And the days I’m surprised my husband deals with me, and I’m lucky my kid doesn’t rat me out for my mom blunders. And the days I want to be ALL like Jesus and end up NOTHING like Him.
On our most messed up days, Jesus loves us like crazy … still, always. (←Tweet that.)
And He doesn’t want us to “act” like anything. He wants us to come as we are, and then be willing to lean in, listen, change, grow … and become more like Him.
Faith is hard. Messy. Sometimes painful. Often imperfect. Entirely beautiful.
And He is God. Good. Gracious. Forgiving. Abundantly patient. Lover of sinners.
And when we mingle the two together—well, that’s what a Christian is.
That’s real, that’s authentic. That’s what we’d say if we were honest.
#inHimican: Are you willing to share the good and the not so glorious? Let’s encourage each other with authentic shouts to a faith that isn’t always easy, but that conquers even our messiest days. As you live, see, and create images and words that ignite your strength in Christ, join me on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #inHimican.
You can also find these words linked up at my favorite spots: Kelly Balarie (#RaRaLinkup), Holly Barrett (#testimonytuesday), Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory), Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), and Kristin Hill Taylor (#threewordwednesday).