In this case, the someone who spoke up about my previous blog, is someone that I love and respect and no matter what, I always will. But apparently when she read my most recent post, she "cringed" at my disrespect of God. In fact, had her cell phone not died in the middle of our conversation, I think she was about to politely request that I remove that one little line. And my immediate reaction was to feel really bad about myself for disappointing her. But then I got to thinking....
A few months back, my city of Nashville was flooded with more rain than we have ever seen and will likely ever see again. Historic buildings were destroyed and an entire mall was submerged in 8 feet of e. coli ridden waters. When the waters receded, buildings all over town had to be stripped to their studs in order for repairs.
My spirituality has gone through a similar process in the last few years. Growing up I was a good little Christian girl, always dressing nicely for church, carrying my Bible to Sunday School, faithfully attending VBS, and being respectful of my parents. As I got older, I solidified my good Christian girl status by going on mission trips (ironically enough, this is where I first encountered Ex), singing solos in the youth choir, and white knuckling my virginity, even going so far as to pass judgement on "that slutty honor student who, rumor has it, gave her boyfriend a (gasp!) blow job!"
Then in college things got really interesting. I became involved in a Christian campus organization that was heavy on the evangelism. I made instant friends who, like me, had realized the importance of being a good Christian early in life. Together, we went to Bible study, had prayer group, practiced safe boy/girl interactions like group dating where no one was allowed to hold hands until they had properly defined the intentions of their relationship, and went on conferences to exotic places like Panama City Beach where I would wear my required one piece bathing suit and share the gospel with unsuspecting spring breakers who were still slightly hung over from last night's numerous shots of tequila.
Oh but wait. I haven't mentioned God in any of this. Well...that's because He wasn't really involved. At least, not for me. My life up to this point, though Christian, wasn't at all spiritual. It was a neverending row of hoops for me to jump through in order to keep up the facade of the Good Christian Girl. It was an exhaustive process of checking boxes, putting on appearances, walking the walk, and talking the talk....so that everyone else would be convinced that God and I were, in fact, in this together.
Fast forward a few years, and a few divorces, and a few grad school classes, and a few restless nights at the hands of a toddler, and I am sure of exactly two things.
1. God and I are in this together.
2. There is absolutely nothing I can say, do, write, or for that matter keep to myself, that will change that.
My friend who cringes at the very glimpse of me writing a phrase that puts the beautiful word "God" and the nasty word "fuck" so close together has every right to cringe if she feels led. She is a highly spiritual person, and I would never doubt her connection with God. But that's exactly what it is...HER connection with God. I can't understand how she relates to God, because I am not there. She has a healthy handful of years on me in the way of her relationship with him, and probably thousands upon thousands of prayers communicating both her needs and her praise. She is, understandably, in a different place with her Lord than I am with mine.
Because I have not so long ago, started my relationship with MY Lord from scratch. The knowledge is all still there. The experience is still firmly in place. The ability to read and study and tear apart the many intricacies of the Bible remain unscathed. But my communication with God left my many years of habit behind and started fresh with something along the lines of, "Ok God...I'm ready. Let's do this." And since then, my spirituality has been opened in such a way that I am no longer interested in putting on a show for the sake of others thinking I am a "good Christian." In all honesty, I have absolutely no interest in being a "good Christian." I have no interest in leading others in the way of the Bible. I have no desire to be anyone's spiritual compass. I simply have a desire to be REAL with God, and REAL with people about what that looks like. My friend's concern was that my quote was "disrespectful." And I'm sure that many will agree with her. It's not often that someone who proclaims to love God will be so blatantly irreverent. But I think she's missing the point.
My walk with God is MY walk with God. And sometimes it's holy and beautiful and loving, and yes, even respectful. And sometimes it is less than stellar, a mere nod of acknowledgement during my day. And then there are times when the depths of my humanity sneak up on me, and I don't understand the things in this world, and nothing feels right or makes sense or even churns inside of me with any real rhyme or reason, and the best I can do to include God in that moment of mine is to invite Him to stand by my side as I succomb to my own carnal nature and throw a big cussing fit.
But the beautiful thing about MY God, that I love and adore more than anything...more than the fact that he created the heavens and the earth, more than the fact that He calls the stars by name and counts the hairs on my head, more than the fact that He has the power in one breath to either heal or destroy this world....
...is that He loves me enough to want to be there for the good, the bad, and the ugly. He doesn't want me to put on a show, or pretend that I have it all figured out, or to try and sound respectful when really I'm just plain old angry. He just wants me to move myself aside in those moments,
just barely enough
for Him to fill in the gaps with his Grace.
So, because I respect and love this friend SO much, I did at least have a chat with God a little earlier. It sounded something like this:
Me: Ok God..I made people cringe with my brutal honesty. They think I am being disrepectful. That wasn't my intention....I don't mean anything I write to be disrespectful....it's just where I'm at. It's just that, God, sometimes I FEEL you so clearly. And everything FEELS amazing and wonderful and all I want to do is worship you. And sometimes I FEEL so strongly that I don't get you or understand what you are doing in my life, and NOTHING makes sense. And I just want to yell and cry and cuss. And I don't mean it to be disrespectful, really I don't. It's just that's where I'm at in that moment.
And God replied: I know your heart. I know you are emotional. Heck...I created you that way. You and I have a long way to go...but we will get there day by day...breath by breath. I'm not going anywhere.
Me: So you weren't caught off guard when I threw those venomous four letters into the ante of the universe?
God: Sara....we've been over this. I'm caught off guard by NOTHING. Not the things you have done or said....or the things you are GOING to do or say. I knew you were going to screw up so many times before you were ever even born. I'm not surprised by ANYTHING.
Me: Ok...so you aren't mad at me for the four letters then?
God: I will see your four letters and raise you one more...
J E S U S