When The Ground Falls Beneath You

We spend our lives building ourselves. Subconsciously, we add a thousand pieces of life to our identity. Who we are is rooted in countless places and people.

The family we’re from or the friends that we have.The straight A’s in school. A boyfriend or a girlfriend. A hair style, a skinny body, or a tall figure. Designer clothes, achievement in sports, or the lead role in every play. The church that we go to, the Bible verses we know or even our entire faith.

And one day, all of that can fall apart and everything is gone. The ground falls beneath you and you’re the only one left. You. Just you. You’re naked, hunted down, ravished, alone.

I say this because it has happened to me. Maybe to you, too.

Until this week, I never knew how much I put my identity in things that would fade away. Relationships, who I was in high school, even dreams that I had that I knew would never come true, school, theatre, and my faith. I built them all up. I allowed them to fulfill me in ways they never could. But recently, as the weeks have gone by, one by one, each precious jewel has been taken from me. Torn. Ripped from my soul. Until now, in which I feel as though there is nothing left but me. Naked, empty, struggling, searching me. Alone and undone without all of those things that I thought made me who I was.

I used to think that faith was a good thing to root yourself in. Turns out that I was wrong.

I used to say, ”most of all, build your identity on your faith because you can’t trust anything or anyone else completely.”

I used to know that everything would be alright as long as I just had faith.

That is, until it all fell. Until I heard things I’d never heard before from someone I didn’t think would tell me these things in a place I never expected to hear them. Until I started to question, doubt, wonder things I’d never questioned, doubted, or wondered. Until everything around me was falling but I knew that I’d be fine and safe with my faith but then that went, too. Until it was all, all gone.

When the ground fell beneath me and I wound up in the pit. Naked, empty, alone. Identity-less.

I lost everything superficial about who I was. No, those things weren’t ”bad” particularly, but I’d let them define me and that was wrong. And of course, at one point they got the better of me and fell. Even my faith.

So now I’m building again. Crawling out of the hole and back up onto my faith. Building a new identity, a new faith. Trying to leave all of those old ideas of who I was behind. Trying not to do the same thing again.

This time, I’m putting my identity in God. Not faith.

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That Kind Of Christian

Note: This post is controversial, but please just take it as a message about preserving the love of Christ and not the spitefullness of the devil. We all have our different views on this subject and my object is not to ignite debates or send people away from my blog. Rather, I want to spread awareness about the view that many non-Christians sometimes have on us as Christians.

We were sitting under the shade of a big, lumbering tree in the park one day before our acting class. She and I were as different as different could be. I was three years older, shorter, and enjoyed memorization while she disliked it. Most of all I was a Christian. I was religious. And she was not religious at all, in her words. But somehow, that didn’t matter — we always had a conversation and it was almost always sprinkled by spirituality.

One day, she hesitated before finishing her sentence. “Wait, are you that kind of Christian?”  

“What do you mean?” I asked, in order to avoid what I knew was coming. She’d been talking about her mom’s lesbian friend. It was doubtless why she would ask this kind of question before proceeding onto such dangerous grounds. Yet I hesitated, too. I didn’t know how to answer just then.

“Like, are you Anti-Gay?”

I looked at her for a moment. What should I say? How could I explain myself? If I said one wrong thing, I could give her an even worse impression of Christianity than she already had. One slip of the tongue, one even slightly judgemental sentence could turn me into that kind of Christian and her from all hope of a loving God.

“Well, I–um, we had a discussion about this in Bible study once,” I stammered. “I have my Bible here, actually. Let’s look at that and see what the Bible says.”

“Okay.”

We searched and we found. It was still hard to explain. Even so, I tried.

“Deep down, Christianity is about love,” I said. “We are called to live a certain way but our highest calling is to be like Christ–to love as He loves. So I hope I’m not that kind of Christian, but a Christian who loves.”

She understood or so it seemed. We were friends for the rest of the class and continued with our conversations. I prayed for her and tried to be the kind of Christian she needed, the kind that we all need, the kind that loves.

Sometimes, I think of her again and wonder…am I ever that kind of Christian?

A popular speaker I’ve heard says that the main assumptions about Christians are that they are judgmental and anti-gay. He was right in my friend’s case. In fact, she had been so turned off by the judgement, that she barely wanted anything to do with Christianity.

Oh, how I do not want to be that kind of Christian. But I know I am at times and have been in the past.

Lord, make more like you. Make me a true ‘Little Christ.’

Note: This is NOT a post about Gay rights or the Christian response. It is simply an observation of the way that Christians often come across to non-Christians. Please refrain from statements on Gay rights and anything disrespectful about either side. If I see any comment like that, I will not publish it. Thank you.

Faith Like A Child

Oh, you of little faith.

This phrase could and should be said to me about ten hundred times everyday. I’m a worrier. A constant worrier. Yet I proudly declare to be a Christian with a faith that is unshakable. But some days, that faith is pretty hard to find.

Today was one of those days. Actually, almost every day in the last little while has been “one of those days.” For some reason, faith and me haven’t been going as well as they used to.

Feeling discouraged and restless, I decided to go for a walk. I needed a diversion and a chance to sort my feelings out.

I left my house and started onto the road. I haven’t done this in a while, I thought.

I went past houses I knew and others I didn’t. I walked swiftly, trying to get rid of the pain in my heart.

I turned corners and pondered my week and all the things I did or didn’t do. I have so much on my shoulders right now, I moaned inside.

I quickened my pace more than once, as if the faster I walked, the better I’d feel.

Somehow, I ended up at the park. It wasn’t a mistake or intentional — it just happened. I ran to the swings and sat down. The seat felt small at first. I guess I’m not a child anymore, I thought. Eventually, I eased into the swing and pushed back and forth like I did in those days of cherry picking and side walk chalk.

I leaned back and closed my eyes. The dogs barking and their child owners playing nearby reminded me of days of old. Days when worry went as deep as cleaning my room so I could go to my friend’s house or getting the doll that I wanted for Christmas. Days when I could laugh freely and wipe away my tears quickly. Days when trips like this to the park were frequent and a good friend lived across the street and life was a gentle, summer song. Days when I prayed tirelessly each night for every unsaved family member, sick person, and simple want by name and believed that God would deliver. Days when I had faith like a child.

Suddenly, I remembered my old self. I felt her again. I let go of the worries, stress, and sorrow. For ten or fifteen minutes I was free. Free of anxiety and hurt. Free of exhaustion, confusion, and strong emotions. Free of everything bad, distracting, and annoying. Free to live, love, and laugh. Free to believe and have the faith that I need.

Unfortunately, that moment didn’t last forever. My legs got tired of pumping and I walked home. My spirits soon faded again and my faith was lost. I closed my lips through the songs at church and tried not to cry. I even left before the last song was through. My faith left me as quickly as it had come.

Now I’m sitting at home after a long, useless day. I remember the faith that I had once before. I want it back. The faith that loved life and God and did not worry about anything. The faith that believed and persisted and trusted. The faith of a child.

The Promise

Once upon a time, He made her a promise. It was a long, long time ago. Before the world or she had even begun. But still He made it, with the full intent, ability, and love to keep it. The promise was love, eternal.  

Later, she made Him a promise. At four-years-old, one is not expected to make a promise to keep but she did and she intended to keep it. “I will always, always love you,” she told Him, fully meaning what she said.

The years went by, and both promisers kept their promises. He always loved her, and she, though not flawless like Him, tried her best to love Him, too. It was the promise to love, for always.

One day, the girl met a boy. This wasn’t just any boy though for the girl had met many and none had so pleased her as this one. The boy was tall, handsome and smart and showed great interest in her. The boy flattered her more than ever before, and the girl thought that surely she would marry him when she grew old enough. Sure enough, the boy felt the same way and since they were young they made a promise to always be friends and tell the other if their feelings changed. The promise to love, as long as their hearts could.

But as she promised the boy her love, the girl slowly but surely forgot to love Him. He kept wooing her though, like a long, lost, and persistent lover. Sometimes she turned and gave Him a smile, but most of her love went to the boy. But the promise from Him remained: the promise to love, not forgotton.

One day, the boy phoned the girl. The boy fulfilled the bargain of the promise, but not to the end that she had wanted. He said, “I don’t feel the way that I did…” She cried, and broke her promise to him to always be friends. And in turn, the boy broke his. The promise to love, broken.

He was still there though, waiting through the storm for the girl that He loved to change her mind and turn back to Him. And He welcomed her with open arms, forgetting her broken promise and loving her like always. He sheltered her, cleaned her wounds, and wiped away her tears. The promise to love, redeemed.

And He is still there, although the boy is not, for He is perfect in love and promise. It wasn’t that the boy was bad, but rather that He is flawless and best for the girl. He had the ability to love her always, but the boy did not. He would never let her go, unlike the boy. The promise to love, forever.

Too Beautiful

I’ve always been a Christian. Well, ever since I was four years old at least. Growing up homeschooled and in a church, I knew more Christians than non-Christians. For the longest time I thought that forms of taking God’s name in vain were the swear words. By the time that I was fifteen, God was everything to me. I professed my faith, and headed off on a missions trip to Mexico. Today, my faith is even bigger and stronger, but the new world around me is crumbling apart.

“There just stories to inspire people.”

“People like Albert Einstein just used religion to help them when they were having trouble with their work. It helped him because he thought it helped.”

“I believe in the things that have been proven like sure, Jesus was a prophet who walked on the earth, but how can I believe that he rose again after he was crucified. There isn’t any proof.”

“I don’t think that God exists.”

I’ve heard it all said by now, and for a moment I feel like a fool. A man dying for the sins of the world and rising from the dead does sound strange when you think about it. I can’t actually see the face of God either. How do I know that He exists? What am I to say now?

But then I look around me. I see the trees and sunshine and the bright blue sky, the ocean and waves and the sand. So beautiful. I look at people, each unique yet perfect with their shining eyes that see so clearly, bodies that can dance and jump and run, minds that think up great poems, stories, ideas, and emotions, and voices that convey these thoughts. So beautiful. I think of where I am today. I remember the sorrows that I have been through, the pits I’ve fallen into, and I realize that I have come quite far. So beautiful.

Now, I wonder at them. I don’t like to call names but really, it is foolish not to believe in God. There is such beauty in life that the world and humans could not have just “happened.” We cannot just exist and go through trials and pains and come out of them without a good and gracious God overseeing and helping us. It’s too beautiful for words, really. Too beautiful not to have been created by an infinite, eternal, and loving God.

When you ask me why I believe in God, I can only say this: “Why don’t you believe in Him?”

Not In The Club

Sometimes, life has too many rules.

You can’t wear that…

You can’t do that…

You can’t say that…

You can’t be that…

To be a real Christian.

It seems like we have to follow a code to be ‘in the club.’

To be accepted, respected, and loved.

But is that really what being a Christian is about? Is that acceptance, respect, or love?

I’m all for following God with all of your heart. I believe in the Ten Commandments and I try to fulfill His desires. I know that there is right and wrong. I know that actions speak louder than words. I understand that we must live by example. I realize that following God is more than just talk….

But I still don’t get the rules. The ones that exclude, shun, and disgrace us. The ones that try to kill our faith, and mock our efforts. The ones that bring us away from God, and refuse to love. Are those what God really had in mind? Somehow, I don’t think so.

No, God didn’t want judgement, hurt, or lies. He doesn’t want people to be shunned, or taken down. He wants us to become nearer, not farther from him. He didn’t make the Christian life a club with a strict code. He wants love, not hate.

So forget the club and it’s code, and ditch the rules. God created us for something greater!

Who Am I?

Sometimes I wonder who I am…

Yes, I know that I’m Elizabeth. But who am I, really? What am I meant for? What am I valued for? What am I supposed to do with my life? How am I to act? Who am I?

Because this world is a muddle of ideas, rules, laws, and visions for what I should be and do and who I am. Day after day, I lie awake at night, wondering and praying about who I am and who I need to become. It’s confusing. I hear a voice, I hear an answer but I’m still unsure. I still have questions, the biggest of which is who am I?

This world is full of different people with different ideas…

You’re a girl so you need to wear this shirt, that skirt, and put on make-up to look good.

Dress modestly for goodness sakes! Cover this, and cover that and don’t paint yourself! You’re a girl!

Go out in the world, be this and be that, make money, be accomplished, and famous.

Your proper duty is at home, and you are best employed in cooking, and cleaning the house.

Do this, do that because you’re not a proper woman if you don’t.

Be this, be that because you’re not a good Christian if you aren’t.

But there is a voice stronger than all of those muddled voices in the background. He calls me by name with love, and adoration. He knows me better than anyone else because He created me and all mankind. He knows what I am supposed to do, and who I should be. He has a purpose and a plan for my life, and it is good.

And I just have to trust in Him, and let Him fill me through and through. I need to be like him, like a ‘little christ.’ I need to put Him in me, and build my identity on Him and His love. Yes, that is who I am.

Reading With My Heart, Mind, And Soul

Scroll of the Book of Proverbs

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes I wonder if we as Christians actually read God’s word. Yes, we quote and memorize from it, and open it up at church but do we ever, actually read it for what it is and embrace it? Because I’ve seen a lot of bad reading jobs lately. I’ve watched pre-formed beliefs, the difficulty of it’s language, and off-hand comments from others block our view of God’s word. And I’m not excluding myself from this group. No, I’m including myself whole-heartedly for I am the worse culprit of this misinterpretation of my Lord’s word.

I’ll get mad at the Bible because it is confusing. I’ll refuse to read controversial parts such as Titus, and parts of Corinthians, and Proverbs. I will skim through the genealogies in the old testament. I’ll opt to read a novel in the morning instead of Leviticus with all it’s long ago laws and punishments. But yet I profess to be a Christian,  and I carry my infamous Bible to church with pride. What is this?

It is…

The actor in me coming out at the wrong moment and pretending that I know it all…

The writer in me creeping through in the worst way and re-writing the Bible to fit my beliefs and desires…

The child in me that was unflattering enough when I was 6, but even more terrible now that I’m 16, pouting because I don’t like what I see…

It’s the sin in me taking over and forgetting the most important commandment…”Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and all of your mind and all of your soul””…

I’m taking a fresh start at reading my Bible now. I’m not going to pretend I know it all, or re-word what I don’t know, pout about the things that make me mad, or refuse to read the parts I don’t like. No, this time I’m going to realize that I’m just a human who doesn’t know anything, reading a book by a God who knows everything. I’m going to read every nook and cranny of its pages, even when I don’t understand or it makes me mad. I’m going to seek, ask questions, and find as many answers as I can. I will read faithfully and I won’t put it down. Most of all, I’m going to embrace the Bible, and try to love the Lord with all of my heart, mind, and soul.