Earlier this week I was feeling pretty low. I was struggling with relationship issues and the frustration that we are all a mess: The whole lot of us, in one way or another. I have a situation that I'm not sure how to handle--or worse-- that I KNOW how to handle but it's uncomfortable at best. And then, as it happens, when there is ONE BIG thing on my mind, seventeen thousand LITTLE things pop up that multiply the weight of the ONE BIG thing exponentially. And I was a bubbling cauldron of emotion. I was ready to go all Bruce Banner up in here. So that's the state of mind I was in when this post was born. I was at that place where I couldn't possibly "take" one more thing. My internal thermometer was approaching "BLAST OFF" and I was hanging by a precious little thread. So, kindly look past my venom as I share my heart. I want to keep this blog as authentic as I can. And not every day is filled with butterflies and rainbows, with witty posts about my harmonious life. Some days TOTALLY suck. This post was written during a string of those sucky days. :)
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).
That sounds so nice.
But then I read the Message version and I was blown away.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly."
Am I tired? Oh yes.
Worn Out? Absolutely!
Burned out on religion? A thousand times, YES!
I am all of those things.
And here's where the shiznit gets REAL on this blog.
I am more than physically tired. I am more than the fatigued and worn out that everyone gets from the demands of everyday responsibilities.
I am weary. I am shaky-kneed-fall-on-my-face weary.
From this thing called life.
From the delicate back-and-forth mechanism that makes up this universe.
I am worn out and disenchanted with relationships and all that is required to maintain them.
I am sick and tired of religion that says "wear your mask, check off the boxes, and everyone will think you're a 'good' Christian."
I am absolutely nauseated at religion that says "put your money in the envelope, volunteer for this ministry, sign up for this Bible Study, use all the catchphrases like 'Jesus Saves!' and disregard the black hole in your heart.
I am so over "commitment" that fits in every other Tuesday from 1:00 - 1:15, and only when it's convenient.
And I am infinitely exhausted over those who hide behind scripture usage, blog posts exalting the Word of God, and Pinterest Pins of scripture pinned by the 100s, yet there is no fruit--no tangible outward expression of the virtues being posted to Facebook, Tweeted or pinned on their Pinterest board.
I am sick to death of struggling against my human nature which wants to lash out and call those out who profess one thing but act quite another. Against those who others look up to, but it is so obvious that their lives bear little or no fruit--they don't walk their talk.
I am disheartened to read blogs written by those professing to be Christians (Blogger A) who publicly bash other bloggers (Blogger B), even questioning Blogger B's relationship with God, because Blogger B does not use the same writing style as Blogger A. All the while, Blogger A's posts are filled to the brim with condescension, holier-than-thou "wisdom" fraught with legalism that turns my stomach and makes me wonder how many seekers clicked the 'X' in the upper right hand corner of their screen before actually getting to meet Jesus.
I am road weary like the marathoner who hits the wall at the 22 mile mark. My legs are locking up and I look like Gumby.
I just want to walk away. Turn my back. Not give it or them one more second of my time or energy.
I am desert-thirsty for authenticity.
For those who are real enough to look you in the eye when there's a conflict. Who will respond when you reach out. Who will join together to glorify God even at the expense of self.
I am craving "REALness" and actual, bonafide relationship.
I am crippled in knowing how to deal with others and their weaknesses, struggles, and shortcomings when one of my own weaknesses, struggles and shortcomings is in dealing with those who refuse to be real. With those who refuse to communicate honestly.
I am stuck in an obsessive pattern of thought about all these things and what I want to say versus what I should say.
I am incapacitated by constant second guessing and rehashing. And with seeing too much of myself in the very things I am ranting about.
With knowing that I can't utter one single word against those that I just described because I've walked that path and acted those same ways too many times.
I am beaten down over the inner battle to ask WWJD and simultaneously not giving a flipping care what Jesus would do.
I don't want to be the bigger person. I don't want to chase others any longer. I don't want to beg for community. I don't want to have to decode what someone could have meant when he said this or when she said that. Or wonder why she didn't respond when I said this or why he didn't answer when I asked that.
I am weary and burdened.
And I want to rest in Jesus, but what does that mean? What does that look like? How can I practically apply that?
Does that mean allowing others to continue in the same manner? In a way that's hurtful and absolutely anti-community? Does that mean sweeping things under the rug when the other party refuses to have a conversation? What if that person is a Believer? How do you respond when someone who professes to wear the banner of Christ continues to act in a way completely opposite of Christ-likeness?
Those conversations are hard and I don't want to have them. I don't.
I hate confrontation. I hate conflict.
And making it even harder is when the parties involved refuse to participate in any kind of a clearing of the air.
And in the midst of this seething, I usually try to look within myself at the "plank" in my own eye before pointing out the "speck" in another's...and, at the end of the day, I want to do the right thing. I want the right attitude. I want the right reactions. I want to wear grace and kindness and humility.
But what an amazing strain that is to wrestle with the flesh that also wants to put my fist through the wall.
I know the right things to do:
Walk Humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
Easier said than done.
I'll ask to see others through the eyes of Jesus.
I'll ask to see myself through the eyes of Jesus too...and through the eyes of others.
I'll [try to] hold my tongue unless whatever I have to say is edifying and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16).
I'll [try to] not grumble against my brothers and sisters. (John 6:43)
And I'll do a whole lot of asking for wisdom since I'll be doing most of this with a ton of [mental] kicking and screaming. (James 1:15)
Are you weary of these things too? Are you tired of warming a pew, but your heart feels cold? Are you tired of lips that quote scripture while hands are tucked safely in pockets? Do you want to drop the masks we all wear in the effort to play the part? Do you ever want to stand up and say, "I'm a hot mess, but Jesus loves me anyway. I have bad habits, I say things I shouldn't, I avoid certain situations like the plague, and I have a ways to go...but I'm saved! And I want to be different!"?
I am a hot mess...a kelvin degree hot mess. (Did that even make sense??)
But I want to do this thing the way it was intended...the way Jesus did it.
Not the weak-looking Jesus you see in paintings.
The Jesus who had dirty finger nails, sandles caked with mud and camel dung, and a heart like no other.
I want to follow the Jesus who was homeless. Who had nowhere to lay his head. Who washed his disciples' feet...feet that were also caked with mud and camel dung.
The Jesus who lowered Himself to the role of servant. Who knew He was going to die, but did it anyway to save us. Who was so freaked out about what was to happen to Him that he sweated blood, He cried out to God to save Him, but most importantly He did it anyway.
I want to look to Him who has "been there" to know how to continue on.
And I want to be like the guy who made community with the "low-lifes" of society: the thieves, the prostitutes, the unmarried mothers, the dirt balls, the murderers, the poor, the crippled, all those considered outside the "right" social circles. Who ate dinner with them at their houses, who spoke kindly to them when the religious leaders and all others shunned and them. The man who knew His time was best spent ministering to those who had a hole in their hearts and didn't know about God's FORGIVENESS even though God's LAW had been shoved down their throats. The man who chose to GO OUT into the world rather than stay at home and brush elbows with those who He felt most comfortable with.
I want to emulate the man who didn't back down from His commitment to God's plan even when He was ridiculed, ostracized, beaten until you could see bone, whipped, beaten some more, nailed to a cross, abandoned by his friends and family and left to die alone, naked while the whole community looked on and spat at him, raffled off His clothes and made fun of Him.
And I have a WAAAAAAAAAYS to go to get to that point.
I am a failure in so many ways.
But I believe it starts with us and works into our inner circles.
If we can emulate Jesus in our everyday activities and interactions with those closest to us, we can affect our "4 walls"--who can, in turn, affect each of their inner circles.
And what may start as a drop of water in a pond can ripple into a whirl pool in an ocean.
And it starts with one step...one decision to be different...to be Real.