It’s Complicated, Part Two: Christianity.

A few days ago someone mentioned to me how someone else had hurt her. “Can you believe she says she’s a Christian?!” She said the word like it was sewage.

I immediately asked if she thinks being a Christian means being perfect? Let me tell you, right here, right now: It. Does. Not.

Standing up for Christianity is a complicated matter. I have seen how churches alienate people. I understand the hurt when a Christian points fingers or falls short of that goal line. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. I’ve been both on the receiving and the giving end of this dynamic.

I recently had a very heart-to-heart with someone who doesn’t see God the way I do. Someone who isn’t sure that God can be that personal. Someone who is okay getting through life without a personal relationship with God. Someone who has been alienated by others claiming to be Godly.

So, do I alienate this person, just because their belief doesn’t match up with mine?

I don’t have the words to express how hurtful it is to see people judge Christians based solely on the fact that we say, “I love God.” Are there Christians out there who aren’t perfect? Always.

So here’s my soapbox. I’m just gonna type this out and hope it makes sense to everyone who reads it. Ready?

My Christianity isn’t about saying I’m better. It isn’t about me being perfect, because I’m not. Because I never will be. I fall short every.stinking.day and I’m not ashamed to admit that. I don’t wallow in self-pity, I don’t proclaim my failings from the highest hilltop just to manipulate others into telling me I’m not that bad. Nor do I tell others they’re not that good.

We are all people. We are designed to love and care for one another, and to bring each other closer to goodness. Let’s be real for a minute. Which feels better: being selfish or selfless? Of course it’s nice to have attention drawn to ourselves. I’m crazy about getting the “Thinking of you” texts or the “How are you?” phone calls. But there’s something so fulfilling about truly helping someone else out.

I’m not talking about those people my Pam-Mom refers to as “virtue suckers”. Those are the ones who are always asking for help when what they really only want is attention. The ones who complain without trying to make things better.

I’m talking about really helping people who want it. I don’t want my people to feel obligated to sit by me at church or call me at night. I want them there because they want to be there. I want my people to let me feed them, hug them, help them. I want them to see God in everything I say and do. And when I fail, because I have, I do, I will, fail . . . I want them to forgive me and not judge me.

I could never tell someone their life stinks because they don’t have God. Heck, my life stinks sometimes and I do have God! Who am I to judge what’s in a person’s heart?

There are people who God will warn me to stay away from. But those are few and far between. Christ ate with sinners, prostitutes and tax collectors. If I’m to be Christ-like, who am I to say I’m not the sinner?

And it really hurts me when people assume that just because I’m Christian, I’m supposed to be without faults. It burdens me to hear someone call out a Christian just because he or she lost their temper or had a bad day.

It bothers me when my Christian friends try to proselytize my people, without knowing my people. I don’t live in a bubble. I know others are as imperfect as I am. I’m okay with that because I believe we’re all called to love one another, not judge each other. It’s a two-way street. If I stop talking to BB because he believes in Buddha, what kind of Christian does that make me? If I say I’m not perfect but I expect you to be, what kind of friend does that make me? If I see someone in pain and say “You brought this on yourself!” instead of “How can I help?”, what kind of human does that make me? Not a good one.

I’m currently in a relationship with a guy who isn’t sure where he stands with God. And I’m okay with that. Why? Because he (My Complicated) is open to me praying for and about us. About our relationship, about him, about any- and everything I feel led to pray about. Do I wish he could come to church with me each week? Absolutely. Am I going to stop seeing him because he can’t? Not yet. Do I feel a bit oxymoronic for falling for a guy like him? Not at all. Because he’s a really great guy. And because God is calling him. He just doesn’t know it yet.

We have one commitment between us. Don’t Leave. Period. It’s that simple. If we disagree, we can take time out to calm down and think. We can hang up the phone and breathe. We can walk away. But we have to come back. We can’t leave. Not until it’s worked out.

That doesn’t mean everything is always perfect. I don’t know what kind of happy ending this will have. But I know he’ll fight for me.

And I do know that God says the same thing.

Don't Leave. Period.

Don’t Leave. Period.

So no matter how imperfect I am, no matter how difficult my friends, family, and My Complicated can be, I’m not leaving God.

He’s never left me. He fights for me every day.

Being Christian isn’t about being perfect. It’s about not being alone. Ever.

It’s about those dark quiet nights when no one’s holding my hand. It’s about going to the grocery store by myself. It’s about celebrating with dinner for one (two if Dot is home). It’s about doing all these things alone, but not being alone.

Being Christian is about sharing my life with God, and knowing that He’s doing what He can to share His with me. He’s asking me to just not leave Him.

Does being Christian make me perfect? No. But I strive to attain the best imperfection I can for Him. Does it mean judging others? Not without pointing fingers right back at me. Does it mean abandoning those who I treasure, adore, love? Never.

Will I get in your face and tell you, you need God? Always. Why? Because I know God. And He wants to know you. Because God is supernatural and able to manage my life in ways that I can’t. Because God loves us all even when we don’t love ourselves. Because I can’t see inside you. I can only know the parts of you that you share with me. And I don’t know what conversations you’re having with God. It’s mean and cruel of me to assume that anyone doesn’t know God. I can tell you what I feel in my heart when we talk. But I can’t tell you if you’re in His arms or not. No. That’s not true. I can tell you, every single one of us is in His arms. I just can’t tell who’s fighting Him and who’s enjoying His comfort. And I will never make that judgment call.

As I’m writing this, I know deep inside that someone is reading it with that first glimmer of faith and hope. Whoever you are, please know that I am praying for you. Please know that I want to dance with you on streets of gold. And until we get there, while we are still here, I love you with an imperfect love. You may be a stranger to me. That’s okay. Reach out to someone who can be there for you. Pray. Pray with a friend, a family member, or even a stranger.

Don’t be afraid of the label of Christianity. Don’t think you can’t measure up. Don’t worry about being judged. Don’t think wherever you are in life that you can’t reach out. Don’t worry about others. Just give it your all.

And just know that God has made this promise to you.

Don't Leave. Period.

Don’t Leave. Period.

He never promised peace and fulfillment. Rather, He warned us that just the opposite would happen. That people will hate Christians for no reason other than being Christian. It is not easy. But it’s definitely better.

Years ago God gave me a choice to keep a friend, or turn that friend over to God. As painful as it was to walk away, I opened my hands and released this person to God. God told me the process would be long and painful. And it was. To have to say no to my friend. To have to walk away and let God step up. But the result is beautiful. My friend is now married with children. Living a very successful life, and a very Godly life.

It’s so possible to be completely fulfilled with God. It really is. Your dreams are rarely His dreams, but as you draw closer to Him, he will change your heart so that your desires are for Him and His will.

I promise it’s worth it. And I promise He will never leave you or forsake you.

Whoever you are, I’m praying for you. So hang in there.

Don't Leave. Period.

Don’t Leave. Period.

And Frankly, My Dear . . . that’s all she wrote!

You may also enjoy reading:
It’s Complicated, Part One: My Relationship
The First Step
P.U.S.H.
Dear God, Did You Forget About Me?!

It’s Complicated, Part One: My Relationship.

Last week on my personal Facebook profile, I changed my relationship from “single” to “it’s complicated”.

It's Complicated.

It’s Complicated.

No photos. No names. I’m not one to spill intimate details. I like to protect the privacy of the people who choose to expose themselves to a writer’s life ~ this writer’s life.The family I’m born into and gave birth to don’t have much say on the matter. But the ones who have a choice . . . those are the ones I admire. The ones who are strong enough to stick around when the word goes to print. The ones who don’t unfriend me on Facebook because they see the struggle between who I am and who I want to be, and the dichotomy between my very personal and sometimes public life.

Last week, my two worlds collided in a very unexpected manner. An old friend came to town. We went out. And then he said it. It. Those three little words that every woman loves to hear from the man she wants to want her in return.

Complicated? I’ll say so. There are many dynamics [read: hurdles] we would have to conquer to make a relationship work. Those are the private moments. But we’re talking. We’re sharing. We’re growing closer. That’s the public life.

He’s not perfect. [He had the nerve to ask “Why Toronto?” when discussing travel destinations.] He doesn’t drink coffee as much as I do. [That’s okay, I’ll have his share.] But he likes cats. He encourages my writing. And he’s taller than me. [Yes, mother, when I’m 5’8″, a man who can tower over me is a nice thing!]

I’m not perfect. I cry too much. I told him I hated him for holding my hand. I told him I was going to write every flaw and fight for dramatic content, of course. I drink his coffee and eat his chocolate. I order before he looks at the menu. But he likes me anyway.

It’s too soon to know if I’m blessed with this man or if we’ll end up hurting each other. I do know we’ve been friends for such a ridiculously long time it would be impossible to leave him completely. Right now, our complicated promise is only this:

Don't Leave. Period.

Don’t Leave. Period.

The rest we’ll either figure out or we won’t. We’re not in a rush to make it work or find out it won’t. For This Girl, who thrives on stability and steadiness, this uncertainty is new. I’m used to being alone, solitary, not asking for help with decision making or planning someone else’s social schedule. This is familiarly new to me.

Is he a good catch? I think so. I’ve always thought so. Except for those in-between times when we’ve danced around each other’s lives with someone else. Except for those in-between years when we forgot we liked each other. After all this time, we are in the same place at the same time. And it’s complicated. Because it’s not.

It’s a little terrifying. A lot satisfying. And pretty much the reason I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in a week.

I want to make sure I’m not using him for his attentions. Let’s face it–who doesn’t love some nice “You look good” and “Have a chocolate” stuff. He deserves more than me just wanting his attentions. He deserves me wanting him completely, as he says, “warts and all”.

And so I’m praying. I’m praying for clarity and direction and all the things a person prays about in a relationship. I’m praying to be able to keep God first not just in this, but in every relationship. I desire God to be above all else in my household. I crave a man who is so in love with the Lord that he forgets I’m in the room.

It’s so complicated. I don’t want a guy to replace God as my Head of Household.

And in the quiet of the late night, when the rest of the world is gone and asleep and I’m left alone after hanging up the phone and My Complicated is far away, I hear God saying, “I’m still here.”

That folks, is what we in the writing world call “the hook” or “the cliffhanger”. Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story.

And Frankly, My Dear . . . That’s all she wrote!

You may also enjoy reading:
Apologetic
I’m Afraid of My Own Succcess