“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
I gave my life to Jesus 10 years ago. Everything changed.
I was secure and sealed with The Holy Spirit and had a desire to know Jesus more but my life actually got extremely messy.
I became incredibly insecure for the first time in my life. I started going to church and couldn’t connect no matter how hard I tried. I eventually realized that it’s because I wasn’t good enough. I was completely broken. I was messy and I needed someone to help me. I needed people to walk with me and love me. They didn’t accept me raw and real so I put on the plastic “Christian” covering, lifted my nose up, and learned how to perform.
I watched how the church leaders conducted themselves. I sat in small groups and perfected how the churchy women talk and share in small groups. Every once in a while the real me would bust out and totally overshare something I was struggling with. I would get the stares of “whoa! Girlfriend does not know boundaries.” You’re darn right I don’t know boundaries! I’m brand new to this. Why don’t you talk with me, teach me, tell me about scripture and other resources that are out there?
I slipped. I felt stupid. I learned to clean that up quickly by suppressing it.
I learned how to show up to church every Sunday, big smile, and fluent in christianese. I learned how to lift my hands in worship and pray publicly. My performance was believable. I started ministry, did good works in the name of Jesus, and wore myself out trying to help.
I never knew I wasn’t being real. I thought this is what being a believer looked like. All the “good” Christians I know have something to ‘show’ for their loyalty to Jesus Christ. I wanted my “I follow Jesus” badge too! God never told us to obtain the badge. He simply wants our hearts. That’s it.
You know what I realized? The act is exhausting. I was insecure because I was focused more on me than on Jesus.
I made a public name for myself because I was more focused on how I can help God (all about me) instead of just resting in Him and letting Him use me for His glory. The success of me helping God was based on how many followers I could get on MY social media pages, how many people read MY blog, how many people signed up for MY newsletter and how many ‘likes’ one of MY ‘anointed’ posts would get.
I experienced so much fear and anxiety because I was focused more on me and how I felt than on Jesus. I can teach you how to control a panic attack but that doesn’t address the root of the issue, which is fear. Perfect love casts out fear. That’s what I know. I can’t explain the ins and outs. I can relate to believers battling anxiety and depression but at the end of the day, if there are not true health issues, I believe your problem is fear. Fear breeds anxiety and anxiety breeds more anxiety. Pray and believe. God’s got the answer. I don’t.
You know what I’ve learned and am learning now? The Church is messy and we’re just as much apart of the mess … but we’re getting renewed day by day and our King Jesus is coming for us soon!
I’m learning that the scripture has already told us that there are people among us that claim to know Jesus but their hearts are far from Him. I’m not concerned about exposing the people whose hearts are far from Jesus … I just know I don’t want to be one of them. I can’t control what everyone else is doing. Heck, I can barely control what I’m doing. I just want to keep my eyes on Jesus and let Him navigate my journey.
God never told us to put our hope and faith in The Church. Church (the people and the building) can actually become idols in our lives and I’m realizing now that the people have been idols in my life for a very long time. The fact that I could not connect deeply with people in church left me empty. It took my focus off of Jesus and put it right back on myself. What am I doing wrong? Why do people not want me? Am I not doing enough? Because obviously the badge for christian achievements comes from having all these cool christian, hipster friends.
I think we’re looking for approval from the Christians around us rather than from Jesus. We’ll never be good enough in the eyes of another flawed human being but we’re already good enough in the eyes of Christ. I don’t want my spiritual tank to be filled by people, activities or good works. I just want it to be filled by The Holy Spirit. I believe if we’re filled by Him our lives will be a response to Him alone.
So I’m not focusing on The Church (the people or the building). I’m focusing on Jesus. I’m being intentional about Him and Him alone. Do you know how simple that sounds and yet how often we overcomplicate it?
I’m not mad at believers who didn’t embrace me when I was new to the faith. I just know that I want to embrace those that are broken even if they’re not prim and proper or experiencing immediate changes in every area of their life RIGHT AWAY. I know that Jesus will direct my path and I can trust Him and His timing.
So now the pretty plastic wrapper has come off. I can breathe. I can trust. I can live abundantly through precious Jesus.