I’ve spent a few days now mulling things over, listening for guidance, and I think I have finally come to the conclusion that I am finished trying to be that square peg in a round hole. Had a little bit of contact with people who have confirmed that I am never going to fit in that hole, and I think maybe a little guidance from God. If you read my last blog, about the open-Bible-at-random identical Scriptures in Isaiah and Luke, I have to take it as confirmation. It spoke to preaching good tidings to the poor, healing the broken, proclaiming liberty to the captives, opening prison gates, comforting those who mourn. This is, after all, exactly what my heart calls me to do. This is exactly why I am so disturbed by the hard hearted, me-first, legalistic attitudes of the religious right, which unfortunately prevails in the evangelical/pentecostal churches from which I have come.
So I have decided to go my merry way. Maybe I don’t need a church where I can weep and pour my sorrows out on the altar. Maybe I need a church where I can stand and be strong, and help others instead of indulging myself in my own grief. As I keep saying and so earnestly believe, it really is not all about me. I’m not called to be served. I am called to serve. I have spent a good many years dealing with huge amounts of sorrow, grief, and hardships. But I’m still here. I am still standing. Well, sitting at least. The Bible says that the purpose of our suffering is so that we can help others who suffer. It says that if we fall away and return, our purpose is then to strengthen others.
This morning my random scripture was Philippians 4:6:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Why is it I have always taken that verse to apply to material provisions? It actually doesn’t say that at all. So I’m taking it for now. I’m going to just stop being angsty (anxious) about my spiritual battles and just go. There are already a couple of places locally I know I can go where I won’t get the side eye for not complying with certain political ideologies.
Meanwhile, I’m going to pray for those I leave behind, that they will actually manifest the love of God over the love of “my stuff.” We are not called to nationalism, especially not to the point of permanently damaging innocent little children simply because their parents brought them here from another country. The United States is not God’s chosen country, not God’s chosen people. We are called to serve in love.
It’s funny, because I am just not one of those mild mannered, soft spoken, always kind people. In fact, I can get quite riled up and I can use my words as very sharp swords. I don’t like this about myself. I’d like to put more grace into how I express myself. But the things that bring this side out in me tend to be just one thing, and that is the lack of love and compassions shown by other people. I am completely intolerant of that, and it abounds horribly in today’s world, especially and sadly within the church. My fury arises at the lack of love. Well, that’s how I see it anyway.
I absolutely have a long way to go on my own path, not to the presence of compassion and empathy, but to the practice of it. God, show me the way.
There are a plethora of women in the church today who I love and admire fiercely. Sarah Bessey, first and foremost; Rachel Held Evans, who sadly died this past year but who lives on through her teachings and writings; Jen Hatmaker; Shauna Niequist; Glennon Doyle, all the way to Saint Anne as she is known in a lot of circles, Anne Lamott, whose books I have been reading for forty plus years. And many more whose names I can’t remember offhand. I have so often wanted to sit them down and talk to them, and ask them where they go to church! We women are rising up in love.
I may still be wrong about a lot of things. I have a lot to learn. But I’m going to try to learn them. If I come up with any answers, I will share them. And if you come up with any answers, I hope you will share them with me.
Thanks for accompanying me on my stumbling journey!