I'm awake and it's 6:48 am. I know, I know to many of you that's really not all that early, but I've actually been awake for hours....thinking. Dangerous, I know. I don't really know if I've been awake because of the things I've been thinking (which you'll soon find out what those are), or because of a nap yesterday, or because I had sweet tea too late at night. Who knows? All three? At any rate, for a few hours its just been me and my thoughts, and now you. Whoever "you" are, which is the scary thing about this. And what may make me wait until I'm a little more coherent before hitting the "publish" button.
Lately, I've been thinking about a lot of things. Thinking, not talking. This is ok usually. But lately, I'm not sure if my motives behind not talking are all that healthy.
I've been thinking about Christianity, about church (we've recently changed churches), about how really, a lot of the newer friendships in my life know nothing about this part of me. Nothing. I'm genuinely not a proponent of beating people over the head with Christianity, or standing on street corners with clapboards and megaphones, or hokey t-shirts, or tracks, or really anything like that, to me those things are fake, and shallow and not really anything that Christianity is. (I didn't used to feel that way...sadly)
What I'm talking about are that people that are friends and want to know me....don't know me. I'm not being honest to hide this part of me. I'm going out of my way, to not be myself. I actually feel like avoided the fact that yes, I would call myself Christian. If it is mentioned, my words are so filtered, among Christians and non Christians alike. If ever I describe my faith or my relationship with God, I feel like every word is guarded, chosen slowly and painfully, like they may be my last. (This isn't always a bad thing, sometimes that's just called good communications, but I don't feel that is my own goal when speaking this way lately). Or I feel I have to duck after saying them, like some Christian somewhere is going to get out thier doctrine stick and hit me with it if everything I say doesn't quite line up.
Why is that? This is the question I've been asking myself as of late. Why do I feel the need to be so filtered? Why among those who call themselves Christians and those who don't do I feel like I can't just talk? Why am I afraid, in this aspect of my life to just be me, just be upfront?
I wondered if I was embarrassed of what I believe, if I was doubting it...no. Not it. Am I being too worried about what people think? Yes, that has to be part of it. But why only with this? Why is it I can talk freely about anything else..even controversial topics like politics, teaching theories (so, not controversial around everyone, but you have to remember who I hang out with all day at school).
All I can come up with over and over as my answer (right or wrong) is Christians. Recently (meaning within the last couple years) I have seen the ugly side of Christians. I have seen the judgemental, "well meaning" but mean spirited Christians. I have seen the Westboro Church side of Christianity>. I have seen close friends be hurt by those who would also call themselves Christian. I have seen Christians say nasty things too each other. I have seen Christians turn doctrinal molehills into mountains. I've seen them unable to listen, grieve, and do things that people (christian or not) do.
This is it. This is why I struggle lately. This is why my soul feels so worn out and tired, and I lay awake at night, thinking of these things. Wondering how and why and what makes people act like this. Wondering how and why and what my reaction should be, and trying to figure what my own reaction really and truly is. I am afraid to speak to Christians about what I think (see above paragraph as to why, or the part about the doctrine stick), and I am embarrassed to associate myself with the above Christianity to those who don't believe it (see above paragraph as to why).
Even in all that though, this is what I know, and what I need to preach to myself (over and over and over): The above Christianity, is not Christianity. It isn't the Christ I know, and it isn't the Christ that ever existed. Christianity isn't hateful, its not ruled by guilt. The point of it is not to beat the whole world or Christians into some nice neat "christian" mold. It is actually quite the opposite of that. Christianity and Christ are life giving, freeing even, when understood and accepted for what they really are. There are moments, for me at least, when all that is easier said then believed given recent experiences and having the Quran-burning church at the forefront of the media.
Please, please know after reading all this that I don't hate Christians (I'm one of them after all). I don't hate church. I believe it is capable of being the most world changing, life changing, soul changing thing on the planet. I don't hate Christianity, I believe it to be the most world changing, life giving, soul changing thing on the planet. And yes (for those with your doctrine sticks..I'm half kidding..sorry) I still believe in only Christ (and in the importance of doctrine for that matter). What I believe hasn't changed. That I go to church hasn't changed. What I want that to look like carried out in my own life--that has changed over time, and I'm more then ok with that. Know to, that I am still working through all of these things. This post of this blog is not my final statement on Christianity and Christians. It's just where I am at this point in this beautiful, messy, thirst creating, thirst quenching, wonderful, sometimes terrifying, wild, precious, abundant life that is Christianity.
So that was it. My (almost) unfiltered thoughts on my current Christianity (I'm still giving it a little time before I hit the publish button though). :)