-Donald Miller, Through Painted Desserts
It's been a good while since I've been here on Blogspot, I guess Don Glover knew I'd be back. (See Jamie XX remix Rolling in the Deep - Adele feat Childish Gambino)
Lots of change has taken place in my life. I now know that I can be a follower of Christ, a christian if you will, and be a normal functioning relatable human-being. Growing up in a conservative Baptist environment planted some, lets just say, not so 'cool' life paths ahead of me, and I didn't want that. I wanted to be able go to parties, if I wanted to; my actual personality isn't very suited for such places, but hell, I wanted to be able to go if I wanted to go. I wanted to smoke cigarettes, listen to what the church calls 'secular' music, to laugh at Judd Apatow's movies and say cuss words with the rest of the world. They wanted me to be a boring average drone with no sense of humor and to absolutely never associate with that lifestyle.
Okay, you're right, I am probably over-exaggerating a little, they had my best interest at heart and I still love and look up to almost all of the religious influences of my early life- they were teaching me what they believed would help me, I am just more of a self-teaching, learn as I go type student.
I went for about two years under the guise of ex-Christian now worldly Buddhist, Ginsberg loving, girl who knew there was more to life than one conservative religion made up of old people and young idiots who were too afraid to live life fully, with courage and passion. I was grossly stupid, naive, and proud.
After living away from home and trying to grow up on my own in places like New Mexico and Washington light bulbs started to click back on, I say back on because they had once been on. I had once been an on fire, living my life for Jesus and his amazing will for my life, young student. I was going to deticate my life for his kingdom. I had gone to Africa and Mexico in his name, to share his love with the world, I had participated in numerous church functions, I was known as a christian to all of my high school friends, I was that girl.
Side note: Looking back I am now almost certain being cast in that role of 'goody goody christian girl' made me lose sight of God's plan for my life, because it was so easy to slip into that role I never had to really have the foundation for that role. I was like a bottle of ketchup with no ketchup inside. I eventually realized I needed filled, but instead of filling my bottle with ketchup, the thing ketchup bottles are made for, I filled my bottle with things I though belonged in my empty hollow life. Thankfully I never filled my life with any sin that has major repercussions, no wild parties, no bad lifestyle choices, basically I was just a bible bashing hater that loved to read literature that supported my agenda.
Rewind: At a retreat in January 2008 I heard God's calling on my life to be a student minister. At the time I had a great friend who I was very close to and we shared everything, he too had plans to become a youth minister, and I believe he is doing that now. My friend spurred me on, giving me guidance and encouragement in my new vocational dedication, but that summer, the summer before my senior year, he and I got into an argument, basically ruining a beautiful friendship and sending me into a spiral of doubt and resentment. I was so angry that God would let such a good thing come to an end, and without his encouragement I began to doubt that God had called me to his cause at all. This is where I started filling my bottle with plans and ideas God never intended for me to fill my life with.
Over the next two years, give or take, after that summer I was doing everything I could to stay away from that christian lifestyle I had once had. I pierced my nose, I read books that disproved a God, I watched lots of documentaries about how their is no way a God could exist. I tried to guide my friends and even my little brother and sister along with me, I wanted them to get out of the 'brainwashing' life they found themselves in. I even got a tattoo to show the world how cultural and worldly I was.
In San Francisco, California, June 2010 I got Shalom in Hebrew tattooed on my left foot. I got it because it was foreign and Jewish and hip and I thought it would show the world how 'peaceful' and 'complete' I was without having a god in my life. If you know anything about the word shalom right now you should be rolling out of your chair laughing, by getting a tattoo of shalom I became a human billboard for God's perfect will for human life. 'Shalom' is a word used countless times in the old and new testament, it has many many meanings which you can read about here, but my favorite is the one my pastor uses "The way things ought to be..."
How beautiful is that?! "The way things ought to be?" That's poetry in itself. I love to think about the way things ought to be- maybe its a girl thing, but I love to sit around thinking of the perfect husband, the perfect life, job, house, etc. The way I think things ought to be, the thing is though... the way things ought to be has nothing to do with my wants and needs.
Fast forward: After living in this ketchup bottled filled with mustard, or whatever, for about two years I moved to San Marcos, Texas to attend Texas State. There at Texas state I had the Texas equivalent of Donald Miller's Reed College experience. (Read Blue Like Jazz if you have no idea what I am talking about) At Texas State I was surrounded by a wonderful group of ladies, some of them believers, some of them un-believers, some of them didn't give a crap, they just had very insightful thoughts. It was in this crowd that I became interested in a Christian walk that didn't look like a bible toting Richie Cunningham. I attended a church service in San Antonio with a friend in October of last year and the day I was there the pastor was speaking about, you guessed it- shalom and God's idea of 'How things ought to be.' It was around that time that I fully decided I was tired of living that crap filled life, but I was so full of it I couldn't just stop, I had myself full to the top and needed a way out, a way to empty myself from myself.
This is where the story should have a wonderful climax, I should tell you about some life changing near death experience that forever changed me and emptied my bottle to be filled with Christ's love, but I don't have anything like that. All I can say is that with patience, love and boundless faith God can move mountains, and even change a sinner's heart. (Lots of amazing worship services and humbling my proud sin nature were also key in this transition)
In January I began attending Life Point church in San Antonio full time, the same church I had visited in October. Slowly I got into a Christian lifestyle again and started wanted to make that my life all the time. I figured since I had started making friends in San Antonio and loved the church that I was attending that I should just move there- so I did last June. And I love it. Never before in my life have I felt so full. My life is an empty vessel being filled with what it was made to hold, God's endless abounding head over heels no words can describe love. I have started reading my bible every day and am now 20% though it, learning more about what God has in store for me, and how to live my life as the bible says I should life it, not the way books, pastors, friends, or even family tells me to live it.
I am so thankful that God let me stray from his path, that I got to catch a glimpse of the hurt and broken world that is in need of a savior. I lived my life in the in belly of a whale for two years, I was a walking talking Saul, with less actual killing and more figurative killing. With God's help I am now on my way to saving the ten thousand on Nineveh's shore, I am on my way to saving a lost and broken world by sharing the love, grace and peace that God has for all. I am on my way to a glorious eternity in Heaven. You can be too.
Thanks for reading this long post, and a huge thank you to all of the people, near and far that encouraged me while I was in the belly of the whale, and those who loved and prayed for me every step of my journey, and thanks to those who are now walking beside me on my journey.
May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship." Romans 12:1
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace..." Hebrews 13:8-9