This weekend I had the privilege of joining thousands of women around the world to watch the IF:Gathering. My sweet friends Emily, Meghan and I cozied up with warm blankets and coffee and journals, listened to wise teachers and then let their lessons guide us in to discussions about everything from fear and anxiety to motherhood and marriage.
The women of IF have left me with words that are game changers; far too much to process in one sitting or one day. This is part one of a week long look back at the words and the sentences and the ways that I don’t want to stay the same. ___________________________________
When we take the very honest pieces of our hearts out from behind their protective coverings, something incredibly humbling happens. We look at them in detail, we hold them in our hands and test their authenticity, and we sift them in our minds with good questions and honest answers. Then we start to really see them, the things that truly make up who we are. It’s a good process, and a hard one. Because in the very honest, very real moments I see a lot that I don’t love about these pieces. Things like that fact that I am obsessed with your approval of me, that I criticize the ministry of the church for missing the mark, that I talk about others, and that I compare compare compare my children, my writing, my theology, my home, my life to yours, as if I am always looking for information to affirm that I am enough, or better.
And then I hold these things out to Jesus, and the only words that come to me are I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Because as much as I think and say that I want nothing more than to know Christ and him crucified, those are words more than they are actions. I want that, yes; but the truth is I want that as long as I also get a comfortable life and a good reputation, too.
I realized this weekend that I have no idea how big and beautiful God is. I have thirty years of Sunday school and a fairly legalistic, I’m a pretty good girl don’t I deserve a good life kind of faith. I have hundreds of books and quotes that have taught me how to talk about Jesus. I have dozens of journals that have documented a very safe faith. And I have more prayers for my own well-being and desires than I can count. I realized that, quite frankly, I think about myself a lot. And for the past few years this kind of faith has made me restless, stale, frustrated, and strangely judgmental—because if I couldn’t fix a discontent in myself I would simply point to something or someone tangible to blame it on, and that eased the discontent for approximately three minutes.
It has just been too hard to own my junk. So I’ve have done far too much deflecting the junk to something else, then I’ve held up a list of ways that I’m such a good girl and called that faith in Jesus.
“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those that are evil… I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first…repent.” Revelation 2:2-5
A few years ago I would have heard Rebekah Lyons’ words that “the repentance starts in me” and I would have thought she was talking mostly about other people. Now, I hear those words and I write about them here and I am ashamed. Because they are without question for me. There are so many dreams I have, so many ways I want to take the message of faith and run bravely with it. But first, I need forgiveness. Today is a day for sitting a little bit longer with my desperate need for repentance, for staring at the ways I have forgotten how much I need Jesus, for admitting that there are many things I have wanted more than him, my first love. I will have no endurance to run this race if I don’t admit that I have no ability to run it on my own. Before I can move forward and step in to any work that I believe is mine to do in the world, I am asking God for forgiveness, and for the constant reminder that there is no weakness in humility—in fact, humility is exactly where to begin.