My friends call me a rebel, now, and I'm okay with it.
My parents missed out on the whole teenage rebellion stage when I was younger. I was very cautious back then. I feel a bit sorry for them now as I tell them I don't really want to attend church anymore ... even the little church on our block that I could walk to, even on cold days. But not sorry enough to change that choice.
Will I ever go "back to church?"
Did I ever leave?
She's not a little girl anymore, the youth I stifled and tried to kill with conscientious pursuit of others' expectations, back when I was too young to understand that being myself was okay. Somehow in the past few years she reached her teens, I think. Or maybe I am all caught up and she's 36 ... still rebelling.
There is something about a framework of walls that makes a lot of people-of-faith comfortable, as if they are where they're supposed to be. But that comfort seems so deceptive to me now that I've been evicted. Back when I was inside those walls, I wasn't developing or growing much. If anything, the teachings I found among the faithful were holding me back from pursuing God in real life.
Oh, I had faith. I still have faith. God isn't moved no matter where I stand, and somehow that place is closer now than before, in spite of my flagrant questions and challenges to the average church-promoted authorities. People ... friends ... (strangers, even) have been telling me they see growth/maturity/inspiration/insight in me all along the way. If I believed some of what was said to me while I was inside the walls, I could rest on my laurels and be done growing. But it was always just impressions.
The thing is, I know what I am called to, and I'm not there yet. I was most definitely very, very far from it back when I was "inside the church" and now that I'm "outside," I'm much closer.
Who did God make me to be?
Well, he made someone who asks questions. And questions aren't as dangerous and explosive as I once thought they would be. Only fear or certainty makes them explosive. The rest of the time they are simply questions. We all have them, when we're honest.
The little girl who feared asking questions because the teachers would get angry now wears them every day. She finds the not-knowing is more secure than the knowing. There is more room for trust here. There is less fear. There is more space inside her for everyone she used to think she "had to love" even though she couldn't really accept them as they were because they didn't agree or weren't good.
Now that she doesn't know who they ought to be, the love is right there and easily accessible.
I told Nick, today, that it feels like I'm finally living the story that was designed for me. I have strange life-goals. Creative. Artistic. Crazy. Unrealistic. I've always known this.
Yet the life I'm living now is the reality of the dreams that kept returning in my journals again and again over the years ... the impossible, improbable, unrealistic dreams that I kept denying because there was no room for them between the walls of my life.
Now I think the dreams that are too big are the biggest gift of all. Because the only way they could possibly happen is because God designed them in the first place.
Here is my church:
The people I speak to. The people I love. The people I encounter for only a moment on the street. The ones I support. The ones I admire. The ones who share life with me. I live church every moment of every day.
Did you know God made them all?
Did you know God is at work in every life?
Let me tell you. Security isn't safety.
I'm not safe. I never was,... even at my most obedient and careful and insecure. And now that I'm not even trying to be safe ... I am much more secure, confident, loving. God gets this place of real uncertainty, I think. It's odd in contrast to how he never seemed to acknowledge all my effort back when I wondered how to have the kind of faith that would allow him to accept me.
Giving up on myself allowed me to see him where he always had been all along, holding me together no matter what.
Faith lives inside the questions, and sometimes faith looks like rebellion to those who are afraid.
Now to overcome the rest of the fears that haunt me ... because I don't like how fear kills relationship.
This is a linkup with Bonnie at the Faith Barista Jam.
Writing prompt: The Little Girl in Me - Click through to read other perspectives.