However, I've been an absolute chicken with my blog. Oh, yes. I play it safe. Don't want to rock the boat.
Have you ever participated in one of those" Words that describe me" emails or facebook things? You send it out, and people have to respond with ONE word, that describes you. Great way to fish for compliments, right? For me it was eye-opening. I received "cautious" or something synonymous quite a few times. This would probably surprise my family and in-laws, as they get the unedited version of me on a daily basis. In "real-life settings," I am very cautious about what I do and say. So much so that I get on my own nerves.
So I'm hoping to branch out, use this not just for a homeschool scrapbook, but also to share and sort my thoughts occasionally. Might as well start with a confession. Good for the soul, right? Okay, here it is:
I've worked very hard for the past 10 years to *redeem* myself. Yep, you read that right. Everything in me knows that I can't do that. God saves by grace alone. I say that with all seriousness and conviction, yet my mind was tacking on "grace, yada yada yada." That couldn't be enough.
So I went to church, got actively involved, taught Sunday School, went to the women's Bible studies (all great things, by the way, but not always motivated by the right desires.) I abstained from alcohol, wore "plain clothes," had my babies and acted like the Christian mommy I was supposed to be. Seriously, a ponytail was my daily hairdo, because it just didn't seem "right" to dress up and priss around when I was now a mommy. All silly notions in retrospect. I let some of them slip early on. After all, I have two very fashion-conscious sisters that wouldn't let me slide too far. Love you, girls.
What happened with my activities was not a redemption, by any means, but rather a Pharisaical standing. I had adopted legalism as a way to live. One day the realization hit me: pride was my plank. I was being "good"; I had turned my life around; I was not doing "bad things." Therefore I was "okay." Or maybe more than okay.
I, I, I... It wasn't about Him anymore. The Light that I had been following had been exchanged with such a faulty and poor substitute somewhere along the way; one flickering and fading bulb hanging over me, offering very little real light to see with. What I could see didn't look too shabby.
My life has been shaking over these past few years. My foundations were/are shaking, as God always shakes that which can be shaken in order to leave behind that which is eternal. There are a lot of eternal things left; but the judgementalism/ legalism/ hypocritical ways are falling away. The truth isn't as hard to share now. I have a testimony that is there, and has never been shared. Why? Because someone could judge me. That doesn't seem so scary any more. Still scary, but not crippling.
I am a black and white thinker. In my mind, things have always stood starkly black or white, wrong or right. I was good as a child. Bad as a teenager. Good as a married wife and mommy. And so forth. The blacks and whites are falling away as well. There are certainly absolutes. No question. Some things are sinful. Period. Some things are truly good, noble, praiseworthy. No doubt. However legalism takes things that are okay and twists them into something bad. Rules and fences get set up where there is supposed to be freedom.
Clearly, it is important for Christians to do what is right and to avoid what is wrong. But it is also important not to be so intimidated by "legalism" (the practice of turning Christianity into a system of behavioral rules which are not found in scripture,) that one is no longer free to serve the Lord in whatever way we have been called to serve Him.
And where does legalism start to affect others? The person who holds himself to those unscriptural standards holds others to them as well. My husband was raised in a family that believes in "the rules." You go to church when the church doors are open, you abstain from this and that, people who inter-racially marry are wrong (he no longer believes this, thanks to my sister and her husband...) ...on and on it goes. And they believe that if (when) you mess up, you lose your salvation. It's an odd mix of supposedly believing in grace, but also believing that our works control our eternity; That somehow screwing up in this life, even if accidentally, can remove them from the hand of God.
I'm tired of the games. It's not about any of this. And even if someone is doing something sinful, an absolute no-no... it is still not our place to judge. It's God's and His alone. We can use discernment, try to reach out, vote against what we know to be wrong, but leave the throne to the one who sits there.
An example? How about teen pregnancy, as this is the one I hear about most often, being in Arkansas. Yes, we're up there in the top ten states with teen pregnancy. Way to go, Bible Belt. Sex outside of marriage is wrong. But what do we do when someone comes to the church for help? Judge them? Accept them and help them, doing everything to act Christ-like? Why is it that most teens would be scared to go to the church for help? Why do so many Christian teens end up having abortions? Shouldn't we be a shelter for them? But it's so easy to slip into self-righteousness, even unintentionally. How can we possibly reach people for Christ, when we're on pedestals?
Even those of us who have testimonies to share... can't. Won't. Is the pain self-inflicted, guilt and shame brought on by God, or perhaps from our own brothers and sisters in Christ? Who is more likely to judge you: a Christian or non-Christian? Or, a better question: who do you perceive more likely to judge? We're here to reach the world. How others perceive us DOES matter. Why do so many non-Christians want to stay away? Is what we're offering (eternal life, joy, purpose) unbelievable when surrounded by our attitudes and legalism. Does it seem like just a set of rules to follow? Who wants to give up having a good time, playing Nintendo, watching TV, having a drink, dancing and singing, playing cards (just a few things that some churches think are wrong... and none of these, by the way, are actually sinful.)
One of my favorite books is Philip Yancey's Soul Survivor. Amazing book. Read it, if you haven't. Another interesting one I've read lately is Un-Christian, about how the unsaved world perceives Christians. One of the best: Mere Christianity by CS Lewis.
Just thoughts. Feel free to share. I haven't elaborated much, as I scramble around here and there, but those of you who know me will know what I mean. Feel free to ask, if you are unsure. Please *try* to take things the right way. I'm casting off the cautiousness, in attempt to be real. it's harder for me than you might imagine, so don't strike while the armor is down.