I should preface the whole thing by saying: I can hardly stand for someone to tell me what to do. I love a good story. I'm fascinated by facts and passionate about scripture. If the spirit's right, I don't mind a hint or suggestion. Sometimes (again, if the spirit's right), I can tolerate unsolicited advice.
But I'm very sensitive to approach. The minute someone tells me what I must do or must think, I shut down. I despise feeling patronized, judged, or labeled. I can get stuck for a long time over a feeling and have been known to argue with people in my mind for years.
Having said all that, there was a point in time after my divorce that I longed to reconnect with God. I was entrenched in sin, though, and unprepared to follow all of God's commandments (which I knew well, having been raised in the church) in any sort of wholehearted manner. I knew I needed ministry. I also knew I wasn't ready for a return to the traditional church. I wanted to ease back in: to feel accepted for (or despite) who and where I was.
I found a church that met my needs and--in that no-pressure environment--started talking and listening to God again. It took awhile, but over time, I managed (through the power of the Holy Spirit) to start untangling myself from the most binding of my sin problems. Some years after that, I felt relatively free of that sin problem and ready to return to the traditional church.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to photograph one of my dearest friends and her family. I'd wondered if I'd become emotional, photographing them, but truth is: they're an exceedingly playful bunch, and I was far too entertained for tears. As I studied images of my friend later, though, I was overcome thinking about our eleven-year friendship.
As I've written before, Christy's been mature, responsible, and settled over the course of our entire relationship, but I floundered spiritually for much of it. She loved me, anyway, and more than that: she did life with me. It made all the difference. It made every difference.
She'll read this and want to downplay what I'm saying, but I'm asking her to hear me. I'm asking you to hear me. Love won me. Not clever, intellectual, or even scriptural arguments. Not admonition, shaming, judgment, correction, or reproof. Love. The love of that one friend--coupled with the acceptance I found in a non-traditional church--won me back to Jesus.
I'm asking you: think of me before you bash a non-traditional church and its acceptance of those on the fringe. Before you talk about how dangerous it is to consort with those who walk openly in sin, think of me. Think of how one Christian was brave enough to walk with me through darkness and how one church was bold enough to fling wide its doors and say: "Come to Jesus where you are." And consider: because of this bravery and boldness, in the end, I'm probably pretty close to exactly where you think I should be.
I know I can't be the only rebel out there.
|My Beautiful Christy and Her Family|