I started to become one of those that Jesus insisted He would deny. Those that were ashamed of Him. That is the hardest sentence for me to type. Growing up in a Christian home and school, my heart bucked the system. The story of Jesus did not add up. I doubted the truth of it all. I was torn and confused-I felt God in my heart, pounding on my chest knowing He is real. I found church to be incredibly boring. I really wanted to be interested. But I was more interested in the boy around the corner. As a family we would attend the Christmas Eve service. I was entertained. The concept of a virgin conceiving God’s son, was like learning how to nod my head when told Santa fits down the chimney. A story retold for generations. A tradition.
I tried to play the flawless Christian. I spent more time confessing and feeling guilty of sins than talking to God. Talking to God made me feel like a dork, someone to be made fun of, insane even. I quickly learned to conceal ones sins or imperfections. Those that were fearless, did what they wanted, and eventually were found out and asked to leave. I developed an assumption of what a Christian must do and be like. 100% real with God that I was a good for nothing lousy sinner who should be zapped at the first chance. To look forward to Heaven when I am rescued from this evil world. To conceal doubts that I carried, sins that needed to be confessed, and experience real authentic community. Not focusing on appearing perfect before others, but your raw self. There is the happy face that the majority puts on in life. The face that I am so guilty of making.
How are you doing? Perfect. How is your life? Perfect. Hopefully I am not alone….I know I am not flawless. In spite of all my imperfections, sin and trials I am still cared for. I will never be disowned. God knows we are going to be tempted and mess up. He understands the human way. As a girl I could not approach God because I was shameful. I thought God was not allowed around evil and sin. That He was too Holy. So I stayed away to not defile His nature.
The more I am learning about this Jesus was that in human standards He was not perfect. He choose to be born into this world from a woman that was seen as repugnant. Almost rejected by her fiancee for being pregnant with a baby that was not his. It wasn’t that the hotels were all booked: the state of Mary was shunned by society, even a disgrace. During this time she could have been stoned for her condition or sold for slavery. She could have been kicked out of her house. There is no goose bumps Merry feelings or romance in this. How terrifying it must have been. Jesus chose a pure perfect life in God’s eyes. ..
I subtly refer to my beliefs in Jesus Christ in this blog. I have a hard time labeling the subject matter as “Christianity” or just for those who are religious. Sadly, I can not say that I am proud of the hurts the Church has created and the actions taken in God’s name. Nor stand by their view of the gospel. I could barely handle reading this article http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/under-god/post/westboro-baptist-church-to-picket-sandy-hook-funerals-4-ways-to-respond/2012/12/17/520a6ba0-488e-11e2-b6f0-e851e741d196_blog.html . Not that I am angry at these people. I am very saddened and ashamed that the Westboro Baptist Church and those alike, are providing strong unjust ammunition on those who love God. Only He can judge the hearts of man. How sad this must make His heart. I often hesitate posting anything religious for the sake of remaining out of negative theological debates. Please do not get me wrong. I love the church. The people and the stories of how God invaded their world. However, I have had some experiences within “the body”, that I still ask God to rid me of bitterness. I long for the day to see the gospel preached in truth. The beauty of the gospel of Jesus has been lost. He did not come for the excellent ones. The favorites. But the lost, He found us in our broken states and wept with us, took on our shame, our humanity, laying down His God given rights. I don’t have to put on my best self to come before Him, He sees me and loves me even when I am messed up. He doesn’t command me harshly, but gently and with pure and just intentions.
I have been warned to not seek the world’s standards of perfection. When it comes to motherhood, beauty, riches, healthy eating, growing our own food, sustainability, and ecological issues. I believe there was wisdom to those warnings.
For the last couple of months I have been robbed of my purpose that I know deep down in my soul. To reestablish the way God saw me in the Garden of Eden. Where things were set right between me and my Creator. Where He saw and knew me, without shame or secrets. I think that some would argue, you do not have the right for that “feeling”, this will not be accomplished until we go to Heaven. I would then ask you, what is then our purpose in this world? Did not Jesus abolish shame on the cross. Pay the price so we could have a personal relationship with Him, the forgiveness of sins? A chance to even have a slice of Heaven? I know that this perception is not a reality, but a state of mind. A personal choice I make with God- Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Philippians 4:8) This world is a fallen falling place. But, for myself, I can not suffocate in the fading innocence of the world.
I too fall into the trap of following the trends of perfection. It has so many faces. In my perfect world I could always have a garden where my boys would run, pick from the earth when they are hungry. When the community garden died and the season was over, I felt like things I am passionate for vanished with the wind. In the garden I realized a hard reality in life. The things being sold to me, like the store bought tomato, was a facade. I was accustomed to seeing this tomato as the encyclopedia perfect normal tomato. Then I grew my own, smelled the aroma from just its leaves, watched a tiny follow blossom into a beautiful oddly shaped, slightly deformed to normal standards uniquely delicious tomato. This flipped flopped the way I view food…
The desires of my heart (of owning a piece of land, daily being a garden tender) was put on hold to examine my bareness when it comes to seeing how this unconditional completely suffering and capable God loves me. To recheck and balance who and what I worship. No matter how many right and wrong choices I make God is pleased with me. His love for me was completed on the cross…
Our eyes were overwhelmed with beauty, I have never seen anything like it. Indoor gardens, ancient ruins displayed throughout the building. Room service. The softest blanket. The smiles on my boys faces arriving to the hotel at 4 a.m. were priceless. I found myself swimming in a pool of the fanciest most luxurious hotel. Where no one passing my family of five would figure we are barely scraping by. Only there because my family happens to live on the Big Island, and out of the kindness of their hearts flew us there for Thanksgiving. Our overnight flight home from Hawaii was cancelled, after two hours of waiting in the plane and then two hours in line waiting for a shuttle only to be told both of the hotels were now fully booked. As their trying to find another hotel just before 3 in the morning, I am thinking cock roaches and small beds. On our way to the mystery hotel we were told of its features. Water slides, 23 acres of resort, water falls, dolphins, ocean views, child lagoons. A complimentary stay at the Hilton Waikoloa because of the inconvenience. It was too good to be true. And then reality hit. The boys were grumpy, after all they only got 4 hours of sleep. My husband and I were on the phone for hours trying to get food vouchers and rebook our flight for the next evening.
In the morning, I was standing before a large mirror, seeing all the imperfections of myself. Oh the thoughts that ran through my mind. I was insecure. I reminisced about why it felt different to run around in a bathing suit as a girl, and how suddenly it changes. And how you become ashamed of every square inch of your body. Flipping through magazines, checking off all the attributes you do not have. I resorted back to the past Adrienne. The little girl named Adrienne, pig tails blue striped overalls Adrienne. The eight year old girl that stumbled within herself waiting for the nurse to tell her how much she weighed. How chubby she compared herself to the other girls. The silly girl who thought buying expensive Christmas gifts for the “in” crowd would be the ticket in?!
Instead of rejoicing in the transformation of my body, giving myself credit of birthing three sons- I look down on myself. All 120 pounds and all. I noticed another woman however by the pool, that made me question why insecurity has been so active in my life. This woman, she was not perfect. She was not a Cosmopolitan model. She was a mother. There was a joy in her step; a confidence in her smile.
I am not saying all of this to gain sympathy. Or even pity. It is actually quite a shameful thing about me. Pretty embarrassing I could even complain about being healthy. Being able to walk. The fact that I wrestle with every day if I am doing a good job at being a mother. Equipping my sons with kindness, confidence, and a wise mind. I am learning to ask God to take away the mean thoughts about myself. To give me new eyes. To often I receive messages from women and girls, engage in conversations with strangers and friends, who are bullied by themselves and others. That she does not meet others standards or her own, be it her physical self or if she is living the unblemished apron on housewife with a house that you would Pin lifestyle that she dreamed of.
Who sold me this lie of perfection? That one day I could achieve/gain it with a gold star patting me on my back for all the hard work I have done.
Back home, I found myself editing, cropping, resizing, retouching pictures that my husband took of me by the pool. Surrounded by beauty, crashing waves, my boys having the time of their life I was still accustomed to analyzing myself. And then peace healed my soul, a glimpse of how He values me. That I am more to Him than a weight on a scale. The blessing it is to even have a healthy body. Food to eat. Water to drink.
We are all fully aware with the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of those precious ones, the sadness that covered the sky of the Jessica Ridgeway abduction and murder in my town, the Aurora Colorado movie shooting- the list could continue on and on, that this world is not perfect. Not even the slightest. The finger pointing could go on for eternity. Tears could fill up new oceans.
Day by day. With each step. I can put on new shades of seeing this world. I can allow my soul to be downcast and broken over the robbed lives and wounds I see. Or decide to change. To be confident and step into who I am supposed to be. Not looking back to the past, afraid of the future, or being hard on myself and others. To live a life loving the outcasts. Not giving up on those that have acquired walls in their lives. Be not afraid. Love as I would love myself. It is not easy. To offer a ear to listen without judgement or scrutiny. To put others before myself. I believe it is all still possible. For humanity to change the way we interact with one another. To change our minds on who and what we value. In all these things I say them with love. I do not claim to have the answers. Condemn or judge you, put you in a cookie cutter stereotype. What I do know, is that every person that lays their heads on their pillows tonight desires to be loved. Appreciated. Thought of. Considered. And told they are lovely.
“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7