Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The One Where I Awkwardly Try To Share My Heart (You know. Like always. Plus extra Awkward.)

Among the things people never told me about pregnancy:
  • I would become a world-class snorer--so much so that my husband (a beast among men when it comes to nasal activity in the nighttime) would actually pray for my normal, non-snoring self to return.
  • Due sinus cavity problems (which might also contribute to the snoring), I can only breathe with my mouth open at night which basically means I've become a drooler.  Nothing sexier than a woman who slobbers in her sleep.
  • In the fashion of Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron," I've been mentally handicapped so I can only think about things in short bursts.  And then, like the fronds of a dandelion, a strong wind comes along and I'm completely carefree.
That last one is probably why most of my writing of late has been relatively lame.  I just can't seem to get what's in my head down on paper.  (I'm not really sure what my excuse was before pregnancy...)

Recently, I wrote about community in a truthful, but really unsatisfying post.  I keep writing things through the lens of expectation after years of being told to throw that particular dream out the window while driving 55 miles per hour.  I'm not disappointed with that perspective because it's one of the few ways I can explain the sense of overwhelmed-by-grace I'm navigating.  But there's so much more to that viewpoint, and I feel I'm unnecessarily narrowing the last ten years of my life to waiting for a gift and the fulfillment of that gift.

There's so much more in the meantime, y'all.

Which is probably why community keeps circling my consciousness.  Rest assured, though, if you want to read something far more compelling and truer than anything I'll ever manage to get down here, visit this particular post.  What I have to say, while similar, doesn't hold a candle to the words she managed to record.  (And isn't it always the truth that when you really start narrowing in on a topic, someone else picks it up and does it just a little better?)

(For the record, I also read her post through the lens of community.  After reading the comments, it's clear not everyone saw it that way.)

The idea of grace actively working inside a community, though.  Whoo.  That's a game-changer for sure.  A lot of my past experiences in the church (and more of my exploits in the far and recent past) include a mentality that says something like "More Grace for Me.  More Rules for You."

I'm not really sure how I justified approaching relationships in that way, and, frankly, I'm surprised someone along the way didn't ask me to tuck in my shirttail because my inner Pharisee was showing.  My biggest fear is that more people just believed my actions were the typical Christian response to people who didn't quite fit the mold.

Admittedly, I charged myself with helping the peg fit the hole--square, round or otherwise.  Myself, though?  I saw my own redemption through a much wider-angle lens--one that was capable of understanding this knowing Jesus thing was a process in the constant state of "to be continued."

It reeks of dualism, right?  Ironically enough, I was totally aware of the duplicity of that type of community, but I had no idea how to redirect those relationships into something that looked a little more like the Christ I was encountering.  So using the best spiritual gift I've ever developed, I chose to ignore it.

And, like all ignored corners of the refrigerator, my dualism grew fur, fangs and possibly the ability to cure small colds or the flu.

(I'm kidding.  Dualism isn't like Chinese takeout.)

(Or maybe...maybe I'm onto something there?)

Jesus, though, is far more diplomatic in his approach to those in need of a Saviour.  Needy people--far from perfect and without a clear plan for change--find healing.  Hope.  Open arms.

But us?  Too often, the "Christian Community" is hellbent on making someone else hug the cactus until s/he is penitent enough to join the ranks of the redeemed.

The people who have surrounded me and my family in the last year have been a breath of fresh air.  Their constant breeze hasn't been without conviction, though.  Their presence is the best form of pressure--the thumb in my back to remember exactly who this Jesus guy is.

This guy?  Met a woman at a well, asked for a drink and offered her "living water" without ever condemning her for living with a man outside of wedlock.

The same guy embraced the turn-coat who denied Him and then returned to the fold.

He loved liars.  Thieves.  Tax Collectors.  Prostitutes.

And He knew exactly what they were when he drew them to Himself.

My Jesus?  He sees people and still doesn't open conversations by saying things like, "You aren't welcome if you fill-in-the-blank."  It makes me wonder why we're developing elaborate sets of rules for who is allowed to enter the clubhouse.

When we talk about a community in Christ, the general public should envision a group of people open to loving anyone--social standing, orientation, creed nonwithstanding.  And why should we fling the doors open for the vast array of people we will encounter as a result?  Because Christ first loved us.

The consistent focus on relationship?  That's what makes this whole shindig worthwhile.  And I guess that's what I expect out of a community.

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