Huddle

My ex tried to warn me. When I told her I found a church back in 2011, she said it was just a club. I thought to myself, “What’s wrong with being part of a club of people that are headed in the same direction as I am?” Well, it’s fine when you are accepted, but it turns really ugly when they reject you.

I say ‘they’ knowing full well at times that I probably treated others the same way that I am being treated now. Maybe Justin Timberlake’s lyrics are wisdom: what goes around comes back around. Or more to what my readers may know: judgement, so to speak, begins in the house of the Lord. We, those who have at times incorrectly esteemed ourselves to be quite elite, forget that to the measure we judge others is the standard by which we also setup our own medicine.

And so I sit here after being rejected by those still in the club. They tell me that what I now believe is from the devil. They tell me that I am with the anti-Christ, even though the whole crux of my hope is the incarnation of Jesus and I can’t shut up about what that means to me.

They tell me that I am a heretic and they are going to warn others about me. Which in a funny ironic way is “free press” that might in the long run reach more people and have more of an impact than would be possible without them. Takes a whole new meaning to the concepts of “no bad press” and God working all things for good. They are spreading the good news without even intending to or realizing it. Their prayers being answered contrary to their expectations and without their awareness. Evidence that we are all participating with Holy Spirit, even and maybe more so in our weakness. All glory to God.

They tell me that I don’t care about the truth anymore and so they distance themselves from me. Which is ironic as their mission is apparently to bring people to truth. Yet in their own words and actions, they leave those they have identified as lost. I am thankful Jesus doesn’t do the abandonment I experience from some of those that sing His name every Sunday.

Again, I say this knowing I’ve done the same in the past. All well-meaning actions motivated by verses in the Bible that I thought justified and even commanded my actions. So I get it. In a way I am now quite blessed to have the perspective of both sides. Hopefully my words will bring healing to all. To those that are probably ignorant to how they are hurting others. And to those that are being hurt.

But as this journey continues, I am encountering a phenomenon that I did not anticipate: I am learning how to be a real person and live a real life. Grieving the multiple decades that I have formerly lived pretty much in a cult mentality. More generously referred to by those in the club as a “holy huddle”.

It is literally like I am learning to be a human again. Thinking all along that I was light years ahead and now conversely feeling so far behind. Like an alien that has landed on a new planet. Worse than being a child because I have to unlearn all the old junk in addition to figuring out the new ways. A huge serving of humble pie. More prayers being answered in unexpected ways.

The beauty being those teaching me by example are completely unaware of how much they are challenging me in the best ways. People those in the club deem unworthy. Children of God even if they have sex with the wrong people, imbibe the wrong substances, and don’t look the part. Waiving the wrong flags but expressing more love. In actions, where it counts most.

This stretches every part of the former me still hiding out deep within my psyche. All my boxes are being burst open. For the better I’m sure. But it’s taking time for me to get my bearings. To navigate this new course. Or rather to be led. To be held, quite literally. Not on the performance treadmill anymore. Not trying to balance the world on my shoulders while spinning all the so-called “spiritual” plates.

Finding my safety not in deciding who is in and who is out. But rather experiencing a firm foundation in the absolute security of my identity as a beloved child of God in Christ. Perfect love casting out fear after fear that silos me when I attempt to self-protect. Some of which include the fears of failure, not having the correct answers, not having all the needed information, not having enough time, and never experiencing relief or justice during my time on this planet.

Increasingly ensured that God is bigger than me. Bigger than us. Bigger than our failures and our pain. Bigger than our minds can know. Better than our hearts can imagine.

His love the only strength that keeps me from shutting down in the face of such relentless suffering and sadness that is endlessly experienced and broadcasted. His love in those moments where He shows me He sees me. His love surprises me, catches me completely off guard when expressed even sometimes most grandly through the seemingly selfless gestures and generosity of relative strangers outside of the religious clubs.

And as tempting as it is to swing the pendulum in the extreme opposite direction, happiness is found in releasing everyone from my expectations. Relishing and celebrating those moments of connection where our actions align beautifully with who God created us to be. Yet relying only on Him. Understanding all are human; still broken at their best. Giving each other permission to be in process. While not excusing, enabling, condoning, or allowing behaviors that should not be. And in that regard, realizing the dance of defining every minutia is way above our pay grade. We do our best and trust God with the rest.

A person I am especially fond of advised me to mine for diamonds. Or in the words of another human I appreciate, eat the meat and spit out the bones. That is what is helping me a lot as I learn what this new life of relationship looks like. Celebrating the good keeps my heart and hands open. Enjoying people when they stay and genuinely giving them grace when they go. Knowing whatever happens here in this life is only the beginning of the story.

Diligent

One time several years ago I went to The Alamo to street witness with a group of people from my church. A friend named Tusi was my witnessing partner that day. We arrived at Alamo Plaza and started talking to people. Tusi saw a snow cone stand and said she wanted to go get a snow cone. My attitude was like, “Tusi, we are here to save people from hell. Not to eat snow cones.”

She stayed with me and we “witnessed” to a few more people. But whenever we weren’t talking to people, she kept talking to me about snow cones. Finally I was like, “Fine! Since your ‘flesh’ is getting in the way of ‘witnessing’, go get your stupid snow cone.” I didn’t say it like that, but it was my attitude.

She left me and went over to the snow cone stand and was taking a long time. I went over to bring her back to “work” and there she was praying with the snow cone people for their business. God, as only God can do, gave me a funny wakeup call that day. Been learning a lot since then.

God participates with us just as we are. Not in spite of who we are. The pressure is off. Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting. There is no competition or condemnation.

“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest…” Hebrews 4

How Can You?

There is this line that I walk a lot where I try to figure out whether speaking on issues is important or not. How do we know whether it is Holy Spirit prompting us or just our own efforts? Does it even matter? Meaning, is there benefit to be gained either way?

In the past, I was a little more hot-headed. But then you live a little. You realize you’ve done or are as prone to doing the same errors that you observe everyone else making. It’s humbling.

People are in different places in their lives. Someone with a lot of wisdom told me, “Eat the meat, spit out the bones”.

I am learning to separate the position from the person. It’s not my job to change anyone’s mind. I write more for those who read something that resonates.

This season in my life I’ve been struggling with surrendering the need to know. Learning to go with the flow. Every day a new adventure. Living in the present. Hopeful for tomorrow. But not as married to a particular outcome as I was in the past.

I truly believe we shouldn’t guilt or scare people into choosing to follow God. The analogy that came to mind this morning was that of a child that has been taken away from an abusive home and put into foster care. It is my opinion that it would be very wrong of the foster parents to tell the abused child, “You better love us because we saved you from bad treatment. If you don’t love us, we will send you away.” What?!?! The absurdity!

We wouldn’t do that as humans. (Or at least, I hope we wouldn’t.) Why would we then ascribe that attitude to the God who Created us? Who said He so LOVED the world that He sent His Son to prove it to our blind minds. That’s why it is so offensive to me when people think they are speaking for Jesus when they are guilting or scaring people into making forced confessions of faith.

What would Jesus do? Maybe Jesus who said to run to Him as a child, and maybe Jesus who said He longs to gather us as a mother hen gathers her chicks, and maybe Jesus who said a millstone should be hung around the neck of those who hurt children (in the faith or otherwise), maybe that Jesus would take the abused child and care for the child without demanding anything in return. Knowing that the child cannot love what the child doesn’t know. Cannot trust without experiencing trustworthiness.

How can a person love a God that they don’t yet know? Especially coming from a place where they need healing first. They need an example of what love is.

I wish speakers would stop preaching behavioral modification and instead preach Jesus. I wish I could go to a meeting house on a Sunday or any other given day of the week and learn more about this God we say we believe is only LOVE.

I wish you would tell me more abput this God. How great He is. How you experienced Him this week. Not years ago, although I want to hear that also. But today! Tell me so I can know. So I can believe. So I want a relationship with God for myself.

Not religion. We have had more than enough religion.

We need a God that is bigger than us. Bigger than our resistance. Bigger than our hurt and pain. Bigger than our doubts. Tell me about that God! And I guarantee I’ll love Him more and more.

For all of you that don’t have anyone speaking life to you. For all you seekers. Ask. Seek. Knock. With all that you are now. As you are. Just put it out there from your heart. Even your anger. Even your rage. Even your cursing and your doubts. Take a risk. If you don’t believe anyway, what do you have to lose? Ask God to help you see Him as He really is.

I have experienced things that make me pretty confident in saying it will be worth it.