Why do people feel at times as if they need to have a disclaimer for who they really are or how they usually act? I think we exhaust ourselves trying to be something we’re not, or trying to cover up something we are.
Societal pressures subtly and even blatantly encourage us to be anything that we’re not, which is not how our souls were designed. This will only bring constant unrest to the soul, until we can reconcile our identity with ourselves and with our Creator.
In the Christian world, we are taught that Jesus is the answer to all our problems. He is the Savior of the world, no doubt, and I personally strive to follow Him every day. But following Jesus is not going to make your problems in life go away, or even necessarily get better. So why do some think that being a Christian will eliminate our problems? What teaching have we followed that has led us to believe this? Because that sure isn't in the Bible. As Donald Miller so perfectly pointed out in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, “It’s hard to imagine how a religion steeped in so much pain and sacrifice turned into a promise for earthly euphoria.”
So often, I think we view God as a genie in a lamp – a being that exists only to give us what we want if we just ask for it. That somehow we’re immune from despair because we have wishes stored up that can be fulfilled.
Christians expect things out of being a Christian, and when those things aren't fulfilled or life doesn't turn out the way they've planned, they become disappointed or feel let down – like God didn’t deliver His end of the bargain. And that leads to becoming cynical, bitter, and angry.
So many have entered the world of Christianity with so many expectations – expectations that the church has given, knowingly or not – that they didn’t even have a fighting chance at a genuine relationship with Christ. No life can live up to the expectations that so many churches place on the Christian life. And how is anyone supposed to fight for something that they don’t really understand?
So why promise something that isn’t reality? To increase the numerical convicts per service? To pat themselves on the back? To validate their own existence? How are they fooling themselves?
How has modern day Christianity managed to turn the Gospel of Jesus Christ into simply do’s and don’ts? And then when you do a don’t – and we all do – the guilt trips are so thick that some end up never forgiving themselves, or even hating themselves, living the rest of their lives in shame. Tell me, how is one supposed to spread the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ when they feel worthless? Or like they’re just not good enough? How does the church preach against evil, and yet let evil in in the form of shame and blame? How do we miss this?
How do we miss the chance at a real relationship with Christ because we’re so busy with the religion? In the name of “modernizing” and “maintaining relevance” – terms that oh so many churches use today to justify their program-based decisions within the church – we’ve lost it. We’ve lost what it really means to follow Christ. Instead we’ve replaced it with programs, intelligent lights, fancy graphics, and trendiness.
When did we start to commercialize Christianity? And when did we lose our way and think that was right and acceptable? When did the people in the church become so uninformed of the teachings of Scripture that we fail to recognize when something is “off”?
As A.W. Tozer so concisely writes in his book The Pursuit of God,
“To great sections of the Church the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the ‘program.’ This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.”
I mean, wow. Does that not represent most of what we see today in the modern church culture? And does that not just make your heart sad?
And just maybe all of this has something to do with this generation’s unbelief, skepticism, cynicism, bitterness, anger, and coldness towards God.
How did we get here?
Have you ever felt like you're living someone else's life? Like you wake up one morning and you have no idea who you are and whose life you've been living. Not amnesia – well, maybe like soul amnesia. You just have no idea how you became who you are today. Or how you got where you are.
And all at once, you hate it.
You’ve come so far from what or who or where you thought you would be, you can’t even identify with yourself anymore. It’s like you forgot all the steps in between the time you had dreams of what your life would be like and now – not even remotely grasping how you have come to this current place in your life.
And it seems like everyone else around you is just carrying on as things are normal, or even worse, great. You all of the sudden feel isolated, like you’re the only one who seems to be carrying this perspective. You think that maybe something’s wrong with you. You try to convince yourself to snap out of it.
And then you’re confused and perplexed, and filled with unbelief that you are the only person who is feeling this way. You know it’s not in your head. You know that there’s something wrong with this life that’s being lived, and there’s something wrong with everything around you.
With some obvious varying differences, all humans are virtually the same. We have the same basic desires. It’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Our hearts need to love and be loved. We feel the need to have security. We have a moral sense of wrong and right, regardless of our faith or belief system. We feel the need to achieve something in our lives. We all need food, water, and breath to survive.
And at the surface, most of our lives seem to be similar. We all have people in our lives that we care about, and who care about us. We all have things that we like and dislike. We all believe in something.
And yet it just seems as if there should be more. Like our existence should merit something amazing. Our existence, the human body itself, is an incredibly amazing thing, the way every intricate part works and comes together to create who you are. Doesn’t it make sense that things you do in your every day life should be made up of something amazing as well? Some days it seems like a waste.
So what makes some people fine with living their lives the way they are? Is it ignorance? Complacency? Accepting simplicity? Pure apathy?
This nebulous feeling seems much more prevalent, although not exclusively, among those in their mid-20s and 30s. Generation “Y”. The technology generation. The lost generation. Is it possibly because we as an oversaturated generation have been exposed to so much more that we are now unsatisfied with reality?
I've talked to several people who have at one point felt this way, and read several blogs of the same. Granted, they were all Americans. We as Americans have so much at our finger tips, we are very readily and ironically bored with what we have. It seems as though we have a nation-wide identity crisis on our hands, in need of a perspective shift.
What would it be like if we just purposed to live a better story, as Donald Miller suggests in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years? “And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can't go back to being normal; you can't go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”
What would the world look like if all of its inhabitants lived a better story?
I enjoy writing. It clears my thoughts and it’s somewhat therapeutic. When I can’t say it, I write it. Or sometimes when I can say it, but might get slapped, then I write that as well. Everyone needs an outlet. This is mine. I just feel that my perspective might be worth sharing. And if there’s one person out there that benefits somehow from what I have to say, then I’ve already succeeded.
I write from where I sit, from where I see the world, as most writers do. I analyze and dissect life, in all walks, in all situations. This means that I will sometimes have something happy and sunny to share, and then sometimes it will be a little more cynical, even dark, because let’s face it - our thoughts aren’t always rainbows and puppy dogs.
Now this doesn’t mean that I’m wallowing in depression and on the ledge about to jump. This doesn’t even necessarily mean that I am in desperate need of some verbal encouragement or an uplifting talk. This just means that I’m fearlessly sharing my thoughts - the good, the bad, and the ugly - because I don’t think people do that enough. Afraid of judgment, I suppose. I’m not - afraid of judgment, that is. Judge away, if you’re one of those people that feel the need to judge. But I’m sharing who I am, sharing my heart, for better or for worse.
So I guess I felt like I needed to disclose that as a precursor to future posts. Enjoy the ride.
I recently celebrated my 27th birthday. For some reason, 27 sounds so much older than 26. I feel like 26 is still mid-twenties, and 27 sounds more like upper twenties. Kind of like I might as well be 30. But I'm embracing it nonetheless. I definitely don't feel like I'm in my upper twenties. I've been feeling very youthful lately, whether it's a subconscious mental countering of my age, or the excitement of our recent move, or something else entirely, I'm not complaining.
It is rather funny, though - each year, we've had some major life change. And for some reason, it always ends up being on my birthday. This year, we were preparing for a big move, so we spent all day packing, cleaning, and loading our belongings into a van to leave town the next day. Last year, we had just moved back to the Midwest from Hawaii and were interviewing for a job in St. Joseph, MO, sleeping in a stanger's home. The previous year, we were transitioning out of Nashville, TN and into Maui, Hawaii, and were living with friends. The year before that, we were moving to Nashville from Springfield, literally walking around in the southern summer heat, turning in resumes in downtown Nashville (btw, I actually got a job that day - happy birthday to me).
We were sitting in Waffle House the morning of my birthday this year, before the packing and cleaning process, looking back and laughing about all of these memories, reminiscing funny stories and situations. And then I realized that I couldn't really remember my birthdays before all of those years that we had big life changes or transitions. I have distinct memories of the last few years, because there was always some crazy transition happening in our life. But I can't remember the normal more "traditional" birthdays. I'm sure they were wonderful, but I then realized that I much prefer the adventure-filled, non-predictable, non-traditional birthdays - the ones that you can look back on and smile about.
And because my husband is amazing, we always had a time in the midst of the craziness that we took and celebrated. This year, we went out with friends the night before my birthday, he took me out for breakfast and coffee the next morning, then after packing, we had a bunch of our youth group worship team kids over for an epic night of playing in the rain and playing music outside. Last year, we got a hotel room and ordered chinese food. The year before that, my friend took me out for an all-day snorkel boat trip in Maui. The year before that, Brannon bought me a hiking backpack and it came in the mail the day we moved from Nashville. I remember our upright piano in the doorway, halfway between our living room and the moving truck, him on one side and me on the other, when the package came. He threw it across the top of the piano, smiled and said "Happy birthday."
Every year, I have a very special specific memory of turning another year older. Another adventure, another crazy situation, another memorable experience. And I wouldn't trade any of them for a "normal" birthday. So here's to many more years of crazy memorable birthdays - I hope it never changes.
My intention is to provoke thought, not to necessarily find resolution.