Life… You know the drill. You’re the parent, so you do the grown-up thing. You’re the student, so you study for the test. You’re the responsible one, so it’s grocery shopping instead of the painting night. You’re the church member, so you go to the missions meeting. You’re the believer, so you start your day with Devos and prayer.
This. Is. What. We. Do.
I can still see her face, my college choir professor. I was a strong enough alto for my high school chorus, but this was different. It was a few weeks into the semester and I was struggling to find my alto line. She pulled me out in front to sing my part. It was a quartet, but still I was exposed.
That was my last choir class. I had broken. I couldn’t keep up appearances.
I could not be good enough. Be enough.
Life is a performance we as Christians are particularly pressured to perform well. Sure, we encourage others with God’s love and kindness, but with ourselves we are often brutal. Perform well. Don’t make the ministry look bad. Don’t rock the boat at church. Submit. Serve. Bear the burdens.
We self edit, unwilling to allow vulnerability to escape. Unwilling to admit feelings. Unwilling to probe hard enough to expose the sinful attitudes that have been made to go deep, buried too deep…
They are not acceptable, after all.
The Bible Is Boring
Daily Bible reading is a chore that is checked off a list in my home. (My kids both use Daily Audio Bible, which is a great resource by the way.) Anyway, I asked one of my kids whether they had done their reading for the day, to which I heard, “No, I didn’t want to.”
Turns out the reading for the day was a Really-Long-Name begat Blah-blah passage. I said I could understand and that some of the people have cool stories when you study them.
Then I added, you know I don’t know why God added a bunch of passages with names. I think it’s boring too.
Just like college choir, it was hard to admit I don’t get this stuff. (But admitting it was strangely freeing.)
Sometimes I think the Bible is too hard, too long and too boring.
Plus, nobody gives you an “A” in Jesus.
Oh, there are times when you have some semblance of “A” status:
The One who memorized the most verses
The Sunday School teacher’s pet
The Women’s Ministry Leader
The One who answered all the questions before Bible Study (as opposed to the one who usually forgets her Bible study book!)
Are We Having Fun Yet?
I’ve realized a person can be so entrenched in performance they don’t realize they are performing. You can “do” so long- you long ago forgot why you were doing it. Maybe you never knew any better, you’ve just been good.
Maybe it’s just my experience but in over 30 years of being a Christian I can sort the majority of genuine Believers I have known into two unfortunate camps: Guilt-Ridden Performers and Sad Seekers.
Guilt-ridden performers are driven by a sinful past. Their past is behind them, but it never seems to be far enough. They are thankful for God’s grace, but question it often along with their salvation. Their past drives them to make up for it, though unconsciously, by being extra involved in Christian service.
Sad Seekers are earnest and have vibrant prayer lives. They are the first to share prayer requests and first to share bad news. Although they talk about the Lord often and spend a great deal of time in prayer and Bible study, they are overcome with worry. They wonder if they had prayed more maybe life would be better than it has turned out to be.
There are the criers, the pew jumpers… There are those whose role it is to be excited to get others pumped up too… Others are fresh to the faith and not jaded.
Overall outside of the ministry setting few Believers have made Jesus seem magnetic and enjoyable.
A friend, like they say… I say.
A strangely small few have made me wonder. Sparkling eyes. A genuine smile. An easy laugh. Unforced thankfulness. People who seem to enjoy God! I can’t tell if it’s a “Mary Sunshine” personality and they’d be that way whether they worshiped Jehovah or toadstools, but it does seem like its the real deal. I want THAT Jesus!
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him” ― John Piper
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
Fake it ’til you make it faith is exhausting.
Pray until you want to. Read until you want to. Go to church until you want to. Serve until you want to. Do. Do. Do.
What if the Lord is tired of it all too? He’s tired of your good deeds and keeping up appearances.
I know. I’m tired of performing too.
Your edited self, in the form of the perfect Christian is quiet and composed when your insides are screaming and your stomach hurts. That’s not glorifying God.
What are you angry about? If you have been doing good Christian duties while your heart wasn’t in it, there is anger.
*Are you weary? If you are, most likely you have a great ear for listening to others’ problems but may be stuffing your own.
*Who and what do you criticize in your own internal dialogue? Are you afraid of opening yourself up because you yourself are critical and you are afraid others are just the same?
*What can you say “No” to today?
I know it’s crazy scandalous, but just maybe God is calling you to get off the crazy train of doing stuff for Him. Don’t take a meal. Don’t serve cookies at VBS. Let someone else do nursery. Yes, I said it! You may even chuck the Bible plan and the prayer list.
Clear the tabs. Turn off the radio.
Go to your room and scream in your pillow. Hit your pillow if you have to. When nobody’s home pray out loud and let the tears run or just journal and let it go. No self-editing! God wants your realness. Your fakeness God can use in others’ lives, yes, but for you to experience joy He wants you. No fake, photoshopped-soul version of you.
That’s where I am. Sorting through what I do and why and why I don’t have the “want tos” that I ought to. Figuring out why a lot of it tastes like dry toast when I am supposed to be tasting and seeing that the Lord is good. Like my legs are stuck trying to run in a swamp.
Then it hits.
I break through the numb. Tears are good. Tears are a sign something’s going on in there that’s not fake. I want Him and I’m not satisfied without Him. I’m not satisfied with life on stage playing a good Christian.
Yesterday I ended up in Psalm 23. I could have recited it and wondered if it would just feel like blah-blah-blah. Instead, this:
He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
Oh, and this is what I was looking at out my back door while I was reading:
Thank you! Thank you God, with my whole heart. You want me to rest from striving. You want me to enjoy that hammock by the water that’s sometimes still and sometimes has boats whizzing past. You are in the business of restoring souls.
I think I’m not the only one who is struggling with a dry season or perhaps ministry burnout. What has God done to restore and refresh You? Need a jump start? Take a look at reFresh Spiritual Retreats.
You are LOVED!