Last week I sat down to write a certain blog but God had other plans and sent me careening wildly off topic and onto something more along the lines of “Rebecca finally confronts her inferiority issues.” Judging by the responses I got via Facebook, messages, texts, and iChats, it was something a lot of people probably needed to hear. Turns out maybe God knew what he was doing. Again.
My initial point at the start of writing last week was, even though over the years I’ve tried training myself to be a hardened person who never cries and blah, blah, blah, here’s the truth: I’m a really, really emotional person. I’m pretty sensitive. Scratch that–I’m really sensitive.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that as I’ve grown, I’ve matured. Maturity has brought wisdom and insight into others’ behavior that might have previously affected me emotionally. So if, for example, someone were to make a comment that ten years ago would result in my hiding in my bedroom in tears, now I have the insight to realize why the person said what he said, where he was coming from, what his intentions were, etc. (The downside is when I figure out the person’s intentions were as vicious as first thought, I tend to react with rage, but God and I are still working through that one.) I would also like to mention I firmly believe watching a ridiculous amount of cop shows over the years has made me incredibly wise at understanding and predicting human behavior. The Internet once told me I was smart enough to be a detective, so, well, I’ll let you weigh the facts and decide.
But I digress. I do that sometimes.
I’ve written before about emotional response to the moving of the Spirit. Sometimes I feel like my faith is emotionally driven and sometimes it’s not. When it’s emotional, it’s great, it’s powerful: prayer stirs something inside of me; every fast worship song makes me jump for joy; every slow worship song moves me to tears; and every conviction of sin is so overwhelming, I fall to my knees and cry out for forgiveness. It feels real. And it is real, and it’s Scriptural, and it’s completely normal.
Where I am right now, it’s pretty much the complete opposite of that.
For the past month or so (after I finally got over the hump of ugliness, so to speak), everything has evoked the same reaction: a calm knowing. On my knees to a slow worship song I’ve sung a million times–with tears–before, I calmly speak praises out loud. Pushes by the Spirit to do one thing or another come out as calm, second nature actions. I see God work through me and I love it, but I don’t outwardly react. Conviction of sin is just a knowing nod, an agreement with God, recognition and repentance. And all of that is just as real and Scriptural. I think most people don’t see it that way, though. Here’s what I mean:
Over the years I’ve either attended or been a regular pew-warmer at churches of easily ten different denominations. I’ve worn the big, floral print dresses to one church and the shorts and flip-flops to the other. I’ve used a hymnal where the numbers of the hymn are on a board at the front of the church and I’ve stood in a crowd and read lyrics off the screen of an overhead projector. And here’s my point, if I have one–they’re complete opposites. Churches usually fall into one main category or another–we’ll call them “traditional” or “contemporary,” but I think the greatest difference is whether they encourage the congregation to respond in some overly-emotional way or with a complete lack of emotion. It’s either the churches that say, “You HAVE to speak in tongues or you’re not born again” or the churches that expect you to simply follow their every command in a robotic, mindless, “trusting” way. Worth noting? Neither of those are Scriptural.
The issue, then, is learning how to define church and religion and, most of all, Christianity. Take a look around you. I bet you’ll start to notice that society’s definition of Christianity is not exactly the same as Scripture’s definition. The worst part about it is the “Christians” who are content to go to church on Sunday and play into that definition, never stopping to question whether or not it’s correctly defined. So then we’re back to the basics–what is Christianity? Many of you already know this by now: it’s a relationship, just like every other relationship you have, only better.
I am completely, 100%, head over heels in love with my husband. Sometimes when he comes home I jump up, run to meet him, and hug him as tightly as I can without hurting him (because I am very strong). Other times when he comes home, I may wait for him to come in the room, hug and kiss him, ask him how his day was and offer to make him lunch. I don’t love him any less one of those days and any more the other.
Sometimes when I offend someone, it’s so awful and I weep and humble myself and beg for forgiveness. Sometimes the offense may be just as bad (or worse in my eyes), and yet I can apologize calmly, albeit sincerely, and admit my wrongs. (Although not without a large amount of anxiety.)
Is that bad? Is that any less sincere?
Because I’ve been “trained” over the years to accept a certain definition of what church is and religion is and a Christian is, sometimes it takes a little self-inspection and getting-used-to. It’s a temptation to think God is distant when I’m calm because I don’t feel him. I have to stop in my quiet time and think, “Okay, I haven’t had a purely emotional reaction in a while. But I know I’ve heard from God clearly, and maybe even louder in these past few weeks than the past year combined.” It takes self-evaluation to figure out where my heart is with God, and that’s a good thing. And regardless of how I feel, I keep seeking him. I keep listening to him and developing our relationship. I keep obeying him (or not, but that’s another conversation for another time).
That’s it. That’s all I’ve got today.