|picture from thegospelcoalition.org|
In the chapter about balancing in Chris Maxwell's book Pause, Chris talks about being challenged by a favorite author of his to live in a spiritual family, a community where reconciliation, forgiveness, encouragement and companionship are common. 'A gathering of the forgiven choosing to forgive. Of those who've been hurt refusing to remain angry. Of the abused becoming healed. Of the bitter becoming nice.'
I'm not going to lie. I had a tough time with this chapter. Here's why. Most of my hurt and bitterness have come at the hands of 'church.' For a time, I left 'church.' My family gathered in our home for our time with God. It was a safe place, and I took more responsibility for my spiritual health which was a good thing. And our spiritual fellowship changed.
But we grew up in the Bible belt, and you're supposed to go to a church for church. Eventually, we found a church home again. I am very cautious and slow to get involved and open up. It's not that I expect church to be perfect, but I do expect it to be authentic.
We all screw up. Nobody's perfect. Perfection is a myth.
But being authentic whether for good or for bad makes me feel at ease. I know where I stand. And I think authenticity is a sign of love, honor and trust bestowed to others. It's a gift.
I'm the first to admit that I'm not perfect. I have a little crazy in me. I have shortcomings and quirks. And sometimes a not-so-nice word flies passed my lips. I know...GASP
I'm trying to be the person God wants me to be. And I just try to be real about it. And I want people to feel like they can be real around me. I'd rather be around someone who lets a nasty little four-letter word fly than be around someone spouting religious platitudes because nine times out of ten, I've found the platitude thing to be disingenuous.
I would love to go to a church like the one described above, but I think the only way to accomplish that is for people to just be authentic. No pretenses. No masks. Just people being people. Wonderful yet flawed. And okay with it, yet desiring and working towards being whole. Being better. Oh, and you need a lot, a lot of grace. A lot.
The question I have to ask myself is if I am willing to do that.
And to be honest, I'm still working on it. It's a leap of faith these days, so it's a little scary. I need to get in touch with my adventurous side and learn to jump again. The good thing is that I have just enough crazy to take a running start and go for it.