you have a way of stirring up my soul.

It was 2001. I was an awkward freshman in high school, completely self aware and yet wholly apathetic as to how the world operated. I was just coming into a thirst for knowledge (of which I have yet to be cured). The years ahead were vast and innumerable, filled with the hopes and dreams of the little girl who gazed up at the moon each night in wonder. 

That was the year I joined the youth group at church. That was the year I felt God hold my hand. That was the year I learned what it was He expected of me. That was the year all of my hopes and dreams changed into some kind of list of expectations and requirements. Things became complicated and difficult and many weeks were spent anguishing over His silence. Tears, bitterness, heartfelt longing for a simplicity I did not know existed. Why, God? What do you want me to do? Where are you? How have I failed you?

My 14 year old brain, frontal lobe still vastly underdeveloped, was not able to reason with God. So much of my teens was spent learning and adopting other people’s opinions while letting go of my own. They shaped how I interacted with God, how I thought about Him on a practical level. It was unavoidable yet deeply regrettable. Shadows and blurred lines and gray shapes in the distance of my worldview were not allowed; everything had to be black and white, starkly contrasting at every level.  

This is 2013. And I am still fairly awkward, but hopefully less self-involved and more mindful of other humans. And this year of turmoil that I have yet to summit has brought to light much of what I have, until now, held as truth. 

I can kill spiders without sobbing for hours afterward. I can say words that would make my grandmother scowl and I don’t think twice about it. I drive with my knee sometimes and have yet to get into an accident.

The point is, some of the things I believed when I was 14 cannot follow me into my late 20’s. The expectations I placed on myself that pertain to my “Christian Faith” have not stood the proverbial test of time. I love Jesus without all the rules I thought were necessary to our relationship. Such excess, superfluity. And for what? To make all of us look/act/dress/speak/think the same? Unnecessary. I have my own ideas and dreams and desires that Jesus knows and I believe He loves my individuality. Without the rules and expectations there is a freedom of feeling without having to filter my emotions. What I experience doesn’t go through some sort of checklist of right/wrong, godly/ungodly. Saying that I belong to Him isn’t some way of lashing myself to a cause or a doctrine. I belong to Him because it is the only freedom my soul has ever known. 

Ten years from now, when I look back on what I believe at this moment, maybe I’ll cringe with regret. But at the very least I will have a better understanding of the fluidity of faith and the effects of true freedom on the soul. 

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just like a tattoo.

It’s 2am. I’m so tired but can’t go back to sleep. There are thoughts, so many, blurred and convoluted. There is flooding mere miles away, people I love are hurting, things are crazy. But that’s not why I’m posting this, uhm, morning.

I’m tired of religion. Throughout my life I have always been under some kind of pressure to meet a specific standard, follow rules, chain myself to theologies and doctrines for fear of not living a righteous enough life. If I didn’t carry the heavy burden of these manmade standards, I was looked upon as one who had fallen away. I didn’t fit into their normal so they classified me as untouchable.

Everyone everywhere has done this in some fashion. I’ve done it countless times to others. We think we do it out of concern for their wellbeing. We tell ourselves that God holds us to a standard and we should therefor hold each other to those standards as well. We hold our opinions close to our hearts, so close they begin to be absorbed into our relationship with God.

I do not believe he judges me. Maybe that shocks you but I think you can reason this out with me. If we say that our sins were handled on the cross, that God now looks at us through the person of Jesus Christ and all he did, then in Gods eyes I am his dearest one, his beloved, his perfect intention for his creation.

I make mistakes. He knows that. He is grace-filled and his “burden” is not that at all. It is a perfect blend of love and grace. There is nothing I can do that can make him love me more or less. Do I really think myself so important that by my very actions and thoughts I can convince the God of the universe that I’m suddenly not worth loving or saving? His heart is grieved by these attitudes. Can’t you feel it?

I’m getting a tattoo tomorrow, well, today. And I cannot understand why you think that you can ever fulfill the ‘command’ of loving your neighbor if you condemn and despise a fellow believer. This is what I’m choosing for myself and I’m not hanging my salvation on it, and neither should you.

Cut out the law, if that’s what you’re living by and for. Please, for Jesus’ sake, try to comprehend how high, how deep, how vast, how wide, how unending is the love of God.

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