intensely trivial

In which God and I go to marriage counseling

The last few months (of anger, grief, transition) have made me more honest. It’s not as pretty — reality — as the glossy picture I painted in my fantasy. And when I contemplate the prickly realities, there isn’t so much warm-fuzziness as there is rawness and desire.
Today, for instance, in a time of self-conscious angst, I realized that Christianity is stressful. Earnest Christians are supposed to work themselves into a state of knowing how wormy they are. A Christian can’t ever just *be*, because as soon as you level off in your effort or reach a goal of some kind, you are prodded along to try harder rather than getting complacent. It’s an agonizing tightrope to walk.
I know. You’re thinking, “Man, this chick has some serious problems! She thinks it’s all about works!” Well, yeah, I do have that problem. And several others.
I told Dan about this line of thought, and he said, “If your relationship with God were a marriage, I would think you needed counseling. The way you describe God sounds like abuse.” He said we’ve emphasized the patriarchal nature of God so much that we’ve forgotten it’s supposed to be a love affair. I didn’t want to hear that, because it sounds like so much latest-trendy-Christian-thinking. And I am so done with trendiness.
But then we went home, and I did dishes with my Misty Edwards station playing on Pandora. I didn’t really want to listen to praise music, but somehow did, anyway. And she was singing this song with the lines “I knew what I was getting into when I saw you / I knew what I was getting into when I called your name. . . I am not disgusted by your humanity. . . .” Well, now, that was a little different from how I’d been thinking about God. ‘Cause I am a piece-a-work, and he could very well be disgusted by my humanity. But it’s true: He did know what he was getting into when he saw me.
It made the tears well. The good fight, the fight of my life, is this: to know he loves me — as Sarah Bessey says, “to live loved.” (At least I think I got that from Sarah Bessey.) I’m almost ashamed to admit that in public, because I think I’m supPOSED to have that basic thing down. But I don’t. Love isn’t stress and punishment. Love is all those other things: patient, kind, keeping no record of wrongs, always hoping, always trusting. I’m going to try to remember that. And I’m going to put myself around sisters and brothers who will tell me that truth over and over and over.
It was pure grace to have a little breakthrough like that tonight.


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  1. * Terri says:

    I heard this author speak recently, based on her book:

    There was nothing about her talk that was trendy or wishy-washy. She talked about God’s love for us in a way that I have never heard it explained before. I flipped through her outline and here is a quote that sums up some of what she said:

    “You are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe. You must embrace this facet of your identity or the gospel will never amaze and empower you.

    You are more loved and welcomed that you ever dared hope. you must embrace this facet of your identity or the gospel will never encourage, assure, and embolden you.”

    I’m with you on this journey. ❤

    Posted 5 years, 9 months ago
  2. * manhattandoula says:

    Thanks, Terri. ❤ I will have to check that book out maybe sometime — sounds like a lot of truth. Such a circular battle — I long for it to be won for good.

    Posted 5 years, 9 months ago
  3. * Shelley C. says:

    Such an honest word. Rachel, you may not see everything about yourself. I am sure what you see is real, but there is so much more to you! You have always been one of the more grace-offering, open-to-others person I know.

    Posted 5 years, 9 months ago

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