That was me
I grew up in a Christian home. I went to a Christian school. There isn't a time in my life where I can remember living without Jesus; such an enormous blessing. Almost every decision I made throughout my elementary, teenage, and even college years was filtered through the lens of what I thought Jesus would do. I lived a very clean, very black and white life.
I was a teacher's pet, a goody goody; I had every Sunday school answer.
Goodness was not a fruit of the spirit that I struggled with. I was by no means without my own struggles or sin, but for the most part I stayed the straight and narrow. I didn't go to parties where the many teenage temptations would be present. I didn't break traffic laws. I didn't sneak out of the house, or lie to my parents about where I was.
I immersed myself in Jesus. I was at church every second the doors were open, almost literally. I spent my summer vacations volunteering for our student ministry and on mission trips. I poured myself out in Jesus' name.
Maybe your upbringing was similar to mine. Maybe you followed the path of Jesus too, or maybe you are raising a good Christian girl. I hope this post resonates with you.
I wish my faithfulness had been out of a heart of gratitude & not fear
I loved Jesus with every ounce of my being. I adored the local church for the unique way it could bridge a gap to my community for the sake of Christ. I came alive by being in fellowship with friends who wanted to follow Jesus like I did.
But I don't think that the vast majority of my faithfulness was genuine. Don't get me wrong, my passion for Jesus was real, but my fear of the consequences of sin was much greater.
This picture sums up my life. Sure, the hat was cute, I looked poised and put together, but I wore it because I was afraid of sun exposure and the risk of cancer down the road.
My right choices & good deeds were a means of control
Maybe all of my right choices, the Jesus responses, the goodness in me, were really fear and control wearing a cute wide brimmed hat.
I wrongly believed that if I made all of the right choices and stuck close to Jesus that I would spare myself of all heartache as if I held the keys to a long and happy life in my own hands.
The Bible says that those who honor their parents will have a long life, so I obeyed my mother and father. The Bible says that sex is designed for marriage, so we saved ourselves for our wedding night.
A relationship with Jesus is not an equation
Good deeds + right choices ≠ a life free of pain or suffering.
I cringe when I think back to my naiveté as a young girl. Instead of choosing to save sex for marriage because it was God's plan for holiness and to keep my heart safe, I had a gross expectation that if I was pure until marriage I would never suffer with infertility or problems bearing children. To me, it was an equation. My world has been turned upside down as I relinquish the control of my fertility to Jesus even though deep down inside I still feel as though my faithfulness hasn't been honored.
I made it all about me. Instead of choosing right to honor Jesus, I chose right to save myself. I became my own savior.
I want to be painfully honest with my struggles here because I have a feeling that I'm not alone in my desire to control the outcome of my life by following a Jesus equation.
I don't have it all figured out now. I'm still afraid, and I still try to control. Some nights I lay awake at night worrying about the fact that I don't feed my family 100% organic foods 100% of the time. I'm a crazy woman. Jesus holds the health of my family in his hands. I need to be a good steward of nourishing our bodies, but I can't add a day to any of our numbered days by controlling what goes in our mouths.
Being a new good Christian girl
It's embarrassing to think of the self righteous attitude I silently carried for so many years. I claimed the name of Jesus as my refuge and rescuer all while gripping what I thought would be a safe and scar free life inside the white knuckles of a compulsive rule follower because I couldn't really give Jesus control.
I don't want to look poised and put together anymore, because I'm not. I'm still wrestling with following Jesus to get nothing but redemption in return. Now, I am choosing to love Jesus because he first loved me, not so that I'll get through life unscathed. If I never have another child, if I have 3 more miscarriages, if my sunscreen and wide brimmed hats weren't enough, Jesus is enough. His sacrifice is enough. He made the way for me.
I want to live life in the gray. No more black and white. Following Jesus is more than following a set of rules that are crystal clear. It's loving each and every person in my path the way Jesus loves me. Sometimes that's not black and white; it's messy. It's closing the gap between the church and those who don't know Jesus and for those who don't traditionally feel welcomed by Christ followers. That's all different shades of messy gray.
Here's to you, sweet girl
Don't lose the grace of Jesus in your rat race to do good and follow an equation. I've been there and Jesus is bigger than any wrong choice you might make. Don't miss growing a relationship with someone different than you in your pursuit of perfection. Perfection doesn't exist; poised and put together is a facade. Don't make yourself an idol. Let Jesus be enough. Let him be more than your good deeds. Don't hesitate to step into the messy gray areas of life. Jesus is king there. Continue pouring yourself out in Jesus' name. Go on mission trips. Save yourself for marriage because your heart is precious. Make it all about Jesus. Do right out of your heart of gratitude because Jesus made a way for you.