Friday, March 18, 2011

Fatherhood, the prodigal son, religious and rebellious people

Another great day at church and another amazing demonstration to God's outlandish grace in my life.

I spent much of the morning crying. I had a trigger yesterday that hit me late last night, and haunted me well into the morning, and left me feeling pretty hopeless. It seems that God directing us to Mars Hill has been like salve to my aching heart. And that's not an exaggeration. Don't get me wrong, i LOVE my St. Lukes peeps, i LOVE LOVE LOVE them, and yesterday at the family event, was so wonderful.

The division in our church family, Ie. us choosing to worship elsewhere has been hard on all of us, and i've felt a lot of guilt about it, being the instigator. So that was piled on to an already difficult situation. But I know that God is calling me to work on my issues and this couldn't be more obviously placed at Mars Hill. I don't know what the future holds, but i'm committed to "working the program" that is, following God's lead in allowing myself to be molded into a more effective vessel for Him. I've fought His will far too long, and here's the thing: it doesn't go away! i might as well cooperate :-)

So I went into church today knowing that every single service we've attended since January has ministered to me, personally in DEEP DEEP ways. I was honestly skeptical that today would be the same since my issues were far deeper than even God could address in a group setting, right??? (HA! yeah, exactly. Did i mention I was out of sorts today?!?) So how surprised i was when Mark started talking about the state of fatherhood in America. And i'll link the video when it gets posted. its a GOOD one, i highly recommend it to everyone, its transformational. But what struck me the most was the discussion of the prodigal son, from Luke. He identified God as being the father and us as people relating to one or the other, or rather leaning toward one of the following traits

Rebellious / Religious

nonconformist/ wants to fit in

Liberal, alternative/ Conservative

innovative/ traditional

unrighteous/ SELF-righteous

There was more but i had a tragic ipod malfunction when taking notes but you get the gist of it.

What jumped out at me was that both of these brothers, (and with them the leanings of us as fallible humans) were both pathological. Its not like one brother was right and one was wrong. Really, it would be hard even to identify which brother was MORE right. It reminds me of my conflict with politics. I can't choose a party! they are both SO VERY WRONG! Likewise with these leanings toward life. It was really really easy for me to identify myself. I am the religous brother!

So yeah, I think this is common among firstborns but it was practically my mission in life as a child to be the best at EVERYTHING, even in elementary school i was in the gifted program, in high school you'd see me in every leadership position possible, (Except of course positions that required popularity, because while i had a lot of friends, lets face it- NO one enjoys being around self righteous people. They are ANNOYING) peer counselling type programs (WHAT a JOKE!) I was a debate captain for years, i was super involved with speech and debate, and that really gave me my identity, It was the ONLY thing that allowed me to feel good about myself. Mr. Staska was like a second dad to me and honestly, i can say that he changed my life immesurably and helped me to survive life then, which was hard. I remember once, Jesse Jerger in College i think, told me that i was SO stuck up in high school! I truly was shocked that he'd say that, i was like, NO way!? I wasn't offended, i just was surprised he'd say that, because that wasn't my perception at all.

But thinking about it further, NOW, 20 years after the fact, I can TOTALLY see why he would think that. As much as i was all over the place and IN everything, I was hiding horrible scary truths about my life, largely even from myself. I was hiding behind my own percieved righteousness, desperately clinging to any kind of hope that i was, indeed OK, and in order to do that, i had to convince myself that I was AWESOME. Because Ok, wasn't going to cut it when deep down i felt like NOTHING. It takes a heck of a lot of compensating to trick yourself to that degree. Even my history of childhood sexual abuse, i'd impersonalized to a degree that i knew it happened but i'd somehow managed to make it totally unemotional. Just a statement. Not like i TOLD anyone! It wasn't until i moved out of my mom's home that the fit hit the shan and the effects of the post traumatic stress disorder i'd come to later discover I had would hit full force, nightmares, increased sleep walking and night terrors, flashbacks. I had started to discover my truth was NOT unemotional, it was horrendous.

But in that, i'd also started to begin the semblance of some sort of feeling that i was maybe, possibly worth something... Like in therapy once early on when my therapist asked me, so why do you think your stepmother hated you so badly when you were a little child. And out of the blue i practically jumped out of my chair and shouted "Because i must have been REALLY REALLY REALLY BAD!" Whoa! Where did THAT come from?? Rational thinking kicked in and i knew that a 3 or 4 year old couldn't possibly be so "bad" as to not deserve love and safety and affection, but yet, deep down, that's what was going on in my head behind the scenes.

So, I digress. basically my leaning was "religous". I'd be really really really "good" in order to convince myself that i was worth something, but every once in a while, i'd slide into "rebellious" Since really, the "smoking in the alleys" crowd was much more accepting and less judgemental and i came to find peace in smoking like a chimney, drinking whenever i could get my hands on anything alcoholic and smoking pot with Amanda's brother once and my one time boyfriend Bill frequently DESPITE my fully knowing better. I mean REALLY, i was raised with pot smokers. I knew what life was like, and how ugly the whole thing was. But a lot of things about me then (and now) don't make any sense.

I find that even now, i'm HEAVILY leaning toward the religous side, then i start to feel deeply unworthy and figure out some way to swing into the rebellious realm, and that's when i do stuff that really screws up my life. Its for no other reason than the ludicrous grace of God that i haven't badly flushed my life down the toilet. Thankfully those moments have been few and far between since i've "grown up" and have slowly been making connections and developing self awareness and figuring stuff out, and unpacking the baggage to see what and who I really am. Well, i had one of those really really devastating rebellious times about 3 yrs ago, and the effects have been far more lasting then I ever could have imagined. i can't even quantify how much i've cried, how much i've beat myself up, how much i've REFUSED to accept God's gracious comfort and insisted that I was absolutely deserving of hell and bent on ending up there. When you are a religous person and you are tied up in self-righteousness its really hard to accept your own mistakes, your own failings, your own "splat on the sidewalk" moments, because you are BETTER THAN THAT!

Now, I am a Christian. I'm not SUPPOSED to be rebellious OR religious, I'm supposed to be confidently but humbling walking in the truth that i'm SAVED! i'm not going to hell no matter HOW much I think i deserve it. I am F*O*R*G*I*V*E*N without any "Buts" or conditions of any kind. Its a gift. its a promise, and i believe it, and I embrace it, but boy, are old habits hard to break!

So here i am, grappling with my own sin, wondering how I can be forgiven, yet knowing I am. Fighting SO hard to not give in to the rebellious part of me that wants to look for love in all the WRONG places and the religious part of me that wants to condemn myself to eternal damnation for whatever wrong thought or action I have, but rather to accept love from the creator of me and everything around me, who has designed me, beautiful and precious, as his daughter. One that he'd NEVER condemn.

So how about you? anyone feeling like one side or the other? does anyone have any "aha" moments from today's sermon or otherwise that's shown you what space your mind is occupying? feel free to reply!

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