Sunday, January 15, 2012

Christian: A self portrait

It's an interesting time for Christians today. With Tebow in the news and more and more athletes and celebrities becoming unafraid of the backlash of sharing their faith openly, I watch in amazement as I listen to each individual story. It is a good time. I get excited... Then I cringe.

I cringe because I feel the box tightening in every closer. You know the box... The one you get shoved into if you tell someone what you do for a living, if you tell them you are a Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim. The box you are jammed into if you let them know what neighborhood your home is in. That box. I hate that box. I don't fit into that box, and I know you don't either. That box is what keeps people from their real potential. That box is a killer of dreams and a stifler of creativity.

I am a writer (it's getting easier each time I say it), and if I were told, because of the box I was shoved into, that I could only use certain kinds of words to convey my thoughts, it would be devastating, tragic, frustrating... And I would lose a vast amount of my audience. I am not a curser, necessarily. I believe that using foul language is a cop out. There are so many other ways to manipulate the language to a more pointed end, one that doesn't sound ignorant... I have been dressed down in ways that never used a foul word and it was remarkably effective. But there are those times that I get so damned frustrated with my surroundings that the release of a good old-fashioned gutter-speak f-bomb feels perfect. It's shocking when heard, that crassness, that base iteration. It should be. That is the point, not to make it usual, part of the daily vernacular, same-same and dead to the ear. I cringe and I Flinch when I use it... After all, I am a Christian.

I don't want shoved into your box of Christianity. I don't want to worry about whether you will quit reading me if I drop a less than acceptable adjective. I will do that. I am messy that way. Christians aren't sterile. They aren't perfect and their flaws, if left out in the open, would actually make it so much easier to relate to them. It is the glaring spotlight that washes out the color in their story. The story still remains, but the spotlight, it takes so much away. So much ends up on the cutting room floor, in the recesses of the editors files, unsaid, unshared, unrelated. Tragic.

I am very much a follower of Christ. I love my Lord and I have a very personal relationship with Him. He is real to me. I feel His presence in my life daily and I am witness to His miracles often. I also drink. I drink wine, hard alcohol and sometimes I drink to excess. I say terrible things about my fellow man. I am judgmental, crass, shitty and an all around flawed individual. I am selfish, greedy, hurtful and vengeful. Christ didn't make me perfect, He just promised to pick my butt up when I fall. And folks, I fall a lot!

Don't get me wrong, I know the things I do need work. Frankly, they need flushed out of my life altogether, but seriously? Would you really want to be like me? I sure as hell don't want to be like you! That is precisely the point. You don't want to be like me, or like Tebow, or like whoever is holding the crux of your religious preference in the spotlight. Being Christian is supposed to be centered on being like Christ. Even so, He tells us in the Word, very plainly I might add, that we will fail at it every time. That's why we need Him. Not as an example to follow, although it is an honorable endeavor, but as our Saviour.

The most beautiful thing of all for me? No matter how poorly I behave, no matter what mistakes I make, I will remain a Christian. No one can take it away from me but me, and I'm not giving it up. I am breaking out of the box. I don't want to be your shining example of Christianity. I will leave that to those better equipped for it. I will be your example of leaning on Christ because He is the only answer that makes sense to me. I will be your example of His grace to each and every individual, no matter how broken and misshapen, unloveable and hateful. I will be your example of what not to do and how to say your are sorry. But don't put me in your box. I won't fit, and I won't go willingly anymore.