This is what I prayed out loud last night. “God, I’m not the Christian I want to be.”
It wasn’t until the words were out of my mouth that I thought, “Does God really want me to be the Christian I want to be? Or should I be more worried about the Christian He made me to be?”
I thought it, but it was that kind of not-me thought that I usually categorize as God’s Work in My Life.
Lately, I’ve been struggling. I read the Bible and it creates more questions than it does answers. I am not a Christian that can blithely read stories about God smiting the Israelites throughout the Old Testament and feel Really Good about the book as a whole. Yes, other cultures were doing a lot of smiting then, too. Plus, there are amazing passages where God reaffirms his covenant and promises new life, but in between? A lot of smiting. The Bible is a great book, an important book, but it is also a really frickin’ confusing book to someone looking for a Christian Answer Manual.
I am not a Christian that believes it’s a Christian Answer Manual. I wish I were.
Another thing I wish? I wish I were a Christian eager to go out and share her faith with others. I wish I didn’t feel like putting asterisks on each of the Four Spiritual Laws. I wish I believed that God meant the gospel to be boiled down to four bullet points. I say that a little tongue in cheek, but also, really? I wish I did. Because I would know what kind of a Christian I am. I truly do admire people who can share their faith clearly. Who have that clear faith to begin with.
I wish I were a Christian that made every decision by first saying, “What does God think of this?” I would be more the Christian I want to be if these decisions were also accompanied by something solemn, like lighting candles or fasting. Hearing God’s voice audibly, unmistakably would be nice, too, a voice at Regular intervals, with Clear Instructions. A voice that is not a schizophrenic delusion. Don’t get me wrong; I do feel like I’ve heard Him speak, felt his guidance, know His power, but it’s more like a gentle wind changing direction than stone tablets.
Also, often when I need Him to be Most Clear he is blissfully silent. Silence is not on my wish list.
Overall, I wish I were more devoted, more sold-out.
I have been that kind of Christian before, but really, it made me a little neurotic. It was not one of my better mental health periods. Clearly I was doing it wrong, but I have been trying to do better since then, and my faith is often a hot mess.
I am a firm believer that the Christian walk requires some sort of movement. God steps, if you will. I take seriously the call to regular meetings with other believers, regular time in prayer and God’s word. I do an okay job of that. I try to earnestly seek Him. When I’m taking those God steps (writing this post, is for me, one of those God steps, oddly enough), I see the effects on my outlook, my dependence on God’s direction, my joy and faith in him.
In these twenty-five years of God steps, though, I have never gotten rid of my cynic’s questions, my doubts, my not-quite-fitting-into-evangelicalism self, no matter how much walking I do. I have done a lot of walking, and people, a lot of the questions I had going in, a lot of the doubts and insecurities about my faith have not gone away. That is after many, many God steps.
First rule of my God steps? Honesty. Because that time I was most sold out and most like the other Christians around me was the time I was least honest with myself and with God. I wanted to be that kind of a Christian, but that Christian was not terribly authentic for me, and thus, probably, not very godly.
I believe God can change me. Absolutely. Please pray that he will. But I’m beginning to wonder if he wants to change me in the way that I want him to.
Maybe He is okay with this hot mess of faith I have. Maybe he’s okay with me not quite having the “right” kind of faith. I know he wants me to seek him, share his love, but maybe he’s okay with it not looking quite as spic-and-span as I’d like. Maybe there’s a purpose to me struggling, wrestling like Jacob periodically, because I want my faith to fit in neat boxes, and it keeps confounding that wish.
Because really, a lot of the Christian I want to be is a Christian that seems acceptable to other people, a Christian that fits neatly into categories and churches, a Christian that won’t trouble my friends or myself. I desire to be excited about my faith, but I also don’t want to ruffle any feathers. I’d like to be either a saint, or a person that is able to believe without thinking about it too much. It’s the same kind of discomfort when I feel like I’m parenting differently than people I admire, or have fewer friends than popular girls. That my clothes have too many holes to be acceptable or I spend too much time or money (or not enough) on <insert thing here>. I would like believing in God and Jesus to be an easy thing for me, and it never has been, even from the very first time I knelt on my bed in Jr. High and said “Save me, Lord. Please.”
My prayer hasn’t changed. Save me, Lord. Please.
I’m trying to say yes to being okay with the kind of Christian I am RIGHT NOW.
I’m Your kind of Christian, Lord. Make me that kind. Whatever the heck that is.