“I am not the Christian I want to be.”
I typed the words on my computer, then I stared at them for a minute. For my hammering heart and the cold sweat I felt slinking down my arms, one would think I were confessing to some kind of felony.
No: thought crimes were all I was writing about.
Crimes like sitting in church and wishing I could put in earplugs during the sermon. I was so tired of sermons. I longed for a church service without someone nattering on about the Bible, about what we were supposed to do to grow in our faith. I doodled around the fill-in-the-blank questions instead of listening, a sort of gleeful resentment in my heart.
Or spiritual disciplines. When I tried to add some to my life: a Sabbath rest, fasting, they inevitably turned into bean-counting, an exercise in legalism that seemed to push me farther from God’s grace.
Or the stuttering failure of my recent attempt to read through the Bible. I’d done it successfully a handful of times, but this go-around the experience unnerved me. Reading the Old Testament had been bad enough, but at least I knew that smiting and genocide bothered a lot of people. Things would get better with the Gospels, surely.
But in the New Testament, I felt like Jesus was standing with his hands on his hips, shaking his head in disgust at me.
“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” he said. “How long must I put up with you?”
I flinched. I finished the rest of the chapter, trying hard to not think or feel as I read. I tried to gloss over the words like they weren’t burning hot to my soul. But days later, I gave up the project. If I kept reading the Bible, I’d lose my faith altogether.
It seemed like any kind of exercise meant to draw me to God turned to ash in my hands.
I’m so honored to contribute a piece to Michelle DeRusha’s series on Spiritual Misfits. Reading each post has been so freeing and encouraging. It’s odd that this kind of confession brings us closer to God–but it shows that vulnerability is spiritual surgery. Click here to read about what happened when I stopped trying to be the kind of Christian I wanted to be.