Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Fraidy Cat Sees Herself in the Mirror-Part I

(Author's disclaimer:  At 3 days old, I napped on a piano bench while my mom played the hymns, and my dad shared the good Word. I've been in church at least 5,000 times in my 53 yrs. Don't take what I'm about to say personally. I've met a lot of folks in that time. Just remember that fact while you read. I'm not aiming my shotgun at you while offering a blindfold and Marlboro. I'm just as guilty of making some fellow traveler equally as weary.  And, knowing me, I'll mess up and do it all over again tomorrow. Hope not. But, I'm afraid so.) 
The morning rush had quieted. We settled into our booth for a coffee laced heart to heart. Our personal masks had slipped during a brief exchange several days before. We knew we each had yawning aches paralyzing us with fear. Those fears were locked in the secret places of our souls. Folks around us often have a hard time looking us in the eye once we admit our frailties. Somehow each of us realized we didn't have to be perfect or have perfect faith for each other. So, here we were. Ready to risk the truth. Would it be worth it in the end? 
Sometimes, Christians make me w-e-a-r-y. I grew up knowing the sad, old truth about Christians shooting their own wounded.  Where I've walked, they do the wounding. Then, if you are lucky, they shoot you and get it over with. If not, they just wing you and add to your misery.  Most do it while telling you about the love of Jesus. If you live in the south, they will add, "Bless your heart, Honey,"  just to underscore their sincerity as they walk away from your bleeding, quivering carcass.

In the courtroom of life, my inner fraidy cat always hauls some folks up before me as exhibits to prove that Jesus probably loves YOU more than he does me.  He'll pummel me with how much more faith exhibit A has than I have. You know the type. They come bouncing in as energetic as a cheerleader conducting a Zumba class saying: "My house just burned down, my husband just had an affair, my child was just diagnosed with heebie jeebie disorder, but.....IT'S ALL GOOD!"  The variation on the theme is a somber, professorial, sanctimonious, "God is good. All the time."

I confess, those folks make me groan while I roll a secret set of eyeballs tucked away in my head.  In the track and field games of life, I'll never be able to jump that bar. I'm exhausted at the thought of measuring up to the perpetually cliche. I know the ad campaign says, "Never let 'em see you sweat," but if you don't break out in a good old fashioned sweat now and again, my friady cat reminds me that you will never understand me. Chasing your impeccable faith makes me weary because I'll never catch up.

Maybe you've met Exhibit B? This loving, sincere friend leans forward and intones something like, "I believe I have 'a word' for you..." ? In Christian-speak, that means God has granted them some kind of wisdom for or about you that you apparently don't have the good sense to absorb for yourself. It makes me weary to think I'm so stupid or disobedient that God has to use a go-between. Why does he like them better? Why are they smarter or more trustworthy? Not that I don't appreciate our ability to be iron sharpening iron. I lean on my friends all the time to make me smarter. But, there are just some times and places when that approach drains the living life out of me.

I had good reason to think of these personal experiences as my friend and I sipped coffee. We shared back and forth agonizing over past mistakes while anticipating future efforts.  At one point she leaned forward and said, "Are you saying you think God is telling you that I should ________________?"

Later, when it seemed we were in calmer territory, she suddenly burst into a torrent of tears and gasped, "I've ruined EVERYTHING! I should never have listened to my friend.  I stepped out in faith like she said, and I ruined it all!" Grief and feelings of self-betrayal washed over her.  She grieved the loss of hope and wrestled with the inequities of life. In one last gush of angst, she made herself my spiritual twin. She said, "I'm not sure God loves me as much as he loves you."  Here's the clincher: she had NOT read my blog.

I hope you'll come back tomorrow and bring a friend.  Maybe one whose courtroom of life includes Exhibits A&B or others that are similar.  There's more to say about this story. And you know me, I'm not thru talking.

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