Well, it's October and Fall is here. It came in on the wings of saturated clouds with a breath of cold air, even some snow in the WV mountains where my husband is working. I can't believe it's been two months since I added a blog post. I've started a few, only to leave them as drafts because I got too busy. This one, however, I wrote in an evening, feeling its message too important to let sit.
I've been thinking a lot about Christians, legalism, and the desire to fix the ails of other people. This fictional woman, who could be any woman, is speaking to me as much as anyone else. Consider her words. Evaluate your heart.
Hi everyone. I am visiting today...but I guess you already surmised that. Let me introduce myself. I'm the one so many churches don't want to claim. The one who shows up late in jeans and a dirty t-shirt. The one who forgets about nursery duty and to RSVP to the church picnic (which I will sometimes show up to, but almost always fail to bring a side dish to share). My 3 kids (ages 8,10, and 16) are a bit out of control...well, who am I kidding?...they are way out of control. And, on occasion I let it slip that I wish I didn't have them. You will see these things about me and probably, like so many before you, deem me irresponsible and lacking respect for God and my fellow Christians. I've decided to do something different this time - tell you up front my excuses for all my shortcomings.
My husband left me when my kids were younger. As a single mom, I can barely pay my bills. We can't afford a distinction between nice clothes and everyday clothes. The distinction for us is between suitable for being in public, and not suitable for being in public. What I wear to the market is what I wear to church. Any extra money we get, I spend on food. I can live in jeans, but I can't live without food.
I was born with epilepsy. And the medication I take makes my mind fuzzy. I often forget things like when it's my turn for nursery duty. And I forget to remind myself not to forget. That RSVP? Same thing. It's not that I don't care, I just lost the to-do list it was on. I remember the church picnic the day of because the reminder is in the bulletin...but I can never seem to throw together a side dish in time.
My husband didn't want kids, and he made sure they knew it. they spent their early years watching us fight...and him hit me occasionally, until he finally got tired of us and left. Good riddance. The therapist says the kids' behavior is just acting out in response to all that trauma. I wish they would heal more quickly. Or, if they could just be good for church... And sometimes, in my darkest moments, I wish that I had had the abortions my husband wanted me to have. Yes, it's true, and I know I'm a horrible person for thinking it. I told someone at my last church and she basically said as much. But she didn't know my history.
Now that you know the pathetic story behind why I am the way I am, do you have more compassion for me? Are you willing to forgive my shortcomings and come along side me and support me? Yes? Well that's wonderful...except from what I know about Christ, this back story shouldn't be necessary. You should have said you would welcome me regardless - and meant it. After all, it's not the healthy that need a doctor, it's the sick.
Oh...and that dirty smear on the front of my t-shirt? This morning I was leaning down to pick up something off the floor, just as my youngest son knocked a container of sour cream out of the fridge. The lid broke and the sour cream splattered all over the kitchen. The front of my shirt was in the spray radius. We were running late, so I wiped my shirt quickly with a wet towel and ran out the door. (I'll have the kitchen to clean up when I get home.) I considered changing into my only other clean shirt...but it was a tank top and I had heard bare shoulders are a firm no-no at this congregation.
I love Christ, and so I keep searching for a church home where I can worship Him in spirit and in truth. But my fellow Christians aren't making it very easy for me. My teen doesn't know Christ at all, and watching me struggle to be accepted at church after church has given him the opinion that a person has to be perfect to be a part of the Christian club. He refuses to go to church altogether. Which is the saddest part of all...the part that I know breaks Christ's heart the most. Another soul lost because we fail to exemplify the unconditional love of Christ, and His message to come as you are.
"Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests." Matthew 28:8-10