Freedom- exemption from external control, interference, or regulation.
This post has been a long time in the making and a long time coming. Not in the sense that I ever thought I would have a blog and write about it so all of my friends and family could have some kind of reaction to it...but more like it's been a battle in my mind that's been dying to get out but I was too ashamed or nervous about what the consequences would be.
I think that's why I love my 30's. I can honestly say that people's opinions no longer matter to me. Love me or hate me...it has no effect on my day to day life anymore. However, I also think it has taken the Lord a long time to get me to the place I am today. The funny thing is...I feel farther away...yet closer...to the Lord than I have at any other time in my life. How is that possible? I'm not sure yet...but in writing this post, I am shedding some light on my current spiritual situation so that I can continue to learn something from it. The bonus would be that some of you would take something away as well. After reading this post, you WILL have a reaction to it. The reactions will probably be as follows:
a.) "Honey, if I were Amanda Mallery, I would be double checking to make sure I was even really saved."
b.) "Did you read Amanda Mallery's post? The devil sure has her fooled."
c.) "Holy Crap. I have felt that exact same way at one time or another." (meaning..you probably feel this way right now but you dont' want to admit it)
Whatever your reaction...it's ok with me. The positive reactions will be shared with me on facebook, by text, or by e-mail. The negative reactions will be shared amongst the negative reactors...behind my back of course...even better. ;) But I am excercising my freedom...a word I thought I understood, thought I lived, and realized this year...I have no flippin' clue what it really means. It's my goal this year to search out freedom....true freedom....and make it mine.
I have been out of church for almost a year now. We visit from time to time, but we are not members anywhere nor are we looking very hard to become members somewhere.
Does that disappoint me? Yes...because I know better.
Does it disappoint God? I'm sure it does...because He knows I know better.
Does He understand? I think He does. Understanding it and agreeing with it are 2 different things.
When I left my previous church, I knew it would be hard to break away from what I had known for 7 years, but I felt such...freedom. I couldn't explain it...and I felt awfully guilty about it at first. What kind of Christian feels more freedom when they leave a church? Isn't that freedom supposed to come from being a Christian who goes to church? This is where my "battle" began because I had/have no desire to be a part of another "church". I'm tired of what most "churches" are about...actually...I'm quite sick of it. I've seen too much with my own eyes...heard too much with my own ears...and then watched as the best dressed morphed into something on Sundays that I never saw during the week. This bothered me...because for a while...I was one of them. I was the face and the voice of something I didn't believe in. I was supposed to be experiencing freedom...but I was more enslaved than I have ever been in my entire life. Enslaved to rules I didn't see a purpose for...enslaved to pretending to be something I dont' even agree with...something I'm just not.
The following questions began to plague my mind...
1. What is Christianity?
2. Why is it important in my life?
3. What is the truth that I know from the Bible? The non-negotiables? The "thou shalts and thou shalt nots"?
4. Whose rules have I really been living under? God's rules? Or God's rules interpreted by humans?
Freedom- exemption from external control, interference, or regulation.
I am not a follower. Sometimes...I just wish I was. I wish I could listen to something, hear the rule, and just follow it with absolutely no questions. In some aspects of my life, I am like this. I am not one to buck the rules at work. I'm not one to break rules in society and get kicked out of amusement parks, etc. But in my spiritual life, I just could never take a rule and follow it. I was always questioning its purpose and why that rule really mattered. I am still doing the same thing today and it frustrates me sometimes. A wise mentor in my life pointed out something I had never really thought about...
my questioning things of the Lord is my seeking Him...and He loves it when His children seek Him.
So here is all I know so far...
1. I was saved on November 3, 1992 as a 7th grader. On that day, my eternal destination changed. I was not saved from alcoholism, drugs or abuse...I was just a middle schooler who knew God loved me and knew I didn't want to spend an eternity in hell. I asked Him into my life and started my list of Christians "do this" and "don't do this". That was a miserable way to live.
2. The Holy Spirit guides my life and my choices. If He wasn't living in me, I would be buck wild...guaranteed. I don't believe the Holy Spirit guided me to throw away all my Mariah Carey CDs in 9th grade. That was an example of me following a human's interpretation of the Bible (fail).
3. Christianity in my life is just that...MINE. I have learned to understand that my Christianity is MY relationship with Christ. And it's not always pretty...I probably spend more time questioning Him and what the Bible says...and He probably spends more time rolling His eyes and wondering when I'll ever just give over all my control and let it be. But I'm learning...learning to hear His voice, to follow His lead and do what He tells me.
4.What does Christianity look like? To me...Christianity should be about encouraging and supporting people in their walk right where they are. Showing them Jesus, talking about Him, but not expecting them to conform to everything we think they should conform to overnight. The Bible says "Be Kind to One Another"...but what does that look like? Kind enough to let people run all over you? Kind enough to let people abuse you and not do anything about it? I just think there are so many "rules" in the Bible that we run with and never really think about what they really LOOK like in life. So many of us just know we are "supposed to be kind", but we've never given it a second thought. I don't want to go to church because I'm "supposed to"...that's not the kind of relationship with God that I want to teach my son.
5. And finally, I know that true freedom comes from living a life that is pleasing to the One and Only. I don't know what that looks like 100% yet because God is still working on me from every angle. I honestly don't know if I will ever know what it looks like because I think God will be working on me until the day I die or He returns for me. I do know that I am no longer bound to the "law" of human beings. I am no longer doing things out of guilt, out of habit, or out of someone telling me that's what I'm supposed to do. I am doing the things that God impresses on me and continuing to seek Him and grow the relationship that is Mine....well...Ours.
I am building my relationship with Christ without external control, interference, or regulation. He is the only controller, interferer or regulator allowed. To me, that is true freedom.
2 final thoughts:
This is the type of woman I highly respect. She loves the Lord and she shows this by loving people in a way I don't even know that I could imitate. When people ask her: "How can you be a Christian and love someone who so openly goes against the things of God?" she responds by saying "How could I be a Christian and not love them?" It's families like the Geyers that our churches need more of. Real. Authentic. She is my encourager. The one person I can go to and tell her anything...and not get anything back but love. She's like my Jesus...on earth. ;)
And lastly, I love the deep thought behind Galatians 5:1...
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (NIV)
Translation: Christ died to set us free from a long list of rules and regulations. We don't use our freedom to do whatever we want because then we would be enslaved once again to our selfish desires. We must, however, stand against those who would enslave us with rules, methods, or special conditions for being saved or growing in Christ. (In the words of Madea...HALLELU-JER)
I see a tattoo blooming out of this thought. Breathe mom..I haven't gotten it...yet. ;)