Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. ~1 Timothy 1:15&16.
This jumped off the page of my bible and spoke to me today.
It’s very similar to a quote that circulated Facebook about 10 years ago:
If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just be a horrible warning
Okay, I am not wallowing in my life, spending my days thinking about what an awful person I am, but I do know that I am stretching His immense patience with me.
I’ve become Clairee Belcher, “Well, you know what they say: if you don't have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!”
That is a Steel Magnolias reference, only a select few will understand, for everyone else let me just say more tacky things have left my mouth lately then good things. Not towards one person, or one group or even about anyone, just about life.
URGH! Blah! Have you ever been downright annoyed by yourself, your actions or lack of actions. Your lack of willpower, no your lack of commitment.
Just to be clear - I am not cheating on my husband, I am not over eating….well that one isn’t always true, but I am being faithful to all of my commitments except, maybe, that of my calling.
And in typical fashion I am two days into (and a week behind on homework) a Beth Moore study that is kicking my butt. And making me scream, “Why don’t you know this stuff already?!?” It takes me forever to decipher what Beth is talking about when I have to look up words like rumination, scalene, and sectarianism. Congratulations if you know all of those, you must of scored high on your SATs - I did not. I only slightly recall if I even took my SATs, I believe I did - I mean I did attend college, but you can’t tell that by this horrid rambling full of grammatical errors.
I am a week past one of the biggest achievements in my career (not really sure you can call it a “career”, but it pays the bills - by bills I mean my shopping). I successfully wrapped a 3 day conference, I did it! Well, I had a really good team, but I made through without losing my mind. Actually, I learned so much, but not about how to run conferences. I was challenged by our speakers. I left torn - I left realizing that I live my life non longer in the grey, I have no squiggle to my line - it’s straight. I guess since more people than my husband read my blog and those you may not speak proficient “Dana” like he does I will elaborate.
As I left my past life behind and started my new life, about seven years ago I drew a line (I mentally drew a line) or maybe a sliding scale. At one side is (usually on the left for some reason) is the out of control me, the life in shambles me, the drinking until I cannot remember what happened the night before me. For some reason that side always appears as white (you’ll understand in a minute).
Then, no shocker, the right side I can only describe as my church lady side. Very strict, very ridged, these are the things I do and this is the dark black line to which I judge things - things being actual things and people. White is the lack of that line - nothing is judged, nothing is monitored - it’s just fun all the time!
When things like going to a bar makes me feel like I am creeping towards the white I run, full speed in to the black, There is no grey, there is no middle. I am fully aware that my color choices are so backwards.
I fight to find the middle, to take rest in the middle, to find the balance between the really awesome parts of me (both in the white and in the black).
The same can be said for the squiggle, again, very visual. I feel safe in my life when I am straight, when I am serious, when there is no uniqueness showing - just a perfecting straight line. But at the same time I know that what attracts people to me resides in the squiggles, in my openness, in my freeness, in my take you just the way you are-ness (had to just throw that on there).
Last week it become beyond apparent to both Matt and I that the grey and the squiggles send me into this anxiety ridden state that is beyond ridiculous. Ridiculously frustrating. My poor husband wants so badly to meet parts of my personality from eight years ago, probably not the part that spent the night in jail me, but the me that can strike up a conversation with a person in a bar and develop an amazing connection (mentally, not sexually - I know someone is thinking it - bar, drinking…you go there, it’s okay). Matt saw glimpses of that me during the conference.
I have had the absolute privilege to truly get to know the speakers who agreed to be part of the conference this year. I had countless emails and many phone calls. I followed them on social media, I became a cheerleader to their projects and missions before even shaking their hands. And an amazing thing happened, I connected with them, just as I would have eight years ago. For a brief moment there was grey, I let down my guard and the line began to squiggle.
I fought the church lady from taking over as I embraced Austin, forgetting briefly, even laughing about the naive me that almost joined a cult in that same city 20 years earlier. (read that story here)
I so want to remain in a grey squiggle filled life. I can see that me, she’s awesome. She comes from a place of love, not harsh judgement. She shows you the gospel and doesn’t beat you down with the law. She’s equal parts awkward and intelligent. She thrives when hearing other people’s stories and doesn’t bat an eyelash when talking about the serious stuff. She cries when she see her friends achieve amazing things and she cries for those that need to be lifted up. She oozes with creativity even outside of the craft room and she isn’t afraid of her own voice, but realizes when she may need to hit mute of a moment.
I may be wrong, but there is someone who just read that and said, “umm, isn’t that already you?” Most of it, yes, but it takes a hell of a lot of effort to remain as her and that has got to change. I fight running to the black because that black line is safety. It is a dark extra large sharpie black line that I drew across my life when I decided to get straight (see the lines go together). I pray for the courage, to trust myself as much as God has trusted me with His gospel.