How’s that title? Catchy enough for ya? Also, giving myself a “self-five” because I am here posting twice in one weekend. Go, Dani! The blog post is distracting me from the thunderstorm going on outside, which is making me nervous. I’m from California, friends. I do earthquakes, not tornadoes. Any moderately strong wind I see I’m all but running around yelling, “Tornado! Tornado!”
Anyways, let’s move on. I was driving around today, doing my usual Sunday business. I knew I wanted to write, as I’m trying to make it more of a priority because my soul simply lets out a sigh of relief any time I get to hear the keys of my laptop click away.
What are the chances this blog post gets interrupted by a power outage? Man, this storm is making me nervous. Okay, okay. Anyways, again.
As I was driving around thinking about what to write, the words “good Christian” came to mind. Ha! I thought to myself. I know I’m not meant to write about being a “good” Christian. That opened the rabbit hole of, “what makes a ‘good’ Christian?” Down I went into the rabbit hole, trying to pick out pieces that I could meticulously place together and call a blog post. As I kept venturing down the seemingly endless rabbit hole, I found myself thinking, that’s the point.
So, here I am, explaining to you why I stopped trying to be a good Christian. To be honest, it feels a tad “off-brand” for this blog. Okay wait, this blog for sure doesn’t have a brand so does this topic being “off-brand” actually make it “on-brand”? “Messy” is in the title of my blog so it seems fitting that there would not necessarily be just one topic that is discussed here. Ah, then in an on-brand manner I shall continue.
- The “Christian” things I was trying to do, I was doing out of pressure. If you were raised in the church, you probably feel me on this one. There’s a point in time where you no longer are being asked by your parents to go to church but you are making the decision on your own. Now, I would go with my family still. I enjoyed church. However, that changed after my mom died. Man, I had (and honestly still have) some major trust issues with God. It’s hard when people’s advice is to “pray” and “trust God” and then you do and you feel as though He doesn’t come through. To me, it felt like finding out that Santa Claus isn’t real. Like, what the heck!? I pulled away from the church and God as our family shifted into its “new normal”. It wasn’t until I started a new relationship that eventually took me to North Carolina that I was asked to go to church. I did, but I did so because I felt like I had to. After that relationship ended, I found myself wanting to go to church because of the peace I felt when I was there with my community. I think I felt more firm in my faith when I needed to turn to God in a time of desperation. Should it have taken me being that low in order for me to turn to Him? Ideally, no. Finding a desire to seek God is where perceived obligations and pressures evolve into a deep-rooted desire. Oh man, I wish that meant I was sitting here, firm as can be in my faith. It just means that the desire to work towards being a “better” Christian comes from my heart, not a pressure to measure up or please someone.
- I felt like a constant failure. This has been a huge shift for me. I am my own worst critic. I am harder on myself than anyone could ever be on me (except maybe my college volleyball coach; shout-out to Kim). Attempting to “measure up” to those women of faith walking alongside me in life was hard. Now, I know that repentance is a part of faith. I know this. I am not negating the importance of it, however, when you’re a perfectionist, this can lead to some not-so-kind thoughts in your mind. Maybe this relates well to the first point and that I had self-inflicted pressures to be this “perfect” woman of God. Even as the aforementioned relationship was ending, I thought I had failed as a girlfriend and a woman of God because had I been emulating the Proverbs 31 woman, I would’ve been enough for that man. I know, I know. Everybody say it with me: “WRONG”. I idolized the Proverbs 31 woman, desperately comparing myself to her and feeling as though I continually fell short.
- I felt limited. I think this goes back to maybe the type of church I was raised in. It was quite “fire-and-brimstone”. I felt like in order to be a “good” Christian, I needed to go to church on Sundays, volunteer as often as possible, and read my Bible daily. You’re probably reading those and thinking, “Uh, yeah Dani. That’s the gist of it.” Okay, yes, but hear me out. That’s not all that it is. It can be so much more. If you haven’t read anything by Bob Goff, you need to. He really talks about how important it is to love. Confining our faith to the walls of church and the pages of the Bible feels insulting to God. If that’s what He meant for us, then why is the world around us so beautiful? Why do we crave human connection so much? On a flight from Raleigh, NC to Ontario, CA, I met two older gentleman. I had just accepted my job out there and was giddy with the opportunities that lay before me. I sat in between these two men, both of whom worked together, and we shared our faith. They shared the importance of placing God in the center of their relationships and how they continue to be amazed at how God loves them still, despite their inherent flaws. I think of that conversation often, as those two men helped solidify my faith in ways they’ll probably never know. Had they limited themselves to church-going, Bible-reading Christians, then they wouldn’t have been wine-drinking, testimony-sharing random Christians I met on a flight home that taught me a lesson I carry with me daily. Yeah, they bought me wine. We had to celebrate my accepting a job, obviously.
Ramble, ramble, ramble. I’m honestly not even sure this word vomit makes sense. I’m going to move forward as though it does. I gave you three reasons I stopped striving to be a “good” Christian and I’m going to wrap up this blog with three ways I have shifted my mentality towards what it means to be a woman of faith.
- I’ve embraced the woman God created me to be. Oh, how it must break His heart when we walk around, displeased with who He created us to be. I am messy. That’s okay. I’ve brought my mess to God and continue to do so on a daily basis. That has been hard. I’ve tried to stand up, wipe my eyes, and dust myself off before coming to God. I think He laughs whenever I try to act as though He doesn’t know what’s going on. I’ve come to God with my tattoos, my F-bomb tendencies, and my seemingly constant battle with prayer. I’ve come to Him with the ways in which I feel like I’ve failed and He’s embraced me, encouraging me to do the same. Even when we have difficulties embracing who we are—which can be a daily thing, let’s face it—we have others that can embrace us and love us well until we’re ready to do that for ourselves once more.
- I love. I have a daily goal for work. I want to do everything I can to make sure that the kiddos I see leave my office feeling loved. Now, sometimes they leave in tears, but I try okay? It’s not my fault they hate my Target stickers. I have felt true testaments of God’s love through the ways others have loved me. I think there are few greater ways to show Gods love than to just love hard.
- I talk about it (or blog about it). For far too long, I’ve avoided talking about my struggles in faith. Again, social media is a bit of a culprit. I’m guilty of it, too. It’s easy to post a Bible verse, it’s hard as hell to live it out. I can almost guarantee that wherever we’re at in faith, someone we know has been through something similar. Let’s face it, faith is just as messy, if not messier, than the other parts of our lives. Just as it was said at my church back in Fayetteville (hey, Veritas!), “We’re all just a bunch of broken people who love Jesus.”
Oh boy, this was a long one. You know me, I like to wrap it up nicely. Love yourself, let others love you on the days when it’s hard to love yourself, love others, and let that shit out. Ah, man. Almost made it a full blog post without a swear word. As one of my favorite Instagram fitness models, Amber Dodzweit Riposta, says, “Somewhere between Proverbs 31 and Missy Elliot there’s me.” Okay, I’m a little less Miss Elliot than she is. Hmm. Somewhere between Proverbs 31 and, uh, I don’t know where I fall on this scale. Maybe you can help me out and share yours. “Somewhere between Proverbs 31 and _____ there’s you.”
Also, before I end this blog post, I have included the link of a fantastic article below. He more concisely discusses some of what I have felt and does so beautifully.
Cheers to sucking at being Christians, friends. Let’s love each other well.