August 6: Confessions of a Crappy Christian

Do Christians say crappy? I guess I just did.

It all started when I felt The Lord prompting me to talk about obedience.

Obedience, y'all. The thing that I demand from my children on a regular basis with only moderate success. I should've known I was in for a ride.

When you start peeling back the many delicate layers of the onion that is obedience, you find that, underneath time, below money, and beneath the service layers, you eventually get down to the core--what's in your heart. Sometimes it's contents are surprising, even to the most steadfast believers.

I've thought many times about uttering this struggle, whispering the hard truths into the still of the night, but I couldn't seem to let the words slip out. They got caught on the massive lump forming in my throat, bound tightly to my insides by thick strands of guilt and failure. 

Even now as I begin to cut them loose and let them fall freely onto the page, my eyes well with tears, my heart with shame. When I opened the kids devotional book to read from it at lunch and saw the verse for the day, I knew. It was time.

Fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Romans 12:2 (MSG)

I didn't actually read the devotional book to the kids at lunch, as they had all already left the table. But it still broke my heart in two, so I suppose it served it's purpose. I do really well with family devotions sometimes, and then I'll open it up to find that the last time we read one was in March, and it's now August... First confession.

And then there's my devotions. I've never succeeded in surpassing 20% completion of my bible reading plan on my phone at any one time during the course of the year, thanks to my love/hate relationship with the "Catch Me Up" feature. If we were to judge by that alone, it means that out of 7 days in a week, I read my bible about 1.4 days. It's not even a crazy read-the-whole-bible-in-a-year-plan, either, which, by the way, is also something I've never done. It's a chapter a day at most, alternating between the Old and New Testaments, and yet, only about 1.4 days a week do I get around to it.

I don't only read the bible on my phone or exclusively for that plan, but even though there's other reading going on in there, I won't try to make the severe deficient look better for my sake. Surely, I want to. But I won't.

Now onto prayer, as this all hasn't quite been embarrassing enough. When I was a young mom, I survived on prayer because I didn't have time for anything else, or I felt like I didn't. But something happened along the way and now prayer is a struggle for me. I've gotten out of the habit, and when I have time to think and reflect, I usually choose to do other things like ponder concepts or write or check Facebook. 

Mini-collage assembled and posted online with witty commentary and life lessons learned? Check.

Time spent talking to the God of the Universe? Anyone? Anyone??

I know that prayer changes lives and hearts and connects us to the living God, that nothing good in this world is accomplished without prayer from someone somewhere, but I rarely steal away time to sit at His feet. I don't often pray for my children. I don't often pray for my husband. I don't often pray for friends, family, or the world with its endless troubles and unmet needs. 

Reality seems more harsh when it appears in black and white. And yet there it is.

I've had this chronic problem since I became a Christian over a decade ago. Really, I've had this problem my entire life, but it only became an issue when I gave my life to Christ. The problem is: MYSELF

And because I've had this problem my entire life, at this point in time, after 30+ years, I mean 29 years, it's quite a BIG problem. You're talking to a girl who incessantly pushes the snooze button in the morning, who is always late, whose house is a mess, who doesn't exercise or like anything that remotely requires hard work or stick-to-it-ness. It's a real quality. And I don't have it. Unless something comes easily or naturally to me, I don't do it.

I spend so much time on this problem of MYSELF that it has become my focus: what is God going to do with MY life? What has He called ME to do? I know He has something great in store for ME, but how is He going to do it? When? How can I make it happen now? If I can just think of the next great idea, write the next bestselling book…

Your real, new self will not come as long as you are looking for it. 
It will come when you are looking for Him. 
~C.S. Lewis

So the only solution I can see to this problem of MYSELF is to have less of it. Less of myself and more of Him. Fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. No more pining, no more plotting, no more taking matters into my own hands. He doesn't want my time or my money or even my service more then He wants my heart.

I know He loves me just as much now as He ever will, and that because of Him I am enough, but I also know that He has great plans in store that involve making me new. God-sized plans and God-sized dreams. Dreams that will only be birthed through the hard work of discipline, the pain of death and the complete and continual surrender of MYSELF. There's a gap between where He wants me to go and where I currently am, and the only way to bridge that gap is with Him. More of Him, less of me.

I long to inspire and encourage women, to show that the Almighty God of the universe can work through any one of us, no matter our qualifications or history, with just a simple YES, a step of obedience in faith. That He created you exactly as you are with everything you need to accomplish His purpose for you. That He longs for you to be free and live abundantly for Him. But I have to do the hard work myself first. I have to live it before I can teach it. I have to model it before I can encourage it. I have to walk through it before I can lead.

That’s why my cup is running over. This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, 
while I slip off to the sidelines. John 3:29-30 (MSG)

I wanted to share this because I don't think I'm alone. I hope that as stigmas continue to change in the church, we would all be more free to be on the outside who we truly are on the inside. That it would be okay, even encouraged, to speak about all kinds of struggles, including and especially struggles in our walk as a Christian. We can only encourage each other as far as the honesty reaches, and I hope my honesty was able to reach out and help someone else today.

P.S. I know we aren't focusing on ME anymore, really we're not, but Confessions of a Crappy Christian--that would make an awesome book title, no?? See, I can't even help myself. But I'm not pining or plotting. I'm not.


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