*If you want a quick 4 minute summary of everything I’m about to say, scroll to the bottom and watch the video. Otherwise, please continue on to my rambling.*
Newsflash- we are all a complete mess. Now that that’s out of the way, if somebody knows a perfect person, hit me up because I have yet to come across one. This is why it drives me crazy that so many of us put on this act that we never make mistakes and have the right to judge others simply because we are Christians or think that our mistakes aren’t as big as everyone else’s.
(Side note- I see this more in the Christian communities I’ve been a part of, but this obviously isn’t exclusive to Christians)
I mess up. I mess up a lot and so does everyone else I’ve ever met. I’ve recently noticed that the Christians I relate to and enjoy being with the most are the ones who are “real.” I’m currently reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, which I’m starting to love because she is forward, honest, and isn’t ashamed to share about her screw-ups. Same with Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (probably one of my favorite books of all time). These women talk about their past drinking and drug use and swearing and loose sex without hiding behind the “good Christian” act and it is so refreshing. They are now incredible, strong Christian women, but they make it clear from the very beginning that they are no better than you and me. The same goes for many of my closest friends; if I can’t be real with you about my temptations and problems and things I’ve done wrong without feeling like I’m going to be judged, then we won’t be very close. I mean we can still be friends, but we’ll never truly know each other.
You know how on a first date you try to act like you’re as perfect as possible? We dress up in nicer clothes, take time making our hair look good, and eat with proper table manners when in real life I wear athletic shorts every day, never do anything to my hair, and basically eat like a 12-year-old boy. Some of my relationships with people feel like a never-ending first date.
I think the main issue with these relationships extends from the belief that some sins are worse than others. The attitude appears to be, “You have your sins, but they’re way worse than what I do so I have the right to tell you what you’re doing wrong.” You mess up. I mess up. To God, drunkenness is as bad as gluttony and white lies are as bad as huge lies. You have your sins, I have mine, and we are no better than each other or anybody else and I just think it’s time we stop trying to fix each other when we all have our own mountains of problems.
I think it would do all of us a world of good if we were honest with each other, and not only when asked. I can go to my best friends and my parents and go, “Hey guys look how much I screwed this up because I suck but I could really use your help.” I know they will help me take care of the situation, but they will not judge or attempt to “fix” me. I can go up to them and cuss my lungs out (woop now you know one of my persistent sins) because I’m hurt or mad or upset and they will hug me instead of criticizing my language. The Bible even straight up says, “Yo all of these commandments are super crazy important but if you were to only pick two to follow it should be to love God and love each other,” (my paraphrased version of Mark 12:28-31). I believe Carry On, Warrior talks about how one of the best ways to love God on earth is to love His children (which is everyone btw). We have to love Christians and Muslims and Atheists and the kid in class who wants to debate everything and the slow drivers (something I struggle with) and the kids who bullied you in middle school. Many would claim that telling people about their sins is a form of loving them, but I have personally never seen someone change because another person who is up on their high horse tells them to. I have, however, seen people change because they were continually told, “It’s okay. I’m here for you. I love you. We can get through this together.”
In the book I’m reading, Anne Lamott talks about how she became a Christian and the church that helped her learn to love God. Like I said, she was very upfront about her past from the beginning, and at one point in her life she was pregnant with her boyfriend’s child. She didn’t hide this from her church in fear of being criticized for having sex before marriage, even though she knew people wouldn’t necessarily approve of what she did. I think what she didn’t expect was the love that everyone responded with. “When I announced during worship I was pregnant, people cheered. All these old people, raised in Bible-thumping homes in the Deep South, clapped. Even the women whose grown-up boys had been or were doing time in jails or prisons rejoiced for me. They brought clothes, they brought me casseroles to keep in the freezer, they brought me assurance that this baby was going to be a part of the family.”
Being told about her sins didn’t keep her in the church. Being told that she needed fixing wasn’t going to help. Being told that she needed to get a better job or marry her boyfriend didn’t bring her closer to knowing God’s love for her; the immense showing of love without judgement from her community did. We’re all just huge screw-ups anyway.
I feel like I’m rambling now, but that’s just kinda how my brain works. As someone who was raised in the church and usually follows the rules and blahblahblah and is still afraid to go to other Christians with my sins/problems/screw ups, I can’t even imagine what others feel like. I’ve talked with one of my friends at school about stuff like this quite a bit, and whenever he brings up how he would feel judged and dislikes how hypocritical Christians tend to be, I agree. We can come across in the exact opposite way of the way we want without realizing it, but that’s not an excuse to not change. I try to explain to him that although the community as a whole can seem that way sometimes, not everyone is that way. Every human being on this planet is hypocritical, but we are also capable of love. Most of us are doing the best we can, but I think we can all do better.
It seems like all people really need is an outpouring of love, because that love will teach them more about our God and how He has affected us than our memorized verses, Bible verse Instagrams, and Jesus fish bumper stickers ever could.
Now please watch this because I love her and I think she does a way better job of explaining how I feel.