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June 6, 2013 posted by Lindsay Ferrier

Bad Christian

Bad Christian

A couple of years ago, I was asked by a Christian organization to visit a third world country and write about the experience on my blog.

Although I was flattered to get the offer, in the end I turned it down because it seemed like the kind of thing I needed to wait on until my children were a little older and more self-sufficient. The guy I talked to on the phone about it was very understanding. “Actually, we wanted to ask you even sooner,” he said. “But we couldn’t until you changed your blog header.”

For those of you who weren’t around a few years back, this is the blog header he was talking about:

Suburban Turmoil

Personally, I loved this header. I finally changed it only because my son was no longer wearing diapers and so I was no longer… ahem… wiping ass. For the most part.

But I thought about this conversation again recently, because it’s a perfect example of something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, and that is that by outing myself online as a Christian, I now face far more pressure to appear to be perfect and squeaky-clean, both on this blog and in real life. Most people assume that ‘good’ Christians don’t curse. Or smoke, or drink too much. They don’t have marital problems and if they do, it’s something they only admit after they’ve ‘conquered’ them. They can’t let it get out that sometimes they question their faith or that they think they might be depressed. They certainly can’t write about getting a Brazilian bikini wax, or facing off against a local MOMS Club. And they absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, put a header on their blog with the tagline ‘Wiping ass and taking names.’ I know because several Christians took the time to write and tell me so.

This has been a problem for me, because while I’ve felt a burning desire to have a better understanding of God and what I believe and to be a committed member of a church, I’ve also felt a calling to write about my very real, very imperfect life on this blog. And over and over, I’ve found, in other Christians’ eyes anyway, the two just don’t go together. I’ve been burned by Christians, y’all, I’ve been burned bad, and I considered some of the burners to be friends. It has been made very clear to me, both directly and indirectly, that I am not exactly role model material in the Christian community.

This wound cut deep. For a while I struggled to find a way to remain true to myself and fit in with the Christian community, but it was a lot like when I joined a sorority back in college. It just. Wasn’t. Me. I can’t be all hearts and flowers and inspiration 100% of the time. Sometimes I’m good and sometimes I’m bad, and while the general community seems to be okay with that, the Christian community is most decidedly not.

And that’s weird when you think about it, because here’s the truthiest of truths:

Christians are no better– and no worse– than anyone else out there.

The refusal of Christians to accept this fact has a lot to do with why church attendance is dropping and why Christians get a lot of flack from non-Christians. We as a society are desperate for authenticity in others- not perfection- and the Christian culture simply doesn’t allow for that. Living in Nashville, the Christian music and publishing hub of the US, I know a few dozen people who are ‘famous’ for their Christian faith. I know some of them very well. And I can say, without any doubt, that they have just as many issues as I do. Actually, they probably have more- because while I, the ‘bad Christian,’ have the freedom to live transparently, make mistakes (within reason), and be forgiven by my community, they have to keep their problems hidden. They must present a facade to the world that’s totally unrealistic and often takes a superhuman effort to maintain.

I’ve known plenty of Christians and non-Christians by now and at this point, I think it’s safe to say there’s not a whole lot of difference between them, other than what they believe. Regardless of our faith, we are all equally capable of being honorable. Kind. Compassionate. Generous. We have all had moments of true moral greatness. And while I like to believe that those moments come from God, I don’t think that being a Christian gives us a ‘lock’ on these attributes.

I’m also certain by now that Christians ‘sin’ just as much as non-Christians. None of us are immune from making mistakes or doing things we later regret. We’ve all had moral low points, and some of those points are worse than others. I see the very same kinds of problems among my Christian acquaintances that I do among my non-Christian acquaintances- adultery, addiction, overspending, debt- The Christians just tend to do a better job of hiding it.

Most of my friends who feel the way I do have just stopped going to church– but for me, that’s not the answer. I see so much potential value in having a church family — I just wish that congregations in general were a little more open and forgiving. While I see a lot of lip service devoted to this topic in churches lately, I honestly don’t see it playing out in real life in a deep-seated, meaningful way.

I want to stop feeling a need to present a sanitized version of myself around other Christians. I want to stop fearing rejection from the Christian community if I am relentlessly honest about who I am. I don’t have any illusions that writing this postΒ  will change anything– but I would like to know if I’m alone here. Are any of you struggling with these issues?

Because right now I feel like I’m part of the Bad Christian Club.

Membership: 1.

 

Image via Brenden Ashton/Flickr

 

Comments

comments

  • Can I join the club too? Because this post articulates exactly how I feel and live (and yes, I’m a committed member of a church community. I even run the Sunday school). I always love your writing, but this may be my favorite post you’ve ever shared. Thank you.

  • Suebob

    Dear Abby used to say that church was a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. I love that. The irony is that Christianity is all about how Jesus loves us no matter what. I’m not a real Christian – I don’t go to Christian church or even (gasp) believe what the Bible says. But I do know deep in my bones that Jesus loves me with a pure, deep and abiding love in all my imperfection, and that is more than enough for me.

  • Carmen Staicer

    I’m the president of this club. You and I are exactly the same.

  • MC0913

    I feel you on this. I hate labels of how Christians are as well — when someone says “Bob” is such a “strong Christian”, what does that even mean??? I write about my faith a lot and I have worked in church ministry for almost 6+ years but my life is full of imperfection. I drink (gasp!), I curse, I don’t always follow the perfect Christian rules. And not sure I want to. Everyone has their own journey as a Christian and it ebbs and flows quite often. I think as long as we are continuing to pursue a deeper relationship with Christ and truly know Him, then that’s what God wants. Clearly he probably wishes I didn’t yell at my children as much, or disrespect my husband with snarky comments but I’m working on it. And He gives me Grace daily. And that is the essence of Christian life. Understanding how much we don’t deserve the Grace we are given – yet it comes freely and constantly from Him. Blessings to you. You aren’t a bad Christian. I think you are quite a normal one. Maybe the judgmental ones are just louder at saying ugly things?

    • Maria

      I guess I’ll reply here to this comment, although it really is a reply for the whole blog. I’m going to play the devil’s advocate here. Yep, I curse and drink and mess up, and disrespect others and go after the blingy shiny things and sometimes end up putting God last. I do all of the things and personify all of the imperfections mentioned in this blog post and in others comments. I think, though, that there’s a line between being imperfect and glorifying imperfection. I’m not proud of those things, nor am I wanting to share them with the entire world as a description of who I am. Of course I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not, but if the OP is a God-fearing, Christ-loving mommy blogger, was that header really the right message she wanted to give to her readers? It’s a slippery slope between being real, and flaunting our faults and shortcomings. I’m not judging, but rather trying to emphasize that what we think about is what we bring about. If we focus on our shortcoming and faults and sins and imperfections, then that’s what what defines us. If we focus instead on love, grace, mercy and faith, then that will define us instead. I can absolutely understand the Christian organization wanting a blog whose name, photo and tagline are more in line with their messaging. That’s my humble 2 cents. Maybe 3. =)

      • MC0913

        Point taken. If it seemed I was “glorifying” them, then that certainly wasn’t intended. I drink, but not to excess. It does not define me. I swear, but it doesn’t define me, and I am working on it – because it’s not a reflection of who I want to be. But I also am not going to hide and pretend to be someone that I am not. I am FULL of imperfections. When I said that I don’t want to follow the “perfect” Christian rules, I did not intend for that to mean that I am prideful of all the things I do wrong. And I actually think Christ wants us to remove the mask, be open and honest with our struggles and sins. That’s how my church operates. and then we pray together and work through it together. And I am a changed person because of it. But I do slip. Quite often. I can’t speak for the author and her being comfortable with the header. But I must say that the God I know probably isn’t going to judge “ass” too harshly on judgment day. Just my two cents πŸ™‚

  • My mom JUST sent me a message about my last blog post. She said that by putting negative thoughts on my blog, I was giving the enemy power over me. But you know what? I don’t think God expects us to only share rainbow and sunflower stories. I just can’t belie r that God expects us to only share the good, because honestly, growth comes from fighting through the muck to the other side. I’m showing this post to my mom, because maybe she’ll understand now. Thank you for that.

    • Jessica (the celt)

      Tricia, I know someone who thinks that as long as you pray and trust in God, everything will turn out perfectly. The fact is, though, that isn’t the case … not in the way that this person thinks. God will get you through anything, but it doesn’t mean that life will be bluebirds and sunshine and unicorns riding on rainbows. Praying about an illness or disease won’t necessarily make it go away (it could, but it might not), but my biggest prayers are for faith and understanding and comfort in dark times…and healing is in there sometimes as well, but miracles wouldn’t be miracles if they always happened when we asked for them.

      Have your mom read the Psalms, because some of those are dark and remind me of my lowest times in life, because feeling crappy and down in the dumps when life isn’t going your way isn’t a new thing. And writing about it, getting it “out there” for others to commiserate with you isn’t new either.

  • denise

    I’ve been a member a lot longer than you, seeing as how I’m almost 60. I’ve always believed that God is kinder and more understanding and has more of a sense of humor than most people think he does. heck, most people don’t think he has a sense of humor at all. I’m not making light of sin. It is what it is. But the God that I love and believe in sometimes shakes his head at me as if he thinks “this child will never get it right,” but he continues to love me and take a personal interest in my life, sin and all. I don’t like religious people and the term “christian” has even started to get on my nerves. I prefer to say that I’m a Christ follower. Somehow that doesn’t reek of hypocrisy.

  • Debbie A-H

    I’m right there with you, sister!

  • Suzanne Owen

    Oh, me too! In the last few years I have returned to regular church attendance, and now membership, and overall it has been a very positive change in my life. But I remember once making a comment in an adult bible class that wasn’t in any way vulgar or offensive but did show an awareness that surprise, people commit sexual sins. And the whole class just sort of held its breath and then moved on without any acknowledgement of what I said. I wanted to find a hole to crawl into. But at the same time, I felt like saying “Are you kidding me? Are all these kids running around the result of immaculate conceptions?” I love the people at my church but sometimes feel like my real self is not sanitized enough for them. Real life is messy and full of mistakes – what’s important is that we keep trying to do better. God knows our sins and loves us anyway.

  • Jeana

    Amen! This drives me crazy about the church because the whole point of being a Christian is acknowledging that we are broken and messed up and cannot save our selves. We need a Savior, daily, hourly, minutely! At least, I do…

  • Paula Quick

    When I think of God, I think of him as a father. Just as I am a parent and will always love my children no matter what – God will always love ME no matter what. Call me a bad christian (or catholic in my case) or whatever you will – my God will still love me just the same. I think Kevin Smith said it best (via Chris Rock) in the movie Dogma…”He still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name – wars, bigotry, televangelism. But especially the factioning of all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and, like always, built a belief structure on it….it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier.”

    • Amanda

      Good analogy. I think I did not truly even begin to fathom the love that God has for me until I had children of my own.

  • Jen

    Not sure what makes me more upset .. hearing that, by just being human and honest, you are told you aren’t good enough for your own community, or – as a non-religious person – being told to my face that I have no morals to begin with. Yep, it happens. Nice post. You aren’t alone.

  • Imperfectmomma

    I’m right there w ya, but not really. I’m a Christian, who was diagnosed w a postpartum mood disorder. It turned my world upside down & showed me exactly what you saw. Christians live in glass houses; I started to get mad and whatever but I just clinged to The Lord.

    I am still left w a major anxiety disorder and severe depression plus more as I healed from my PPMD; so I know I’ll never be perfect. Shoo, I yelled at my husband….Lord let me not go there – that man will take up a page and a half.

    What I’m trying to say is, you’re right we are imperfect but we should strive to be better dont ya think? Now those people who don’t let their imperfections show IMO are not trying to make others feel bad about that; unless they are like that guy on the phone – that’s just wrong for judging you.

  • Corri C

    I think that the squeaky clean Christians cry the loudest when they see things they disagree with, precisely because they are hiding so much. It has always seemed to me that the point of Christianity is that we are all sinners and mistake makers, that God loves us anyway, and the point is to keep trying. It seems to me, and always has, that Christians who whack other Christians over the head and explain exactly how they “should” be, are the ones that aren’t getting it. But then I’m the wrong one to ask, as I was told in confirmation class that I was getting close to heresy. So, maybe I just don’t know.

  • quiltbabe8

    ::Raises hand and waves it feverishly:: You are certainly not alone. It is so ironic that God welcomes us into His family just as we are – warts and all – but we turn around and insist fellow Christians be “perfect”.

    Thanks for bringing the issue out in the open, and for being the authentic you on the blog. That’s the only way to encourage others to be open and transparent, even if it means being burned by people who insist we all must appear perfect and sunny all the time.

  • Ronda Hill Walter

    I agree with the transparency issue. However, you are leaving out an important part about being a Christ -follower . . . which is that we have the Holy Spirit’s guidance available to us 24/7. That doesn’t mean that we never sin – because sometimes we just don’t listen to the Spirit – but we certainly have access to a power and wisdom that the general public does not. We have the opportunity – and the duty, if we are truly desiring to become like Christ – to live a holy life. Obviously we’re not doing a very good job of listening and obeying to the Holy Spirit, or the divorce, addiction (etc.) statistics of Christians would not be so similar to non-Christians.

  • babybloomr

    I prefer to call that the “Honest Member of the Human Race Christian Club.” (And I’m not just the founder, I’m also a client.) As you well know, piety is not my strong suit, and I seem to be fundamentally (heh heh) incapable of going too terribly long without using questionable language or enjoying a good French martini. I have also lived all of my adult life surrounded by “professional Christianity” (with mixed results…), so I completely understand why people like us often get the gospel side-eye from other Christians. But i truly believe that we are designed by God to go about the business of ‘working out our salvation with fear and trembling,’ in community with one another, whether that happens in a church building or not. And that community needs to be welcoming, compassionate and safe for all of us. I think the late Rev. Will Campbell got it right– he summed up the basis of his faith like this: “We’re all bastards, but God loves us anyway.” That’s the kind of theology I can base a life on.

  • Angela

    You hit the nail on the head!
    This is the reason I no longer go to church.
    I’m tired of being judged for not being the “right kind of christian”

  • Gabby

    Amen Sista!!!! Preach it! Just because we are Christians don’t make us no better than anyone else. See, we even use poor grammar to try to make a point! Keep it up. PS. I love the old blog header!

  • Jennifer

    Excellent post Lindsay. I’m right there with you.

  • Kristen

    I loved how balanced this was. Sometimes a “bad Christian” comes off as JESUS LOVES ME, SCREW YOU. Which is technically correct but baits all the “wouldn’t He want you to try harder” perfect crowd. You are who you are, you don’t want to intentionally offend but would it be so awful if everyone lightened up a little? Your intent and heart shone through in this and it was obvious it was pure.

  • lenette

    You are so not alone in this. I felt this exact way during many times in my life and most recently during the last election season. The people that make you feel bad are the same people who drive so many people from Christ. They see it as rules and “having to be a certain, perfect way.” Jesus told us to confess Him and believe Him and to love everyone. How we as Christians have strayed so far from that breaks my heart every day. Thank you so much for once again being so honest.

  • Katherine W

    I love that header! I’m married to a pastor and I can say with absolute certainty that we are as real and beautifully imperfect as anyone else. It’s sometimes a struggle to get people to see past their stereotypes and expectations about the “pastor’s wife” in order for them to see me as an individual. I imagine it will be even more challenging for our sons.

  • Katie Mantius Bennett

    AWESOME!

  • blue berry

    add me to your membership list

  • Heidi

    Membership is definitely not 1. While I believe my family has found an honest and humble church community – and moreso a great, tight-knit small group of Bible-believing, Jesus-seeking friends – that I feel I am able to be myself with and share my struggles and not be judged but lifted up, I also understand the pressure to fit a mold. I work for a church (in a different state, not the one I attend) and sometimes I think that if I didn’t work there I would not think twice about some things I post on my non-publicized-but-technically-public blog that I share with family and friends. And on Facebook for that matter. I mean, I can’t publicly support the legalization of gay marriage even if I think that’s what the best way to love that community is because my employer is against it. Not that I wouldn’t feel comfortable having that discussion in person with anyone I work with, but publicly I also represent them. Which, I guess, is true of any sort of online presence anyway. (I’m trailing off topic here…sorry…)

    All that to say, I have loosely followed your blog for a long time – since I was trying to get pregnant (read: baby-obsessed) and found it on parents.com. I have always enjoyed your humor and your transparency and your honesty and your realness. I am a big fan of those qualities and like to think I emulate them myself. So please keep doing what you’re doing – being true to yourself and seeking God – and I hope that you find a good community of other believers that will lift you up and laugh at your swearing. πŸ˜‰

  • boricua_keya

    Well, you already have more Jesus points seeing as how you are being HONEST and non judgmental. Clearly they arent. We can’t live for people or their opinions of us or we will always be stressed out. You are a wonderful person and from what i see, your “bad christian” church has lots of members. Me included.

  • Kimberly

    I love you for writing this! I am a Christian too and agree with you 100%.

  • Jeana

    Lindsay, I’m a long-time reader, but I have to say I disagree with some of your sentiments. I think the Christian community is more open to authenticity and sharing downfalls than they have ever been. But I feel like you’re comparing apples to oranges here.

    Much of your post focuses on not being able to share struggles or mistakes, but the example you keep coming back to is not something you see as a struggle or a mistake. It was your decision to put a word in your header that you knew some people would find offensive, and to keep it there after people confirmed that they found it offensive.

    Being a Christian means that “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.” It doesn’t mean we give up our individuality completely, but it does mean we are called to sacrifice ourselves for Christ and for others. “Being ourselves” is not a central theme in the Bible. Loving one another, submitting to each other, living above reproach and giving of ourselves are.

    The organization you are referring to serves a purpose. If it’s the one I’m thinking of, their purpose is to raise money to help the poor and to spread the gospel. If they sponsor a blog with questionable content, questions and debates arise that distract from their primary purpose. Not sponsoring you is not necessarily a rejection of you personally, but a well-founded concern that it would negatively affect donations, which means fewer families get helped.

    I know you’ve been struggling with this a long time, and I hope you find some clarity and some loyal Christian friends. You want the church to love you as is, flaws and all, and I get that. But I wonder how much effort you put into loving the church in spite of their flaws, including the ones you are pointing out here.

  • Aimee

    I love your heart and I love that you had the courage to call it out for what it is. Yes, many, many Christians, especially the devout or conservative ones, preach that they love Jesus and talk about how wonderful Jesus is and how they just want more Jesus…. but they fail to see that by accepting those around them, Christians or not, and loving them, and even lovingly calling them out on things when they need it, is what Jesus would do and they would have more of Him if they’d only get off their high horse! Jesus came for the imperfect because that’s all there is in this world! Those Christians all around us that judge, listen to your story but then use it to show you how bad of a Christian you are, or simply force us to live under the Law and not the Grace that our faith is all about, are completely missing the point. I have had a similar experience just recently where I was made to feel less by telling my “story” of making bad decisions, and growing from the, but finding Christ (in a very unconventional way) and working through them. I am PAINFULLY honest and refuse to feel bad about it, and with that comes putting it all out there, hopefully to encourage someone else to stop feeling shame, unloved, or hopeless. We are not called to perfection, we are called to hear, help, heal, love, and carry out the Word to liberate people. Liberation does not look like a jail, and when we are forced to appear to live perfect lives, we are in a prison and we are not helping anyone. Loved reading this and you are definitely not alone. “Bad Christian Club”: Membership 2 (and growing fast)

  • Rachel

    I haven’t commented on here in ages, but I agree so deeply with this post that I just had to give my two cents. As a young woman with a goal of working in ministry full-time, I have really struggled with the same issues as you’re writing about. I feel like I’m caught in the middle a lot of times, especially since I am young and single. Most girls that I know who are my age are either in church, married, with kids, or not in church and not interested in being there. I try to be transparent, as I believe in transparency. But it is so frowned upon in Christian culture. I am fortunate to have an excellent church, who (for the most part) is non-judgmental. Our pastor believes in transparency, and shares things from the pulpit that others might frown upon. But it is such a difficult balance, and I am still struggling to find where exactly that balance lies.

  • The Accidental Missionary

    Awesomesauce! I love your club. I declare myself a member, and would like to chair a committee. Either the Best Ways To Manipulate Your Kids group, or the Best Uses of Profanity In A Public Place forum.

  • FYI, every time you post, in google reader these little ads pop up for like cash advance or pay day loans, usually near the top of the blog. I’m not sure if you mean for them to be there. I’m happy to send you a screenshot if you’d like one.

    • suburbanturmoil

      Thanks, Becca! My blog designer has promised to work on it soon, so hopefully they’ll go away. My blog was hacked about a month ago and I didn’t even realize it until I started getting e-mails about the reader. πŸ™

  • betty

    Hi … I love your transparency, something we as Christians are suppose to be.
    I find it sad that any Christian would ever feel they are in a bad Christian club.
    I have felt that at times too. However for very different reasons.
    Do I make mistakes..yes, do I struggle with some life things? yes.
    When I do something that is wrong, according to God’s standards, not the worlds
    then to restore fellowship (aka repair the severed,by me, “phone” line) I repent, ask for forgiveness ,mercy and help
    to not do that again. Sometimes this may be an every few minute process.
    However,no where can I find in scripture that it is ok to settle for less than the best.
    When we make a mistake ,our hearts should desire to make a 180 degree turn ,
    especially since we as Christians (according to the truest definition http://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-a-Christian.html )
    are actually called to a higher standard than the world.
    I do struggle with why you and many of those who are commenting here,are embracing the idea it is ok to say I’m human,here I am,I make mistakes,it’s ok ,deal with it,love me and so I shout it out until everyone embraces this too.
    As a mom ,as you put it, I wiped many an ass in my day too. Did I want to pull my hair out sometimes ,want my mommie,or when kids or hubby found and hit some touchy “buttons” let a few swear words out? Unfortunately ,yes. Would I create a blog header so people could “see” accept/deal with and love that part of me? I don’t think so.
    Why you may wonder, because to me that seems to be robbing God of the glory He deserves for redeeming a wretch like me.
    From all I can understand of the Bible, we are to be humble, realize we are nothing without God.. We are also suppose to sharpen iron in one another. If we see or hear someone who has done something wrong,or questionable according to God’s Word, we are to lovingly let that person know that , as well as be willing to let someone do the same for us.
    Sometimes we are not able to see the forest for the trees. As Christians we are also responsible to and for others. Our actions can “trip” someone else up, even if it is something that is ok for us. Example, as I aged I’ve had some problems with arthritis, I read a Dr’s column where soaking juniper berries in gin and eating 10 of the soaked berries a day would help with the pain, I did try that..but since I had worked with many young people in our area I went to another city to purchase the gin,in order to protect any one from temptation should they have observed my purchase,but not known why/how it was to be used. A question to ask when doing anything ,especially if others will be effected in any way (even writing in ones blog,commenting etc. ,could this trip someone else,is this something I could see Jesus doing/saying or one I would be happy with should He come to take me home today. To purposely put up something in anyway,shape or form simply because that is me,accept that and love or leave me seems to be leaving God out of the equation. If one is truly a Christian,God is the center of everything,not us and our mistakes . It seems to me God would receive the credit and glory when one can admit to being a flawed human,that needs His help and perhaps today a bazillion times, but that would not be so by simply saying I’m a Christian,I wipe ass and take names so love me for who I am. Actually as a true Christan, we are a new creature in Christ,and sometimes we fall down,thank God He rescues us when we ask Him to.

  • suburbanturmoil

    Thank you all so much for your responses! This has given me so much to think about. Rather than respond to each of you individually, I’ll probably write more about this next week- It took me four days just to get this post the way I wanted it!

    I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in feeling this way- and I also appreciate those of you who were brave enough to respectfully disagree with me here. I knew when I wrote this that there would be plenty of people who would not see things my way, and I appreciate your perspective- It helps me to challenge and clarify what I believe.

  • eep86

    We recently changed churches for a lot of reasons. This wasn’t one, but once we went to a church where no one knows us, I suddenly realized how much I had been struggling with this very same issue. I have a need for transperency in my life. I always have and have never understood trying to hide my issues. I’m also southern so I have had to learn.

    The thing is that it takes a lot of courage to be transparent and I’m not so sure that a lot of us have that anymore. I sometimes wonder if it is this way across the country or only here in the south. You are not alone! You are also not a “bad” Christian, you are an honest Christian! Hugs!

  • Beth

    I’m a Bad Christian. Oh, and I work at a CHURCH. I swear and I support marriage equality and I drink and I swear (had to mention it twice because I do it a LOT) and my house is messy and I’m very, very imperfect. I don’t get to show that side of myself a whole lot at work, and it sucks. But I love God, I love people, I love helping folks achieve their goals, and I love my son. Can I be in your club?

  • Beth

    It occurs to me that it would have been interesting to ask the “Christian” guy what it was specifically that he had an issue with regarding your previous header. Was it the use of the word “ass” or the clothing or…? I honestly found your previous header very funny and inoffensive. Perhaps you wouldn’t have wanted to represent this gentleman’s organization regardless…?

    • suburbanturmoil

      He did not have a problem with it- He actually liked it. But as another commenter below guessed- He worried that donors to the organization WOULD have a problem with it and not give money. And that’s what made me feel sad and ashamed– and then later, mad at myself for feeling sad and ashamed. Because to be honest, I don’t think God gives two hoots about my blog header. I will be very surprised if ‘blog header’ is on the list of things I have to answer for on Judgment Day. πŸ˜‰

  • kjoy

    Lindsay, I am with you, girl. We have to have people that we can trust to know the real us, the real struggles. The perfect life, the perfect Christian, the plastic smile…it is all a part of the same lie. Real Christian life is struggles, and pain, and falling down and reaching out for help and to help others in return.

    Thanks for your words.KJ

  • Dawn K

    Was out of town and just saw this post. I have to comment because this is ME! I am a Christian and go to church every Sunday and I am very involved in my church. I also drink and swear and have to work HARD on my marriage (because marriage is NOT easy), and sometimes I could strangle my kids and my house is not always pristine. Having said that I am very involved in my church and my Christian community and most of the women are just like me. Maybe it’s time to look at a different church community. One that is more loving and forgiving. I am a lifelong Methodist and we are a loving, tolerant, forgiving lot. Our church motto is “Open Minds, Open Hearts”. I have looked at many other religions over the years and honestly the Methodists are the only ones that truly talk the talk and walk the walk in my book. Just saying!

  • Jude

    I love your honesty and your spunk! I’m sure if we lived in the same city/neighborhood, I would enjoy you as a friend! I found you b/c of your nit/lice post of over a year ago b/c our family is dealing with it for the first time right now. I, too, am a fellow believer in Christ. I’m so thankful you are not giving up on the church. What a great truth that someone posted below that we need to extend the same unconditional love & grace to the church/believers for their imperfections too! What I’ve experienced from our move 9 months ago to the mid-south (from Chicago) is that it is a culture of saving-face. So I wonder if some of what you are experiencing is a southern cultural phenomenon that also pervades the church. B/c no one talks about lice here… and I kinda get it now. Many don’t even report it to the school – unthinkable for me – and so it goes unchecked. And then since no one else is talking about lice, we will most likely experience the added humiliation of someone else getting it and thinking it came from us – which may or may not be the case, but you get my point. Folks may be rude in Chicago but there is more grit & truth-telling. Just thought I’d put that out there. But LOVE the friendliness of the southern culture – every culture has their good and bad – as does every human!

  • Oh, absolutely! I played the expected role until about 7 or 8 years ago when I began to resent it. I longed to be myself and began peeling away the layers. My immediate family and a large, growing group of friends have been more than supportive. And fortunately I attend a church which doesn’t put those “perfect Christian” expectations on its members. I wish the same was true for everyone in my life but it isn’t. One of my brothers won’t even speak to me anymore and has openly (online, even) questioned my faith. It’s painful but I simply cannot stuff myself back in that box again.

  • Melissa

    I think there is a real movement toward authenticity recently. However, some people take it too far and don’t balance authenticity with appropriate discretion. Which is just plain good people skills. Which is something I think a lot of Christians unfortunately miss. Being a Christian does not excuse anyone from developing people skills.

  • You don’t need to present a sanitized version of yourself. Your “Christianity” is between you and God. I commend you for being who you are. That’s raw and real and true. Frankly, I don’t care whether anyone’s Christian or Muslim or atheist. I care about whether or not they’re honest. Forget naysayers. You and your God are the only ones who have to be comfortable with you. Now keep on with your bad self! πŸ˜‰

  • Membership: 2. And my husband makes 3.

    You are not alone.

  • Karen

    In my experience, the people who question the least actually have the most questions. They’re just afraid of what it means to ask them. That’s how legalism is born.

    The person(s) who wouldn’t donate money to a worthy cause because your blog header has a picture of you in a bra in it has a giant log in their eye and may need to have it surgically removed. Judge not and all. It gets in the way of the work we are called to do on behalf of those without a voice who so desperately need one.

    I’m with you – Membership: 2

    (P.S. You may really enjoy reading my friend’s blog: http://tattooedfaith.blogspot.com/)

  • dutchbeingme

    I – like so many others that have commented already – am with you too. I am not perfect. Frankly, there are days that I don’t even try. What you wrote rang true with me, so so so very much.

    Thank you for expressing it.

  • Lisa

    The hypocrisy of Christianity is what pushed me away, and it continues to bolster my atheism. The Bible I read growing up taught a lot of things, many of them in direct conflict with others. But the Jesus that I learned about was a good person who loved *everyone* and directed us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no asterisk on there, he meant it to apply to *everyone*, not just the people who fit a certain mold. Sadly, most Christians don’t live like Jesus taught. Somehow I’m immoral and a bad person simply because I don’t believe in god, but the pastor in Richmond, VA who was arrested for having sex with an 11-year old is because he’s a Christian? I follow the Golden Rule, I don’t break the Ten Commandments, I live by the Girl Scout Law and “help people at all times” like I say I will when I say the Girl Scout Promise. I do those things because they are the right things to do, not because I believe in god. But I’m still a bad person even though I behave better than most Christians? Explain that one. I would like to say I expect to be treated that way by Christians but that they would treat their own better, but I can’t. I feel sorry for you that you are treated so poorly by people who are supposed to love their neighbors.

    • Paula

      Everyone is a hypocrite. The continued cry of “Christians are hypocrites” is so old. Choosing a church is like choosing a pair of shoes. If it fits, and is comfortable well I’m there. So it may take time to find a church that fits. And then you may never find a good fit. But, to say Christians are hypocrites is a lousy excuse. I don’t think I know anyone that isn’t a hypocrite. It doesn’t bother me one darn bit if someone says that don’t want to be part of a church community. I get tired of people putting others down that do. I’m a hypocrite, a Christian and a good person. Sometimes I attend church on a regular basis, sometimes I don’t. Christians are not perfect, contrary to popular belief and I don’t think I am. I have never heard a Christian or someone that attends a church regularly claim to be perfect or put others down that don’t. So do what makes you happy and allow others to do the same!

  • Theresa A

    I am a member too! Thanks for posting this up!

  • Emily

    I can see where you’re coming from. I am Christian, but I’m of the Catholic denomination, and when I first met my husband, his family thought that because I was Catholic, I needed to be “saved” (or something — I’ve been baptized, so I didn’t understand it). I really didn’t get it, because I’m Christian just like them, and I felt really judged, which I could see being a huge turn-off for someone’s who’s just looking into the religion. All Christians have different backgrounds, personalities and even beliefs, and I think that it’s important that everyone remembers that. Sometimes I wish that there weren’t denominations and that we could all just get along. I’ve felt judged by some of my friends for friending people who are outside of the Christian community, and that is something that I definitely don’t agree with — aren’t we supposed to love everyone?

  • Adrienne Scanlon

    Amen. A++ … I was in the ministry for 20+ years with my husband and got out because of this EXACT thing. We were not ‘supposed’ to be as honest, real, authentic…human…as we were. Couldn’t play the game/put up a facade so we stepped out of the ministry. Lasted a few more years in the congregation, trying to bring about the kind of change that would allow for this openness…and then left. My favorite form of worship now is small group – house church. Where I know and am known by honest, faith-filled friends. The most heart wrenching part of all this to me is that in the Christian effort to put forth this message of “better life” with Christ – the heart message of grace gets lost, lost, lost. And don’t even get me started on how it messes up the kids who grow up needing to ‘measure’ up….geesh. Thanks for putting your heart out there! LOVED this!

  • Noelle

    I found you because one of my Facebook friends shared your blog post so I’ve never read anything from you before. One of the best things I’ve found in having joined a community group at the church I am part of is that we can study, question, and seek answers and encouragement from one another. Seeing life through the eyes of another and the struggles they go through allows me to grow and love them in ways I would have been judgmental about before. Some of us have been together for several years now and others have joined us this past year. We are not perfect, but we long to care about others because we know God cares for us. We desire to contribute in our church so that we may provide to others because of the way we are blessed. We connect as a group to be encouraged and it is another way that we can continue meeting together in His name. It is a time we set aside to cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus. I have been a person who tries to excuse my own sins, to justify them, even after I was baptized into new life. I am thankful that I have seen the light in this matter over the years of growth. There are other struggles I still have that I continue to turn away from in order to lead a life pleasing to God. Becoming more like Him is my desire. I prayed just now that you will continue to move toward the Father and see His church as a place for you to be sanctified and cleansed and that your gifts for writing will be used for God’s glory. I pray you will not openly judge those who are at a different place in their journey, but that you will be compassionate. I prayed that your turmoil will be overcome by the peace that God provides. I don’t think your intention in writing this was to be a church basher, but it certainly opened the door for much of that in the comments to follow. I found this description online about who we are as Christ’s church: “The word “church” as rendered in the New Testament comes from the Greek term ekklesia which is formed from two Greek words meaning “an assembly” and “to call out” or “called out ones.” In summary, the New Testament church is a body of believers who have been called out from the world by God to live as his people under the authority of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23).”
    I leave you with a single question…does professing to feel like you are part of a club called “Bad Christian Club” do anything to further God’s kingdom? This is a question for you, not all of your respondents. Blessings to you on your continued journey towards Him. I am glad you have not given up on meeting together with the family of believers. We never know which sermon, which communion meditation, with conversation, which song will lead someone a little closer to Him.

  • Ellen

    I’m a long time reader, and only occasional commenter, but let me say that I actually love your religious posts the MOST because you are such an authentic person. Your faith is just part of who you are, not your entire identity, and honestly I think thats how it should be.

    I’m also a christian and I have been involved in a lot of denominations over the years, mostly due to moving. Some are way more judgmental in my opinion, in the guise of accountability. Accountability can be good, but if it turns into judging fellow christians it really is toxic, and takes away from the real message of God’s redemption. We’re all christians, we are all redeemed, end of story. The whole take your stick out of your own eye first and what not. I will also add that I personally think that non-Christians see that in our community and it does NOT send a welcoming message to join us!

    Now that I’m a mother, I actually avoid the “accountability” denominations. I wasn’t a fan of the message that culture would send to my child. I sought out more open denominations and I am very happy with where we’ve ended up on our walk.

  • Amy

    Thanks for that. I know exactly how you feel. Lots of Christians out there are not very tolerant of – or kind toward – imperfect Christians. That’s too bad, since none of us are perfect and some of us are downright terrible when it comes to hiding our imperfections πŸ™‚

  • ev

    Perhaps living without labels would be helpful. How do you know someone is a ‘non Christian’? Who’s the judge of that? Do labels of any religion really help anybody? We strive for the same thing, to see the face of the Divine. We practise one religion or another for our own benefit and to make a better world. I subscribe to the Christian practise. But making others feel that they aren’t in the right group just causes more problems, creates ‘the enemy’. And then someone has to police the rules, etc, etc. Adnauseum.

  • The Mommy

    This is so true! I am definitely a bad Christian. I’m human. I also get frustrated from the other end, too, meaning when folks who aren’t Christian wait (just WAIT) for you to do something “bad” and then jump all over it because – even more than the Christian Community – they want to say, “SEE! That’s why I’m NOT a Christian! They’re all hypocrites!”
    To you I would say, “Keep going”. Obviously (based on yourself and your commenters), there are plenty out there just like us. Sometimes, it takes hearing another brave soul admit to their sins before we are comfortable airing ours. And wiping ass isn’t a sin…neither is using the word. My priest told me so (he used to swear DURING his homily!).

  • Kathleen C. Nesbitt

    You’re not a bad Christian. Jesus never asked anyone to “change.” You’re just being scrutinized by the Christians that have given Christianity a bad name and a bad rap. I’m married to a minister in the UCC (United Church of Christ: we used to burn witches, now we ordain them. lol). I no longer tell people I am “Christian” because of all the “bleeds-it-reads” publicity SOME Christians have gotten. I say I’m a Protestant.

  • WildCard

    Wow, that is so cool that you are bearing your soul like that. I remember when I first really believed in the gospel and how intimate my relationship with God had begun but then things became religious and it became ‘churchianity’ instead of Christianity. When Jesus was here he corrected the religious leaderscalling them whitewashed tombs, who judged others, appeared righteous, but were not. What you described here is just that. Christians afraid of people judging them and in turn putting others under judgement. I think they have forgotten what they have been forgiven for, the bible calls them near sighted. The gospel of Jesus Christ is about grace. We all need to be called back to that. I am so happy God reminded me of that. I had became near sighted and he reminded me of His love, gracious, real love. The truth is, God is your only judge and because of what Jesus did, you are completely loved, forgiven, accepted and beautiful! Hugs! Thanks again for posting this.

  • Oh man, can I be part of your club? I can only assume that I’ve lost followers on Twitter because of some of the things I’ve tweeted and they weren’t even bad in my mind (sarcasm, thank you). I write humor on my blog and tweet jokes. I’ve struggled with where the line is, but have decided that I just need to be conscious of One, not all these fickle, legalistic people. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    Oh, and I can’t wait for your CheeseburgHer party!!!

  • Cathy

    Good-Morning. None of us are good no not 1. That is why Jesus went through so much suffering & hell just for us. Jesus rejected religion! it is a relationship, and these religious people are living a lie, you can hide your sin from people which doesn’t matter but not from GOD which is the one that matters, ALL have sinned and will sin as long as we are in this flesh…that is not to say we should continue to live in sin meaning not wanting to change, who did Jesus hang out with? not the religious but the so called bad people who the religious condemned…… Jesus died for all but not all will die for him…

  • Kris

    Preach!

  • God bless you Lindsay. I feel like this a lot. You are not alone. God is far more merciful and loving than we give him credit for. I think any “good” Christian, one in whom the spirit resides, is always being convicted of their sins. To feel sorrow over your sin, and to know that you’re helpless. Well. Those are fruits of the spirit. Feel encouragement, knowing that God s with his children, he corrects the one’s he loves.

  • Jenny

    I just googled “I feel like a bad Christian” and this is where I stopped. So glad I did! I’ve always said I was one of God’s messier children…..how am I supposed to be part of the Body of Christ when I don’t even like the other appendages most of the time? I cuss like a pirate. After finding myself unassumingly in a quasi-cult, for the first time in my life, I realized people will use God to hurt you while elevating themselves. Prior to meeting those ass hats, my Christian influences were kind, forgiving, loving…..so I assumed everyone was. My faith seriously took a hit when I was told how substandard I was. Wow. I can honestly admit that I am not always about God’s Kingdom…..sometimes I’m more concerned with my own. I hate it, but it’s the truth. My prayers are probably the most unorthodox ever, but if I’m PMS’ing and have horrible things going on in the beehive, I figure there’s no point in trying to bullshit Him. So, I lay them out there, ask for help, and ask for forgiveness. Please keep writing this blog. Please. It is so desperately needed.

  • carrie

    Love this!!! Thank you putting this out there πŸ™‚

  • Imperfection personified

    I’m open about all my struggles, drink wine and have fun with my friends but I also know that Christ does hold us to a higher standard and we need to remember that we are to be a reflection of Him. We are in this world but we are not of this world. “From the abundance of your heart your mouth speaks. Luke 6:45” He drank wine, He loved on all people, He was real, honest and open. I’m sorry you felt that you had to keep your Christianity a secret… But maybe you’re looking at this all the wrong way. You should be using this large platform to honor The Lord, not keep Him out of it. Will you be proud of the decisions you make when you stand before The Lord one?

  • ronnietodd

    amen!

  • Lisa

    I love this post, and I am a recovering “judge” of good vs bad Christian. What I have recently figured out is that there are no such things. We are all just Christians – imperfect followers of the only perfect One – designed by Him to need Him. My hubby says it best – love God and love others…the rest will all work out the way it is planned.

  • Lyssabug23

    Man, I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I stumbled upon this post on the internet (I google: ‘ help, I feel like a bad Christian’). The pressure of making others stumble in their walk to find or rely on Christ is magnetized 100x in my mind, every day, with every word I say or action I choose to make. I live in a household of 3 strong atheists, and 1 non practicing catholic, and I was told by a friend when I was just a baby Christian how important my influence on them must be, and how I was chosen to be the light and salt in my family. And I have never ever been able to cope with this apparent task. I can’t take that amount of responsibility on my shoulders, and the truth is, I don’t think I’m meant to. I find this to be most true among most Christians I have met( Lord help me, I do too sometimes) : they consistently forget the most important of all commands from Christ…Love. Love the Lord above yourself, LOVE those around you like you would yourself. Guess what that includes? Accepting their faults, accepting them as HUMAN BEINGS. Because you know what? We’re supposed to try our best to be Christ-like everyday, but the thing is, God knows we’re human. If God can accept our effort and love us NO MATTER WHAT, then why can’t we do the same for our brothers and sisters? Screw the whitewashed persona. That is not the human experience. We were meant to fellowship in honesty, acceptance and trust, so that we can band together and have strength through Christ’s love, acceptance and forgiveness. Anyone who holds us to this unrealistic, whitewashed, fakey standard (especially if they’re Christian) need to be slapped awake into reality. I say hold your head up high, be you, and go in peace with our loving Father!

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