I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
February 7, 2011
I don’t write very often about being a Christian.
The reason I don’t write about it is that for a number of you, reading that I’m a Christian doesn’t give you a mental image of a belief system- it gives you an image of a lifestyle, one that many of you either idolize or detest, based largely on your experiences with other Christians.
And for better or worse, I don’t often feel like I fit within the confines of that perceived lifestyle.
That’s not to say I haven’t tried. When I was young, I went to church. I attended Sunday School. I was a member of the youth group. I sang in the church choir. I went on mission trips and retreats.
But I couldn’t maintain that facade of perfection 100% of the time, and so there was another side of me… a side that smoked Marlboro Reds. And went to parties. And drank. I wasn’t consciously trying to be bad, but I did have an insatiable curiosity about life and need for adventure, which led to all sorts of narrow escapes and ridiculously dangerous moments. Through all of that, though, I never for one minute stopped believing in God and heaven and hell and JesusChristHisOnlySonOurLord. I read my Bible and I prayed regularly… and I’ll admit the praying (and the memorized scripture) came in handy, particularly when I was in the midst of one of those ridiculously dangerous moments.
As an adult, the Jekyll and Hyde quality of my religious life continued. I joined a church and got involved, leading a church playgroup and volunteering for various church committees. But I also wrote an unapologetically snarky blog. I drank martinis. I cussed under duress. While I didn’t think I was a very bad person, what I was doing didn’t seem to be compatible with the requirements of The Christian Club. And so around Christians, I didn’t talk about my blog or my favorite bars in town or the really excellent miniskirt I found on sale at Forever 21. And around my blog, I didn’t talk about my Christianity. Ever.
But that wasn’t working for me, either. My spiritual life could never really progress as long as it was separate from my “other” life. It all came to a head a few years ago, when I began to realize that God made me this way for a reason. And rather than apologizing for it and trying to cover up my imperfections, I needed to figure out why I was here, and what it was that I was intended to do. I suspected that this blog, where I try to lay it all out and be unapologetically ‘me’ as much as I can, was going to have to figure into it.
That’s when, with great fear and trepidation, I came out of the Christian closet. While there were critics, there was also a huge sigh of relief from a surprising number of you. As it turned out, PLENTY of you also wanted to pursue a relationship with God, but felt you’d never be able to live up to Christian Club standards. And PLENTY of you felt sometimes like you were leading a double life because the “real” you seemed incompatible with the sanitized “Christian” version of you that you thought certain people were expecting to see.
And I can’t tell you how many other bloggers, many of whom you’d recognize, have admitted to me over the last few years that they, too, go to church and read their Bibles and yearn to feel God in their lives- but they’re too afraid to ever admit it on their blogs because of the standards people would then expect them to have as writers. There could be no cursing! No drinking! No bitching! No sinning! And THEN what would they write about???!!!!
I am still in the process of discovering my true calling in life, but one thing I know is that I’m called to be honest on this blog. Even when it’s scary. Even when it’s ugly. Even when it hurts. And because of that, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that rawness of my own “public persona” makes many “public Christians” keep me at arm’s length. That’s been hard to deal with, because while I dearly love having close friends of all faiths and beliefs, I would also love to have a seasoned spiritual mentor or two- yet every time I’ve put myself out there and tried to find one, I’ve been gently rebuffed.
Yes, the Christian Club is real. No, I’m not an honored member. But I do have hope that despite all this, I’m on the right path.
Last week, a post came to light that I had written three years ago. It was endlessly discussed on various forums throughout the week and while I’m certainly not ashamed of the post, I realized in re-reading it and the vitriolic reactions to it on the message boards (where its tongue-in-cheek context was completely lost) that I couldn’t muster much interest in defending it, because it wasn’t something I would write now. I’ve progressed at least a little bit beyond that point. I still make huge and horrible mistakes, of course (many of which are documented here), but I’m MAKING PROGRESS– which is a sign, to me, that I haven’t made a mistake in writing about my faith here, despite some of your misgivings.
I also realized that between that time and today, I’ve truly managed to integrate my spiritual life with my “real” life. I am who I am. I go to church most Sundays. I’m in a Bible study group and a couple’s group. I read my Bible every day. I pray. I also love a good martini. I argue with my husband. I suffer from pride. I make mistakes with my children and stepdaughters. I lose my temper. I put my foot in my mouth on a regular basis, both in real life and on this blog.
It has occurred to me that while you’ll definitely never see perfection here and you will probably never read my posts and feel inspired to scrapbook and sing hymns, you may, as I have, see progress over time. You may see glimmers of God working in my life. You may feel that if someone as obviously flawed as I am can keep struggling toward the Divine, then you can keep trying, too- if you want. You may realize you’re not alone in feeling spiritually inadequate and unworthy. You may discover from time to time, as I have, that you’re following the Christian Club’s will, but not necessarily following God’s will for you. And there may be some value in that.
Or? You may think this is all a bunch of hooey and religious crap, and you know what? That’s fine with me too. This is my journey and my leap of faith. I may not write about it often, but in the interest of authenticity, I do like to keep those of you who care updated.
So there you go.
Image via Charles Hutchins/Flickr