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.
March 9, 2009
A couple of months ago, I wrote a little about my religious beliefs on this blog and then I asked about yours. What followed was a really nice dialogue in the comments about religion or the lack thereof. Some of you are atheists, some are Christians, some are Jews, some are Wiccans, some are agnostic. All of you couldn’t have been nicer or more open, and no one judged me or anyone else for what was revealed.
I was absolutely floored by your collective awesomeness- Your warmth and acceptance were a great big WHEW! for me, because in the last few months, I’ve finally been coming to terms with something that’s been holding me back from God ever since I was a child.
I grew up in the church. I went to Christian schools. I went on religious retreats- lots of ’em. Church has played a big part in most of my life and I actually like it that way. I like setting aside time each Sunday to try and give my upcoming week some moral focus. I think the Bible has a lot of sound advice on how I should live my life.
The problem I have always had is not with God or Jesus or heaven or hell or any of the big stuff. It’s with other Christians. And I’m only just now realizing that this is what’s been holding me back all along.
Because let’s be honest. To be involved in church and call yourself a Christian in this day and age puts an awful lot of pressure on you to portray yourself as a perfect person. You shouldn’t wear too much makeup. You shouldn’t go to a bar and have martinis. You shouldn’t curse. Your blog had better not have a tacky word in the header like ass; it should have hearts and flowers and blinkies on it, and Bible verses in the sidebar. You get major bonus points for living frugally and homeschooling and banning all radio in your house and car except the local Christian music station.
I spent serious time, both as a teenager and as an adult, trying to fit into those parameters. And both times when I realized I couldn’t, I simply gave up. I like to think I’m a pretty smart girl, but how dumb was I to let other people’s expectations of me hold me back from having an authentic relationship with God?
Only recently did I really examine myself, warts and all. I definitely have major flaws. I definitely sin on a regular basis. But you know what? Overall, I’d say I’m striving for good every bit as much as any other churchgoing Christian out there. I’m just not trying to cover up my mistakes along the way.
My blog has been the thing that’s really helped me to live transparently, both online and off. I think there’s value in revealing my shortcomings to you because we all have them, and it’s ridiculous to pretend that we don’t. So when I do something really embarrassing, I generally share it. When I mess up, unless it would invade someone else’s privacy, I share that, too. I’ve written things on this blog that I’m not all that proud of today, but I let them stand because they form a record of an imperfect person who’s had highs and lows, and I’d like to think that I’ll see emotional and spiritual growth on this blog over time.
In the last few years, rather than beating myself up over all my shortcomings and inadequacies, I have come to believe that God has made me the way I am for a reason. Who’s to say God can’t do as much or more through me as I am, a work in progress, than He could if I were portraying myself to you as a happy, smiling, hearts-and-flowers-loving Christian?
It makes sense to me… And yet some recent criticism of me by Christians on another forum was enough to call all these realizations into question once again. I’ll write about it, but this post is already getting too long. Let’s just pick up later on this week where we’ve left off today.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this, whether you agree or disagree, or whether this is making you freak out a little and can I please keep this whole weird Christian thing to myself or at the very least limit it to Parents.com?!
Image via leo.jeje/Flickr
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
>I have a post in draft that I’ve never finished for fear (I guess it’s fear) of publishing it that is about this very thing. And I agree wholeheartedly with you here. You don’t have to be perfect, and who wants to pretend to be on their own blog?Christians who are hyper-critical and judgmental of other people (and by “other people” I don’t mean murderers and child abusers and bloody dictators – I mean normal people) upset me as well. It doesn’t convert anyone, and more than likely turns them away since it seems to fly in the face of the message of Christianity. Love, compassion, understanding, tolerance. (Of NORMAL people. Not EVIL people.)I wonder sometimes what God will say to people who took it upon themselves to go so far in judging the hearts of others. I suspect it won’t be pretty.
>I totally agree. I’m a Christian. I drink on occasion. I certainly use the word ass as well as a few other choice words from time to time. I let my 3-year-old watch SpongeBob. I’m not perfect. None of these things make me less of a Christian than the next person. I sin. I ask for forgiveness. I try to live my life right, but sometimes I screw up. That’s life.
>I imagine my childhood was probably much like yours as you described it, and after growing up and moving away from my parents, and my husband and I trying to create our own family culture, I have learned that it is ok to mess up, to not live exactly the way your parent’s (or in-law’s) think is ‘the christian way’ to live, but based on your own convictions. Words come out of your mouth sometimes that wouldn’t please MANY people who think they may ‘know’ you, but I truly believe that it’s what is in the heart that matters. After all, being a Christian is about YOUR relationship with the Lord, not anyone elses. It is not an easy journey, nor is it one that you can follow entirely in someone else’s footsteps, but I truly appreciate the people surrounding and supporting me and encouraging me by being vulnerable and real as you spoke of. I think that being real and true to yourself is really what makes the difference. 🙂
>Two pieces of advice that I always try to keep foremost in my mind are:#1. Religion is who you are at your core, when no one is looking – not where you go on Sunday or what you drink on Saturday night.#2. The bible contains perfect gospel to guide our lives, unfortunately this perfect message is taught by imperfect people.Your relationship with your God is just that – Yours. Enjoy it and always understand that the most difficult forgiveness is that which we give to ourselves.To err human, to forgive devine…Judge not, lest ye be judged…*hugs*
>I have a pin that sums it up for me, it reads: “I’ve got nothing against God, it’s his fanclub I can’t stand”I grew up hardcore Catholic (as I shared in my response to your previous post about religion) and the most frustrating thing for me when the topic of religion comes up is that by many I am looked at, with judgmental eyes, as a heathen when I share my belief system.I have my relationship with God, I say my prayers, I thank him (or her) for the blessings I have, I ask forgiveness for my sins, and I really do get tremendous joy from helping others in need or those who are less fortunate. I don’t think I am less worthy because I don’t go to church every Sunday. And I don’t think God would damn someone like the Dalai Lama simply for “worshiping a false idol”. If more people opened up their minds, I truly believe we could coexist, respectfully and peacfully, and THAT i think would make every God happy.
>I “think” I’ve found a balance that works for me. I avoid the flowery, Bible verse bedazzled blogs because I CAN’T relate to those women (even though I’m a Christian). My blog is clean and I don’t curse, but I can’t pretend that life is perfect. I struggle just like everyone else, and you’re right–more people can relate to someone who is struggling.
>I agree with Mandy… living a “Christian Life” is tough enough with out having to live up to the “expectations of what other people think being a Christian is”. They tend to forget that we are all human and have human foibles and tendencies. We do go through a transformation in spirit, but we still face the same world as everyone else. It’s about a journey and relationship with God. In today’s world, it takes support and encouragement to choose to be transparent and real about Your Personal Relationship with the Lord. You’ve got my support and encouragement for sure… because we all are given to screwing up and making mistakes and knowing that it’s part of the journey to have to ask for forgiveness… it’s what makes the hard edges become smoother and more rounded.
>This is one of those posts I was afraid to publish- but in the end, it seemed inauthentic not to share, since this is what I’m thinking about right now. How can you know where I’m coming from if I leave out key details?I actually do read and enjoy a number of overtly Christian blogs- I just feel sometimes like their authors are members of a special sorority I could never join. And I wonder often if there are others out there like me.
>…Maybe writing about religion *should* make you–make all of us feel naked. Because what we believe about God, our relationship to Him, what we believe about life after death–it’s all so very personal, and so bound up in who we are and who we want to be…It should be an exercise in vulnerability, non?That said, thank you for sharing your faith. I, too, am a Christian who drinks, cusses, and has no problem with dancing (I was raised in a VERY strict family).Sometimes, it’s difficult to balance that with being a living example of God’s love.Perhaps it’s the admission of difficulty, and the promise to keep striving to become a better servant of God, perhaps it’s that which can help our admissions of faith to seem loving instead of hateful…At least, I sincerely hope so. 🙂
>i seriously need to get to work before i get fired. . . but i had to comment first.i’ve been captivated by this topic for some time, and have commented a couple of times about this very thing on a friend’s blog (http://www.leblanclife.com/?p=402). i think the saddest thing about people rejecting Christ is because his followers are flawed. or simply not following. i will go back to your post and reread it more carefully later, and also the post about your religious beliefs. i have alot on my heart (along with blogging, and technology and how all this fits into kingdom building) and long to share.thanks for the dialog. i’m going to go keep my job now.check out that post. he’s a powerful believer.
>I have been reading your blog for a while and LOVE it! I think you have a wonderful way with words. i also think you have it (this) figured out! You dont have to be perfect, and I believe God loves you unconditionally no matter what. Christians can be the ones who are the biggest detriment to christianity. I, personally, do go to church every sunday. (And I am SOOO not sinless and not even in the ballpark of perfect.) The thing about my church is that it is a Mega church and is contemporary. He will preach on exactly this subject- the negative impact of “Religious” people. THANK YOU for being real and someone to relate to! We love you for it … and so does He!
>Write away! You should definitely keep posting about stuff like this if you want to. It is interesting and I share a lot of your sentiments, so, it’s all good 🙂
>It’s funny that we are taught that as Christians we are to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Then everybody wants to tell you how to do it!Tara in NC
>Here’s the thing, don’t get me wrong I love Jesus just as much as the next person, but I can’t handle all the crap that comes along with it. Maybe it’s just because I feel like it’s always being forced on me who knows…I grew up poorer than poor, raised by my Grandma and CRAZY Mother. My husband grew up in an upper middle class neighbourhood, he went to church twice on Sunday, and for family nights on Wednesday. His mom played piano on the worship team and his dad was on the church board. My husband grew up playing the piano at church and was forced into bible college. Although we met at church I will forever be the woman who stole their son away from the Lord. I believe in God, I consider my self “saved” or whatever but I don’t think that EVERYTHING should come second to the church. I listen to the radio, I love a nice glass of shiraz and I cuss like a sailor. I still think that everything is going to be ok in the end because I love my neighbour and all that other jazz. But hey that’s just me!
>I’ve struggled wit this too. I’m a Christian who never really fits into the Christian scene. I’m not a, “Praise GOD!!!” type of a girl. I enjoy a good stiff drink now and again, and I really don’t love sitting around quoting bible verses. So… I don’t fit into a traditional ‘Christian’ role, as defined by my head. 🙂 So now I find myself enjoying church, having secular friends, and trying to lead a life I’m proud of. With some cussing, drinking and lots of self reflection. 🙂
>I’m actually writing tomorrow on homeschooling my daughter on the topic of religion. I can’t find a church I like, and I’m more afraid of the messages she’d get from organized religion about exclusion than missing out on the weekly ritual.My great-grandfather was the minister in the church in which I grew up, and I attended every church camp, church club, etc. growing up. I agree — organized religion has gotten WEIRD, and it has no place in my relationship with God anymore.
>I agree with a lot of what you said. It’s a reason why I no longer call myself a Southern Baptist, I’m just a follower of Christ, striving to be the best I can be. I go to a church that I LOVE these day, it’s called Fellowship Bible Church and they are pretty spread out in the South.
>While I’m not a Christian, I completely respect those who have faith. I see religion as a very valuable tool; if it helps someone find the strength they need in day-to-day life and if it truly brings them happiness, that is amazing.Too often, though, you’ll see folks who wield it as a weapon of morality and an excuse to judge others. Perhaps I’m wrong but I thought that was God’s job. It disappoints me when you see Christians trying to pigeonhole their fellow believers and it makes me wonder just how much of a Christian they truly are.I believe that if you try to be a good person, that if you make a genuine effort, it’s good enough. We’re human and we make mistakes. We drink, we smoke, we swear. Shit happens. But if, in the long run, your heart is in the right place, I’d like to think God would take that into consideration far more than every little thing you did that’s against some stereotype.The best thing you can do is keep your faith. Screw what anyone else thinks about who you should be.
>I’m guessing that your model for Christianity is mostly Southern Protestant … and maybe Baptist.I say this because I’ve been a Christian all my life and I don’t really know what you’re talking about.Where I grew up I was surrounded with Episcopalians, Unitarians, and Catholics. New England Yankees are famously frugal, but that wasn’t part of our religion–everyone was just cheap. And dressing modestly? Hey, flaunting your figure is tacky. Again, not a religious issue. Nobody ever talked about not swearing; as a result, we’re probably all pottymouths. As for not drinking? Hello? they don’t call us Whiskey-palians for nothing!)Am I too Northern and Episcopalian to get it?
>I’ve heard it said that Church would be great if it wasn’t for all the Christians. That’s so true. What we need to focus on, though, is our own relationship with God. When it comes down to the end and I’m standing before God, it’s not gonna matter who did what around me. It’s gonna matter where my heart stood before the Lord. Did God own every part of my life? Was I serving Him wholeheartedly? Did I allow Him to do what He wanted in my life?I totally get it about the other Christians. Totally. I myself, and my husband, have been very hurt by other Christians–pastors even. But, here we are, serving as Pastors at our church. It’s about listening to what God’s telling you to do with your life, not what the people around you say. Sometimes those things will line up, but let God worry about orchestrating that.
>I totally know where you are coming from. My husband and I have said over the last few years that we need a new name for Christians like us, because we sure don’t fit in to the minimal make-up (well, he does!), Christian music listening, home-schooling, right wing crowd that seems to be what people think of today when you say “I’m a Christian”. I know what I believe, but sometimes it’s hard feeling I need to defend it because I don’t LOOK like what people think I should look like to be a believer.
>I actually do read and enjoy a number of overtly Christian blogs- I just feel sometimes like their authors are members of a special sorority I could never join. And I wonder often if there are others out there like me.(Raising my hand)The problem is as old as religion itself. Christianity is as diverse in denominations and practices as the leaves on a tree. Some would do well to remember that before painting all Christians with the same stripe. No one has the right to be intolerant.I’m talking to you, bashers of non-Christians, too!
>I’m a Christian and proud of it. But I also drink, curse, gamble, etc. A couple of weeks ago, while walking some new-ish friends to my car during a birthday night of casino hopping, drinking, and general debauchery, this girl says to me “OMG for a second I thought we were getting in the car with the Jesus sticker. No offense but that just didn’t seem like you!” and then laughter ensued – from them, not me. Then I started questioning myself: Am I not a good Christian? Is my behavior so bad that people think I’m not a Christian at all? That the thought of me even saying I’m a Christian is laughable in some people’s eyes? Two weeks later and I’m still thinking about it. Not sure what to do, or if I should just ignore it – the girl had only met me once before this night after all. Anyway, I find this all very interesting. Thank you for sharing.
>I believe in faith, and in God. I don’t believe in religion and I won’t have anything to do with churches. My faith is mine, and I don’t think that I need to put myself out there to be judged by other people on a weekly basis.These feelings come from growing up like you did Lindsay, and then being disowned from my church/family/friends in the name of religion. What was my crime? Apparently Hubs wasn’t “Christian enough.”This is why I don’t write about family or religion on my blog.I realize not all Christians are like that but I admit I’m still quite bitter.
>Well, my father was a Methodist minister. He was kicked out of the methodist church (not capitalized on purpose)because he believed in spiritual healing. WHAT? He believed that God could heal? Oh my…we can’t have that!!Well, needless to say. I don’t attend church (again not capitalized on purpose)because I feel closer to God being with my loving family and watching or reading Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra or any enlightened teachers. I pray, I believe God works in my life everyday, I give thanks, but I don’t care to go to church, because that’s where they keep religion. God lives in all of us.Peace and love,Phil
>Well, fortunately, as a Catholic, we were never told to abstain from drinking. Hell, the priests certainly did enough of it…I too went to parochial schools through 8th grade, and my kids were baptized and confirmed, though they did not attend Catholic schools. (They are now 22 and 17.)Since we moved away from the same town where my parents lived (just Mom now, my father died), we have pretty much stopped going to Sunday Mass on a regular basis, and I sometimes wonder if I am shortchanging them, or at least the younger one (he was just out of 8th grade when we moved). Then again, I must confront my own attitude, which I knew was that I was going mostly to appease my mother, as it would greatly hurt her if I didn’t attend. Our old parish had a priest whom I and many others actively disliked (we’re not supposed to ‘hate’), and she would tell me, “dislike the messenger, not the message.” It was hard sometimes, the man was such an egotistical asshole. And my husband converted from being Episcopalian (before the kids were born, with absolutely no pressure from me), and they are more cavalier about their attitude, so it never really ‘took’ with him. I agree with musicjunkie that that does not make me less worthy if I don’t go to church every Sunday, though I do STILL feel twinges of guilt when I don’t. Damn that Catholic guilt! We are, however, observing Lent. I KNOW, it’s a mess. I always have remembered a chapter in one of the Narnia books (can’t remember which one, but it’s one of the later ones), where one of the kids is in some castle or something and there are many doors and rooms, but they all lead to the same place eventually. So that’s the way I like to think about it now, and that one can be spiritual without being ‘religious,’ because honestly, I think some ‘Christians’ give Christianity a bad name. ~ PeggasusI now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.
>willtherebecake, you bring up a good point. I’m not proud of everything I do. I’m not proud of the cursing. Sometimes I think it doesn’t really matter, and sometimes I think it does. You’ll find that I go through periods on this blog where I don’t curse at all and periods where I do. Maybe my relationship with God correlates directly to that! How sad. ;)I don’t want anyone to think that I think my sins and faults are okay. I don’t. But I also think that all of us have our issues, and there’s nothing wrong with writing about them, and still calling ourselves Christians, if that’s what we are.And I totally see why you’re thinking about that incident. I also think the fact that it has stayed with you means you’re on the right track in terms of self-refleciton. I have little moments like that, too.
>I do find myself on the defensive a lot about my religion. “Yes, I’m a Christian, but I’m not creepy and/or crazy like the Christians you see on the news, I swear!” The couple of times I’ve mentioned religion or politics on my blog, it brought a bunch of the fundamentalist Christian nutjobs out of the woodwork (how they ever found my site, I have no idea). I love that everyone here is so respectful of each other, I wish it were always like that on the Internet. Alas… Oh, and my husband used to be a devout Christian. He was a youth minister when he was in his early 20’s. Then he saw some really disgusting behavior by his church: a family had a child that died of leukemia, and the church shunned the parents because they said their child would’ve lived “if they’d had enough faith.” He left the church, and now considers himself a spiritual agnostic. I can’t really blame him.
>Good for you for knowing who you really are. Most people don’t.
>As I was reading your post, I was hoping no one was wathcing me because I kept smiling and nodding, thinking, “yes, yes!” I agree whole-heartedly with what you wrote here and hope you’ll share more of this side of yourself. As for the negativity you recently got from readers on a Christain blog – I’m sorry that made you call into questions your more recent realizations about your relationship with God. I hope the comments here will make up for it and give you some encouragement. Maybe they are a part of a sorority that *we* couldn’t join, but how ’bout we start our own? Thanks for sharing.
>It makes you feel naked because people are so passionate about it. And when people are passionate about something, they judge your views if they differ from theirs. Fun stuff.I think that there’s a difference between having faith and being involved in ‘religion’. Religion is man-made. Faith is spiritual – your personal relationship with God. Each religion picks and chooses its own rules to follow, based on bits and pieces and interpretations of the Bible. Religion is ok, but unnecessary. And it seems to mostly isolate people from each other.I think faith is more personal than that. You have your own relationship with God, no one can change it but you. If you have flaws that you want to work on to make your relationship with God stronger, good for you! But don’t let “earthly” religions dictate that for you.
>True, Christians give Christ a bad name. Churches don’t help any either. I too was raised in a strict Christian environment. (The movies “Jesus Camp” and “Saved” give you an idea) I never had alcohol until I was 26. I was a virgin when I married at 27. I was TERRIFIED to sin or go to hell. It took me YEARS to get over all of that judgment and shame, and I can’t say I’m totally over it. I don’t go to church but would like to because there is so much good that can be found there. But I’m always disappointed by what I find. For years I worked in the Christian music industry and it permanently destroyed my ability to see music as a vehicle of worship. There is so much evil going on in that business it is heartbreaking. Now I have a small child and wish there was somewhere that he could learn the good parts of my religious upbringing without getting all the guilt and shame. I love the old hymns. I turn to God when I am sad or afraid and I believe God answers prayers. I want my child to have that faith. But I’m not convinced I can find that in a church. So I’m trying to teach him on my own. I am proud of you for sharing your faith. It is refreshing to find a Christian who doesn’t pretend to be perfect all the time and isn’t constantly apologizing for it. Isn’t it time we all gave that up?? Sorry I’ve got to go anonymous on this one.
>you’re a free thinker…bravo!
>I agree with you. I am a Catholic but I disagree with certain parts of the church and I would never claim to be perfect. It used to bother me that I had issues with the church and I considered changing religions for a while. But, now I realize that I don’t have to worry about anything other than my relationship with God and being the best person I should be. If I don’t follow everything in Catholicism to the letter, well, that is something I have to work on but it is up to God to judge me. When most people hear of my faith or find out I am religious they are stunned because I don’t fit the usual mode and I sure don’t try to prostelytize. I really believe that my faith is private and God is the only worry- not what Sally or Jim think. I loathe Christians (or any other religious) who are so quick to judge others or try to show the world how perfect they are. The remind me of the exact people Jesus warned us about- the ones who made sure everyone was looking when they went to church or tithed. I prefer the people who do rather than say and who are open to EVERYONE.
>There is much I would say on this subject if I didn’t have a sick toddler in my lap and two others running wild because I haven’t started homeschooling them yet today. lolIt’s probably lucky for everyone that I can’t comment at length.Jesus says that if we do everything that he has shown us to do that others will know we are his disciples by the love we have for each other.I figure that if I really do have the life of Christ living in me then I won’t have to say anything, (or put bedazzled happy bible verse type things in my sidebar,) or pretend to be perfect and never write about when I screw up for people to know that is true. If someone can’t tell from the way I live my life that I am a Christian, than the odds are that I am not a Christian. If I am not kind, loving, thoughtful and most of all forgiving in my attitude toward others than I could say I’m a Christian all I want, but I wouldn’t be giving Jesus a very good name. (I really think that alcohol, the occasional cuss word and other things like that are very minor issues and suspect that people who focus on those types of behaviors are missing the main point.)I’m inspired by those Christian women on line, who do home school, and live frugally and serve their community, because their life shows that they live it in service to something greater than themselves and their own comfort. I may not have all of those things in common with them, but that doesn’t stop me from learning from them, and in some cases spurred by their example to reevaluate my own life.There are some people who seem to view Christianity and the church as a club or a life style choice, and themselves as insiders and everyone else as outsiders. I don’t get that behavior at all.[now imagine if I had a lot of time and wasn’t typing one handed.;)]
>It is too bad that today’s Christians are preceived as judgemental, hypocrytical and anti-homosexual. You should talk to Brandiandboys about this….her hubby did a whole series on how Christians have drifted away from God. You can listen to it online or podcast.I strive everyday. I am not perfect. I won’t even mention what I called the guy that cut me off in traffic this morning. But God made me in his image and loves me no matter how many names I call stupid drivers. Call me a wannna-be or whatever. But, I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, so I am a Christian no matter what anyone else thinks. (Abet, a Christian that needs to pray about her road rage!)
>I am a Christian. I sin. I ask for forgiveness. I try to work on my relationship w/God on a daily basis…try being the operative word there. ;)I, too, am weary of judgemental Christians who seem to “know better” than I do what is best for me, my family, etc. I’ve come to the conclusion that our family needs a break from “organized religion” right now. Hopefully, when we start our search for a new church, we will be blessed with a more accepting church family. My husband and I just want to keep it real for our girls so they won’t be turned off by all the “drama” and tuned into what really matters…a solid relationship with our Lord.
>Thanks for posting this, Lindsay. I have a post drafted about my own struggle with what it means to be a Christian and have been trying to get the nerve to hit Publish.I think that Christian “culture” here in North America has created this set of rules that we are “supposed” to follow…even though they are nowhere in the Bible.I’ve had people question my blog as well, but far more people have told me that my faith shines through…even though I’m not hitting everyone over the head with Jesus.
>i love this post and especially this discussion. just like like misa gracie said, “religion is who you are at your core, when no one is looking.” i also believe when it is your core, everything you do flows from that. You don’t have to set yourself apart – He will set you apart. You don’t have to become all legalistic and “give up” everything that is labeled as “wrong”. Oswald Chambers said, “Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you.” so true! we tend to put Him in a box and not allow Him to be creative with our lives, thinking we all need to be carbon copies of each other.
>Isn’t it sad that it is Christians themselves that turn 99% of people OFF to Christianity? This dialogue is much too large for a bloggy comment, but I shall try to keep it brief. I think the largest problem for the religious, or Christian, community at large is this: Although they claim that Christianity has “nothing to do” with the way most portray Christ- I beg to differ. Even the Bible says, “By their fruits, you shall know them.” Sure, he was talking about a tree, but how many sermons have you heard that addressed this verse and used it for humans? If, then, Christianity has now become the product of what Christians put it out there to be, then the world has a big problem, because that has nothing to do with Christianity, at least not the way the Scriptures portray the life of Jesus. He was a common laborer. He hung out with the “bad” people. He didn’t just talk about social injustices, he did something about them. He was a walking demonstration about helping those who really needed it. There was no “name it and claim it” anywhere in his living philosophy, nor was there this quaint, happy lifestyle that is so often put out there. Life was no bed of roses- unless it was the thorny bit. Until Christians start helping people instead of judging them, and making an actual difference in the world instead of their faith being a ritualistic Sunday routine, I don’t want anything to do with it. They can claim “it’s a relationship, not a religion” all they want, but until there is significant evidence to the contrary, I’m not buying it.
>Let me just say that you guys are blowing me away with all you’re putting out there to think about. 🙂
>I didn't realize Jesus had a problem with make up and alcohol or that he expected us to be perfect like him. But I was raised Catholic so possibly it is different for Protestants. This isn't going to come off sounding right but really I am not trying to being insulting…as I see it, yes, we need good examples but we also need horrible warnings too. Not that I am saying you are a horrible warning just that both ends of the scale need to be represented as well as the middle ground. Not everybody learns by seeing things done right, some people learn by seeing the consequences of things done wrong. God knows this, so he made us all in our wonderous variety to help everyone learn to be the best they can be.I think God sees people putting on a false front & will call them on the sins of hubris and omission when the time comes.
>I agree with some of the other posts… I grew up with a very similar childhood and struggle with the EXACT same issues as an adult. I have found a church that I feel is very “real” and isn’t full of judgmental hypocrites… I just really feel it is important for my children to know about God/Jesus/Heaven/Church, etc…Just know YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!
>My husband and I are both Jews but I grew up Christian. And my family is still CHristian. I spend a lot of time trying to explain to him that not all Christians are like what you see on TV. I do think it is sad that a belief system (that I don’t follow at all but do have experience with) can be tainted by the interpretations of some who follow it. But there it is.
>I am one of those Christians that is embarrassed by how other Christians have made the stereotype to be. I know just what you mean. What matters most to me is that people can be real no matter who they are, and that they know I love them no matter what. I hope my life is an example of how God can love (and even LIKE!) someone imperfect like me. Steph
>Amen, sista! I called my mom to vent for an hour yesterday because my husband is the perfect Christian that is currently dancing all over my last nerve. He his so holier than thou. (I don’t deny for a second, btw, that he is holier than I.) It has me wishing that I’d never insisted on us going to church in the first place.
>My blog is dirty: I curse on it.Timely post, especially since Rush Limbaugh is apparently staging a coup.
>What Poppy Buxom said up there ^These seem to be issues largely based on a Southern Protestant definition of “Christian”. I am a Catholic Christian, and my experience is somewhat different, so I may not understand all the ins and outs of it.However, as within any group (Catholics, too), there are going to be people who are judgmental of others, not just those in the dreaded, at least on the Internet, “organized religion”.Some people are just like that. Doesn’t make it OK, but it is what it is, I suppose. Let those people do whatever it is they do and live the way you need to live, emotionally and spiritually.
>As an agnostic bordering on atheism who’s married to a Jew, it astonishes me on a regular basis that I know more about most people’s religions than they do.Most people simply accept what they’ve been told and question themselves/their religion not at all.It’s refreshing to see someone grapple with it from the other side. Examining what one believes is NOT a bad thing. It’s the right thing, regardless of how it turns out.
>I probably won’t write this very well, but for me, being a Christian means that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I have given Him control of my life. I try my best to love my neighbor. I don’t drink, but only because it makes me sick. I occasionally curse. I am trying to raise my children with good morals and values, but they will attend public schools and watch TV, and have a “normal” kid life. I am happy with all of this. But you are right, there can be pressure to act “perfect”. But we are NOT prefect – none of us are, and I absolutely believe that you can trust in Jesus while drinking a beer and dancing at a club.Christians should not judge. I have a lot of friends who are non-believers – and although I would love to see that change, I still love them dearly, just as God does, and I will never judge anyone. That is not my job.I do struggle with sometimes admitting that I really am a Christian. I did not grown up that way, but I chose this path as an adult. My fear is that my family and friends who have known me forever will think that I am a different person than I used to be – and maybe I am in some ways, but hopefully it is all for the better.
>I think that your commenters have said it all. I just have to say that I think your blog could really use some smiley blinkies.
>There is a tremendous amount of irony in the fact that we don’t have to DO anything to EARN salvation – it’s God’s free gift to us through Jesus, there for our personal appropriation – but we seem to have to DO all sorts of things to fit in with other Christians.If we were truly modeling Christ’s grace (unmerited favor), our behavior toward others would be markedly different. Instead, we seem to feast on each others’ perceived faults.I’m a fifty year old, never married, degreed professional who enjoys a good wine, likes to dance and tends to swear (generally in private). Not exactly the usual church woman profile.I would hope, as one of the more overt Christian bloggers, I don’t come across as ‘perfect’. Boring maybe, but certainly not perfect. There is a category of posts I called “where I am (sometimes) an idiot” for a reason – I am.And if God accepted me that way, who are you not to do the same?
>Diane, I’ve read your blog several times and I have to say you don’t come off as “unattainably perfect” at all. You come off as thoughtful in matters of spirituality.Another Christian blogger who is wonderful about writing about her own imperfections is Ann Voskamp at http://www.aholyexperience.com. She is intensely spiritual and yet very raw and open at times about her imperfections, enough that she makes me, um, cry on a regular basis.Anyway… Shoot. I don’t cry. Did I just write that I cry? I don’t.
>I can totally relate to what you are saying. My husband and I were at dinner the other night and he was drinking a RATHER TALL beer. Some friends of ours from church came in and stopped to talk for a moment. They didn’t even take a second look at the beer, but my husband felt very uncomfortable about it. I told him to relax. I love Jesus with all of my heart and I strive to be more like Him everyday, but I believe in grace.If Christians spent more time loving each other and less time judging each other, the world would be a much better place.Thank you for posting this and for being so transparent!
>Bible verses in the sidebar- LOL!I think you and I are in the same boat on the sea of religion. Hopefully we won’t get swallowed up by Jonah’s whale. Or was it a fish?
>It seems to me that “Christian” is one of those labels that’s very much open to interpretation – kind of like “feminist”. Everybody’s got their own definition.I like what you said about living transparently. That really sums it up for me.
>Follow up comment, and only because I think it’s really important.Following Jesus has never been about cleaning up our act and pretending to be righteous. Any change for the better that is apparent because of our belief into the goodness of God and the work of His son on our behalf is not something that we are do ourselves, but that His spirit is to do within us. People who pretend to themselves and others that they have the life of the Spirit in them when it is all just an act or show and within is all the stuff they are ashamed of and hope no one sees have actually got farther to go than those who are honest about their faults, and are in a place of humility that makes room for the spirit of God to breathe life into those areas and transform them.It’s never been about behaving like a good person, it’s about choosing to let God help become a good person, in His power, not yours. I think a lot of people in the Christian church get that confused, which is why they feel they have to look and act perfect. The body of believers is supposed to be, IMHO, a place where we can experience the safety to be transparent and receive love from others who fully know our faults, and fully love us anyway. We are to be a place where people can be fully known, and fully loved, just as God loves each of us. We fall so short of that in reality though.
>”Who’s to say God can’t do as much or more through me as I am, a work in progress, than He could if I were portraying myself to you as a happy, smiling, hearts-and-flowers-loving Christian?”No one. I’m not a Christian, so maybe I’m not the best one to offer an Amen to this, but A-freakin’-men. As for whether to keep your Christianity closeted – IMO, bringing it to this blog in the way that you have has been respectful, thought-provoking, and beneficial to me. So long as it’s comfortable for you, I say keep on!The only blog I’ve ceased to read due to religion was one where the author’s political advocacy and religious proselytizing made me feel unwelcome. To her credit, that blogger wrote me a very thoughtful email, and I feel no rancor towards her. However, much of the purpose of that blog was to be a haven for folks who shared similar beliefs – the author didn’t ban debate, but that wasn’t what she was seeking.People have strong feelings about religion, Christianity in particular. So long as the discussions stay good, I think that it’s great to have these kinds of discussions out there in the world, counterbalancing all of the angry rhetoric that usually fills this topic.
>I think it’s great that you wrote about this. I’ve always believed “there lives more faith in honest doubt than in half the creeds” (paraphrasing). Narrow-mindedness scares me. Those blogs you described (hearts-and-flowers, Bible verses prominent, pious and perfect) freak me out. They seem to me like Stepford people. I grew up as a Christian, but I hesitate to identify myself with those who are so quick to judge others. As I write this, I hear a piece on the news about the declining percentage of Americans who describe themselves as Christians. I believe this is a reflection on how “Christian identity” has been taken over by those with a fundamentalist bent. Fundamentalism in any form frightens me.
>This post makes so many thoughts and comments run through my head, but I’ll limit it to this:Every religion, like every other belief system (and by that I mean: do you believe in recycling? In cloth diapering? In going to the gym regularly? In rubbing Vicks on your chest when you have the sniffles? Etc.) comes with naysayers, extremists, those who judge, those who do not, and those who honestly believe that most (or all) other people have got it wrong.Don’t listen to them. I’m not a Christian, but my understanding of Christianity is that it deals with the matters of your heart and soul, the depths of which only you and G-d know. Do not allow other people to be a stumbling block to your faith and your relationship with G-d.
>All Christians are sinners. I struggled in college…big time and really didnt know where I was with my relationship with God. I totally get your feeling of “well I can’t live up to what is expected”. Those Christians that are judging you should go back and read their Bible cause God is the only one who judges us. Thanks for keeping it real….
>Great thinking post! Um, that’s it. Religion makes people uncomfortable and I’ll never figure out why. Just great post is all I have. 😉
>I’m glad you’ve found a way to write authentically as a mother and as a Christian.As someone who writes a self-identified Catholic blog, I have to say that there’s a difference between covering up one’s own sins to look perfect and choosing to dwell on that which encourages others.We have to blog in our own voices. For some, that is practical, some theological, some emotional.Being a hearts-and-flowers Christian doesn’t make you any less authentic; it may just mean that you are more private than the next blogger.The only thing harder than putting your life out there to be judged is knowing that someone out there is judging all Christianity by what you write.
>It’s funny. Those of us who are in the “Christian” category are in quite a pickle. We purport to understand a universal truth about God and a moral way of living, yet we fail every single day to live up to that code. For me, that code is a way to identify what I must strive for, yet stay humble knowing that I can never reach the perfect ideal Jesus did. And yes, it is weird to strive for something I know I will never reach.As for your point about “judgmental” Christians, I suppose you could be right. I must lump it all with gossip, which I am totally guilty of, and totally repulsed by as well. At the same time some believe it is righteous to call your brother on to better behavior, which involves all kinds of lines and boundaries. I suppose the only solution is to concern yourself with your relationship with Jesus and be really forgiving of those around you that seem hypocritical. It’s a hard line. But it does help, when I am becoming very irritated with the the judgments, to recall Matthew 7:5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”(Look at me, a Catholic quoting scripture! The other Christians will be aghast!)
>If you look at the disciples that Jesus himself chose to represent Him you will find people just like you and me – they weren’t saints when they started their walk with Jesus, just after they finished it. 🙂 One of my daughters has always had a problem with going to church because she says the church is filled with hypocrites. And she’s right. What she doesn’t see is that the church is just a hospital for sinners, hypocrites included. Unfortunately, just like lots of poeple in the hospital claim not to be sick so do some of the folks sitting in the pews. I’m a Christian, hand-raising, Bible studying, hard working to be a better person Christian. But I’m not better than you…or worse for that matter. In Romans Paul says some people didn’t believe in eating meat that had been sacrificed and some people thought it was ok. What Paul said was that we each have our own beliefs but when we start causing other Christians to question then what we’re doing bears a second look. It sounds to me like you’ve run into some folks who need to take a second look at what they’re doing. And by the way, I’ve run into them too. 🙂 blessings, marlene
>Wow. Interesting post…and even better comments! I love the vulnerability of this post. I mean, this topic could get a little scarey….maybe “heated” is a better word. I hate arguing with people about religious beliefs, so I tend to just listen, and I don’t like to agrivate people, so unless I’m in similar company, I keep a lot to myself.What I have found in my Christian walk, is that there is freedom in Jesus. There is much less freedom in people and yet we must try to love each other (hard!). I have found there is truth to be known and we can know it. The Bible is God’s Word…and we can know Him. That’s amazing! And He did make you the way you are for a purpose. I often don’t fit the “christian mold” either. I think He makes us different on purpose! And when we understand that purpose He will give us amazing power to do His work. It’s life changing! I’ll be praying for you as you quest to find the answers you are looking for!
>I would classify myself as a hardcore agnostic who dips her toes in the pool of atheism now and again, and was raised by parents who were lapsed Catholics. I don’t profess to know a great deal about the Bible, but isn’t there a phrase in there that goes something like “Judge not lest ye be judged yourself?” Perhaps those who are passing judgement on your life need to remind themselves of that.Nothing was ever lost by asking questions – keep it up Lindsay!
>I totally agree. I work in a pretty multicultural and mixed company kinda place. What I have found through chatting, is that the picture of organized religion can generally characterized by sister Bertha Betterthanyou on the front pew who is secretly screwing the pastor and sells gin on the side. But in church she is the model Christian. This totally and understandably turns people off. I attend church…not as often as I’d like. I sin daily, though not on purpose. I curse when I shouldn’t. And I certainly don’t think an occassional drink will get you your own room in Hell. I don’t pretend to be perfect..no one is. I think that God made us and none of us can be without sin. Although that should not give us license to sin. If you saw a bunch of missionaries who appeared to be perfect in every way, how could you feel that you would ever be worthy enough for God’s Love? Those who pretend to be what they cannot be, in my opinion, contribute to the alienation of those who might potentially consider Christianity. I think we should all try to do our best, ask for forgiveness when we don’t, and love ourselves for who we are.
>I absolutely adore your honesty. I do believe, that kind of honesty is exactly what God looks for in His girls. You know, i am so tired of us “Christians”. It almost makes me not want to say it, you know? The connotation that comes along, and the stereotypes that are being made as we speak disappoint me and (hold tight you Christiany folks out there) I think it disappoints God as well. Jesus was a radical and a daringly courageous man. He pressed the buttons that made everyone uncomfortable and, oddly enough, he choose to use the unexpected people. The unexpected women. The “untouchables” The “sinners”. The willing. I love him with all of my heart, because i know he loves me. I try to do what he tells me. I try to help others do the same. No religion here folks, i got me a relationship. You are precious, and perfect, dear one.
>I don’t even know what to say except, DITTO. Thanks for writing in such an eloquent way what I could not. I must have deleted this same post a million times for fear of saying it wrong or offending so many of my friends that really are “good” Christians. Love, love, love you for this.
>I wrestle with this all the time. I’m a Christian and I am not perfect and often feel like crap because I’m not. I recently read an article that said people often avoid becoming a Christian because, like you pointed out, they know they can’t live up to the image they think they should so they don’t even bother. But it also said the only thing Christ asked was to believe in Him.
>In my limited view (limited to me), Christianity doesn’t mean striving for perfection. Those who choose to believe that they must live perfect lives to measure up to God’s and Jesus’ expectations, well…more power to them.The God I believe in is more forgiving and forebearing. And that standard I apply strictly to me.Kudos to you, Lindsay. Be comfortable with your faith and beliefs, as well as your right to state ’em.
>I have come back to your post three or four times since you posted it yesterday. Here is the part that I keep re-reading:”And yet some recent criticism of me by Christians on another forum was enough to call all these realizations into question once again.”I don’t see how any criticism, offered by a “Christian” could be so harsh that it calls into question the framework and belief system you have set up for yourself. It just doesn’t seem Christian to me. I don’t profess to know a lot about religion. I have my beliefs that I do not press upon others. I do my best to try to be a good person, and I enjoy reading your blog because I get the impression that you do too. So, I find it very upsetting that people who I can only assume call themselves Christians, said something that would have you (or anyone else for that matter) upset to this level. Doesn’t that seem un-Christian?
>Barbara, I think it will make more sense when I get around to writing the second part of this story. The criticism didn’t call into question my beliefs. It called into question whether I could be the way I am and still publicly call myself a Christian without offending other Christians.And yes, I thought for a long time about it and decided the people who criticized me were wrong. But criticism still hurts until you’ve had time to process it, and sometimes even afterward.
>I am still trying to pick out all the good stuff from past and varied religious experiences and might even get to church on the Sundays between the holiday ones. The timing of this discussion is relevant as I am a first time blogger grappling with issues of judgement. Read and comment , judge lightly.http://forsakenforlent.blogspot.com
>Christians were never meant to be perfect! Were just forgiven…As an 18 year old who has a lot of non-christian friends I say that a lot when they immediately condemn me and every single other christian because of one mistake I made. Your right though Christianity is more to do with your relationship with God than it is about being perfect or trying to live up to somebody else’s high standards.
>This may well be the best post I have read on your blog – so honest, heartfelt and open. Religion is a very tender yet hot spot and I applaud you for taking it on with such candor and grace.I think that this is something that many many Christians (universal, not just Protestant) struggle with daily. The question of how to reconcile being yourself with the life that seems to be the “correct” Christian way to live is a huge obstacle for me and I can only imagine it is for others too. In the last two weeks I have found myself feeling like a hypocrite because I want to use scripture to comfort a friend whose child has been diagnosed with brain cancer, but simultaneously am swearing at people on the road. That isn’t something I’m proud of but does it bar me from the other? I feel like a jerk when I do this but in times of need or trouble, my wishy-washy faith is what comes to mind.I honestly can’t be clear enough that this post has stopped me in my tracks. Given my current state of spiritual affairs, I have to think that the timing was, uh, interesting.Keep up the good work!
>I've been in church my whole life and it's been such a positive experience for me & really helped my relationship with God. It does make me sad to hear about Christians judging others so stringently because that's not what it's supposed to be about. I will say that I don't run around church talking about my recent trip to Vegas – not because I'm ashamed but just because it's not worth stirring up anything over. In smaller groups, I've been very open about it & other things I do that wouldn't be considered typically churchy. When my husband was struggling with something (not gambling), he went before the church & was surrounded with love. I'm sure some people judged but they chose not to say anything to him about it so we never heard any negative feedback. Everyone in church is a sinner, that's what we all need to remember. Hope you find a church home that you & your family can be happy in. I do think it's important for children to start going when they're young (just my opinion).
>Briar rose, we have found a church we like and we’ve been going regularly. 🙂 So there’s that, which is good, because we were very involved in another church that sort of imploded and it took us a while to get over that experience.
>So I have the other side of the coin to talk about – the non shiny, never grew up in church embarrassed side of the coin. Because my family (gasp) never went to church, due to the fact my parents divorced when I was a baby. I was never baptized, never went to religion and was never “confirmed.”My parents had a very catholic upbringing, were young adults who accidentally got pregnant and were then forced to marry, ending in disaster.So my dad eventually remarried (a Lutheran) and my mother was out of the picture. My dad lost all of his faith after the divorce and decided to never attend church and my stepmom had the same feelings.So because they lost their faith in God, I was never introduced to him and I always felt a little cheated. There are teens who resented their parents and couldn’t stand church. While there I was, practically begging to learn about God, Jesus, the Bible and religion. While everyone in junior high got one Wednesday off a month to go to religion class, I was stuck with the other “non believers” in one class all day watching movies and feeling left out.I’ve had a collection of people introduce me to their churches – my neighbors who took pity on me and brought me to their crazy church, my Lutheran grandmother who tried a new church out every month, my step mom’s crazy religious baptist aunt, and a collection of others.When I went to college, I had lost most of my resentment for not having a religion and then along came the boyfriend…who’s Aunt was a nun, Uncle was an ex priest (and married an ex nun), the other Aunt wanted to be a nun and his mother who is very religious and a sister with the perfect faithful family. Ohhhhh shit.I eventually married this man and learned many lessons on religion. His family is super religious but OMG are they naughty. They drink. They curse. They fight. But they love. But most of all, even though I don’t know any of the bible stories or struggle through certain prayers, my husband’s family doesn’t judge me. And he never did either, he only grins at me and patiently answers my questions. I eventually found a church I feel comfortable at, joined, got my daughters baptized, and they attend daycare there. My oldest knows more bible verse’s and songs than I do, but that is o.k. Because I feel I am giving my children the gift of feeling a sense of belonging, and some sort of “starting” point like I never did. And if they choose to try other religions, I am more than o.k. with that.
>Hello – wow, comment city!!!I’m not a Christian in that I don’t believe Jesus was “son of God” – sorry simple as that really.However also like you I was put off church by a lot of the Christians who went along but seemed to not listen, or at least interpret in same way as me, the teaching from the bible.So – I’m just someone who tries to live my life the best way I can, not hurt people deliberately, be considerate etc. etc.Go Well.
>There is so much judgment out there. Makes me crazy at times. I would much rather people be imperfect Christians than perfect fakes. And, for the record, I’d much rather people be happy bottle feeding moms than unhappy breast feeding moms. And happy disposable diapering parents than miserable cloth diapering parents. And so on.You do the very best you can in the circumstances you are in and if you want to spread the love of Christ, you be thrilled for others and what they are doing in their circumstances.
>I agree with many posts written about christians being imperfect and how they shouldn’t pretend to be perfect. I guess this is to say my problem isn’t with christianity it is with the sterotypical “chrisitan.” I’m all about the Grace of God. I really get turned off by people who shove Jesus and scripture down my throat as soon as I meet them yet are not good people. Let us live by example, I say lets be nice and moral people! Save the scripture for your bible class. Besides it just makes me think you are hiding behind the bible and your “perfect” image masking something unimaginable.
>I am a pastor. The church is not your traditional type place, and it is pretty new. With that said, one of our key leaders (an over the top, off the wall kind of lady) pointed me to your blog post. After reading, I said WOW. And WOW because this was real and fresh and by every sense of the word refreshing. One of our core values is transparency. I complement you for that and exalt the fact that God will use your honesty and your pain to let others catch a glimpse of him. Thanks for writing. By the way, I’ll be back to see what else you have to say. I also think God would say, I am poud of you. (I know others might not like that, but they can think whatever they might, as your post suggests.) Keep on. Your relationship with God is worth it.
>As a homeschooling and spiritual (not religious) mom I find it funny that you associate homeschooling with religion. I thought the same thing when I first started homeschooling. I thought going to church was a requirement, lol. The only time I had been to church in my life was a handful of times I had went with friends as a child. Having the perception when I started that homeschooling equals church, we started going to church. I had it set in my mind that I would walk in and be embraced by other homeschool moms and they would lift me up and set me firmly on the path to homeschool bliss. Boy, was I delusional. At that time in my life I needed some major support in this venture of educating my children. I did NOT find that support within the walls of a church. What I got instead was the most tasteless and vile reactions I have had to this day. Looking back now I understand that these reactions have nothing to do with religion, but the insecurities of the women who made them. It cracks me up that when I say I homeschool people automatically have this perception of me that I am religious. Yes, my kids know Jesus…and Buddha and Krishna and Vishnu, and Shiva, etc. as well.I agree with the person who said “religion is who you are to the core, when no one else is looking”.
>It is better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for who you are not.
>Anonymous, I’m homeschooling my daughter right now. I definitely don’t exclusively equate homeschooling with religion. I know plenty of homeschoolers who are not religious. I said that the perception is that you get bonus points as a Christian mom if you homeschool. Of course, that’s not true among all Christians, but there is definitely a large and vocal group of Christian women who feel that way.
>Chris said: Religion makes people uncomfortable and I’ll never figure out why.My reply: I’m uncomfortable discussing my beliefs because one, I’m not very good at verbalizing; and two, because I don’t want the conflict that comes with others judging my beliefs and/or trying to convert me.
>Christians today remind me of the movie “Mean Girls”Thanks, but I’d rather not be a part of that club.
>Spirituality is a huge thing for me, but as far as organized religion is concerned, I want nothing to do with it. While I was brought up in Christian beliefs, I didn’t grow up like Lindsay & Scattered Mom. But I knew in my heart something wasn’t right w/ what I was taught. I tried my hardest to fit the mold of what so many people think Christians should be. No matter how hard I tired, it never fit quite right – always a little too tight & constricting. So I said screw it, there is no God, cause if there was, it wouldn’t be so difficult to be who I am, and I could be comfortable in my own skin.It wasn’t until after I gave up on God completely, and started to love myself regardless of what others thought, that I came to learn that there really is something out there greater than us. But I don’t believe that something can be put in a neat little box and tied with a pretty little bow. We all are here for a reason, with something to teach and something to learn. It’s not for anyone else to decide how we should live our lives and how we connect with our creator. You and your audience are a testament to how we can all hold or own beliefs and opinions without it being a bad thing and causing all sorts of problems. Like the old saying goes: Can’t we all just get along?So thank you, Lindsay, for sharing your views with us, instead of pushing them upon us like some choose to do.
>PS – Who decided that drinking and/or cursing are evils? U.S. culture is so backwards sometimes. Drinking isn’t an issue in Germany (and many other countries). Nudity isn’t an issue in Brazil (and many other countries). When & where did all of these ridiculous so called “rules” come from?
>I used to think that the ‘vocal Christian homeschool moms’ were doing it for points as well. Yes, I agree that is the perception, which is why I thought I would find support in a church. Having been on the other side of the isle I now know WHY they are so vocal. I now know a lot of them are not vocal because they feel superior themselves (again, the perception of many that don’t homeschool), but because so many others seem to feel inferior because of their own insecurities and brutalize them. I found a whole new respect for those homeschooling for religious reasons after my experience. It is hands down the most brutal experience I have ever had in homeschooling.I am glad you now consider yourself ‘homeschooling’…I had saw that as what you were doing all along and was wondering when you would realize it too. 🙂
>First of all, I love what you said about your problem being with other Christians. I feel the same way. The worse judgement of all seems to come from other “Christians”. I have to suppress my gag reflex everytime I read another blog written by the type of woman you described (homeschooling, etc). Not that I care if someone is homeschooled, but like you implied–it goes with the whole “perfect Christian” image. The funny thing is Christians aren’t meant to be perfect! God created us to be full of flaws and poor judgment…..yet He still loves us anyway. hmmmm…imagine that.
>Here’s what I think . . . As a Christian, and I’m sort of ashamed to say this, I’ve found myself not really putting my beliefs out there because of what I hear from other people like “that’s why I HATE organized religion, blah blah” or “there’s nothing more annoying than a born-again trying to convert you blah blah” and it seems like it’s popular belief now to just write all Christians off as That Person, with the rainbows and bible quotes and the judgy judgement, and so on. But churches are filled with their congregation each week and the congregation is made up of people – flawed people, with many faults and many differing traits. I don’t think people can judge a religion based on their congregation and I don’t think people can label the people in the church either, just because they go to the church. I am a Christian, I’m not flowers and hearts or bent on converting anyone and telling them that they are going to hell. In fact, I don’t know that many Christians who ARE like that anymore.
>re: this whole weird Christian thingI don’t think that being Christian or talking about how it affects your daily life is weird. What I think is weird is having strong faith and religion and NOT talking about it on a blog that is extremely personal at times.You know, I’m not a Christian and I have very strong feelings against organized religion as a concept and for myself, but I recognize that a lot of people get a strong sense of community from their churches. I highly enjoy religious debates with people who are strong in their faith and, rather than trying to convince each other to believe something other than what they already do, we discuss and debate the merits of various pieces of doctrine. Unless someone is actively trying to convert me, I don’t have any problems with religious discussions.But I think that personal blogs shouldn’t be beholden to their readership. In the same sense that you probably wouldn’t be real life friends with someone who completely rejected you on the basis of your religion, people who might reject your blog because you talk about your relationship with God from time to time aren’t worth keeping as readers.Religion is absolutely one of those things that will make you feel vulnerable. Most rational people are away that belief in a higher power is not based in fact, but in faith and having that faith questioned by strangers or, at best, imaginary friends, isn’t something that’s desirable.If you’re going for transparency and have set yourself up for a no-holds-barred blog (in the sense of not holding yourself back, not in the sense of other people), then I think that religion NEEDS to be a part of that. Anything that is a cornerstone to who you are or how you live your life is something you’re eventually going to want to address here.Some people will leave. Some people may take offense. Some people may try to talk you out of your beliefs or to shake your faith, but it’s not about them. It’s about you. You have to decide if losing those readers is a greater sacrifice than concealing or compartmentalizing an important piece of yourself.
>I find it interesting that you are having this discussion just after I wrote something similar in my monthly newsletter. Ordinarily I wouldn’t leave such a long comment but I think it contributes to the wonderful comments on this post. Here is what I wrote:My Say Over Earl Grey:I’ve witnessed a disheartening amount of judgmental behavior recently and it saddens me. An especially egregious example is the Westboro Baptist *church* which has two scheduled protests in Oklahoma tomorrow. Most rational people agree that these hate-filled people are nuts so it’s pretty easy to write them off. But what about the more subtle examples we see all around us? The fact that it’s so often Christians who are doing this to each other makes it even worse. We claim to believe that we are unworthy of God’s grace but that it is given to us freely anyway. Why can’t we extend even a small amount of that grace toward one another? My faith forms the very foundation of who I am and I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I’m a Christian. On the other hand, I don’t feel the need to advertise my faith with bumper stickers or frequent references to God or the Bible in my everyday discussions. I suppose it’s in part due to the fact that I’ve been Christian my whole life and it’s as much a part of me as the color of my eyes. I don’t go around pointing out that my eyes are blue and I am not inclined to go out of my way to make certain everyone knows that I put my faith in God. If, after someone gets to know me, they can’t see God in my life then all the bumper stickers, cross jewelry, and Bible references in the world would be pointless. And yet, I know I’ve been judged as “less than devout” for these very things. While I love classic church music and thoroughly enjoy being part of our church choir, I’m not all that fond of most contemporary Christian music so that’s not what my radio is tuned to. My political beliefs don’t line up neatly with those of the Religious Right (or any other political group…I’m rather eclectic). I happen to belong to a church which doesn’t believe that the moderate consumption of alcohol is a sin and I’ve really gotten a lot of grief over that. I’m not threatened by people who believe differently than I do but it seems that other Christians take it pretty personally when my beliefs don’t mirror their own. Why? Isn’t it rather arrogant to think we have all the answers and everyone else is wrong? And even if we are 100% certain we are right about something, are we likely to convince others of that if we act in a superior and judgmental way toward them? The older I get, the more I realize how little I really know and the more I am willing to just live my own life as best I can (with God’s guidance) and let God sort out everyone else. I am trying to do my best to just love and accept people as they are rather than try to change them. I’d just like the same courtesy.______________________________I have received more emails from my subscribers over this that anything I’ve written in the past four years of putting out “Tea With Dee”. And they all agree with what I expressed. Perhaps it’s time that we begin to stand up and speak out. We’ve heard a lot from a certain segment of Christianity. I think it’s our turn. I’m going to link to this post on my blog as I really think it will add to what I’ve been saying. Thank you for having the courage to speak out on this issue.
>I used to feel the same and now I only go to church for me and my family and our relationship with God. I have a license plate that says “Next time you think your perfect try walking on water” and I love it, because no one is perfect. I think we are better off with our imperfections sometimes:) The only person that has the right to judge anyone is God.
>Okay so I wasn’t going to respond to this post because all I really had to say was. “I agree.” But then I saw this comment:Anonymous said… Christians today remind me of the movie “Mean Girls” Thanks, but I’d rather not be a part of that club.IT REALLY DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!!! My goodness. This person is turned off by Christianity because of the way people have treated her or others. What is going on? We ALL need to be saved. And we all can be saved through grace. GRACE PEOPLE!! GET WITH IT!!! So many Christians need to get off their high horse and show a little grace. I have experienced Christians with the kinds of attitude that have made me feel that I was below them because *gasp* I smoke. I drink occasionally. I don’t attend church as regularly as I “should”. But damn it! I’m a good person! I love Jesus. I pray. I am teaching my children that to have eternal life they must believe that Jesus died for our sins so that we can receive Him and can go to Heaven when we die. The fact that some “Christians” are judgmental and down right RUDE to people because they are not as “perfect” as them…THEY should have to answer for that. Do not judge lest ye shall be judged. Right? Is that how it goes? I’m bad at memorizing my Bible verses..yet another imperfection! ;)k, I’m done now!
>My comment about the movie Mean Girls refers to the judgemental group, not Christians as a whole.
>I don’t want to stir the pot, because I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments, but it seems judgmental for someone to say “We ALL need to be saved.” Is it just me? Maybe it’s because of my non-Christian beliefs, but it just rubbed me the wrong firstname.lastname@example.org
>I am the anon @ 10:39 and 11:08. I finally decided to get a name instead of being anon.As I said before, I consider myself spiritual and not religious. I respect all religions and believe ALL people are of God. I have watched many self-proclaimed Christians use it as a weapon to belittle and judge others. Not being raised up in a religious environment I spent a good deal of my teen’s and 20’s detesting the faith of Christianity because of this. Having children made me realize that there indeed is a higher power. Reading the Bible made me realize that these self-proclaimed Christians that wield their faith as a weapon are not of it…but rather wolves in sheep clothing. When one allows these type of people to sway their faith in God then the devil/evil has done his job. I think that when you ‘believe’ you put yourself at the mercy of influence…believing is simply not enough. The devil is cunning and a master of trickery. What better a place to hide than right inside the heart of faith itself?
>Another thing…when I picture eternity in Heaven, I picture it filled with good people from all walks of life who can sit down a shoot the breeze with anyone without a care of who the person is or anything the person may have done in their life. People who don’t care if you had tattoos, long hair, were a prostitute or stripper, had bad BO, or wore a funny hat. Real people. What I don’t picture is a bunch of snooty gossiping women laughing in the corner at your funny hat or men comparing their money portfolios. No. I just don’t picture Heaven and eternity being spent with a–holes….
>I think what Christians often overlook is that God has given us freedom! I consider myself a Christian and I haven’t been in church in a year or so. God finds me in nature, in love, in relationships, in hard times, in smiles, in tears…not in church. I smoke, drink, swear at the crazy drivers next to me and God loves me!
>Well Lindsay, you know me well enough to know that I probably don’t fit the ‘Christian norm’ in a lot of ways, despite the fact that I have spent my entire life in the world of ‘professional Christianity’. And you also know that I’ve got a mouth on me! But my faith is so intrinsic to who I am; it defines me, it is woven into everything I do. I have always felt a little bit like an outsider, but I have also always been OK with that. I know I am too liberal for some Christians and too Christian for some liberals, yet I have people in my life in both of those camps who truly love and accept me– mainly because I think I’m pretty comfortable with who I am, so I can move between both worlds and still be true to myself. I am not a hypocrite, but I feel no need to convince anyone of anything concerning my beliefs– that is SO God’s job. I’m have no problem with leaving that part to Him, and accepting that my part is to do my best to be authentic and follow Him the best I can, in all of my flawed humanity. I think that’s what you do, too, and I respect you for your transparency and honesty. Also? You look really bitchin’ in a burger bag hat.
>Have you read “The Shack”? I loved that book. I like to call myself “spiritual but not religious”- but I loved that book. I highly recommend it. The biggest theme that I got from the book, which really rings true for me, is this: We as humans cannot fathom God. Whatever we believe to be true about him/her is most likely a little bit true, but there is so much more than we cannot even imagine. Therefore to try to fit our views and relationship with God into any box (i.e. religion) would be inadequate. God takes many forms and loves us no matter what. None of this is an EXC– USE to behave badly of course, or to not go to church if that is what you believe is right. What it means is that all those judgmental people – of any faith or lack thereof – are not getting it. No one gets it. There is no one absolutely true religion, because we as humans do cannot comprehend such things. The bottom line is: Do what you have to do to be the best person you can be and have the best relationship with God as you can. Go to church or not, drink or not, swear or not. Whatever “being the best you can be” looks like to YOU. That is all you can do and all God wants of us.(And by the way, I use the term “God” to apply to Christian views of God, but also to any spiritual being that one may believe in. The concept is interchangeable.)
>Jessica – very thought provoking.Lindsey – I’m with you and I love what you’ve started here. Religion has become a touchy subject like politics, homeschooling and stay at home vs. working mothers. It should be okay to have an open and honest dialogue. So many of us are the religion we are today because of how we were raised. I was raised Catholic and am sending my kids to Catholic school but my father was Lutheran, I went to a Baptist college in the south, and have read books on buddhism, judaism, naturalism and other teachings. I love reading blogs by devout Christians, non-Christians and everything in between because they make me think about the world in a much larger perspective than I do when I’m just going through my daily grind. I hope this was a good experience for you and you’re feeling a lot less naked.
>One of the reasons that I struggled so much with religion as a whole was because I thought that in order to have faith, or to be a Christian, I had to be like other people. I had to believe the exact same things they did, and not have my own ideas.When I joined my church two years ago, it was after I realized that you don’t have to think like anyone else. Being a Christian is about so much more than that. I believe that there are a lot of people out there who like to call themselves Christians, but to me Christianity is a way of life – it’s a way of being, a way of treating other people. It’s not about words, but actions.Despite the fact that I might get drunk once in a while, that some days I let my son watch too much TV… I believe that overall I am a good person. I TRY. And I try to help others. I totally agree – God makes us who we are for a reason. We wouldn’t be who we are without all of our life experiences!I personally love hearing about other people’s experiences and journeys in their faith, and am happy you’re posting about it!
>I’m right there with you, sister. I grew up in the Episcopal church, with a grandfather who was a minister.I basically turned away from “the church” due to the behavior and judgements of my fellow parishioners. I still believed in God, still considered myself Christian, but I really missed the fellowship, the communion and Holy Communion, the “where two or more are gathered in my name…”But it was just too much to deal with malicious people, snobby people, vindictive people, being made to feel terrible due to my choice of friends and clothing, and having my questions shot down with “because this is the way we’ve ALWAYS done it!”Then one day, after years without a church, I joined my mother at her Episcopal church smack in the middle of Our Big City. There were old people and young people. There were families and single people. There were faces of all colors, including mixed-race families and adopted childen of various races. There were straight people and gay people, conservatives and liberals, and everythig in between. The four people taking up the offering were: a young “career woman” type, a “republican in a three piece suit” type, a ponytailed man in jeans and a blazer who was obviously and proudly gay, and a very large African American woman in the most vivid muumuu I’ve ever seen. The music was amazing, with a incredibly diverse choir.I found my home. I found God in every happy face. I saw Jesus in action as two (very ripe!) homeless people came in to parish hall breakfast between services and Sunday school…and they were welcomed warmly, given breakfast, and invited to sit with various smiling parishioners. If your problem with your chosen faith is not theological but rather a problem with your fellow worshipers, you have three options:1. Change them. This is tough, and unless you have a call to the ministry, it may not be the choice for you.2. Deny yourself the fellowship of a place of worship, and of “belonging” with a group. This is a valid choice, but not very fulfilling — and growth and learning is harder on your own (in my opinion).3. Find a new group. I’ve learned that for me, a diverse, urban, NON-homogenous, active congregation is very important. I also believe that God gets to judge me, not my fellow humans (and I don’t get to judge them, either!), so if I feel judged for my personal choices, it’s not the place for me.Just my personal experiences and path — if someone else is more at peace and able to “find God” in a different setting, fantastic! My brothers and I could not be any more different from each other theologially, yet we each respect the choices of the others, can discuss those choices without anger, and are trilled that we’ve each found our own path to God.Great topic, Lindsay!
>A couple more thoughts…Several people have expressed thoughts along the lines of “it makes me uncomfortable to discuss my faith, but I don’t know why…” I know why, for me, at least. My faith is very intimate, more intimate than making love, perhaps. So, discussing that intimate part of my being is about as uncomfortable as it would be for me to try to describe my orgasm to a group of strangers. I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea that I can share something THAT INTIMATE with others (the faith, not the other stuff!!)Also, I loved that someone brought up Matthew 7:5 “You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”Here in Japan, they have a similiar, but much more vulgar saying: “Before pointing out the eye boogers on someone else’s face, take care of the giant nose boogers (literal translation ‘nose shit’) on your own face!” I know, it’s vulgar. But it both makes me giggle, AND helps me remember the message!Sorry, I’m gross.
>I don’t know how many times you’ve probably heard this – but I could’ve written that!Well done and very thought provoking.
>Hi. It’s Lindsay. This comment was left on my blog, but since I’m mentioning it in my post and I REALLY don’t want people attacking her personally, I’m deleting it and making it an anonymous comment. “Maybe *I’m* one of those women you can’t relate to. I really hope not. I just checked in today after a really long absence, and I don’t believe much in coincidence. I used to LOVE your blog…until you mentioned that you were a Christian.I knew you cursed, and *I felt” were occasionally *overly* critical of others, but none of that bothered me because you weren’t a Christian (so I thought). I never hold unbelievers to Biblical standards!Anyway, when you began to mention Christ it made me extremely sad. Actually, I cried, and I wasn’t even pregnant back then.I think you are an amazingly warm and talented person, but I also believe that Christ set standards for his followers. Just because it seems like everyone else is falling short (which they are) doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying.I never fake perfection, but I do strive for it. I don’t curse in real life, but if I did, I would be attempting to stop. So, to me, it wouldn’t be fake for me to exclude curse words from my blog.Does any of this make sense??!! I AM nine months pregnant!;)Anyway, I think I’m going to start reading again (not that you should care one way or another).If you ever want to chat, I’m here!”
>Again, I must ask about the whole swearing Christian thing. Where in the bible does it say anything about swearing (and not just a verse taken out of context)? And who determines what words are curse words and what words are not? I know a 9 yr. old boy who says crap just as easily as the word darn. It doesn’t bother his mother. My mom would have washed my mouth out with soap. So who decides what is right and what is wrong? I think we should leave that to the higher power.
>I am a Mormon, born and raised, and by choice as an adult. Am I allowed to comment here? I would guess that my lifestyle is very similar to most Christians on here although obviously our doctrine has some differences. I’m in a book group with three great Christian women whom I love and we learn a lot from each other.I just have to throw my two cents in by saying that it is wonderful to read how much you and the commentors here are thinking about and applying God. Religion is often considered an impolite topic, and so I think we don’t often know how big a role it plays in each others’ lives. Which leaves a big part of ourselves hidden from view, and I think that’s unfortunate.I love being Mormon but I really hate telling strangers that I am. I worry that they think I will be out to convert them. And it very often becomes the only thing people can see about me. Which, I think, might be part of the problem of talking about religion on a blog: once people know about your religion it feels like it opens you up to judgment though that lens. In some ways that is okay. If you claim a religion, it should inform all areas of your life, right? But in other ways, it is definitely okay to work out the business of living with the help of God and Jesus Christ. That’s the point of turning to religion or a belief system in the first place. Perfect people don’t need it: they are perfect already. I’m so glad I stumbled onto your blog. I’ll be back…Rachel
>I don’t mind if you talk about being Christian. I like how open you are. I appreciate that you realize, acknowledge and respect the fact that not every one is Christian and that our beliefs are valid too. So thanks for that.
>Reluctant Housewife summed it up perfectly.
>I hate being the 117th comment on a blog. LOL. I always assume by that time the blogger has stopped reading. But I had to chime in.I read your most recent post and had to come here and see what you were talking about before I could make an intelligent comment.I’m not promising that this will be intelligent, but it is more informed than it would have been otherwise, lol.People throw the word Christian around casually and it doesn’t mean to some what it does to others.Biblical Christianity is not about being perfect. (In fact, the whole point is that we are fallen creatures with no hope of being perfect apart from God’s grace.) Christianity is about a relationship with the living God. It’s about acknowledging that without Him, we are dead, sinful, and without hope. It’s about repenting of our sins and claiming Christ as our Savior and Lord and beginning a relationship with Him. It’s between YOU and Him. Christians sin. The difference is, a Christian repents and trusts in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to atone for that sin.It’s also not an excuse — Oh, I’m saved, I can do what I want — not at all. But at the same time, NO ONE is perfect.Some Christians differ in their beliefs about issues such as drinking and cutting their hair and homeschooling. We should not allow these sorts of issues to divide us. But we do have to maintain the integrity of Scripture, and what sets biblical Christianity apart from other religions is that Christians put our hope and trust in Christ and no one else, least of all ourselves and our own abilities to be good people because there is no good apart from Christ. There are not many ways to God. There is one — Christ. That’s what the Bible teaches.Only YOU know where you stand with Him. Of course, the way we live, the way we speak, the way we write, the way we act reflect the state of our hearts. Sure, we can look around and make evaluations about whether or not someone is truly a believer in Christ based on their actions and their language, but we should never be so arrogant as to assume that we KNOW what is between that person and God.I hate that you have been hurt, and I admire your willingness to make yourself vulnerable in such a public forum. All we can do is pray and search the Scriptures and ask God to give us the faith we need to trust in Him. It is only by His grace that any of us are saved. (Romans 8) We will never be good enough on our own. It is only by dumping all of our sin and our broken promises at his feet and giving it over to him that we can know true peace. If you go to my blog, it isn’t all “hearts and flowers and blinkies on it, and Bible verses in the sidebar” – LOL – because that is not who I am. I don’t talk about my faith much because I find it awkward to express myself without sounding totally cheesy. But I am a sinner who trusts Christ alone for her salvation. Leaving this comment is a stretch for me, but I felt like I had to chime in. Sorry it’s so long. You wouldn’t BELIEVE what I chopped out before this! 😉
>Just so Jo-Lynne (Musings of a Housewife) isn’t #117, I will be #118. :)ITA with everything she said. I also wanted to add that my favorite scripture is Phillippians 2:12 ‘…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.’ That single scripture is at the core of my religious beliefs. I need to make MY heart rght with God. I need to work out MY salvation. I need to be the obedient servant that God needs, as He reveals Himself to me. You might come to very different conclusions than I. You might read the same passage of scripture and interpret it completely differently.I believe that God reveals himself to individuals. If you are honestly seeking His face and His will, you are in the right place. It matters not what anyone in this world thinks of your cursing or your drinking. This world is temporary. It matters only where your heart lies with God.
>I’m late, but oh how I love this post. I grew up VERY religious, which is so fun for a young lesbian. Overwhelmingly my problem was never the religion itself (per say) but other religious people. They just love to tell me I’m going to hell or that I’m a whore, etc… (It goes on and on)I’m currently not religious at all, but I totally feel what you’re talking about. Christians can be hell sometimes.
>I couldn’t have said it better myself!
>I love Christ and I married a man who leads our family in daily prayer and family devotions, and studies his Bible every morning. I don’t, however, blog about it. Actually, I’m even going to leave this comment as anonymous. I figure if someone wants to come to me and talk about Christ and ask me what I believe, I’ll open up and tell them all about it. On my own though, I don’t bring it up. I think we as Christians have two options (and I may be wrong, I’m thinking as I type) there are those that say, “I’m a Christian! Look at me! Change your life!” Then people look at them and think, “Wow, they are really screwed up.” because that leads to people looking at you much more closely. Then there are the Christians who quietly live their lives trying to raise their children to love Christ and respect other people. Honestly, they probably live their lives much like the “Loud Christians”, but because they aren’t banging the Jesus-Stick over everyone else’s heads, they in turn aren’t inviting everyone to closely inspect their private lives. Someone very close to me has been greatly turned off from the church because of how a Loud Christian treated her. She has come to me and asked me what I believe because she sees not only how our family lives, but has felt the love from us minus any judgment whatsoever and in that context, I think I had a much greater impact on her. We accept her the way she is. It’s not our place to change her.P.S. I used to bop everyone with the Jesus-Stick years and years ago. I finally put the stick down.
>From the quote you used in your new post and made anon.”I never hold unbelievers to Biblical standards!”But you do hold believers to Biblical Standards?? Isn’t that HIS job and not ours? Doesn’t he say to “love our neighbor as thyself?”Maybe THIS statement, is the root of the entire problem….
>I haven’t read the other comments, but here’s my opinion: if you feel comfortable telling us that your Spanx has a pee-hole, then you can feel comfortable telling us about your religious feelings. If you can tell us about your maggots, you can tell us you go to church. Your readers can handle it.
>I am getting ready to write a post on my religion at my blog. That’s not why I stopped here, I’m also going to write about why we’re not evil for letting my boyfriend’s daughter be in beauty pageants. But I digress.Back to this subject. I hate, hate, hate that the “Christian” bloggers said some not-so-nice things about you, but I truly wish I could say it surprised me. In my Bible, there’s something about Jesus saying not to judge people, but maybe it’s only in my version because I sure do see it a lot.God has made us all in his image and likeness. I went to Catholic school for 12 years of my life. I have a glass of wine with dinner quite frequently, and I tend to cuss like a fish-wife. Sometimes even in front of children, but I’m working on that. But I’m a kind person who reads her Bible, goes to church and truly believes that God wants her to go to Heaven. That’s really the best that I can do. Yeah, I screw up frequently, but God’s grace and Jesus’ death will still help us get to heaven. I feel bad that Jesus died for me and sometimes I can’t get to mass at 8:30 a.m. because I was cavorting with wannabe cowboys the night before. But I think it’s good that I feel bad. At least I know I’m screwing up.Faith is a very personal thing, and talking about it does make us feel naked. There’s no telling what kind of comments it might stir up, too. But talking about it helps us grow with Christ (or whomever we follow) too.
>I’m a Christian, a pretty new one in fact. And I have to say that after reading this paragraph I sat back and said.. “Ouch!”You said to be a Chrisitan you must portray being a perfect person, which in your opinion includes: You shouldn’t wear too much makeup. You shouldn’t go to a bar and have martinis. You shouldn’t curse. Your blog had better not have a tacky word in the header like ass; it should have hearts and flowers and blinkies on it, and Bible verses in the sidebar. You get major bonus points for living frugally and homeschooling and banning all radio in your house and car except the local Christian music station.Well, I wear hardly any makeup, but not b/c I think I’m being modest, but b/c I just don’t care that much about what my face looks like. When I wanna look better for my man, I’ll slap some on.You shouldn’t go to a bar? I DO have drinks, yet often not at a bar b/c I have 5 kids and let’s be real..I don’t have the time or money to chill at a bar. I’d rather relax and drink at home.Better not curse? I TRY not to, and usually I’m successful. But it’s not b/c I’m trying to be perfect but rather b/c I don’t feel that I’m portraying the Spirit within me when I drop an fbomb.I should have Bible verses on my sidebar? Yes, I do have Bible verses on my sidebar (and in my header) but NOT b/c of my utter perfection but b/c I need the CONSTANT reminder of what God’s word says. I need all the reminders I can get.We DO live “frugally.” We do so b/c I feel that God has blessed us with more than we need and in turn I shouldn’t spend it on crap that I don’t see as important. AND I loathe fashion and trends (for the most part) which is what my “crap” would be.We homeschool our kids, but not b/c I think they need to be protected and sheltered but b/c I seriously enjoy and love being w/ my kids. I used to be a teacher so I figure, crap, I’ve gotta freakin’ degree in this surely I can teach my own kids. Plus, I like the flexibility.I pretty much only listen to Christian radio..but other music is not banned. I simply don’t like most secular music anymore. Not b/c it makes people who listen to it the DEVIL but b/c for me, it takes me back to bad places in my past that I have NO BUSINESS going back to.So yeah, “Ouch” b/c I fit into most of the description that you characterized “sorority Christians” into. Which makes me think…do you think I’m not authentic? Do others? Maybe I’ll blog about this b/c now I’ve exceeded the socially acceptable length for a comment.I will be back though…
>Nope. I do think you’re authentic. It has nothing to do with authenticity. It has to do with me realizing that I couldn’t fit the mold of how many churchgoing Christians would characterize a “good Christian woman”- and realizing that I didn’t have to.I think I made it pretty clear that I have nothing against people who do fit that image. I have quite a few friends who fit that image, as a matter of fact.
>Here via Angie, yup. I'm so sorry. <3The problem I have always had is not with God or Jesus or heaven or hell or any of the big stuff. It’s with other Christians. You aren’t the only one. Gandhi had quite the same problem… it’s really unfortunate. While I don’t want to say that other people have it wrong, I will say that I believe that seeking God with an earnest heart, and the process of finding Him, is more important than having all the answers. It’s a journey and not a destination. It’s a process and not one that’s easy, or one that… well, ends quickly. And you know what it says… seek and you will find.We’re all so very imperfect people. We all do things we aren’t proud of. Stand tall and don’t be ashamed of who you are.
>I was raised in the church and have always lived what most would call a conservative, even strict, life. Growing up, I did this because it was just what we did and it didn't bother me. It was normal for us and I liked it. Then I studied the Word for myself, wanting to truly know it for myself, and it only served to solidify my beliefs.As I said above, I've always had a conservative lifestyle. I've never tried alcohol, drugs or cigarettes. (Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost. "Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Ghost.") I was a virgin when I got married. I've never been to a bar or night club. I dress modestly, keep my hair long, wear light make-up just to conceal the flaws (no blush, eye shadow or lipstick). I only wear skirts and dresses. I rarely watch R rated movies. (I really despise most of them because of the profanity, nudity and sex). I could go on, but I'll stop. lolI know all that sounds really strict and maybe even crazy to some, but I truly love living like this. And, believe it or not, I would be considered more middle of the road than conservative/strict to many Christians I know. A few would consider me liberal. (But those types are against everything except fresh air – red clothes, open toed shoes, short sleeves, etc.)Why would many Christians I know not think me that conservative? Because I don't listen to Christian music only. (My Christian music of choice is black gospel, by the way. I like that powerful, soul-stirring music.) There are a lot of rock songs I really like. (You can hear some of them at my blog.) As well as a little country, R&B, some hip-hop and pop. I think some believe listening to anything other than Christian music will send you to hell. I believe that as long as the song isn't about the devil or evil things, it's fine. There's nothing wrong with singing about life.I also don't go to church as often as I should. ("Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.") But that's only because I've gotten lazy. lol I really need to kick my butt in gear.I've had my spiritual struggles. Probably my hardest being profanity. Not that I've cussed like a sailor. Not at all. I would never use the F word or GD or anything vulgar. I've had the occasional slip in my life (d*mn, d***it, sh*t), but I repented.Anyway, I know this is probably a boring ramble. I apologize.As far as perfection, the Bible does say that we are to be perfect. However, the true meaning there is "complete". The Bible also says that we are "complete in Him". So if you're in Him, you're complete.On the subject of hypocrites. You will find them in any group, religious or not. We shouldn't allow hypocrites to keep us from church or God. Or anything else for that matter. Just pray for them in a spirit of love.I've been hurt by a few Christians (one of them a pastor), but I didn't let that drive me away from God or church. People aren't perfect. (I know you know this.) And I believe that most people really do mean well.While there have been a few Christians in my past who hurt me, most have been nothing but decent, kind and encouraging. It's unfortunate that the few "bad apples" have made the majority of Christians look bad in the world's eyes. Non-Christians go on about the judgment of Christians, then they turn around and judge all Christians by the few bad or misguided ones. Pot, meet kettle.Oh, and what you said about some Christian blogs and that sorority feeling, I agree. As conservative as I am, I tend to stay away from the overtly Christian blogs. Not because I disagree with what they're saying. I'm just not personally interested in reading those kinds of blogs. I'm a conservative Christian, but my life isn't all about church and reading the Bible. There's much more to it than that. I write about my life at my blog, with the occasional mention of God and church. Those are also the kinds of blogs I like reading. Life blogs. :-)Anyway, gosh, I know I practically wrote a book here. I'm sorry for that. I tried not to write too much and even removed a couple paragraphs from this. lolGod bless you. 🙂
>I love your post; it is so true. I’m a Christian and also have a problem with judgmental Christians who say their beliefs are the only valid ones. I once belonged to a church that was so set on “taking a stand for what’s right” that it was going to keep people from turning to God. What kind of Christianity is that? We’re all sinners and imperfect. Let’s just do God’s work and love one another.
>Writing about religion always makes me feel vulnerable and that's what my entire blog is about! There are days I want to delete the entire thing, just to feel safe again.
[…] began writing about my faith on this blog, and my feelings of rejection at the hands of other Christians. And hundreds of you responded, saying you felt the very same […]