The messages that we internalize as our reality have a profound effect on the way we live our lives. If you have a miserable narrative, you often experience a miserable life. If you have an epic, amazing narrative, you probably experience an epic, amazing life.
I am going to hit on some lies I believed growing up.
Perfection is something you must strive for.
Father God only loves me because Jesus bribed Him with His death.
When guys lust after me or act inappropriately around me, it’s my fault.
God doesn’t trust women; He won’t let them lead in church except with their husbands or as a children’s pastor.
My sexuality is bad, and I would be better off without it.
“Left Behind” portrays an accurate representation of what God is like and what our future looks like.
If I don’t confess all my sins to God—even though I prayed “the prayer”—I will go to hell. #peformperformperform
God only does miracles when you are doing stuff for Him, like mission trips.
When you mess up, God is disappointed in you. #performperformperform
I’m a sinner.
So, add all that up . . . and crap self-esteem. Very performance-based. Up and down. Up and down. A bit misogynistic. A bit doomsday. Umm . . . anxiety, much? Talk about running day and night on a hamster-wheel of religion. I was in a relationship with a divinity with multiple personalities and narcissistic tendencies. (Jesus loves me; Father hates me, but blood appeases Him?!? Also, it’s all about Him and serving Him and doing stuff and jumping through hoops for Him so I won’t be eternally tortured. That sounds like a nice, healthy foundation for a relationship!)
I was miserable, but I was told this was it . . . so like it.
I knew I was created for love. I knew I was created for worship . . . but dang. Not like this.
Since then, I have learned some different messages. It makes for a better life story.
God really thought I was a great idea and made me perfectly; I am freakin’ awesome!
Women are amazing, display a beautiful part of the heart of God . . . and are born to co-lead!
People acting dumb has do with whatever’s going on with them; they’re better than that anyways and just haven’t figured it out yet.
Jesus and the Father have the same heart towards me. The Father was always 100% for me.
God is not a narcissist; God is relationship.
God is not a hierarchy; God is a Divine Love-Dance.
Holy Spirit does fun stuff like miracles because Holy Spirit likes to and is really, really good.
The theology of abandonment is a bunch of satanic b. s.
I am fully included; the cross was basically a giant God-hug. He used our rejection of Him and turned it into a great display of His acceptance of us. He is in no way disappointed in me.
I am a saint.
My life feels a whole lot better now. I like it a lot more. Guess it matters who you let narrate your story! Now, I have this whole wide world filled with goodness to explore. I have a Trinity I can’t but help fall head-over-heels in love with. I like being a woman. I’m not scared of hell. I like who God made me, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to judge other people—no matter what whack-a-doodle stunts they pull! I feel happy.
There are those times when you feel this thing rise up in you. It’s distinct from a sort of bitter-anger that causes you to fall into a pit of depression mixed with deep resentment. It’s this kind of anger that moves on you to fight—to fight on somebody else’s behalf.
Even if they don’t think that they deserve it.
I have watched religion beat-up on the Bride of Christ like the proverbial abusive husband. Sometimes it’s physical abuse. Sometimes it’s verbal abuse. Sometimes it goes further.
It gets to the point where I go into a church worship service and hear the Beloved speaking absolute crap over herself like she’s some sort of horrible monster.
“God help me; I’m such a horrible sinner.”
What good, loving husband wants to hear his wife speaking that over herself? What good, loving husband wants to hear his wife call herself a worthless piece of _______? The Jesus that religion preaches is a far cry from the Jesus I know. The Jesus I know totally called me on my self-hatred and told me it was a load of bunk—and that I was WAY too hard on myself.
I’ve seen the scars and the bruises on the arms and the faces of women who have been trafficked. It isn’t too far off from the marks left on the hearts of the people who hear a message of “love Me or be tortured eternally by my sadist of a Father.” That’s the ugly face of religion, folks.
It isn’t the gospel.
Worship is not singing to the Lord about how bad and worthless of a person you are. That’s not worship; that’s spitting on the face of the Lord and denying the gospel. That’s taking the Lord’s name in vain—claiming to believe Him while spouting blatant unbelief in His ability to have accomplished a ________ thing on the cross. Pun-intended.
Worship more has to do with being overwhelmed with the goodness of God. Letting Him wash your feet and speak words of loving-kindness over you. Worship is believing and trusting in a Lover who treasures you beyond anything else in all creation. It’s about being thrown into a sheer ecstasy at the reality that God has forever joined you to Himself. Far from humiliating you, He has allowed Himself to be stripped bare in front of the whole of creation, declaring His love before the cosmos.
Forgive me, dear ones, if you start talking about God as if He is far off, so distant and disconnected from our world, so unaware of what’s going on in our day-to-day . . . And I bust out laughing. For never, ever have I heard I anything so ridiculous. What a joke. What a joke. You are too funny!
Forgive me, dear ones, if you say, “He knows me not!” and I begin to weep. I weep and weep, for I see the One who formed your very mouth, your very mind, the One who animates you with life-breath. Forgive me if I weep because you are so beautiful, so breath-taking.
Forgive me, dear ones, if you say, “I do not believe He exists!” and I fall down in worship right before your eyes because I have seen the I AM staring right back at me out of them. I do not mock you; I simply see Him in your eyes, and I want to cry, “Holy!”