All The Things! Christian-style

In church Sunday, a few Sundays ago, the pastor said that he sat down once and listed 130-something things that he felt were pressing on his time. He was teaching about abiding in Christ, and learning to focus on being with God more than doing for God. 

I decided to make my own list, of all the things I've felt that I should DO as a good little Christian girl. Some of these things I've long since gotten over, and some still hit me hard. Some I still believe are worthwhile. All of these things I truly believed were God's truth at one point or another in my life. I heard them from various people, and I am not in any way saying this list reflects anyone's thinking but my own. They were all received from different places, and mixed together in my head. Amplify some of these by 75% because I felt like pastors' wives needed to do these things really really well perfectly. I'd challenge you to do the same, and evaluate what God really is asking of you.

  1. Listen to Christian music ONLY. (While I would never have said these words, I always felt guilty changing the station to a secular one.)
  2.  Read my bible every day morning. If it's not in the morning, it's just not good enough.
  3. Give to the needy, but only through the church.
  4. Pray over my children and my husband.
  5. Memorize scripture.
  6. Never swear. Not even when you stub your toe so hard that you break it. 
  7. Don't drink alcohol. That stuff that Jesus served at a wedding was really just juice
  8. While I was never told not to dance, the church I had my wedding reception at didn't allow dancing (see above video, start at 1:25 for both). I'm still pissed about that. I didn't get to dance with my husband or my daddy. At the time, I accepted it (grudgingly). 
  9. While we're on the Duggars: Don't use hormonal birth control. (I know, I know, 5 kids, hahaha, joke's on me.)
  10. Get married in a church, even if you would love to be married outdoors, where you feel like God's physical presence is just beyond your reach and every thing you can see cries out for a Creator. That's not good enough.
  11. Don't wear a two-piece bathing suit.
  12. Don't wear short shorts
  13. Don't wear tight clothes.
  14. Don't show cleavage. 
  15. Basically, take the responsibility for the possible sins of any male in your vicinity. 
  16. At the same time, be sexually available to your husband whenever he wants, or at least very often. Also, this should be an instantaneous transition on your wedding night.  
  17. Be a stay-at-home mom. (I'm a SAHM now because I want to be, not because I have to be, which is why I enjoy it.)
  18. Wear dresses to church on Sunday.
  19. Go to church at least 3x/week. 
  20. Don't consider staying home from church just because you don't want to go.
  21. Do daily bible readings with your children.
  22. Do everything the Proverbs 31 woman does. And do it well.
  23. Volunteer in the nursery/VBS/children's church/youth group. 
  24. Make a casserole every few weeks for another family. 
  25. Use my talents for God (singing, writing, kid-slinging, pie-making, whatever). 
  26. Don't make out with boys.
  27. Don't even think about making out with girls, for that matter. 
  28. Invite every person at church to your birthday party. That's what Jesus would do.
  29. Don't do anything that might cause someone else to stumble. ANYTHING. (see 10-15)
  30. Wear Christian t-shirts to school. (What, are you ashamed of Jesus? No, that shirt is just ugly.)
  31. Tell everyone - EVERYONE - about Jesus, whether they want to  hear it or not. 
  32. Go on mission trips. 
  33. Go door-to-door evangelizing.
  34. Don't complain. 
  35. Don't worry. 
  36. Don't be scared. 
  37. Fast occasionally, without letting it be known. (Unfortunately for me, I am like a freaking psycho if I don't eat. Seriously.) 
  38. Don't ever refer to God as anything other than male.
I could probably go on for days. I made a serious effort to not put down things that other people tried to convince me to believe, but I never did (like no birth control at all, believe it or not!). 

I'm realizing that this is my problem. My problem is religion. My problem is the rules and regulations without the love and relationship.

The pastor said that, as Christians, we talk about these "seasons of life" that we just have to "push through." That's exactly what I've been trying to do, for months years way too long. Just push through. Just check off the things on the list, and someday, somehow I'll find my way back. Instead, he said, we need to approach God and His Word with the goal of just abiding in Him. To just BE with God. To set aside the academic and your hang-ups, and to just sit with God and enjoy His presence.

That has got to be my ticket back. I can't fight my way back. I can't push through my doubts. I can't check the things off my list and hope for the best. But, I can rest in His presence. I can BE who I am - doubts, failures, insecurities - and just BE with Him. This is how to get my head and my heart engaged. Sitting in God's presence will lead me to some of my answers, but more importantly, it will restore my heart. My heart feels dry and parched. It feels like someone who's been carrying a large burden through the desert. That burden is these rules, this religion. How did I miss that the first step to rehydrating is drinking from the Living Well? When Jesus first spoke of Living Water, He was talking to a woman who had been hurt by religion and only expected the worst from Him - a religious man, and He blew her expectations out of the water.

That Sunday, I felt like I'd been that dusty wanderer, wandering through the desert, a huge pack on my back, covered in sweat, and staring out at all these different possibilities, different paths to take. Not knowing where I was really headed or how to get there. This pastor said, "Here, look. There are tons of paths around here. All you have to do is follow this guy. Don't worry if you don't know the way yet. That's ok. Just take your time, and hang out with him, he knows this place like the back of his hand. And, hey, while you're going, enjoy the journey, have fun with your guide, he's pretty cool."

I turn to my guide, and he holds out his hand, and says, "Here. I'll take your pack. You just carry this water bottle. Have some."

Jesus said his yoke was light, while ours is heavy. I have to believe he was talking about religion - The Law. "Give me all your rules and checklists. That's all too much. Here, take mine, all you have to do is BE near me. I'll tell you when I want you to do this or that, but don't worry, you'll know." How have I been missing this all along? I've been in churches all my life that claimed to be "New Testament Churches," but I still felt bogged down and judged for my behavior and my choices, even small, simple things that are likely no one else's business. (Side note: Your pastor's kids are just that. Kids. And Not Yours. Please, stop them from running into traffic, or hitting your kid with their shoe, but don't tell them what to wear or how to think or what music they should like.)

I'm off to find joy in the journey, by just hanging with my Guide.

Also, you can go here to download the image below, which has been hanging next to my computer for months. Go figure.






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