Once again, I appreciate the honest blog post here about being stripped of all things churchianity – the Christian subculture – and rediscovering an honest relationship with God, and letting him lead us himself. It has spurred more thoughts of my/our own trek that I’d like to share.
I want to talk more about relationships among people and God. This has been a recurring theme with my wife and I, and I believe this topic is common to anyone truly on the detox journey out of the church business ways to something real. After 20+ years in the church business way of doing relationships, my wife and I came to the hard realization that we didn’t really know how to do them well, and that we had allowed others to do our thinking. It wasn’t good enough anymore to know someone who knew God (or thought they did). God wanted us himself – the thrill of a lifetime!
We didn’t know how to take time with relationships – the years it really takes. Taking time to gradually go deeper rather than rush in head long. And how to recognize good indicators that the risk was going to be a good one, and be in touch with the desires of our own hearts. Did I want this relationship? Was there truly a sense in me that God was doing something in it? David prayed like his desires and God’s desires were one and the same. There was once a season I prayed each day, “Lord, help me feel today.” It seemed like I had spent all my life dialed in to what others indicated was the “right” thing to think and feel, that I had very little idea what God was really saying me, now that I was coming to know he speaks to us mostly through our own guts.
We didn’t know how to have honest, meaningful conflict resolution. Where you say the hard stuff without shredding the other person (though you wanted to). And they get to say the needful things, and maybe you actually come to new understandings together over time. Or maybe not, even after many years. But you don’t violate yourself in this process, yet be as generous as you can toward the other person’s prosperity. So many relationships in the church are based out of a man-made hierarchy positioning, which Jesus banned from the body of Christ. Thus, boundaries were mowed over so much that we had no concept of where they even used to be.
We had very little idea how to be peers, egalitarian, co-heirs in Christ with others in the body. How to truly live like the playing field is level, and only Christ is above the rest.
We didn’t know how to live like the imaginary relational boundaries we had around church businesses were just that – imaginary. To think that we actually lopped off relationships when people left our “church” (business), and felt nothing for it. Ludicrous! Same thing goes for the imaginary relational boundary between the man-made church subculture and those not yet among his followers. What? You can actually have FRIENDS that aren’t saved?! And even allow yourself to learn things from them that Jesus-followers are supposed to own the corner market on – such as grace, generosity, integrity?! Oh yes.
Indeed, this epidemic of relational violations is the primary driver for us getting off the church business merry-go-round to rethink all things church, which led to rethinking all things Christianity. A frightening, yet invigorating journey! I think a serious detox from the church business way brings you face-to-face with the horrendous handling of relationships there. In the end, I came to believe that, as an adult, I had no one to blame by myself. I mean, what was I thinking doing these things? But that’s the point, I wasn’t thinking. Hardly anyone in my Christian circles was. I guess we just didn’t suspect the violations there, but it was the same for the Lord and his first followers. We’ve had to essentially learn from scratch how to do relationships with God and people.
I would say we’re seeing two things these days: one is that as we’re learning, in the midst of safe, “go-slow” relationships with 5-7 other families, how to do healthy boundaries with relationships, we’re finding new boldness to be appropriately vulnerable again. The other thing, of course, is we’re sensing the Lord leading us to take more risks, gently nudging us beyond our comfort zones. It’s like so much of the kingdom of God revolves around relationships, so pressing in to them appears to be important to him.
I’m doing ice skating lessons with my daughters (5 & 7). I never had a lesson before, had no clue what I was doing, and it showed. So I’ve been avoiding ice skating all my life. My wife, however, is pretty good at it and takes our girls now and then. Lessons came available nearby, so it was my chance to have Father-daughter time and try to eliminate some embarrassment on the ice so I could skate with the family. About the 2nd or 3rd lesson they taught us how to stop. It’s kinda like a snow-plow action, and with some practice, it works! The unexpected result was that I was finally bold enough to risk some skating moves because I knew I could bring myself to a stop without having to fall down or slam myself into the boards. I see a correlation to doing just about anyting in life, including relationships.