by Living Liminal cross posted from her blog Living Liminal
At one point in the hostilities we experienced at our last church, my husband and I agreed to a meeting with the elder who was at the centre of the leadership struggle, and with his wife, both of whom had been close friends of ours. We were still hoping that somehow we could find some sort of resolution to the conflict. We had asked one of the board members* to mediate for us, because our previous attempt at reconciliation had only exposed me to more abuse.
(* We didn’t realise until later how partisan he actually was!)
Some way into the discussions, elder J’s wife got angry and started articulating how she really felt towards me. I can only guess this caught her off guard because she suddenly clapped her hand over her mouth as if to dam the words, giggled, and then said, “Oh, look at me, I’m manifesting!”
Her smile was then firmly clamped back into place and she resumed saying ‘the right things’.
Needless to say, the meeting finished with us all saying the magic words, and then love and peace abounded. NOT!
Nothing was ever owned or dealt with, and therefore nothing was resolved. We all pretended that everything was suddenly ok and made like the nice, little christians we were supposed to be. Om….
Why are christians so afraid of being honest!?
In this case, the couple needed to prove to the board member what ‘good’ (calm, loving, in control) christians they were – proving their claim to leadership, I surmise. In other words, they had something to lose by being honest.
All I managed to achieve from that meeting was prove in their minds what a ‘bad’ (angry, hurt, emotional) christian I was! In their world, my honesty made me a loser.
And at first I bought into this lie. Deny your feelings. Stay calm. Be nice. Say forgiveness.
Recite the mantra. Emotions are wrong, feelings are bad. Repeat the chant enough times and those things will just disappear. Believe, and your pain no longer exists. Then you’ll have achieved christian enlightenment.
This is the lie I was sold. Except I wasn’t really buying it. Something just didn’t add up.
And eventually I realised the truth. I hadn’t lost at all. I’d actually gained. My freedom and my integrity!
I had gained permission to be myself. I no longer needed to perform or pretend. To be measured by someone else’s yardstick.
It is God’s work to conform me to the image of his son. Not mine. Definitely not someone else’s.
And I certainly won’t make myself fit an image of Jesus that doesn’t exist.I don’t buy the nice, calm, unemotional facade that some christians think they are supposed to present. Always peaceful, always serene. It makes me wonder if they believe Jesus was actually some kind of Zen Buddhist!
Is that the real Jesus? Or is that some kind of comfortable image we’ve been sold?
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild.
The Jesus some christians seem to follow would have made the money-changers a nice cup of tea and sat down to have a friendly chat with them, suggesting that perhaps they might like to reflect on their behaviour and possibly think about how they could maybe do things differently… but only if they felt like it.
Peace man! Chill!
Well the Jesus I see is thoroughly alive. Embraces life in all its messiness and complexity. Is the ultimate example of what it is to be fully human. Passionate, emotional, sometimes even overwhelmed by his feelings, his struggles. Real. Honest. Authentic.
That’s the Jesus I want to look like.
Living Liminal lives in Australia with her husband and three sons, and she is learning to thrive in the liminal space her life has become.