I was so ready to leave.
So many times over the last year I thought my time in this town was over. I thought God was going to move me on to something else…somewhere else. I even explored where I wanted to go. I looked for places where I could just be another face in the crowd. If I’m honest, I looked for places where I didn’t have to take care of anyone…places where I could be the one to be taken care of. But recently I realized that it truly wasn’t about the people, or their needs…it was all about the belief that this place held all my pain…like the ocean holding a drowning man…surrounded, suffocated, trapped. I just felt like I couldn’t heal here…like I would forever be stuck in all the things that I had been through in this place. I struggled with the thought that I would never be free. (Take a peak at More Real Than I’ve Ever Been) And so I looked for places to move. I looked into jobs in other towns, in other states. I asked God for the release that I thought was coming, but I was met with silence. Absolute silence. What I didn’t understand is that God was beginning to talk to me about something. But I wasn’t listening. Not on purpose. I just couldn’t hear Him yet. But I think I’m beginning to hear Him now. I think I’m finally seeing a bigger picture to all I’ve had to go through. And I have begun to burn.
In navigating the hard places in my relationships, God has been revealing something to me. My selfishness. All of this pain and heartache I’ve endured have been about HIS passion for this community. A community of people like my daughter, my son. Your daughter, your son. Not about me. I know it all sounds so confusing. Stick with me.
I was brought up with a very clear idea of how the addicted became addicted..and why they stayed addicted. I knew all the things I’d been taught growing up…about drugs, alcohol…all of it. I knew what Christians were supposed to believe about homosexuality and gender issues. I believed what I was taught about all of the things that seem to set off explosions in culture today. There was always a cut and dried answer to all of it…even if it was confusing. Please hear me, I believe that there are absolutes written in the Word of God. But if you hear that, please, also, hear this. I am not God. I don’t get to decide if one kind of person deserves His love over another. I can’t truly see anyone’s heart unless they choose to show me. And even then, it’s only a piece of it. What I know, is that that old Mitzie believed that if I committed suicide, I would go to hell. No, really. I did. I was told that. More than once. But I tried anyway. After my own suicide attempt in 2002, I began to question that belief and many other perceived truths I had about the character of God. After several years of agonizing over the idea of it, I gave into the impulse to end my life. It was awful and ugly and very, very real….but not one time did I ever believe that God wasn’t who He said He was. I just didn’t feel like I could survive the constant pain and hopelessness that I felt in this world. I never rejected Him. I never believed that He didn’t love me. I just didn’t see a way out of it all…other than death. But God saved me and used that very thing to begin to highlight and free me from the lies.
You see, the enemy wants us to believe things like I believed. He wants you to think that you have all the “right” answers…that you’ll go to hell if you commit suicide..that you are beyond hope and unworthy of love if you are an addict…that your sexuality determines your value before God…that conservatives are more “Christian” than liberals…that your community doesn’t care about you. That your worth is about how people see you. That the sin you struggle with is making you unlovable and unforgivable. I am so tired of the enemy of our souls having the loudest say, so I’m calling him out.
And I call BULLSHIT.
I know that I’m nobody special according to the world standard. I’m not famous in any kind of way. I’m just a single, divorced mom who’s been through a lot of hard stuff, works a little insurance job and lives in a small town. And I’m just a middle aged woman who loves Jesus. But I still call bullshit. I’m sure there are educated people of faith, who could argue me into the ground and tell me all the reasons I’m wrong…and also call me out for cursing. That’s fine. I probably wouldn’t enter that argument anyway. But what I do know is that I am that woman at the well (John 4). I’m that woman who has done unspeakable wrongs. I’ve lied, I’ve had an unfaithful heart, I’ve attempted to end my life, I have wounded my children, I’ve gotten divorced, I’ve held unforgiveness as a weapon, I’ve been unbelievably selfish, I’ve rejected and enabled and I have been a complete coward. I have also failed…my children, my husband, myself. Let’s face it, I’ve failed everyone at least once…or a million times And yet Jesus still chooses to sit with me at the well where culture says we aren’t supposed to be.
So here’s the BS. Showing people Jesus has nothing to do with pointing out other peoples sin as we perceive it. That’s God’s job. We don’t get to decide when it’s time to sit in judgement. Sometimes God chooses to just sit and be with someone before He ever shows them their “stuff.” I know this because He’s done it with me. Over and over again. But other times he shows it to me quickly…sometimes he rips the bandaid off. But HE is the one who knows what’s best for me. At just the right time. Do we really know or understand the timing of God unless he shows us directly? Or do we see someones sin and feel the need to shine a spotlight on it as soon as we see it just so that we can save them ourselves? Like I said, I am that woman at the well. My sin on his lips has only been one single sentence in a lifetime of affection and kind words from His heart to mine.
So what makes us think that we are drawing people to Jesus by pointing and shouting at them about their sin? That’s not our job. When we show people love, we show people Jesus. We’ve got to get outside of ourselves. I know this is in direct opposition to the culture of the world today…which is to sit in our comfy homes and look at the world from a computer screen and form opinions and ideas without ever coming face to face with a real person. But if we continue to crawl further and deeper into our Christian hole, those who need Jesus will ever really know that they need Him. All they will see is more shame than they already carry on their own. We have to get over the lie that says we need to look a certain kind of perfect to be a Christian! We have to stop pushing our idea of “appearances” on people. C’mon my Jesus lovers! We are light bearers! It’s time to stop expecting someone else to do it! It’s time to do it ourselves.
My heart is burning for my community. Burning. There is so much pain. There is so much trouble and heartache. Addiction has exploded. Gun violence is invading us rapidly. Human trafficking and childhood sexual abuse are around every corner. Do we see it or do we ignore it because it’s not in our house? Do we pay it no mind until it touches our doorstep? I say all this because I WAS THIS PERSON. I didn’t see it in my own home until I had to see it. I was forced to open my eyes. And I almost caved. But then I decided to rise up and refuse to be another casualty of apathy. The enemy doesn’t have to kill you to take you out. All he has to do is create indifference, blindness. And right now he is gaining ground in spades. We close our eyes because we are afraid that it is contagious…that somehow, by looking at it, we will catch the darkness. I’m telling you…there is only ONE answer. The blood of Jesus. His very blood is the light and we are light bearers. Where there is LIGHT there can be no darkness for The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5. It’s time to stop being afraid of the dark!
Are we, finally, going to be willing to sit at the well with the outcast, where culture says we aren’t supposed to be? Will we finally face the darkness that is encroaching and say no more? It’s time to stop looking at it only when we are forced to. It’s time to walk in the authority we carry because the same power that raised Christ from the dead LIVES INSIDE OF US!
So needless to say, I am no longer entertaining the idea of leaving this community. I am here for however long I’m supposed to be….and I’m all in. And I call bullshit on us all.