My 12-year-old brother recently described me to a non-family member as the following:
"She's very headstrong and blunt. She can be mean sometimes but most of the time she's a nice person. Oh and if you haven't noticed, she loves her dogs."
Check, check. Check, check and....check.
Sometimes my bluntness is unintended. For example, yesterday I was flying (in the air!) and the pilot asked me twice, "Holly, are you ready to fly the plane?" After the second time, I replied, "I don't know what you mean when you say that!"
My being blunt generally means you know exactly where I'm coming from and what my position is on a subject, any given subject. It's also earned me the title of "boss" on a few different occasions.
I recently expressed my opinion on a subject very explosive to me and in so doing, I prayed (out loud) for God to mellow me and to grant me wisdom to express myself without...scorching people. I have a tendency to passionately express my opinion without tenacity or grace. And isn't that what I judge other people for?
The discussion last week that raised my ire was an article denoting Christian marriage and a checklist of do's and don't's.
In theory the checklist was decent. I won't call it good but I can concede that Christian wives need to smile, have quiet time when they're overwhelmed and create a peaceful home environment for their husbands and children (grossly assuming that Christian marriages beget children).
My agitation with the article was an introductory paragraph addressing readers as "sweet little people" (shiver) and then going on to say what God's idea for marriage is and that his plan is holiness.
Enter...checklist and the insinuation that the checklist equaled God's idea of marriage and, more offensively, that the checklist equated holiness.
My insides began to boil and over the next three days, I ranted and raved and wrestled and discussed and prayed and tried to convey my opinion gently.
Why do we have to put human perimeters on God? More notably, why do we have to present our opinion with a preface of "God said" when (in my opinion!) he clearly did not? Why is it that we, as human beings, cannot even begin to fathom God's Name yet we put a checklist on the requirements of holiness? Who do we think we are?
I'm reading a book that's changing my life. Actually, I've already read it. And it's still changing my life.
Rob Bell says: "The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. We are dealing with somebody we made up. And if we made him up, then we are in control."
This is key for untold amounts of religious rhetoric bullshit. Bullshit that makes statements like: divorce is sin, meet on Sunday, Jesus rose on Easter. Or for faith followers who decry books such as "The Shack" because it dares paint Jesus as something other then the meek, longhaired, white Jew we've been programmed to believe He was. Or the "DaVinci Code" that speaks of the sacreligious idea that Jesus had a wife.
Are we that cemented in our lines and definitions of who God is that we don't dare allow revolutionizing works such as "The Shack" to impact our lives? The answer is yes, we are.
Later in his book, "Velvet Elvis", Bell makes the austentacious statement that we don't need checklists for holiness because we already are.
"The issue then isn't my beating myself up over all of the things I am not doing or the things I am doing poorly; the issue is my learning who this person is who God keeps insisting I already am." (Bell)
Exclamation point. Exclamation point. It's like jumping into a pool of the most refreshing water...ever. Jump again. Read it again.
Last summer I worked at a Christian camp for the first time in my life. Part of my responsibility was leading the teaching session one morning. I spoke about God writing our stories and trusting Him to do it.
Bell takes it a step further when he says, "God is retelling each of our stories in Jesus...our choice becomes this: we can trust his retelling of the story or we can trust our telling of the story. It is a choice we make every day about the reality we are going to live in...this reality then isn't something we make true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making."
How many times have we sung, "Holiness is what you want from me"? Maybe if we stopped and listened we'd hear him say, "You already are holy. You already are."
So, yes, I'm blunt. And headstrong. The examples for that are far less flattering, I assure you.
And yes, there was a reference earlier to me flying a plane. I'll get to that story later...with pictures!
In the meantime, be holy. And remember, you already are.