The hardest part about growing up is un-learning what I’ve been taught about myself, and remembering who I was as a child.
I created a practice in my journal a few weeks ago in which I used various adjectives to describe my natural character as a child, teen, and adult.
The similarities between those as a child, and those as an adult are strikingly different than that of a teenager. It seems that circumstances as in my childhood got stuffed down and grew an angst-ridden figure with awkward hips pouring over patched-up jeans.
It’s only in the last few years that I have been able to shed the remnants of being a religiously clingy teenager. A religion that was other people telling me about the character of God rather than meeting him for myself.
I keep thinking — what’s wrong with me that I’m not married? My perceptions of being married equate to: being holy, having done something right, figuring yourself out, and success.
Then I think, but — I reeeeeeally don’t want to be married right now, and I enjoy my life…what is wrong with that?
I don’t wake up at the crack of dawn and pray silently for hours after reading a chapter of the bible. I used to do it every morning for years. So, I must be wrong now because I’m not “seeking the Lord” in this way. Why can’t I ever do this? Why can’t I ever be better?
I look out my window and watch the cold rain fall slowly on the lines connecting me to warmth and information. This miraculous technology is a huge part of my life. My every curiosity can be answered within moments of typing it into a search engine.
But yet, I feel that the way I connect with the Creator the Universe and with the small child within me must be done by legalistic means.
I must only read the bible. I must pray the words they tell me to. I must be on my knees and repent of all the ways I am a human and tie my hands behind me. I must sit still and listen to every word the pastor says, and not break eye contact.
I must keep myself completely pure so the Lord will bless me with the mythical creature that is my husband; and that will be the pentacle of my life. Then, and only then, will I know I am furthering the Lord’s kingdom with our perfect spawn who will delight in playing small angels in this year’s Easter pageant (that I also helped to write and produce, of course.)
This life is completely wonderful and pleasing to the Lord — for most people. It’s a beautiful expression of what is a natural process both physically and spiritually.
It wasn’t until recently that I gave myself permission to worship the Lord with my life….in my own way. Any other way is to be an impostor.
Watching documentaries about quantum mechanics helps me to connect my brain to my heart. I need to understand the complexities of the universe to appreciate the mystery that is my existence. I need to feel how small my life is, but how so many small pieces came together to create me.
I literally can’t help it sometimes — I must quit what I’m doing and draw. I will always be the girl at church that is a “stumbling block” to whoever is sitting beside me because I MUST DOODLE IN CHURCH.
People always tell me it’s okay to be unique and different — but I don’t know if anyone believes it.
I keep striving to be normal.
The fact that the majority of Americans can drive to a place with food and eat it without consequence is BAFFLING to me. WHY CAN’T I EAT ANYTHING I WANT WITHOUT FEELING LIKE A MILLION ELVES ARE PLAYING WITH MY INTESTINES.
Like, broccoli, I miss you.
But, the fact that I have to honor my body with being disciplined in what I eat has become a new way of worshipping the Lord.
The drawings that flow from my hands is just an outpour of my heart to connect with He who created me.
The music that is picked by my hands and sung by my voice is a humble gift. I hate hearing my own voice played back, but I love, love, love to sing.
Passion is given to us for a reason — so why have I spent most of my life feeling so repressed? I’ve been holding myself down from being all of who I was meant to be because if I move, maybe my husband will never come. Maybe this or maybe that.
It’s kind of all bologna.
Being a person isn’t easy. First, we have to stay alive — then we can strive to thrive.
I’ve always been a chronic rule-follower, whether I like to admit it or not. That’s why religion has always made sense to me. Yes, I was born in the south where everyone goes to church, but when given the choice as a teenager, I wanted to go. Church was my escape. It was solid ground on which to dig my roots.
So it’s not to say that religion has not been good to me. Inside the walls of the church, I found family. I learned what it meant to be loved and to serve others.
There just always comes a time to prune one’s branches in order to grow. I have hit the preverbal ceiling with following the rules of being a church-goer now that I have experienced the Lord for myself.
The flip has been switched. The light, just like a halogen bulb, has been slowly been warming up, and almost hit it’s brightest capacity this morning….at The Gathering in Life in Deep Ellum (it’s the most un-churchy-like-church I’ve ever gone to btw)
Joel talked about five different ways people usually experience the Lord, and I was like “oh…I do all of these. I didn’t know that counted as points towards prayer (gold stars for little Tiffany)"
Relational — I love getting coffee with different folks just about every morning. It’s incredible to hear God speak whether it’s through another person, or through me. I now realize that this passion in me to wake up early and have coffee is so that I can connect with others (since I’m too exhausted after work.) This is kind of like having a devotional, but with another person.
Serving — I always related with Martha more than Mary in the parable….and have always felt guilty about it. “Umm yes Jesus, I would also love to pour oils on your feet and wipe them with my hair, but someone has to make lunch.” What Martha got wrong is that she was condemning Mary for not helping her. They were both serving the Lord in their own way. I have to accept that.
Worship — A expression of devotion. It’s not just singing to Phil Wickham in my car. It is when I’m painting, drawing, cleaning the floor, or wearing Christmas socks.
Contemplative or intellectual — I think where I spend most of my time with the Lord. By studying different theologies, physics, science, or even googling things I’m curious about, I’m brought to a deeper understanding of life and of who came up with it in the first place. Wisdom is a gift, and studying is my route to joy. The more I understand something, the more I love it. The more I love it, the more devotion I feel to it. Devotion changes the heart of my actions.
Creation — Being outside. Taking a hike. Watching the sunrise. Hearing the ocean and walking along the shore. Staring out my window and getting lost in thought. Not being a artist — but being the product of a craftsman among his other works. To understand I have a unique perspective on the world, but that it most certainly does not revolve around me.
Yes, according to what Jesus said, I most definitely should be in fellowship with other believers. I should be tucking myself away to talk to God one-on-one. I should be studying his word.
But why limit prayer to a time span when I could simply practice it with all of my passions…all of the time.
To learn more about The Gathering, or to listen to the podcast yourself, check out: lifeindeepellum.com/