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Dirty Laundry

A few months ago I read a book titled Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. This book is filled with little gems of advice, things that in the past few months I have sought out and have relied on to get myself through tough days. So with the arrival of the new year, I have remembered something that Shauna Niequist wrote about. In one specific chapter she talks about how her theme for the year is grace, that it is not a new concept but that it is something she needed to focus on, to “re-learn,” to act out in her life–to taste, feel, experience, trust and remember (Bittersweet, 81-84). I think grace is something that I really need to work on and to “re-learn.” (Bittersweet, 81).

I am emerging (hopefully) from a very recent and (hopefully) short season of severe anxiety and fear. A season that I have not felt inspired in my work, my blogging and my personal life. A season that has been marked with, what I can best describe as spiritual warfare, a distance in my relationship with God–a season in which fear has been the ruling force. My friends, it has not been an easy season and this morning as I sat down and journaled I realized that I felt that I was an imposter. I realized that I feel like I am a “false Christian,” that I am walking around wearing my cross around my neck and all my Christian jewelry (I have quite a few pieces that I truly love–that are not just my simple gold cross) and I am not worthy to do that, not when I am in a place where fear controls my life and my faith has been put on the back burner. I feel like an imposter, walking around like I am in a mask. A few weeks ago I realized, with some fear, that as I was talking to someone–trying to offer some advice, that I felt as if I was a shell and that I was peering out through a mask. I gave advice but I just felt that I wasn’t really connected and it took all that I had left to give that advice–I realized right then and there that I was not feeling inspired or passionate about anything. That the fear and anxiety had exhausted me so much that I was just a shell of a person, unable to do the one thing I really love to do–help people, write my blogs and shed light on my scars with the hope that it will help others too.

The fear and anxiety caused me to retreat within myself, to allow the darkness to cling to me like a cloak for far too long and it allowed me to believe lies. That fear of inadequacy led me to believe that since I am not perfect, I am unfaithful, I stray from the path, I make mistakes and I am so far from being a faithful, trusting and loving Christian that I am an imposter. That because I am all of these things I cannot be considered a “good” Christian because I fail and I disappoint God. How could I help people when I can barely help myself, I am being a hypocrite if I give others advice and don’t take it myself. And if I do help people they will “find out,” they will find out that I am not really all that great and that I struggle to take my own advice. The thing I have realized today is–maybe all these things are the reason I can and should help people and that if I write these words or give this advice that I am potentially helping someone else but in return could be helping myself.

I think too many times in this world there are too many people who sugar coat Christianity, who make it seem that they are perfect and their life is perfect and easy. I am not a “good” Christian, I am not really sure there is any such thing as a “good” Christian and life is not easy. But I can tell you that I am a real human–a real person who has an incredible fear of inadequacy and of failure, a person who has fallen off the path too many times to count, a person whose heart is often weak in the face of temptation, a person who too many times to count has created idols and placed things before God, a person who is raw and exhausted, a person who is a sinner. So maybe I am not the image of a “good” Christian and a spokesperson for “easy” Christianity; but I am a real person, who is in the thick of life, struggling to make good decisions and to choose God–and I think that makes me a member of the club of humanity not an imposter. I like to think that revealing my scars and making myself vulnerable helps others, to show people that it may seem like I live a charmed life and that I have it all together but I don’t. My struggles may come in a different package than yours do, and you may be struggling with things much much bigger than me–but you are not alone. I am stumbling through life right along side you and if you need a little help and inspiration I hope that my words give you some solace.

I am tired of feeling like an imposter and of letting the fear of inadequacy and of being found out control my life. So I have laid it all out for you, in these blog posts you will not find the words of a woman with her life together; you will however, find scars of wounds healed and some of which have not, a woman who is struggling to find her purpose and her way in this world, who struggles with trusting God, who sometimes turns her back to God and often feels like giving up. But you will also find words of encouragement, a woman who is trying to trust God and his plans for her, who is looking for hope even in the darkest of moments and who is trying to always choose God–not just sometimes choose God. So my hope is that we can walk through life together, hold hands when the waters are rough and to celebrate and dance when life is good.

My guess is that you already knew all of this about me, that you could clearly see that I am a human who regularly fails and you chose to like me  or read my blog despite that failure. But I felt it was something I needed to say, more for myself than anyone else. I had to air my dirty laundry and come clean about the truth–so that the lies and the fear can no longer have control. So that I no longer allow myself to believe that I am an imposter. I think I needed a lesson in grace, remembering that God has not called me to be perfect. Despite the number of times I turn away and say “no no I can do this alone God,” then end up freaking out and crawling back asking for forgiveness–God is right there waiting to welcome me back into his arms. That God loved me even when I was so ugly and thought that I could do it all alone or went directly against him. I love how Shauna Niequist describes grace:

“Grace isn’t about having a second chance; grace is having so many chances that you could use them through all eternity and never come up empty. It’s when you realize that the other shoes isn’t going to drop, ever. It’s the moment you feel as precious and handmade as every star, when you feel, finally, at home for the very first time. Grace is when you finally stop keeping score and realize that God never was, that his game is a different one entirely.” (Bittersweet, 83).

Lets enter this new year with grace on our minds, let be gentle with ourselves and stop holding ourselves to a level of perfection–because God certainly isn’t. Thank you to all who read this blog and who are following along on this journey with me. Happy New Year–let us go forth into 2016 without fear and instead with peace, love, joy, hope and grace.

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Peace, love, joy and blessings–Margaret.

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