There was a time that I thought Christ came and went. I called it backsliding. When I look at the term now, I see it’s such a human thought process. As if the Christ that conquered death could be pushed in and out of my life by my feelings and circumstances. But that’s what I thought.
There were so many times life got hard. Really hard, and I thought that I needed to be in a better place in order to be a Christian again. When we stepped out of the institutional church and began walking with the Lord without the covering of anyone but Christ Himself, we began to see a gi-normous Christ. And what we saw was only a piece. We are spending our lives exhausting Him in everything that happens and all we go through and we are still only seeing a glimpse of Him. I am confident of the future. Not because I know that I will handle every situation with grace, because I am sure there will be times and situations that will cut to the bone and I may be a mess, but I will never be detached and severed from the Lord that dwells in my Spirit. No backsliding for this Christian anymore!
In the last couple of weeks I have been seeing pieces of Christ in my past. I discounted my hurt and painful events as included in my life with Christ. They were kept in their own little lock box in my soul. Up until I met my Lord face to face (metaphorically) and not on a page, or from an audience, I saw myself in a lower class of persons because of who I still thought I was.
We are not separate beings from Christ. When we become joined with Him, our little vapor of a life pales in comparison to His greatness. He has intertwined Himself with the beautiful woman He died for, His Church. And as I am eternally a part of that Woman nothing I do is that important in the grand scheme of things.
Sometimes my past would be glorified as I recounted the typical story of the drug addicted, trouble fueled life I lived a decade ago. Other times I felt the pride of being “saved” from a fiery damnation as I served on committees and spent 30+ hours a week writing and preparing preschool curriculum at the local church that I poured myself into. I felt as though I could claim glory for standing at the pulpit of the youth services and telling my “story”. I fell back and forth between loathing me and being straight up prideful. No matter which side I was on, it was all about me. I think self-reflection is important because it can bring mighty glory to God and like a friend once said to me, I need to feel my feelings in order to heal. But once I realize that my present and recent past is not the beginning of my walk with the Lord, I had to let go of claiming the past as my own story.
If it were not for my time in a healthy, fully functioning organic church I would not be the person I am today. Our time there changed us forever. We will always know who we are and that the Christ we serve is alive today in His church. Since moving to the midwest we have found that our fears of losing all the freedom in us were just a waste of time. We’ve been to local churches and even met some of the kind people in them. We are friends with a family up the road who has been such a blessing to us and they were once in an organic church. We have met some of the local Christian community and they’ve been beautiful pieces of Him. So we are excited that our future will be full in Christ and has been claimed by Him.
As for the past, I still have memories float into my head… in my dreams and when I see certain things, such as a life flight helicopter or the smell a familiar scent, such as the distinct whiff of heroin that comes from strange places and hits me unexpectedly. It takes me moments to recover. As much as I was beginning to know Him, in these times it’s clear I kept my past from Him. It was before I met Him and it was dark and it didn’t matter anyway. The thing is, it did matter, the memories and flashbacks, and horrible thoughts. I now know that those things mattered because it was affecting who I thought I was. My life and my identity are in Christ, but if a memory of the bad parts of me takes hold, I become that person who is not worthy to be a part of His church. I know none of us are ever worthy, but I felt like I was just too sneaky and mean, and bad in my old life. So I kept it all separate.
One night I began to share who I was with a trusted friend. I just talked and talked and talked. It turned into several nights over the course of weeks. I was able to let someone know everything about who I was. And none of it, she said, disqualified me from knowing Him. I was still welcome to know Him and I was still welcome into Him. It changed me.
Last night I had a bad dream about something in the past. I woke up and decided that I had accepted the past and I know that it has no hold on me and I can give thanks that it led me to where I am today. But I have not given Him the one thing I still clung to tightly- the memories. I keep them as if I don’t deserve to be free of the pain they can cause, if only for a moment. So today I gave Christ reign over my past and my memories. How do I do that? Simply by believing it’s been done. I have faith that the moment I released them, He gladly took the weight of having to carry them and pointed me to the cross so that I would see where they are nailed and where they will stay. He did this a long time ago and has been waiting on me. Isn’t He beautiful?
It’s encouraging to know that His love never stops, He reveals Himself everyday. And those who know Him and turn to Him are free from having to try so hard all the time. We are dead to ourselves and alive in Him. And like Mrs. R always says, the old saying What Would Christ Do doesn’t apply to me because I am not trying to copy Christ. I would fail every time and it’s too exhausting. Rather, what would a dead man do? I don’t have to do anything, I am alive and aligned with Him and there’s no trying on my part. Isn’t that freedom worth accepting, heck yes!
Thank you for reading!