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confessions of a church girl | grace in the journey

confessions are stirring inside my soul.
i need grace and so much forgiveness.

i am a church girl. i have over twenty years experience being in a church in tiny little towns in illinois. i twirled my dresses for my church family and made everyone fall in love with by big brown eyes and happy, carefree ways. but now that i’m grown i find that a lot of the things i’ve learned did not prepare me for the world. or for real people. people really living in a broken world that need love. and the love i learned is such a thin love. a conditional love. a confusing love. shame and guilt ruled my heart. i had Jesus and i loved him and his ways. but i was taught by man and never really searched in my own time in my own way. in his Word.

i listened to sermons. i helped prepare food for the potlucks. i helped in nursery as soon as i was old enough. i loved the camps and the week long conferences in far away places and meeting the new people. i grew up thinking these people were the only people who existed. so i was really confused when there were people begging in shabby clothes on the sidewalks surrounding the fun christian weekend i was having in atlanta georgia. and i was shocked when i heard of a scandal at camp. one of the boys snuck into the girls dorm and shared a bed with her and they both got kicked out the next day. so then, they must not be like me. like us. where do those people go? because they can’t stay here. with us. where the love is. we have to keep this place clean.

but then i have dirty struggles within me.
as long as i don’t talk about them and keep them below the surface enough, i’m good.
and i can stay.

but i had questions.
what about homosexual thoughts?
what about the people who are nicer than the ones who “have Jesus”?
what about the horrible things people do in God’s name?
what about using bad words and liking alcohol?

i went to CIY’s (christ in youth conferences) and PASSION and church camp since i was a baby. but i was the girl who couldn’t wait for lunch and wanted the famous christian to stop talking or singing so i could just hang out with my friends. and during “quiet time” or “God time” we had each afternoon i would read celebrity magazines or do word finds or daydream about an awesome life for myself. i was not digging into God’s word because it was BORING SAUCE.

i liked people who were enough like me and i had no idea how to talk to anyone else.

we weren’t rich but we could afford new clothes every year for school and i made sure i made mom buy way more than she had originally told me i was allowed. and i made sure the brand label was LOUD across my shirts. so my peers knew i was something.

i didn’t care about people. i cared about myself.

i wanted good to happen to me and i thought that the bad things that happened to others was their own fault because they don’t love God. because if you love God he is good to you. and my definition of good was purely selfish. my definition of good was anything i wanted at that moment.

i was a good girl. i mostly stayed away from the parties and the sex with boys and the drugs because i was horribly afraid of what would happen to me if i did those things. it wasn’t because i was so close to God that i didn’t want to do anything that would separate me from him.

i’ve been hiding behind my good girl.
but i have a lot that wants to come out. i’m terribly fearful of letting it out.
a lot of it is my convictions over the years and the way i can’t pretend anymore with all the rest of the “good” ones. and if i don’t let it out then i’ll just slowly die inside and hate myself.

a lot of it is the way God has revealed himself to be different and far better than anything i’ve ever imagined or been taught. and only recently have i seen it in other humans. and it’s life-giving.

i get stuck in fear. and the perfect book arrived at my house the other day and here are some words that have brought me courage. i stayed up all night reading it. i can’t put it down. i love books that bring life.

“because i care so much about what you think, my hiding has everything to do with you. i desperately want to manage your opinion of me. nearly everything i do is to convince you i am good. if i sense any hint of disbelief on your part that that i am good, if it seems your opinion is other than what i wish it to be, it becomes my job to change your mind”

“i feel fear. it washes over met with its lies and half-truths. the lies aren’t blatant. they marry themselves with a little bit of truth so the distinction is blurry at best. and so i practice the presence of fear and refuse the presence of Jesus”

“fear drives.
but loves leads”

all great words from the amazing emily p. freeman

God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! he does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply gently within us. eph. 3:20 MSG

i don’t know where these confessions will lead me. but i promise to be upfront and honest with what my heart is dealing with and growing through. i appreciate the love and support i have here in this little online community.