Having a strong belief in the fundamental truth of God’s Word means I have an equally strong desire to be accepted by other believers. Due to my “interesting” life, I’m very, very sensitive to rejection (big surprise there) and so I’ve spent years trying to fit in.
At the same time, I’m not willing to be someone I’m not. But I want very much to be the person God sees me as:
For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (KJV)
In the original Greek of Hebrews 10:14, “perfected” has the sense of “completed, consummated, matured.” When I accepted the salvation given by the sacrifice of Christ, I was transformed.
But I wasn’t cloned.
In all the churches I’ve attended, I’ve only achieved a moderate level of acceptance, and ONLY when I’ve imitated the mold. Some churches are more conservative than others, but none have ever truly taken me “just as I am” even when that’s their favorite song to sing at the altar call. It just seems like no matter what I do, as long as I don’t fit the mold, I’m always going to be excluded, more or less.
So what keeps me outside the mold?
- I have major depression and take antidepressants (when I can afford to).
- I’ve had a history of suicide attempts.
- My arm is scarred from repeated self-harm.
- I’m divorced.
- I very, very firmly do not ever want to have children.
- I have had two abortions in the past.
- I’ve had sex outside of marriage, even after my salvation.
- I have previously had same-sex attractions and relations.
- I’ve taken my clothes off for money (waaaaaay back when I was a voluptuous size four).
- I refuse (after years of trying very sincerely) to discuss evolution, creation, or the age of the Earth.
- I’m pro-vaccination and herd immunity, though I prefer not to discuss this topic as well.
- I enjoy works of fiction that feature violence and other sinful behaviors, including:
- Horror and thriller movies
- Violent video games
- Media containing supernatural and fantasy creatures, such as vampires, zombies, monsters, demons, magic, and ghosts
- TV shows and cartoons with adult themes
- My musical taste is extremely broad, to include not only Christian artists but selections from rock, hip-hop, country, classical, oldies, and various niche genres that are not focused on the Lord.
- I play Dungeons & Dragons.
- I spend hours and hours every day on the Internet, without limiting myself to Christian sites.
- While I try to avoid profanities, they sometimes still escape my lips.
- I don’t bother with makeup except for exceptional occasions like job interviews and first dates, and even then it’s so minimal as to be unnoticeable.
- Pants. 99.999% of the time.
- I sometimes express myself a little “too” bluntly.
- I have living blood relatives but do not speak to them.
- While I believe I have a firm understanding of my place as a woman in God’s church based on the Bible, my demeanor is not what most would call “meek.”
Some of those things are unquestionably sins (and, lest we forget, I’ve been forgiven). Some of them, well…I’m not so sure. A lot of them are just straight-up preferences and nothing more, but they somehow fall afoul of other Christians’ expectations.
Like I said, I’ve had an “interesting” life. But you know what? Here are some things I’ve NEVER done, or used to do but haven’t done since I’ve been born again:
- I’ve never been arrested. Ever. In any jurisdiction. Anywhere.
- I have never smoked or even tried a cigarette. Or vaped. Not even once.
- I’ve never used illegal drugs. Really. Not ever. No Mary Jane, no nose candy, no nothing.
- I haven’t touched an alcoholic beverage since 2006.
- I haven’t self-harmed since 2004.
- Despite my occasional language hurdles, I have become very strong and secure at not taking the Lord’s name in vain.
All of the bad things I’ve done in my life are part of my testimony now. It’s no longer a rap sheet.
It’s a list of what Christ has saved me from.
Every single born-again Christian has one, even the people who’ve been sheltered and pampered and coddled their entire lives: A litany of sins from which they’ve been set free. Other people’s lists may not be as colorful as mine, but they still exist: Lying. Disrespectfulness. Hateful thoughts. Lust, prejudice, arrogance, overeating, pride.
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (KJV)
James 2:10 reminds us, like so many other verses, that we have ALL fallen short of God’s high standards.
So why’s it so hard to accept someone who doesn’t match the mold?
I have known people who smoke, who are married to non-believers, who openly make sexist jokes, who curse and drink and skip church during sports events and do all sorts of other “unacceptable” things, who are allowed to serve in their local church, who have leadership positions and hold Bible study classes and somehow fit right in with all the Good Little Christians.
Why not me? Why is my checkered past and my rough-around-the-edges present not enough?