This post brought to you by my friend Sarah Salter, her blog: Living Between The Lines offers me a fresh perspective from those who are outside my normal sphere. While I know you’re used to witty repartee and random musings of my travels, life, or feelings. I asked her to post something that she would like to share with the world. What she returned to me is something which is telling, truthful, honest and something I honestly struggle with. Often, when we’re feeling attacked, especially by those who we generalize as “Christian,” we run dutifully to Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” We forget that judgement comes in many forms, sometimes as “help.” This help can be sometimes more hurtful than if someone was attacking us. When someone attacks us, we can easily discredit it as someone being a “hater,” not worthy of our time and effort. When that “help/hurt” comes from someone we respect, like or know, the hurt cuts deeper. Something to think about as you choose your words, even to those who we know, like and trust.
At any rate, I’m pleased to bring you this guest post from my very dear friend. Thank you for reading, welcoming her, and sharing your comment love. – Schnik
When I got hired by the online magazine that I used to write for, the first thing they asked for was a bio.
“We just want four or five sentences to tell your readers who you are.”
Yeah, right. I’m a complex creature. How am I supposed to fit all that I am into four or five sentences? But somehow, I distilled my entire self into a handful of sentences that made me sound as stale as Ritz crackers left open too long.
Then, I joined Twitter. And what do they want but a compact bio. Only this time, I had to say it in 160 characters.
I’ve been thinking seriously about rewriting my bio. And out of everything it could say, what I really want it to convey is that I’m normal. I don’t think my current profile conveys that point. As a friend recently told me, “If I’d read your profile first, I’d never have followed you.”
“Then why did you follow me?”
“Because so many of my friends do.”
So, what’s so “abnormal” about my profile?
It says I’m a Christian.
I’m a weirdo. Not long after I joined Twitter, I began reaching out to meet my tweeps in person. And what I found was that some of them were hesitant and anxious about meeting me. Many of my unchurched tweeps had seen my profile. Just knowing that I’m a Christian makes me fearsome to them because what if I’m as judgmental as most of the other Christians they know?
I never changed my profile. I just hoped that my actions would show folks that I’m not a fearsome, judgmental, “hater.” And overwhelmingly, my conversations with my unchurched tweeps tell me that they’ve come to realize this. They accept me for who I am.
I’m still thinking of changing my profile. Why?
When I was a kid and I’d do something wrong, one of the common responses that I’d get from my parents or church members was, “How could you do/say/think that? I thought you were a Christian!” Like my Christianity made me somehow less human. Like it made my emotions less valid. Like it took away my right to be flawed. Yet, I guess I thought that one day, like my brother’s hand-me-down jeans, I’d outgrow the expectations. And if I didn’t outgrow them, at least I’d become good enough to meet them.
I’m thirty-three years old and I haven’t outgrown this expectation of perfection. I also haven’t become good enough to meet it.
In my daily life, it translates into being expected never to have a bad day or never to have disagreements with people. It means that I weigh every word that I say, just in case it will reflect badly on God or The Church. It means that when I’m depressed, I fake being happy so that my sadness doesn’t make God seem less than good. When I’m angry or hurt, I stuff it down because Christians are peacemakers and selfless, right? And last summer when I woke up one day wondering if I had enough pills in the house to kill myself, it almost kept me from asking for help, because “good Christians” aren’t this screwed up.
I’m still thinking about changing my Twitter profile. It has become a “brand” across my avatar just as clear and brazen as you would see on the flanks of a bull. “CHRISTIAN.” And it carries that expectation of perfection that has weighted down every other aspect of my life. And with that expectation, it’s brought plenty of judgment in the forms of emails, text messages, and even phone calls from people who don’t think I’m a good enough Christian to have “Christian” as a part of my profile. (Incidentally, I’m pretty sure that God doesn’t have a problem with it. It’s people that have a problem with it.)
I’m a Christian and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m not perfect and I readily admit it. But maybe for a little while, I could just be looked at as “normal” instead of needing to be perfect. I could just be Sarah instead of being The Church Lady. I could be accepted instead of demanded from. And instead of performing, I could just be.