The Communal Mask

The message we stress is that we’re all broken. But how much of that brokenness are we really willing to deal with? And what’s going to happen to it? Do we stay broken?

We tell people we’re having a bad day while keeping that fake smile on our faces. We’ll acknowledge that we’re not doing so hot, but no way are we going to lay out all that ugly on the table. We still have to LOOK OKAY. That’s my community right now. Not okay but trying to be okay. There have been hints of vulnerability and openness. And yet, I still feel the division. Like a bunch of old, cracked walls set up in the middle.

The mask is on. We love to portray this awesome place where broken people can come and find comfort. We have a lot of hang outs and events and climbing. We fill our Sundays with church friends and activities and we seem super tight knit. But take off the mask, and there is struggle and tension and sadness. We need healing and love from God and each other. More than just, “hey let’s meet up and spend some quality time”. I want us to be a place where there’s a lot of heart and care. A place where we don’t just TRY to point people back to God, but that we’re actually effective. That God is using us to really display his love and redemption. And it doesn’t have to be any super intentional “let me pray for you”, but that we’re able to display Christ just with our PRESENCE. I think about some of the people I encounter, and they don’t ever really have to say an encouragement or even try to have a deep conversation with me, but I can feel and see Christ there… in THEM and just from interacting with them. It’s like the love of God permeates through their being because they are soooooo intimate with God, even in their sin and struggle.

What does it really mean to “bear with one another’s burdens”? What does it really feel like to walk with one another? Do a meetup or two? Pray once or twice? Or do we actively seek to draw so close to God and care for these people in the way God calls us to, that just our presence means something?

Everyone is struggling with something messy and rough. And people can sense it and know it’s there. But it doesn’t feel like we’re really tackling it head on. We’re still hiding and covering ourselves, hoping that the bomb won’t drop directly on us. We’re tattered up and beaten. We’re crawling on our knees trying to make it just a little farther.

I keep thinking Jesus, can we do better than this? Don’t you give us the power to do better than crawl? Your spirit is in us, even in our worse state. In war, soldiers don’t give up without a fight. They stand if their leg hasn’t been blasted off. They’re wounded, but still, they run to their fallen comrades. They lift them up and carry their brothers. And they don’t shrink back and avoid the bloody fields. They run back into battle day after day and continue the fight.

Renew. Let’s not lie. I know, we’re holding up the best we can. But how do we do it together? We’re broken, but we don’t have to stay there. We can still move.

“let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter4:19)

 

 

Month 5

My day-to-day, my friends, my conversations, my relationship, my face; they seem so different. I’m different. How far I’ve come in the last 5 months… Let’s recap:

Occupation/Calling

It’s been a little over a month since I quit that full-time job after those panic attacks. I’m starting to wonder if it was a mistake. Mostly because I feel like a burden to my parents. But when I think hard about it, I know it wasn’t a mistake. Things would probably be worse if I had stayed there. Even though I’ve only started my Graduate School apps about 3 weeks ago, I feel like I’m not progressing fast enough. But I’m practically finished with them. Just one more letter of recommendation and paying the app fee and I’m good! Still, I don’t know how I’ll feel about the waiting game after that. Hoping for the best.

This season is a lot about trusting God about my calling and my finances. If there’s anybody that actually struggles with having too much time on their hands, that’s me. My friends think I’m ridiculous. Enjoy the freedom while you can – they say. And I think I do. Most of my days consist of climbing, cafes, and hikes with Bear (my husky), things that I was too tired to enjoy several months earlier. Lots to pray about but as long as I trust in God, I know he’ll give me direction.

Serving / Community

It’s been 5 months since I walked through the doors of Renew Church. What a turbulent half year of re-encountering God, fearing rejection, fighting cynism, building amazingly deep and edifying friendships, struggling to love hard to love people, and being so much more aware of the scars I inflict on myself and others.

ServiceI’m officially on Host Team! The entire month of April, I’ve been running around trying to learn how to set up stuff, trying to remember how to spell everyone’s name, and greeting every person that walks by me. It’s tiring and stressful, mostly because I’m stretching my extrovert muscle more than I have in a while. But I’m enjoying it. Finally serving in the church has been a blessing for the most part and I’m glad. I don’t know if this means that I’ve decided to make Renew MY church. I told myself I’d give it 6 months before I make my final decision. I love it there, but there’s still some doubt in my mind that I rather not get into here. Either way, I rather be serving God’s kingdom than not.

Growth. Ever since Maurice introduced me to A Praying Life, I’ve been talking more and more with God. It’s done wonders for my prayer life. I pray about everything. I thank him for everything. I still yell and scream like a dumb little child, throwing tantrums about stupid problems equivalent to not getting a cookie before dinner or dropping an ice cream cone before the first lick. But nonetheless, I’m lifting my life up. Every conversation I have with anybody, I pray. I pray to not say stupid things, to be encouraging, to be loving, to be truthful. I pray to leave people better than they were before the conversation. Okay… Maybe not EVERY conversation. I didn’t in a phone call I had last night… and now I’m thinking it probably would have gone better if I did pray…. But let’s not get into that. The damage is done and if anything, I think I’m more scarred by it than the other person is. I could be wrong. It’s not like I can read hearts.

Community. It’s a double-edged sword. They matter to me. A LOT… More than I thought they would. I love it and hate it. They bring me so much joy. I’ve been fed fat with these soul spurring conversations, crazy laughter, too many hangouts, and watching them live their God-given lives. I love getting to know them. I love being a part of their story. But, the closer I get, the higher the risks. Heartache . Fear . Scars . It’s undeniable that we feel more hurt from the people we love than by the random strangers that deal you insults, cut you off on the road, or hate you for no reason. It stings because we care. If cynic Kelley had it her way, she wouldn’t care for people. She wouldn’t love or want to be loved by her community. She would be perfectly content loving herself. But a Kelley that has her eyes and mind set on Christ could want nothing more than to have a sacrificial and unconditional love for her community… An infinite emotional capacity to care.

And it hurts so much…. It’s as if my senses are all heightened. Underneath the facade of fun, of friendship, of unity, I can see and feel the cracks of disunity. I find people worn out and burdened. I see people becoming passive about their issues with each other, holding onto pride, holding onto anger, holding onto anything but the truth. I feel the hurt that isn’t healing. I hear logic that is illogical. The discontent is brewing. The me that wants to be passive, that wants to hold onto my pride because I’m a little self-righteous, that doesn’t want to be the bigger person, wishes so badly that I was once again a cynic. It would be so much easier. Some have gotten a taste this salty beast and it’s not very pretty. People are hard. They are imperfect. Actually, worse than imperfect. They are sinners. I’m a sinner. God does a lot of good with us. But sin does a lot of bad too, and it’s usually a scarring kind of bad.

I want to leave as little scars as possible. Hurt as little as possible. But I find myself always failing, always discouraging, and always inflicting some kind of damage, intentional or not… Can I love my community and be humble enough to not hurt it?