The other day I was thinking about people. Specifically, what does it look like when people change……It got me to thinking about beating people. Like when you have play dough and you are squishing it, smooshing it, shaping it, forming it…….all into what you want it to be.
I am in the helping profession. And sometimes I wonder how does this helping thing really work?
I instantly had a thought of a big ball of clay and there were people all around this big ball of clay and everyone is just pounding on this big ball of clay. One person is kicking it on one side while the other is punching it on the other side while someone is on top of it jumping aggressively up and down…..and then someone else is carving out other parts of the clay. All of us into what we want it to be. We all have pictures in our minds of what we want that ball of clay to look like. And this poor ball of clay. Being shaped by our agenda and our desires of what a perfect ball of clay looks like.
Yikes. Poor, poor ball of clay.
For some reason this makes me think of when I went to church. When I first started going I was this ball of clay I suppose and I allowed others to mold me and shape me into what they thought a perfect ball of clay is to look like. And at first I really enjoyed it. After going to the same church for almost three years I finally felt included! I was in. IN. I was a part of Bible Studies, Life Groups, Mission Trips; I knew people. I KNEW people. And not just any people but leaders in the church. I felt like a perfect ball of clay. I was in the IN clique at church. And it felt good because for so long I was on the outside looking in wanting that.
Everything about church came to a stop for me shortly after marriage. The people I was in with started to feel false to me. Like everything was some sort of elaborate plan and it really had nothing to do with me. There were lots of surface conversations when all I really wanted was to go deep. Dark web deep. About the hurt in life. About my doubts. And why everyone surely believes that their way of thinking was the RIGHT way. I remember a couple friends had reached out to me after thinking I was going down the wrong path because I really enjoyed fitness. I had a great mentor that they believed didn’t follow God. I guess they were concerned. I remember thinking in a conversation I had with one of them that, I don’t need to be saved. I am saved. The end.
I started to feel alone in church. Going to church was no longer fun for me. I wanted to DO things. Not talk about things. I didn’t need to hear anymore sermons about whom I was supposed to be and who I wasn’t supposed to be…..every sermon started to blend in.
Church is for sinners…..and the broken…..and the sick. It is for those who need help and feel alone. Once we walk into church we should no longer feel alone and helpless. Yet, it is more like when someone sins or admits their sin, everyone stands horrified and gasps. Who helps? Who comes to your rescue? Not to beat you with scripture but just to be there. “Why is church more like a country club with cliques and Barbie and Ken smiles….and AA meetings are MORE like a church?” Our struggles and sharing them with others should be accepted…..but mostly I felt like every time I walked into a church I had to put on my game face, be polite, smile and say, “I’m good!” Because when I say I’m not good, Lord knows there will be a mad rush for the woman over there in the purple jacket with brown curly hair. “She needs some praying! She needs a Bible! She needs to talk to the Preacher man! She needs to be redeemed! She needs to be told her sins are wrong! She needs more molding!”
Authenticity is pure gold for me. When I tell my “Christian” friends that marriage is hard, hearing from them, “No. Your marriage is hard,” doesn’t help me. It lessons me. It shrinks me. But I suppose they are right. Yes. Only my marriage is hard.
Back to Lonely-Ville.
Being comfortable with uncomfortable is what I am looking for. I am searching for a place where vulnerability meets acceptance. Where it is safe to talk about the brokenness many of us feel. The doubts many of us have. The helplessness many of us can’t get over. A place where risk-taking is welcomed and the beautiful white picket fence we think we see is really chipped. And it is okay! Where people don’t point out the flaws but instead, accept them. Where people come along side and start a conversation that has nothing to do with the chipped white picket fence and wait till that person mentions it…..even if it takes some time. I’m not looking for someone who comes over to my chipped white picket fence and says, “Wow! You need some help with that. I’ve got a great white picket fence. Let me show you how it’s done.”
I’m just not. And I dare to say neither are the people I work with.
Authenticity, vulnerability, and acceptance. Conversations over a long run or cup of coffee. Let’s smoke some cigarettes and grab a drink or two and talk about our deepest desires and the struggles we are facing. Let’s talk about what makes us feel broken and afraid and helpless. Let’s talk about what makes us come alive and be encouraged by others in our silly dreams. Yeah. Let’s do more of that.
And how about let’s do less of calling people in when they are drowning in their brokenness to discuss their flaws and at the same time point out our perfections. Let’s do less of gasping when someone has messed up and “I knew it’s!” Less of gossiping about other’s downfalls and pretending we care or feel called by God to help. Less molding the balls of clay into what we want them to be and more acceptance to allow them to mold themselves into who they want to be. Who they were meant to be.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the church. At the same time it has destroyed people’s faith, it has also saved hundreds of people from brokenness here on earth. And at the same time that those of us who work in the helping profession have come in to destroy people’s lives, we also have saved hundreds of people’s lives.
I guess I’m rooting for all the balls of clay to be accepted just as they are with no one beating on them to make them into the ball of clay they want them to be. All the balls are pretty people. All of them.
“Good writing succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head.” ~Malcolm Gladwell