Authenticity; be careful what you pray for. The Cambridge English dictionary defines authentic as
“the quality of being real or true.”
I’d heard a call to write everyday stories highlighting the intersection of Life and Faith. I thought I understood what such a call meant.
Be careful what you pray for…
There is that insistent, gentle urging, a quiet pressing upon one’s spirit that could not be ignored. A beautiful image, but I am NO such gentle girl. While capable of great gentleness, I am inclined toward big, bold, and brash. I desire quiet. I occasionally exude a mantle of peaceful joy, but alas, me and mine dance mostly to a different rhythm.
We are the Spiritual Gangsters
Captioning my faith calling and the way I felt God shaping my voice, this notion stunned me like a shot to the head. Remembering the account of Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate where He was indicted for inciting riot, destabilizing the economy and attempting to overthrow the Roman government reminded me that Jesus was a Revolutionary.
“Jesus is one of the biggest agitators that ever lived…The only time Jesus was in the temple was when He’s flipping stuff over and stirring things up.”
declares Christian Activist Bree Newsome (and others like her who inspire me to braver action).
So much for gentle.
It was time for me to be a little more like THAT Jesus. A rapidly changing world jeopardized both my Peace and the lives of people who were, or could be me and mine. God defied my notion of the lovely little dream I believed He’d set aside for me. It became clear that my Faith was wedded to Social Justice, and my pretty little writing dreams threatened to become my waking nightmare.
God overtook my pretty little dreams.
I was trying, but only in part…like seeing through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12-13). In order to see more clearly, I prayed for Holy boldness to be brave, to risk offending, to bare my soul and my pain. My manageable, mostly inoffensive dream to write pretty stories stretched and cracked at the seams. I experienced that moment when your authentic self insists upon making itself known and there is nothing you can do about it. It overtakes you, becoming something from which you cannot escape. I felt violated. I felt cheated. I wanted to write about the Goodness of God, but in order to be my authentic self, I couldn’t remain quiet.
I could not hold my peace.
The world kept assaulting it. First, it was a series of police-involved shootings of African-American men and boys, like my husband, my brother, my son. My world wasn’t quiet, and neither could I be. I no longer felt safe in my own country… and then there was the moment I couldn’t even feel safe in worship.
A preacher’s kid (PK), I grew up in a church like Mother Emmanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina. I could easily have been a victim like the nine souls carried into the Arms of Grace by a madman, who entered a church “to shoot black people.”
I thought I’d had enough worrying about my husband, son, brother, nephews, cousins, etc., all the men I love desperately, bravely living while Black in America where it seems we are constantly reminded we do not belong, we are not worthy, we do not have a valid stake. Then I realized that Sandra Bland could have been me.
Be careful what you pray for…
And then this year, the OneWord that chose me was Sanctify. I was created to be a Holy BadAss.
“According to one definition, the generic meaning of sanctification is “the state of proper functioning.” God stripped every distraction away from me in order to align me as intended.”
Too much keeps happening in the world, affecting me personally, affecting us collectively to remain silent and content to play small any longer. My pretty little voice isn’t all God planted within me. The good work begun in me outgrew my safe place.
I simply trust God. It’s not a waking nightmare. It is what Jennie Allen in Restless calls…
A holy God-given passion burning in my soul.
My voice, and my Faith (in order to be sufficiently brave) continue to grow. Why? Because we cannot control God’s Will for our lives. Safe is not where God planted me to bloom. I can no longer hold my peace. I am a woman on fire for the Gospel and for me,
Social Justice IS Spiritual Warfare.
I am a Spiritual Gangster. I’m getting in and staying in the fight, agitating like Jesus. Living out the dream God placed in me. God’s Dream, not mine. Because God’s Plans are always better.
Be careful what you dream for…you just might get it.
I am a very serious person, so I laugh a lot. I write because it helps me understand the way I feel about the world. I married my high school sweetheart, and together we made two exceptional people and raised a dog so remarkable, I wrote a book about the faith lessons he taught me. I envision a world where each of us embraces the Perfect, Precise Image of God that we are, naturally, at every given moment, even as each of us exists in a liminal state.