September 6, 2012

Are you a Carbon Copy?

Running today I was watching for my bubblegum pink lady. She was not out on my first time by her house, but on my route back I looked again. I found her sitting under the carport with her walker and a huge white alligator skin purse. “Good afternoon,” I yelled waving to her from the street. It made me smile real big doing so.

Behind this 5’3” frame is someone who was afraid to be fully me. That will surprise a lot of people, I know. I was speaking with a dear friend the other day about how I am trying to raise the girls to not believe or be what I believe or am simply because I believe it, but to discover their own beliefs and self.

I grew up in a wonderful home going to church, participating in youth group, great at school, sociable, and went to a Christian college.

The problem is I never explored why I believed what I believed during this time. I followed what was taught by my parents or youth leaders. I knew all the right answers and still made tons of bad choices, but I did not have ownership of my faith.

I remember clearly in college that there was a woman coming to speak at chapel. We were required to attend chapel at least twice a week. I at first was appalled that a woman was speaking at our Christian college. Clearly this was biblically wrong, but I did something I normally didn’t and started to question that. So I attended the service and ended up loving her.

This led me to start to read and research on this topic.Since that point I have taken time to research and read on many other topics so that I began to understand what I believe and why.

For years I sat every time the door was open in a church pew. There were some great pastors I learned from, both good and bad lessons. I still love the traditions of a church service and singing the good old hymns, although I am not in attendance every Sunday.

And now I often go to Tybee Church which is held in a bar, although no alcohol is served. It is a collection of people who have felt shunned or have left the traditional church, but find Jesus is this tiny little corner down in the south. Some of the holiest people I know I have met there.

I am greeted every time I go with hugs and kisses and true honest “It is great to see you.” Echoing Don Miller’s sentiment on meeting people outside church, “Because I grew up in the safe cocoon of big-Christianity, I came to believe anything outside the (traditional) church was filled with darkness and unlove. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined there were, outside the church, people so purely lovely as the ones I met here.”

I am letting go every day of the “what would others think” insecurities that I carried around for so long. I am choosing to share what I have been through, where I am, and my joys and struggles because when I do others seem to resonate with me or be inspired.

I still struggle with worrying about what others would think if I……. but really it is between me and God. I am not designed to be just another, when I can be the wonderfully quirky compassionate me that I know was gifted to me.

Too many of us hide behind ourselves. We hold true to a faith that is not our own. We want our children to be just like us. Stop and take a look at yourself. Begin to peel back the layers of what the world or your past has hidden. Take time each day to look for yourself. In the choices you make, the things you say, the activities in which you invest your time.

For a long time there were parts of me that I hid for various reasons. I did not spend time looking for me until I realized that I was becoming a carbon copy of someone else. Like the bubblegum pink lady today, I found myself because I was looking and I smiled real big in doing so.

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