Monday, August 3, 2009
Looking back on the years since we first began our detox from Wac-World, I think of how far we've come, how much burden and unnecessary expectation we've shed! Yet I still marvel when our eyes open to the existing layer that is about to come off.
Since it's an individual journey, each of us going at our own pace, the lights go on for us at differing times about various subjects. Today I had yet another epiphany about staying clear of being sucked back into Christian Culture. This leg of it has been a long-time coming, because I think from the beginning I was under the impression that my desire to be part of church in some way would return. It's caused me a little angst from time to time, when I've given it thought, because I wasn't seeing any signs that the Lord was leading me in that direction. Some folks say that getting involved is what brings desire or healing or whatever. But that isn't what the Lord has been asking me to do, so I'm not.
So the epiphany is that I'm finally really free to let go of any unecessary angst caused by my choosing not to donate any time or money to the church in any way. I've revelled in not needing the Christian Culture in my life since I've left the Vortex Church, but now I'm free from the subtle (and not-so-subtle) voice of the Church asking for help. It's just not my assignment and I can rest knowing that God isn't asking so I can shut that heartfelt plea from the pulpits, unless, of course, the Holy Spirit nudges me in that direction.
I'm not so proud to think I don't need other brothers and sisters who love Jesus in my life. It's just become vital that their orbit is somewhat similar to mine in order to be uplifted and to uplift. But for the most part I am no longer active in a church and don't plan to begin any time soon. I do go to church on the weekend unless I can't. But even at the Good Church, the undercurrent the culture is there so I try to avoid the clash that happens when I run into it. (My detox cronies and I share stories of all the close calls we've encountered each week - there's always SOMETHING! ) One thing is certain, it continues to go on without me, it hasn't really missed me and doesn't need me in order to continue. I am not a missing limb or finger. I am not grieving the Holy Spirit by not giving my time to something I'm not assigned to. I am free to orbit Jesus, the Son, in the way he's designed me to orbit and that means outside the 4 walls of the churches in my town.
I guess I had been waiting, in the back of my mind, to want to get involved in some miniscule way when my detoxing stage comes to a close. But that's just not going to happen. All along I've had the thought that I needed to get better then my desire would change. But now that I am no longer as sick, tell me why I would want to return to the activity that made me sick in the first place? This stage in my recovery demands that I pace myself to stay sane and healthy so I'm free to pursue the one thing I do know I'm supposed to work on and that's my music.
In my case, being a musician, the doors have continued to open outside the church. My music isn't highly favored in the christian community anyway, although there are some christians that do like it. Oh, and speaking of, let me underline an undeniable factor here: If you don't play worship music most christians aren't really interested. No news there, I've known that for a long time, have suffered through requests at gigs for worship songs, and even had someone ask me if her friend could play a set of worship tunes (at a non-church venue) so their group could worship. I mean, isn't that what your church is for? Why does everything have to be turned into a church worship service? It was an audacious request and made me roll my eyes, but it really pissed the venue owner off when he found out the group had even asked that. He said "What the Hell?! I hired you to play tonight not some church girl." Well, that's his language and I totally understood his sentiment. Just another way for him to see what weirdos exist in churches these days--and, unfortunately, he associates that weirdness with Jesus, who isn't like that at all. I admit, that little religious group slimed me big time, made me feel like dirt, like I wasn't doing enough for God and all that. Actually, it felt like an attack from the devil. But later the Spirit reminded me "he who has an ear, let him hear" and in so many words reassured me that the little religious group just didn't have the ear to hear what I had to give that night.
Don't get me wrong, I got over it and yes, I've forgiven the WooWoo Sisters. I've had worse things happen gigging around town. Since I'm on the subject, one time I was quickly unloading my gear outside a downtown venue where buses usually pick folks up. This maniac guy charges over to me and starts yelling in my face (he obviously had a mental disorder) -- and this was right before I had to play for 3 hours for the local Gallery Walk. The bus driver came over and kindly smoothed manic guy's ruffled feathers pointing out that I had my flashers on and was only unloading and that I was planning to then leave and park my car. Anyway, that was disconcerting, but I got through it. I prayed for peace while I was setting up and God graciously gave it to me. Another time I played outside at a venue where local drumming was going on a few doors down so people really couldn't hear my music. I silently conferred with Jesus and the drummers eventually moved down the street so I got through that too and got paid that night. All this to say, I'm accustomed to weird stuff happening from time to time - you have to be ready for anything and roll with the punches. So the slime from the Christian sisters who wanted to worship didn't do me in, but it was part of my turning point in realizing that Christian Culture has truly taken on a life of its own with an undeniable demand that everyone look and act and sound the same to be acceptable.
Speaking of acceptable, you know that scripture that says that we are accepted in the beloved? I always thought that to mean that we can find acceptance in the church, when in reality the Beloved is Jesus, not his church. There can be acceptance in different church groups, but to expect it only leads to disappointment. What we CAN expect is that we really aren't accepted unless we echo the flavors of the particular church we are in.
This is the clarity that came to me today: I am totally on the right track of where I need to be right now. I listen to the Holy Spirit and sense his direction for my life and he freely lets me know the next step when I need to know it. Christian Culture, a treadmill I hopped off of a few years ago, which was again by his leading, will continue to spin endlessly without me! People in churches don't care I'm not there to join them, although it may rankle whoever is working so hard in the latest program. And that's only because there are those of us who have other things to do with our time so they aren't going to get the help they need. They certainly don't care about those of us who aren't signing up on their lists. I have a hunch if they knew what I was thinking, they'd agree I should just keep my distance ;-)
So now just to remember that those of us not stuck in churches have been given assignments that are just as vital to the Kingdom of God as those who are in the churches doing what God's given them to do. Those who are feeding and clothing the poor, more power to them. I can donate food to the food bank and my clothes to the thrift store but that's about as giving as I'm going to be able to be. Personally, I've got music to play and people to meet that would never hear me and talk with me if I was stuck in the church.
That's my path, and yours is just as unique and vital. I'd be interested to hear what path God has given you to walk (or fly) down (or up)! I'd love to share your story with my other detoxing orbiters! We are hungry to hear what He's up to in the lives of those who are bravely flying beyond the status quo! Whatever your story is, I hope you are free to follow your heart and the voice of the HS. If you find you arent' fitting in to Christian Culture (or is that Xtian Couture?), don't despair, it's actually a good thing!