Although, I live my life with a certain amount of censor and regulation-by choice– I am often filled with a tad bit of guilt and feelings of failure. The world of Christianity is perplexed and at times very contradictory. You have your devout Catholics with your devout Mormons with a mix of devout Evangelicals and someone in that group-no matter how devout- is doing it all wrong.
I have a wide range of close friends who are a mixture of religions and cultures. Very rarely do I talk about confusing doctrine to a non-member of my church nor would they voice their questions upon me about theirs. Yet, what we do have in common: our love for Jesus (and if not Jesus, our love for God or with my atheist, Buddhist and other religious friends our love for Grey’s Anatomy) we find a common thread in that we all experience some sort of guilt in our daily lives. Religious or not.
With my devout friends who are very religious, I am cautious to the point it feels as if I’m being fake. A few years ago, long before I joined the Mormon Church, I went to the movies with a few friends who were of another Protestant faith. I had chosen the movie and was excited to see this comedy that at the time was a huge hit.
About forty or so minutes into the movie in which I’m choking on popcorn because I’m laughing so hard, I feel a nudge on my elbow. “We’re leaving,” one of the ladies whisper. Thinking something was wrong, I followed them out. I learned that the reason for them leaving wasn’t because the elastic went out in their pantyhose BUT the movie was bad enough to make Baby Jesus cry. (I’m not being funny here, that’s what she said to me: “Bad enough to make even Baby Jesus cry.”)
I had been so diligent in my research of movies! It was PG-13 with no sex scenes, no violence and no blasphemous dialogue.
Where did I go wrong?
And so I ask, “What was wrong with the movie? I don’t get it.”
To which she replied, “Are you kidding!!! It was the use of the F word! We hear it one time, we’re out.”
Was I so worldly that I didn’t even notice that the actors even used the F word?
I get it from the other side too. I have my laid-back Jesus is great for funeral friends…and when I joined the Mormon Church I got an ear full of lectures and screams. ‘WHAT? NO COFFEE? NO BEER?!”
It’s always with the no coffee and no beer with these people.
If I casually mention seeing a movie with a particular group of friends, they become indignant as if they’re the Spiritual Police and scold me. “Aren’t you Mormon? No R rated movies for you.”
There are times in this life in which I do not feel as if I fit in anywhere. My Mormon friends are mostly lifers and I have yet to befriend a convert like myself. My husband isn’t a member of the church either and with the exception of my oldest daughter, I’m the only member of the church in my entire family.
Yeah, there’s pressure. On both sides.
For instance, my husband is constantly scolding me about my need for a filter. Once I was telling him a story in which the word “freaking” was used. Okay, so no…it wasn’t exactly G-rated verbiage, but certainly not R rated either. My husband looks at me and says, “What would your Bishop say if he heard you saying ‘freaking this’ and ‘freaking that’. You think he’d approve?”
Earlier today, I had a conversation with a friend who said she couldn’t comment on one of my articles because of a particular word I used. Whilst she admitted that it wasn’t that big of a deal, it was big enough for her not to comment if by chance one of the teenagers she taught saw her name by it. “I can’t let them think that that’s okay.” The article in question wasn’t (and still isn’t) anything for me to be embarrassed by or ashamed. However, being that I am who I am, I did begin to feel guilty. But not for the article itself (it was an awesome piece) but more for not feeling guilty to begin with.
What is wrong with me?
So there I am feeling judged by someone who is more Christ-like than me…AGAIN.
This whole Christian thing? Yeah, I suck at it.
As I do with feelings of doubt and pity, I took it to my Heavenly Father. As I was praying there was a word that kept popping in my head over and over again. The word: ‘Discernment.’
Spiritual discernment is calling on the Holy Spirit to lead or give direction on a matter.
I open up my scriptures and stumble on this verse in the Bible:
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. ~ 1 Cor. 2:14
I pray. I cry. I pray a little more and feelings of blessings sweep over me. I am not a failure as a Christian. I am just me. A human being with all the complexities and contradictions all other humans have that make them who they are.
I am ME.
God’s Child. Imperfect, but loved just the same.
I realize in my life as long as I use discernment and rely on my own conscience, I can only keep doing the best I can. The lessons I have gained from my faith are a thousandfold and I must keep them to the forefront of my mind and heart. I must accept that the ones judging me or more importantly my feelings of being judged are irreverent when it comes to my walk with Christ. With that being said, this doesn’t give me free reign not to use a filter once in a while. I do not want to be the cause of anyone stumbling in their faith.
Learning to depend on God and to trust in Him is a daily lesson. In my most solitude moments in which I feel desolation, I feel His amazing power as He fills my heart to the fullest…and I know He’s real. I know He loves me. He reveals Himself to me at those times in which I’m filled with doubt and insecurity.
I’m not perfect. (SHOCKER.) I will fall a lot more in this life, but everyday I will reaffirm my faith.
My walk with Christ? It’s pretty freaking awesome.