Monday, March 15, 2010

When I'm just not feeling it.

There are few things harder than acting like a Christian when you don’t feel very Christian. Now, I am not for sure exactly what a real Christian is suppose to feel like, but I always imagined it was somewhere between cotton candy and bunny fur. And truthfully, I feel more like a porcupines and electric fence, sometimes.

I think many people would be surprised at how seldom I feel Christian. Usually I am so busy trying to act Christian that feeling anything other than frustration would be miraculous. I know there must someone out there who manages to feel Christian. I mean I have always assumed that those people at church who always greet you with a big smile and a “God bless you” must feel Christian, at least on Sunday mornings.

I just don’t know how this feeling of being occurs. I have tried, but so far nothing has really worked. I don’t know if just didn’t get the secret decoder ring, I missed that particular sermon, or no one hit me with the right amount of fairy dust. I have been prayed over, anointed, and once pastor tried to shove me to the floor – but I was between him and the doughnuts. I mean if someone were to ask me how I felt right now, I would have to say I am vaguely grumpy and rather gloomy. Definitely not feeling Christian.

We all know that true Christians, or at least mature Christians, don’t have bad days. They smile all the time. They know the answer to the world’s problems and they would rather be caught without their underwear than without the right Bible verse for the occasion. They have sparkling smiles, well mannered children, perfectly groomed spouses, and they breathe in peace and exhale joy. They look forward to their turn in the church nursery, and they can whip out a casserole for the church potluck faster than I can sneeze. And I know that they act this way because they can feel just how Christian they are. They charming, gracious, and we all try not to hate them. Or maybe that’s just me, because the more I am around these people the less Christian I feel.

You see, I have bad days and a messy house. My car is never clean and my kids fight. I have a hard time remembering my phone number, let alone chapter and verse for anything. I can’t cook and when my car breaks down I don’t respond with a “thank you, Jesus.” I can be mean, jealous, and petty. I love a good fight and will sometimes start an argument just to have one. Sometimes I enjoy scowling at the world and I am a bit of a snob. I have kicked my dog and yelled at God when things haven’t gone my way. I don’t always feel Christian, so I don’t always act Christian.

The good news is that being a Christian isn’t based on my feelings. It is even based on my performance. It is something that goes beyond what I get right and what I do wrong. Being a Christian is not found in someone else’s perception of who and what I should be, or what they think I should be doing. Being a Christian is the result of a relationship, one that affects how I behave and changes who I am, but I don’t always feel it like I think I should feel it.

Sure I want to do better, but not because it makes me any more or less Christian. I want to be better because I want to the world to see the how knowing God has changed me. I want to please him in my deeds and words, even my emotions, but I have to wonder if we have gotten confused about the process of being conformed to the image of Christ. If somewhere along the way we began to think that being holy meant that we denied our emotions and suppressed our quirks so that we could become conformed to our ideas about what a Christian should feel like.

You see, being a Christian doesn’t mean that my miraculous transformation short circuited my mind or desires. My transformation began when I understood that my mind and desires don’t always agree with where God would have me, and confronting me where I am, as who I am. It is me being honest enough to say I have a bad days and I don’t feel like loving my enemies or even my friends all the time. It is me being willing to go to him when I am grumpy and asking for help, wrestling through the gloom with him, and not hiding from him until I feel right. Because the truth is on my own I will never get it right, I will never be good enough to feel Christian how I think a Christian should feel all the time.

I might be able to fake it on Sunday mornings. I might even hold it together for a Sunday night service, but by Wednesday afternoon, forget it. I am right back into the mess of me. Beaten up, cast down, and overwhelmed by all the things I do that don’t measure up to whom I think a Christian should be, and all my feelings say I will never make it, that I should just give up.

So if you are like me. If you ever have a bad day and wonder why you even try when you know all you are going to do is fail, take heart. You are not alone. We all have those days, and we all feel like we are failing sometimes. The question is what you do with those feelings? Do you let them dictate who you are? Or can you let your heart find hope and strength in God says you are? Because he loves us, even on grumpy days, sad days, and days we totally mess up.

1 comment:

Debra (Warren)Ellis said...

It is nice to hear that you are human. The good thing is we are all forgiven and loved beyond anything we could ever imagine.