A Lesson in Grace

Everyone needs it.

For the last few years since I was in the hall where the shooter killed the two young girls at New Life Church, I have had somewhat of a chip on my shoulder, a grudge, if you will. That day, I went to church without my kids or husband. Kids were sick. My SUV was parked at the very last parking spot right in front of the doors where the shooter came in. So as you could imagine, I was headed down that corridor and to those doors to go home after church ended.

shooter marksI just happened to see my old friend of 10 years, Laura and stopped at the TAG Chapel doors to say hello. Within 30 seconds of stopping, a really loud clap sound echoed down the hall. I didn’t know what it was, I’m a country chick..but the next thing I knew, more sounds came through the hall and a hospitality personnel shoved us all into the TAG Chapel. Shots were fired and hit only 5 feet from where I was standing in the hall. It was about 10 or so of us in the TAG Chapel, hiding. Adrenaline pumped through everyone’s veins.

new life church parking lotThen, he ushered us out the back doors. We all looked for ways to escape the parking lot until finally the SWAT team showed up and shoved us all into the basement media room at the World Prayer Center. We were there for 5 hours smashed against each other, waiting.

Things transpired that afternoon that made me realize how unimportant little me was to some of the leaders in that organization. That year was tough and I walked away from God for about half a year. Had to really ask some tough questions. Was God real? Have I been deceived all my life that there is a loving God that cares about little me? It was a loooong walk. But I realized that leaders are people just like the rest of us, they make mistakes. They were just thinking of the safety of their families..

That feeling of abandonment by my respected leaders caused bitterness to rise up in me that festered for several years. Just last year..did I finally come to terms with that bitterness.

My beloved friend and Pastor, Ted Haggard fell from Grace. But it was just that..a huge fall. But was his “huge” fall so necessary? Why was he cast out..why did he have to leave? He’s a brother right? Would you excommunicate your blood relatives for such a sin..Sin is sin, right? Only society puts value on the sin to justify their own, right? If I tell a white lie, does God put levels on sin? The answer is no..I guess you better excommunicate me too..then.

This past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to rub elbows a bit with a lesbian couple. A rather charming couple at that. And their baby girl is so incredibly adorable. But being raised in such a hypocritical and legalistic culture of Christianity, immediately biases took over my head. I struggled with how to communicate with them without the bias showing. Which, by the way, I totally failed. I truly didn’t know how to interact with them. One of my best friends in High School was gay. An amazing singer and song writer. He was saved, but struggled with some stuff from his family being torn apart by crime. He is still thought of as my brother and I love him dearly to this day..But I would not associate with them publicly..yah, I know, that was stupid. Right? Why? Cause I was taught that.

But see, here is the thing about all these little tid bits of stories from my past..they all lack grace. Last Sunday, I was just torn to bits about where I was emotionally. I was having renal issues and my heart was giving me trouble. I was miserable, swollen feet, headaches, the whole nine yards. And the tears just started coming and would not stop(seems the side effect of going to St. James lately) I want to be free of my emotional cage. Then I spotted a book next to the back door of the church entitled “Why We Eat Our Own” by Michael Cheshire. That was a way intriguing title.

why we eat our ownThe cover had a dinner plate with a Holy Spirit Fish symbol on it being cut and eaten with a fork and knife. Very symbolic of the title. Now you have to understand..I would not be in that place..in the back of the congregation..had I not: been in the hall with the shooter years ago, not held the grudge and bitterness, not met the lesbian couple, not had a friend who was gay..not been a part of Ted’s flock when he fell, not been miserable with physical and emotional baggage from my past. etc… All those experiences seemed to add up to that moment to put me in that seat. See, God doesn’t ever do anything without a specific purpose. Our steps are destined. Each and every one.

Now, you have to understand, I usually stand at the FRONT of the congregation, singing my best and hardest in total worship to God. I Don’t ever pick up a book and read half of it EVER in one day. As a kid, I struggled with ADD and have comprehension issues.

Sunday night I read just the forward and got immediately hooked. Just the forward! Monday, I read half the book and am still enthralled with it. And I’m gonna read it again.

What is it about? It’s about how Christ followers have created God in their own image. Yah, you read that right. See, Christ followers have focused way to long on the religion and not on the love we are supposed to reflect. If your sin is “bad enough”, you get kicked to the curb, sliced up, chewed up and spit out. I know, I have felt it too.. You see, I wear wings. Fairy/butterfly costume wings. Crazy huh! Did I mention I blow 40 foot bubbles? As a profession?

glitter tatoos for kids

Glitter tattoos for a special Birthday party last week.

I’m a Children’s entertainer part time, and I dress up as a fairytale creature wearing wings. Some call me a butterfly princess, some call me a fairy. Depends upon who you are and how you were raised. Either way, my christian friends and some of my own family, flesh and blood, have told me I’ve lost my way and I need to repent..or they shun me all together. People are afraid of what they don’t understand.

I still love God with all my heart mind and soul. I still read His word, I listen to His voice and I go where He leads..but all other Christians see is the cover..they don’t see the hurting people that I love on every day.

This last year, I got all caught up by what the “Christian” crowd would think of me, what I do, how I do it and who I’m with. But this last weekend, I realized how incredibly selfish that was. Just cause I’m unique and having fun playing pretend for kids..in a healthy way, doesn’t make me crazy. I see the world in a different light and hate blending in. I don’t fit the mold, for sure. **side note, even my 17 year old son thinks I’m cool.

So, to sum this up, God taught me this week to stop judging, stop being full of fear of what others think..stop trying to change people, cause you can’t and just try to understand them and love them.

Grace.

I like blueberries better anyway.

**Ted Haggard is and always will be my favorite Pastor, not because of what he does..but because he is my brother in Christ. Our calling is irrevocable..’

 

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