If you met me today, you’d be meeting a pretty normal girl. I like coffee, and cozy sweaters, and reading, and smiling, and driving, and Chick-fil-A.
And I really, really love Jesus.
If we had a conversation, we might talk about how I like your hair, where we’re each from, or what our day-to-day lives look like. I might ask you if you like coffee or tea better, what makes you feel alive, what your favorite ridiculous bad jokes are, or how I could be praying for you.
Sometimes I think we only let the world see one side of us, and today, I’m here to say that it’s okay to be a lot of things. It’s so important to be you, every ounce of the you that God designed you to be.
I don’t want to walk around pretending to be this angel-esque, church girl icon. Because you know what? It’s unrealistic to expect ourselves to be this pseudo-holy shell of people that look good from afar. We need to be changed from the inside out, yet this doesn’t mean pretending to be perfect, or always happy, or that we know more about God than we actually do.
Real-life, day-to-day Christianity is messy, because we’re living in this messed-up world, getting dust on our shoes and trying to figure out how to really live as these resurrected souls for the first time. And that’s okay. It’s normal.
Can I be honest here for a minute? Sometimes, when it’s late at night, I get in bed, ready to read God’s Word and pray…and I’m so exhausted that I whisper a quick prayer and tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow. Sometimes it’s late Saturday night when I’m practicing playing music for the following morning’s worship service, because I didn’t make the time during the week. Sometimes I feel really dry, when God seems quiet, and the daily grind is just wearying me.
You’ve probably figured it out by now – I don’t have my life all together. If you’ve been reading for any length of time, I’m sure you’re well aware. And then I see comments on my tweets and blog posts that say things like, “Oh Amanda, you’re so inspiring, and you’ve encouraged me so much.” And those comments mean the world to me – but every time I get one, I have to ask myself, “Am I showing the real me?”
Because life is hard. School, and work, and relationships, and balance are really hard and sometimes someone says “You’re doing great” and as much as you want to believe it, it’s almost as though you don’t think you deserve to. At least, that’s where I’ve been so many times.
We need to be real – because in our vulnerability, in exposing the inner us, and showing the world our weaknesses and normality, we can point people to Christ. Why? Because they aren’t so caught up with how amazingly perfect we are, and Christ’s power in us can be amplified.
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
I think this is such a huge lie of the Devil, at least for a lot of us – “You have to be perfect to be used by God.” No, no, no. I’ve believed that lie too many times, and I want you to know that it’s NOT true. When we’re so self-focused, so fixated on being the perfect Christian, we’re making our faith about US. And it can never be about how great we are – it’s about how great God is.
As soon as we let Satan lead us to believe that our lives are about us and how perfect we need to be, we become so distracted from becoming the vessels that God want us to be, that life often becomes about attaining the identity about who we believe we should be.
Real life stories are gritty, and messy, and hard. A lot of times there are tears, heartache, sorrow.
But when we look to see how God has worked in our stories, hope enters. Daylight floods onto the scene, even when the days are long, painful, exhausting – but even just a sliver of daylight makes the darkness run.
I’m learning not to be afraid of telling my story. I tell people that writing is a part of me, but not because I want to put words on a page. I explain that I’ve struggled with depression, and that I’ve learned to trust the God who holds my life. I talk about my longtime battle with perfectionism and accepting grace, and getting to know the Jesus that shattered my expectations and gave me the love my soul longed for.
And I talk about other things too. About my affinity for twinkle lights and Myers-Briggs, Twitter and Spotify. For reading books and texting my friends late at night, for coffee and good conversations with interesting people. For giving advice and asking for it. For having long, drawn-out conversations about relationships and what love should ideally look like. For funny memes and waffle fries and prayer times with my friends.
So here’s to trying something new, to being real. Embracing all of the things that make us us. Being open about our struggles and looking to God for our strength, because He’s what this life is about, anyway.
Here’s to telling fear that he won’t win – that accepting grace isn’t something to run from, but to run to, and that perfectionism is an ugly, unwelcome master that doesn’t have to have power over us.
Here’s to walking in the new identity that Christ has given us – this newness in Him – and not trying to bring back the old people we used to be, but the redeemed (yet messy) people we now are.
Here’s to telling our stories, the big parts and the little parts – and here’s a little piece of mine.
My story starts with a perfectionistic mess of a life –
It’s about walking through shame and depression and pain –
and learning to trust the God who’s true in the midst of the mess.
It’s about a girl who loves twinkle lights, and coffee, and poetry –
and one who desperately wants to know and love Jesus more every day.
It’s about longing for happiness –
and finding satisfaction in the joy of knowing Jesus.
This story is about getting to love Jesus, to know His grace, and share that with the world, through all the different things that make me who I am.
Don’t be afraid to tell your story – and I’d really love to hear it.