“Restoration doesn’t necessarily mean making things the way they were, sometimes it means making things the way they’re supposed to be.” Jill Lillis
If I haven’t had much to say lately, it’s because I’m pretty soundly confused much of the time and, out of my as-of-yet-to-be conquered fear of a poor public opinion, I’ve made this blog more about essays on revelations I’ve grasped and vague ramblings on the things I haven’t rather than anything at all about an actual journey to wholeness.
The truth of my journey at the moment is that, from all outward appearances, I seem to have entirely lost the path and, from an inward perspective, I still seem to be very much on it.
I warned you I was confused.
I’ve made a series of decisions over the last year that have come with some consequences to be certain. The first was last March, when I began socially drinking. The second was in December when I entered into an intimate relationship with a fantastic guy who happens to not be a Christian.
Have you gasped and moved on yet? This post is not meant to be about me and alcohol so I’ll not make it, but I will say, for those who I imagine are concerned, I am fine and balanced and, for the most part, not “prone to drunkenness” as the Bible warns against. Now that it’s out, I’m sure there will be more on that later.
Now then, I wish I’d been writing truthfully about these things all along, about all of it. The last year has been one of both incredible highs and lows. I’ve failed in some areas deeply and, in that, learned valuable lessons. In other areas I’ve pushed past opinion and bias and broken through legalism in a way that I’d only talked about in theory previously. As an aside from the point here (if indeed I even have one), I’ll offer that the steps one must take in order to truly step outside of religion and legalism are not at all pleasant and tend to be not at all popular.
One of the primary consequences of my decisions is that I am no longer singing in church and with church groups. Again, this is not about that, though I’m sure another post one day will be. The circumstances in which that consequence came about was handled poorly and dealt to me painfully and caused a divide between me and the church I call home.
And, in short, that’s where I am today.
Today in church, during the worship service, I was meditating on how unfulfilled my life feels when God is not the very center of it. (I’m often meditating on missing the wholeness of God during worship services as I still only feel my truest and deepest self with Him in music and I can only feel like I am sharing in His heart fully when I am singing for others to find it.) I stood and sang, quietly, and wondered what if I could go back to the way things were? What if I could undo the decisions that had put me on the outside of a intimate group and take my place once more?
My journal from this moment reads:
“I cannot stand to be this far from God. And yet, here in church, I look around, and I cannot bear the thought of plugging back into this. It is so hollow. Accomplishing nothing. Self-focused. Empty. Is this my choice?! Is this what I should give up a life I love for? I cannot stand the idea of it. I don’t want anything that isn’t true and authentic and effective. What shall I do, God? Where shall I go?!”
And then that services worship leader, Jill Lillis’ words are written there, as if God were answering me without a moments hesitation, “Restoration doesn’t necessarily mean making things the way they were, sometimes it means making things the way they’re supposed to be.”
This evening I called a dear (and wise) friend. My intention in making the call was to tell her about a great sale I’d been to that day and encourage her to go shopping for herself. We ended up discussing this topic instead for an impassioned hour.
While she’s also one of my best friends, she apologized to me, as the ministry leader for more than one of the ministries I was formerly involved in, for not seeing me for who (and where) I actually was, for expecting more out of me than I was mature enough or ready to give and for giving me too much leadership too soon. I don’t hold her responsible, of course, for this separation I feel now, but her words brought some comfort and some confirmation. I’d been feeling, months ago, like I’d made a grievous mistake in not being completely genuine when I first began to attend my church home; feeling like I’d been more interested in portraying the proper image to what I felt was the suspect church eye, than in authenticating who I was to God and He to me. I was so focused on proving to my family (first and foremost) and to my new church family that I wasn’t the same old Seana, that I wasn’t that ‘rehab kid’, that I was committed to God and to my future with Him, that I lost sight of my actual relationship. I began to act the part instead of living the truth and what was true and good (that I am not the ‘same old Seana’ and that I am committed and in love with God) began to become corrupted from within.
And then, when I began to demand of myself that I be genuine before I be well-esteemed my outwardly seeming perfect peace began to crumble. In my dedication to playing a role, I had not paid careful enough attention to my very foundation.
My friend, in her wisdom, also said on the phone tonight that she feels like I’m where God intends me to be right now, that in and through this, I am finding my authenticity with Him.
I’d like to think when all is said is done I’ll not only be alive in Him and Him in me but I’ll have stumbled upon the place where He intends me to be relevant to His as-of-yet unchurched people.
And so, here I am. Lost in the thickets of daily revelations, out of sight from the main path but certain it’s just around every corner. I have a suspicion, however, that by the time I find the main path again, God won’t have me traveling it any longer. I have a sneaking feeling that I’m not going to be walking the popular path for a good long while to come.
After the last couple of months, a big part of me kind of hopes not.
As a final thought, I apologize to my readers for not being more forthcoming prior to this and for not chronicling with better truth the journey I promised to share. I’ll be more mindful (and less afraid) in the future.