*I got messiahcosted yesterday (that’s Sam’s term…blame him). I was going to blog about that, and about how we teach younger Christians especially a brand of faith that doesn’t always leave them swimming in discernment. But then I thought about myself. I realized I’m too guarded. I don’t want to try to generalize or put down things just because they’ve caused problems in my story. Also this song changed my mind a little.*
It’s June and I’m fifteen. it’s sticky and I’m in a packed room at church camp that is swimming in emotion. I’m promising God anything, because I feel high. I feel everything. I’ve been taught that God is a warmness in your chest and nausea in your stomach and lightness in your head and pounding in your heart. I feel that in this moment. I write down half crazed thoughts. I will tell strangers about Jesus and prophesy and do anything. This is better than drugs (this is very much like drugs). I’m on fire.
Six years later I’m in Bricktown. Lauren and Jen and Nate have left already, but I had to come back because I’m sick and I don’t want to throw up in my car. I was planning on throwing up in the bathroom at Sonic, but Sonic is closed, so I end up doubled over the corner of the fountain. I know. And suddenly this on fire teenage girl is praying over me (we are calling it a messiahcost). She’s praying for sobriety and I’m cynical and mad, but I’m not drunk. I flip her off and head back to my car. I’m thinking about how much more mature I am (or not, I mean I did flip her off). On another level I’m wondering if I love Jesus less because I’m no longer “on fire”. I would never pray over a stranger like that. Ever (once, in June when I was fifteen, I would have).
It’s my junior year of college, in January, and I’m resetting the presets on my radio. One by one I click off the Jesus stations and replace them. I swing by Walmart and buy a new Bible, one that doesn’t have all my old notes. I’m starting over with tears dried on my face. I’ve shouted, cried, and been broken today. I’ve left Oklahoma City in a flurry of pain and frustration and emotion until I thought I would break. So I’m sealing it off. I’m deciding that I don’t want to chase these emotions anymore. I don’t want to let how I feel control how I relate to God. I’m done with cheesy Jesus-ness.
It’s my senior year at Baylor. I’m in my car on the side of I-35. I have all of those Jesus feelings—stomach, head, throat, sweating…all of it. But it’s also different. I’m crying but it’s different. I’m reading Colossians 2:20 over and over. I’m thinking about how it would look tattooed on my foot. I’m holding on by a thumbnail (by the rational parts of my faith. By the parts that know the science for these feelings: amydala, hypothalamus, visceral neurons…). I’m fighting the emotions that lift me so high and bring me so desperately low. “I thought we were done with this…Why is this happening” Out of nowhere.
It’s my first summer after college and I’m sitting on my floor, legs crossed, thinking about how embarrassing it was to throw up downtown. I’m wondering if it’s okay to not feel so much about God. To sit thoughtfully in worship sometimes. To reason before I assume. To ignore the pull on my stomach sometimes. I’m listening to “Skeleton Bones” because it’s logical. Cadaver anatomy and this song go together. They make sense. It’s logical. I click on a related link and I find this. This “Death in His Grave” video. And at *that moment* (watch the video and you will know) it all comes back. The moment manipulated to make me feel something. I feel the cynicism catch in my brain, but there’s something deeper than that.
I want to celebrate Jesus. He’s alive. My soul wants to rejoice in that, not just know it or believe it. I want to feel it. I do feel it. That’s not everything. Maybe it’s not anything. But it’s dark and I’m alone, and I let myself sing along in a joyous way. I let go, just for a second. “Nevertheless I live”. It’s an abundant life.
I’m not the girl who prays over strangers or at restaurants. I don’t judge a worship experience by a biological response. I’m all kinds of emotional, sure. But I’m learning control. I’m learning that my faith moves me. Physically. That it’s a life to live. A life with emotions other than anger. I may always be a little cynical. It’s a defensive mechanism, a little. It’s a response because I’ve been naive too often. But sometimes my soul just needs to sing. I promise not to messiahcost you.