Friday, January 30, 2015

I Will Not Be A Prototype


(Or maybe another title could be: "Maybe I Am A Little Bit of A Rebel. That's for y'all to decide.)
   Thank you to the few of you who took the time to leave comments. I am still wondering if I should write, as I don't want what I say to affect my family, relatives, or friends. If all comments, concerns, and criticism was directed directly to me, I wouldn't mind. Apparently, I didn't come across clearly enough. I have heard from multiple people that other people have talked to them, and are/were concerned about me and/or my family. This was not my intention, to draw attention to me or my family. No, my point was that confession does not earn salvation and confession doesn't mean forgotten forever right away. While I do appreciate the concerns that have been expressed in different ways, I feel like my point was missed by some.
   Anyway, aside from the above little note, life has been moving along. I moved into an apartment and I'm enjoying the feeling of self-dependency, even though my family isn't too far away. I plan to start college in a week, if everything works out for me. And then, there's Europe in the summer. (I hope...) Between work, a new apartment, college, and music, I think I will stay busy. But sometimes, I get lonely.
   Which brings me to where I'm at in life. I spent eighteen years of my life living by rules, standards, and ideas. I couldn't talk to people, or go out for coffee, or play volleyball because of rules. I couldn't wear pants, trim my hair, or wear high heels because of standards. My life was a big confused world. And then I realized that just because I wear these clothes, avoid some places, and associate with certain people, none of this makes me a better person. I'm still who I am. The outside of me may have looked good, but in my heart, where it mattered, was still vile and corrupt. I don't have to be who other people want me to be, trained me to be. I can be myself. I was tired of being this predictable, quiet, and too shy to talk to anyone, girl. I was fed up with people always looking at me and then walking past me like I didn't exist. And I was flat out angry when I realized that I always had to drop anything I was doing when others needed help because something else was always more important than me or what I was doing. So I decided to change. Most people would call this being a rebel, or being stubborn, or becoming liberal. I call it fighting for myself and a place in the world outside of the normal people. I want to be different. I want to confidant in myself and my abilities. I want to be needed. I want to be noticed. I want to be known as the girl who has time for anyone, who can relate to anyone, and who is happy and friendly but can still be quiet and caring. I don't want to be a prototype of the culture that I have been part of for so long. So I did change. Not too drastically outwardly, but inwardly, yes. I stand up for what I believe and desire. I am learning to talk to people without turning bright red. I've been trying to insert myself into social circles. (This is the hardest change yet) But how can one undo what they have spent their entire life doing? I still go unnoticed, and sometimes it bothers me. But I can be stronger, I can be more, and I can be helped. I am not alone, although sometimes it feels like I am. I am going to college, I'm working my way to a dream that I have had for years, and for the first time in my life, I have a plan.
   You know, we are called to serve others, to put God first, others second, and ourselves last. But how can we be uplifting, cheerful, encouraging, and loving, when we ourselves are feeling worthless, tired, and discouraged? It's okay to take time for ourselves! It's okay to go out on a date with yourself, splurge on a meal that you can relax, and to buy yourself that something you have always wanted. It's okay to tell people no and get some sleep. We can't always do for others. Sometimes, we need to think of ourselves.
   I'm not saying here to completely stop serving others. No, we are called to serve. But let's not forget that while others are important, we are too. And I'm not saying to completely forget everything that anyone has ever taught you and go be someone that no one has ever heard of. I'm saying: be yourself, be respectful, and be comfortable and confident in the person you become. Because until you are confident and comfortable with yourself and your faith, you will never truly be happy in life.


  
  

Monday, January 19, 2015

I WILL WRITE

   As I have been reminded by many, I have not posted on my blog for awhile now. It's not because I don't have time, or because I don't feel like I don't have anything to say. Really, I do have the time, and I have many drafts wrote up to post, enough for a year if I wanted to. But here's the thing: I don't want to offend anyone. But I also don't want to compromise what my feelings or beliefs are in some matters. So I have opted to not saying anything. So then, I got to thinking, why have a blog if I'm not free to express myself? I don't know who reads my writings, I don't know where each person stands or what they are facing in life, and I don't know how each person believes. I do know what I am facing, what I believe, and what I feel. And even though my feelings may be hurtful, my faith and convictions different from others, and my life is down a complete different road than anyone else, I'm still here. I do know what I am facing. I do know how to express that. And to let my fear of what people might say get in my way, that isn't right. So I decided that I would write, whether people agreed with me on everything or I am persecuted and made an outcast from others. I WILL WRITE.
   That being said, my thoughts have been on my church. I have been thinking how we are taught from the youngest age to confess our faults and failures, our sin and transgressions. There is nothing wrong with this, so long as we are truly penitent and we desire, with the help of our Heavenly Father to turn from our wicked ways. But what happens when we confess out of habit, with no heart change, no penitence, and no sorrow? What happens when our confession becomes our means of salvation? When our acts become our saving grace? Does Jesus then die in vain? Is His grace, love, life, and blood no longer needed? We are told:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
How then can we be saved by a continual confession of our poorness, our depravity, our wretchedness, our transgression, if it is merely an act of repetition, for the saving of our souls? I'm not saying to throw away the confession of sins. No, we are told:
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
What I am saying is that we need to be carefully that we don't become so caught up in our works (i.e. confession of our sins, helping others, ministering to the widows and the fatherless, giving to the poor, etc.) that we then think we can use these acts as our salvation. Indeed it is a precious and strengthening thing, when we can go to a brother or sister in Christ and hear the proclamation to "Believe your sins and transgressions forgiven is the name and precious atoning blood of Jesus Christ." Not only is this a precious thing, but it uplifting and encouraging as well.
   My other thought has been this: Since when is it alright to ask for forgiveness for xxx and then tell the person you confessed to: "This sin was forgiven. Now you can't talk about it. You can't tell anyone. If you do, then it's your sin." This has been my general understanding of confession for many years. It wasn't until recent years where I have saw that this is doing us, as Christians and a body of Christ, no good. I do believe that there is a time and a place, that certain sins can be repented of and put away for good. But what of the sins of fornication, adultery, abuse, killing, stealing, cheating, etc.? Do we repent of these and then forget about them? What of the people who suffer(ed) terribly because of these things? How much can we sweep under the rug, and then say that no one can talk about them, because they have been forgiven of? What of the offender? He can confess these things, tell his victim that because it has been repented of they can't talk about in fear that it will then become the victims sin, and then the offender is off again, free to do the same offense or worse again. We aren't holding these offenders accountable for their actions. We aren't standing up and speaking out. We are scared to break the traditions that we have been taught from an early age. Since when is it okay to live a life of fear, simply because we are afraid to break the traditions that have been taught to us since we were young? Since when should offenders not be held accountable for their actions? Since when is it okay for people to turn their eyes away from children, from spouses, from anyone who is being abused or raped or lied to, simply because the offender has confessed? Since when? What has happened to our church? Are we so caught up in tradition that we can't stand up and fight for the truth? Are we so caught up in the political realms of our churches, that we can no longer speak the truth?
   One last thing, and it's a quote I heard a couple of weeks ago that I thought was very thought provoking. The pastor was talking about in the old Testament, where when a sin or transgression had been committed, an innocent animal would be slain, and the blood of that animal would atone for the sin or transgression. Then, when God sent His Son to die for us, that changed. Then, we by faith believe that Jesus shed His blood for the remission of our sins. We can't do anything ourselves. We can't kill an animal and cover ourselves in its blood. No, we must have faith and believe. So here's the quote, and I'll leave you all with this:

"Hypocrites love tradition because it doesn't require any faith."