I’ve felt like a fraud for years.
I’ve known God and Jesus and His Word and His Grace and known all this is true. I’ve seen other perspectives and met lots people who believed lots of things, and yet I still knew Truth. But I felt like a fraud.
Because I’ve always, at whatever church I was sitting in with family or friends or alone, heard that you repent your sins and you ask God to forgive you and to live in your heart, and then He does, and then you’re a Christian, hallelujah. I can’t count the number of times I’ve cried, out loud or inside, “God, fix me, save me, this life is too much for me and I need you.” And He always did, He always took care of His girl. But then I’d be like a little kid and wander off until it all got too much again. I recognized this was a bad habit and I was ashamed, but yet it continued.
Because I have also almost always heard the second half – repent and ask God to live in your heart and get baptized, and then He does, and then you’re a Christian, hallelujah. Ten times in Acts, people ask about salvation and ten times, they are told to be baptized and receive their promised salvation. I’m 26. I’ve heard this a time or two. But I never did.
And so, I lived like a fraud. I went to church and I prayed and I read my Bible and I shared cute graphics of verses on Pinterest, and my heart was ashamed. It craved more and I told it no. I said “I’m good enough for Earth. I’m not strong enough to give up all my sins and be a real Christian.” So I did what I could to try and keep my head above water (so to speak) and not be consumed by the terrible things in the world. I tried to not judge others. I wrestled with forgiveness. I wrestled with my bad habits. But I didn’t feel qualified to share my faith, because I wasn’t really a Christian. I had never taken that step as a kid, and hadn’t experienced any life-altering, literally “come to Jesus,” moments as an adult. I was sure I would misrepresent everything, harm the Church by being just another piece of evidence that Christians are all hypocrites, because I lacked the one thing I felt gave me the most credibility and authenticity. It was safer to just keep my religion to myself.
This situation has had me stuck. I felt like a fraud Christian and a superior heathen. The longer I attended this church I love, the more my disconnect glared at me and the worse I felt. In a year, I only missed four Sundays. Every week, the sermon nudged at me, inspired me, woke me from the haze the previous week had put me in. Every week, I passed the communion plates because I didn’t feel worthy. I was so moved one week, I took Communion, and was completely let down when I didn’t feel His presence for two weeks. I doubt this was Him angry – I believe in a loving God and not a petty One – so it was more likely my guilt freaking out. Why would you do that? You’re no Christian. You’re not worthy to sit at His table. This isn’t crackers and juice in preschool. This is THE Blood and THE Body and it’s not yours to take.
I’m an introvert, I want to think things through on my own. My thoughts were so scattered – some were Divine and some were from the world, for sure – and I wrestled with who I was and how to be who I knew I should be. And then this sermon happened:
Assessing your Spiritual Health, August 2 2015 Take a listen. It’s about 45 minutes long. Towards the end, Dave says, “compare yourself today to a year ago.” A year. It’s been 53, maybe 54 Sundays since I first stepped foot in Tyro Christian Church. A lot has happened in the last year, but has my spiritual side matured any? Or am I the same scared girl looking for the light switch in the dark?
During invitation, I trembled. Talk. Share your heart. During communion, I asked what He wanted. And I still trembled. And after the service, something nudged me to go down front where the pastors and elders were still standing. Talk. Share your heart. But I walked away.
In the parking lot, the A/C starting to revive the stuffy truck, I found the Tyro website. It took like two clicks and there was contact info for the staff. I wrote what I’m sure will be published in the Top Ten of the Most Random Emails Nathan has EVER Gotten. I begged for a meeting and then said, I have no idea what I want to talk about. I just feel like I have to talk.
Friday morning, today, 8 am, talk we did. It all came out, my upbringing around the Word, my missing baptism, the stuck feeling I had. What the Bible says, what He has asked generation after generation of believers to do, why my stuck feeling is me knowing what I have to do. And as we talked, the more I said my absurd thoughts out loud (You don’t know me, but I talk myself in circles and sometimes I believe ridiculous things even though I know they’re crazy. He laughed.) the more I heard intelligent responses, both through my ears as Nathan talked and my heart as God pointed out the Truth.
“If a kid can commit his life, why can’t I?”
“Kids believe without needing piles of examples. It gets harder the older you get to overcome everything the world has made you and surrender.”
“I’m not good enough to represent Him and His Word.”
“No one is – until they actively seek Him. He doesn’t ask for perfect people.”
“It doesn’t feel right to say I’m a Christian because I’m not baptized.”
“So why don’t you fix that?”
Why indeed? If I know everything that’s true, then I know how the story ends – what Christians get and what non-believers get. If I’ve read the Scripture, I know don’t get the rewards without this step of faith. I had no idea, and still have no idea, what gripped me so hard to keep me from it. Fear, surely… of something. We discussed the heart a person must have to be saved, and both knew I have that heart. And then I just knew. Every argument my brain could possibly find was just gone. No more thoughts of failing Him (it’s going to happen, but He still loves you. Paul got to write the New Testament) or settling with what I have (the Bible is pretty specific; why would everything else in the Book make sense if that part was just a suggestion?) or doubting my beliefs (what? Are you crazy? When did you last doubt His existence?). It seemed increasingly more absurd that I could physically sit there and talk and read and not get up and walk into that baptistery. And peace, the realization that I was no longer a fraud, wrapped around me so comforting.
I texted my husband. –Are you busy? –I’m about to be, why? –Well, I’m getting baptized. I need you. –I’ll be there as soon as I can.
And then I was authentic.
So now my hair is dry. My husband is back to farming, Nathan is back to preacher-ing, I’m catching up on everything that got out of hand all week. Life is normal, but it’s all so different. I’m still trembling. Let me keep trembling.
I keep on, I keep on, I keep on.