If I were to describe my relationship with faith and the church in this season of my life, I think there is an overarching theme that would emerge: I’m cranky.
There are parts of what I’ve grown up with that feel like a sweater I’ve grown out of—the hem doesn’t meet my jeans any longer and the sleeves are tight around my upper arms and it just feels uncomfortable. I read a book on spiritual formation for women and I wonder why so much of it is based on feelings and why it had to be directed at women instead of all of us. I leave a church service feeling grippy about the amount of first-person-personal-pronouns used in so many Christian songs today. I cross my arms feeling like I will never be respected or taken seriously in an evangelical community unless I am married with children.
Mostly, I notice my brokenness in all of this complaining and discontent.
A cycle of frustration and guilt, frustration and guilt, frustration and guilt has marked my days and I have had trouble reconciling the tension. So many prayers asking for contentment, or better attitudes, or anything to resolve the itchy, too-tight feeling I feel in my faith communities. Because, let’s be honest, I am the common denominator in these spheres.
It wasn’t until listening to two friends talk through one’s frustrating family situation that I began to find some hope.
“I’m just becoming so aware of my brokenness in all of this,” my one friend said, a little teary.
“But just think,” our friend responded, “He loves you too much to not make you aware of this. He wants you to know this is in you, and he’s singing over you with grace in this struggle. He won’t leave you here.”
I almost started sobbing right there. Because I felt this—I hadn’t known it before that moment, but this was what I had been aching for.
God loves us so much that he has covered us in his own righteousness that we can come before the Father without fear. And how much more does he loves us that he takes us just as we are, but also steps in to heal our broken places.
He is not looking for me to heal my broken, cranky places. Of that, I am incapable. He is making me more aware of them so that I bring them to him. To sit with him, seeking more of him. To behold over behave.
My purpose is not to fix the church. That is for God to do. I am part of the church—a very broken part at that. My purpose is to sit and let him work on me, surrendering how I think things should be—how I think I should be. To let him sing over me in grace so that I may walk out into the world with that same grace to give.
He confronts us with our brokenness not to shame us into submission. He wades into our broken places to demonstrate his grace and sing over us with love. It’s through grace and love that our broken places are made whole.