"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

On the Church and the World

Psalms 98:1 - Sing to the Lord a new song....

I read this song this morning.  The word new stuck out to me more than it ever has.  I think specifically the psalm is referencing salvation and the new life/new song.  Although, from what I've seen about the Christian life, and really life in general, there are lots of moments of salvation along the way, lots of moments of new songs.  There may only be one salvation that results in your salvation from hell, but there are countless moments where God comes in and saves your from the wrong person, the wrong decision, the wrong path.  Those moments deserve a new song as much as your initial salvation experience.  I think those moments are what keep us so joyful through our walk.  Those are the moments that speak so loudly to the world.

2 years ago, I began a new song in my life.  One of singleness and motherhood and the scarlet letter D. Because let's face it, there's a stigma within the church and divorce.  So many assume you don't have Biblical reasons for it.  Then, in my case, when they do realize you have Biblical reasons, you get pity- not acceptance.  I don't know which is worse.

In the midst of that confusion, God led me to sing my new song at a new church.  It was wonderful for me to be accepted by the staff who knew my story and encouraged me as I worked through that.  I am forever grateful.  

As time has gone on though, I've become myself again.  I'm free spirited, unable to be boxed.  I long for freedom and creativity.  I don't see the world through the usual eyes people seem to have.  I don't really fit in in the world of polos and perfectly matched outfits.  I find myself singing my new song of freedom, of art, of truly being myself.  And I'm realizing that despite my almost 28 years of life, I'm just not a mainstream kind of girl- Christian or otherwise.  

This has always been my struggle.  If you know me at all, you know that I struggled with accepting Christ because of one reason: Christians. I've never hated one group of people more.  In the end, it was never the Christians that won me over to their side.  It was simply Christ with all of His amazing love for me for who I was.  I was blown away that he didn't see me as someone to label or someone to pity or someone to hold at an arms length.  He embraced me.  Eventually, I just couldn't run from a love like that.  And oh how it has been worth it since that day I surrendered.

Since that day I have tried and tried to find my place in the church.  I don't think that ever happened until I found the church I went to my last year of college/early marriage.  It was a church full of creative, realistic people who were just as comfortable building a relationship with the world as with Christians.  But in the midst of divorce, I needed something so different.  I found what I needed, and it was great.

But I'm feeling again like God is leading me to sing a new song.  I want to be around creative Christians again.  Creative people just see things differently.  That's why they make such amazing paintings and write such complex and compelling s]music.  They think outside the box, and as a result they can understand opinions and thoughts from wherever they originate or from whoever they originate.  I need that.  My soul needs that.

I don't know where God is leading me.  Maybe it won't end up being anywhere.  But he is giving me this strong desire to be around people who actually "get" people.  Who don't see lost people as problems to solved, brokenness to be fixed, or the helpless to be pitied.  They just see people.  They recognize they too are people.  That they have everything in the world in common with everyone because humanity is the only thread that matters and it binds us all.

So with that said, I know God is leading me toward another chapter, another new song.  If you read this, please pray that I have the wisdom and discernment to recognize His guidance and will.  Pray that I will love all people, even when they make me feel like I don't fit in the right box.  Pray that the Lord fulfills this need for creativity and fills me with joy and a new song at his power and love.  And if you in any way relate to the need for more creativity within the church, please contact me.  I'd love to sit down and have a cup of coffee and good chat with you.

~ Thistle


Iada Weaver said...

Ash--God leads us all down different paths. They do not always fit the "norm" of conventional Christianity. Just keep open communication between you and Jesus and He will open and close doors as He leads in your life. We are not on this earth to please man, church members or family. We are here to obey God and win the lost. (Are you sure that you are not called to preach!)
I love you and appreciate all you are trying to do as a teacher, single mother, sister, daughter, neice, etc. Keep the faith! Love you. Aunt Iada

ThistleAshD said...

Aunt Iada- This is so encouraging and I thank you so much. I don't know if I'm called to preach, but I know I'm called to do something. Trying to figure it out. Love you!

Danielle In The City said...

I love this post.

So many people I meet hate the church because of the Christians, and I strive to lead a life that sees things otherwise. It's a lot easier to do here in NY, where the Christians here are fed up the norms too.

My roommate is our children's director at church. she just signed divorce papers yesterday after what was probably the most trying year of her life... raising two young boys (4 and 2) on her own and losing hope for the "normal" marriage she'd always dreamed of. She inspires me every day to live life to the fullest even in the midst of struggle. I'm so thankful to go to a church that accepts people no matter their stage of life. I hope you've found a place that does the same.

I loved your post, and I totally understand your need to find more creative Christians. They really do make the most beautiful paintings, songs, dances. etc.

Also, you could totally move here and find plenty of them :) I think you and Jude would really enjoy this city... maybe that's where you're being led ;)

- Danielle

ThistleAshD said...

Danielle- if God could arrange for me to move to NY there would be nooooo complaints out of me. I went there 4 years ago (actually I got engaged there...) and I have never loved any place so much as I did there.

I haven't found the right church yet, but I'm choosing to believe this angst I feel is just going to lead me to right place. Maybe New York :)

Erica said...

i appreciate your honesty. and i LOVE how that verse came ALIVE to you. that would be a GREAT art journal page (i can see it now... haha).

so glad our paths have crossed through the blog world. i so appreciate your encouragement and transparency. with my husband in full time ministry, i, too, have seen the hurtful, stagnant state of the "church"...we are actually moving cross country to join a new Body full of CREATIVE, WARM, WELCOMING believers. Excited for this new chapter...

much love to you! SHINE ON! <3

ThistleAshD said...

I'm glad our paths crossed in the blogging world too!

katebradley said...

What a beautiful testimony. Praying for God to continue to lead your heart where he wants you to go.

Jeff Corwin said...

There was a time when I was chasing a howler monkey in South America that I thought to myself, is THIS what I have been led to do? There has to be a more than this. I went to a local shaman and said a prayer while dancing the native forest jig. I finally realized that this IS where I have been called to serve. Now I find beauty in all the animals I capture and and am happy my path has led me to so many places.