Monday, December 5, 2011

sticky labels

I used to be afraid of being, ‘the Jesus girl.’ That’s the label I assumed I’d get shellac’d with the second I let the cat out of the bag regarding my Christ-affiliations.

“Grrrreat, there’s the Jesus girl.”

I could hear it. I could see it. The eye-rolls, belabored sighs, fidgeting; the general discomfort.

I genuinely worried because I hate making other people uncomfortable. I hate people who push things on others. I also hated (but mostly mourned) that the bulk of who I was (Jesus being the hub around which everything circumnavigates) could push others away.

That hurt me.

I didn’t want people to have that reaction.

To me or Jesus.

I also didn’t want to cause it. 

The underlying assumption I write from is that people have always had a rather intense reaction to the person of Jesus Christ. Saying "I love Jesus" isn't like saying "I love John Lennon." Saying that I love Jesus denotes a whole-person alignment with the teachings and mission of Jesus Christ--not merely a preference for a historical character but a declaration of faith in a man who claims to be the Son of God. By the controversial nature of such a figure, He has and continues to cause galvanization.

Jesus doesn't just sit there on the page. He looks at you and asks, 'Who do you say that I am?' 

I've never met anyone who was truly neutral about Jesus Christ, once you got down to it. Jesus demands a response.

So I was afraid that my personal response would alienate others. And I, in turn, would be alien:

‘One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong.’ 

That thing would be me. 

Because of Jesus.  

…This was long after I’d claimed Christianity.

I was a coward. 

But an honest, thoughtful coward. After all, Jesus said to count the cost.

Even going back to when I first began contemplating Jesus for myself, my initial concern was, ‘if I love Jesus, I’ll never be cool again.’

Cool = liking the same things as a select group of other (cool) people, like(s) attracting like(s).
Cool = acceptance = belonging = love.

I was afraid of rejection. I was afraid of being ‘the Jesus girl.’ 

But then I actually met Jesus. I let Him in. 

...Jesus blew my brain. 

I was sensory-overloaded-joy and complete inner stillness. I figured He had to be the prime origin of cool--that cool had to come from Him, because He was cool.

That was a surprise. 

Cool wasn’t a problem anymore.

So then I lived a few years high on Jesus. Did a bunch of crazy things. Was a pastor. Went overseas and worked with AIDS orphans. Floated down the Amazon on a medical mission boat. Had a bunch of transcendent glimpses of what life would be like if we’d all just let Him have His way and do His thing. 

I feel like I saw all the goodness in the world come together--all the wheels within the wheels--I saw the grand scheme. The grand plan. And it was good. He was good. 

And then I shook down everything I believed. Again--and later, again. 

I got frenzied and rattled and lonely and angry and felt like I was going to crawl out of my own skin. 

I cried and screamed and scared a bunch of lovely people, because they weren’t used to hearing me swear like a sailor or see me dye my hair like a My Little Pony. 

I questioned and played devil’s advocate and wanted and longed and felt the ache of being human—and I despaired, and lamented that we were human in the first place. 

...And I missed Jesus. I missed Jesus so much.

But I was afraid of being ‘the Jesus girl’ again—because I knew so much better how to be angry than how to be His.

But ‘His’—His girl, in His arms, in His ‘place,’ wherever that was—that became the irresistible somewhere to me. He became the irresistable Someone, who called to me in the still moments inside my head. 

And He brought me back. Or I couldn't stay away. Or both.

And I'm not afraid anymore.

I actually met Jesus. And re-met Him.

And I think I’m still meeting Him.

And I think that's what makes me the Jesus girl. Without the air-quotes. And I stick the label on myself.