I talk a lot over here about my neuroticism, but not nearly as much about my faith, even though it is my faith that is a whole lot of why I have been able to get healthier over the years. Plainly put, Jesus gives me hope. Not fakey feel-good fluffy hope, but real, gritty, fighting hope. He's kind of a big deal to me.
As I am in the process of re-forming my social structure, I am again (and again. and again) observing how I go about making friends and forming relationships, and how we (the Cat Daddy and I as a couple) go about finding our friends and church and social niches, and how we (the BIG "we") live with and around each other. And since this is, like, the fifth time or so, I have begun to discover the things that are true about me every time (as well as the things that vary according to the journey and my place in it), and the things that are true about us every time (and the things that vary), and the things that are true about Us every time (and the many ways we are different, but even in our differences how we are relatively the same). Someone hand me a friggin' sociology degree, please.
It may not seem that Jesus and sociology would necessarily go together, except that for me they do. And somehow right now it feels important to me to put a little more out there as to where I sit with some things, and in particular with my faith. Not to proselytize, necessarily, but just to say "here I am" and share some of that part of me [but if you would like to be proselytized please let me know. I'm pretty sure we could both get some kind of bonus points or something].
It's just that every time I go to try to put it down, my thoughts go in a weird spiral. Our church here has a Baptist-esque bent, and I've been hearing about this three-minute testimony business, and I'm just not sure what to think about that. It would be great if I could get my journey into a three minute nutshell, but there's no way to do it justice, and anything less makes it sound like I'm trying to sell you something. And I promised myself several years back, after several stints in various types of sales jobs thru college and early adulthood, that I never have to sell anything ever again. Even (especially?) Jesus.
And still, when I really try to find a starting point, I end up with something like: "I love Jesus, I'm a bit of a neurotic, and I'm a little inappropriate sometimes." I've actually said this in conversation and surprisingly, it's fairly effective in conveying in a nutshell who I am. More like three second testimony--BOOM!
But it's not complete.
--It doesn't cover how I grew up in the thick of the Evangelical subculture; how I was the epitome of the goody-goody church kid, and how starting around the age of 16 God more or less showed me that I was full of crap, and set me on my journey of becoming WAY less churchy in favor of becoming WAY more real, authentic, and--dare I say--godly (capital G? lowercase G? I never know which to use). It used to be easy to describe myself in church-kid terms because--based on Christian school and youth group--I had deduced over the years what good Christians were supposed to look, think, talk, and act like, so I just tried to squeeze myself into that box (which I had created) and become it.
--It doesn't cover how, even though as a kid I got in trouble for talking in class, and was a little hyper with one foot over the boundary toward "weird," I lived with what I didn't realize was pretty intense anxiety. And also, that deep down I would turn out to be an introvert, and slightly socially stunted. Well, maybe. There are those who assure me that I am not nearly as awkward as I think I am, and that my manners are just fine. Some days I believe them, and some days I don't. But I'm pretty dang sure about the introvert-thing.
--It doesn't cover how I can give all sorts of good advice about being yourself, and I can pull off a confident demeanor, but how really I'm barely scratching the surface of learning to be fully myself in my own life (Jesus and sociology, right there).
--It doesn't cover how a people-pleaser with control issues who wants everyone to get along, dangit, came to marry a (good and honorable) guy who cares very little what people outside of his trusted circle think of him, and will ro-shambo you for most anything. And then he joined the military (SPOILER ALERT: the answer is a whole lot of character-building).
--And it doesn't cover what I hold most dear. It doesn't cover how I came to learn about and believe in God's Grace. The serious, scandalous kind. The kind of Grace that onlookers get nervous about, because they're afraid it's permissiveness and that people are going to run out and start drinking beer naked in the streets or something, but when you go deeper you find that it's anything but permissive. It's real and serious, and pretty much everything hinges on it. It doesn't keep you from living your life; in fact it frees you to the fuller life that John guy mentions in that one verse (10:10).
That last one is really what I want to talk about, but it might take a while to get there. There are other stories to tell, and for goodness' sake I can't stay in the serious forever. Plus I haven't even begun the saga of Nipples and Public School.
So please bear with me. It might get a little clunky, but hopefully it will smooth out over time. I'm not hoping for debates. I might be open to discussions, but I haven't decided yet. Feedback is OK as long as you're suuuuuuuuper nice about it. Remember, I like everyone to get along, dangit.
And I promise I won't forget the cat. His story will continue to be told...