As a Catholic, you grow up memorizing and spouting these words, "He suffered, died and was buried. On the third day, He rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures..." You're reminded of that death in the Crucifix, which come on, is pretty scary to look at. When you're a child, nothing says this is serious business like a half-naked man dying. Juxtapose that with the serene and beautiful, Holy Mary and you have yourself the Gospel laid out visually, so you don't have to be that bright. I liked this.
It's complex too. If you want to go find out how the dinosaurs play into things, and how the earth was created...say science is your game...He can give you enough to keep you busy in this lifetime. But if you're a simple girl and you just want to know your expectations, there they are, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved."
But that is not at all what the world thinks of when they think of Christians. They don't think about Jesus dying for our sins, or all the good works being done, or the fact that so many people would go hungry without ministries around the world. Unfortunately, the culture of Christianity speaks pretty loudly and it's an irritating, screeching voice. If you haven't seen the movie "Saved" and you can take a hard look at some of the sad realities of a culture gone awry, see this one. Just to know what SEEMS true to other people outside the church.
So my new neighbor is reading a book by a well-known (non-fiction) Christian author, and she is upset because the book is all about how having a well-ordered home and kids who do as they're told, is the key to Christian living. Now I get that God is not a God of chaos, but where oh where did we get this idea that living life under plastic sheeting is the key to perfection??? And where praytell did we get the idea that being perfect is our job anyway? Was King David perfect? Jacob? Peter? Paul? These guys committed some pretty awful sins, but yet God loved them. Why do you think that is?
I think it's because they KNEW they weren't perfect. They knew they needed God's grace and they searched for it, they desired it -- they wanted to know His will for their life. They didn't fill themselves so full of gusto, that they thought they'd let everyone else know how to fulfill the perfect Christian life. We want it so perfect don't we? Take road C, turn left at D and when you come to a fork in the road, stop right there, you can't make a decision like that!
So here's the thing. If you come to my house for dinner, I may forget the napkins and maybe your fork won't be in the right place, but when you're in my home, you are WELCOME here. I will love on your kids and I will let them know my expectations, but they will have fun and be safe. Hospitality, if you can do it like Martha Stewart, that is lovely, but if you do it to show me how perfectly Martha you are? I'm busy that night.
Martha is CHASTISED by Jesus for not being more like Mary and choosing people/relationship over stuff that "needed" to be done. (Luke 10) Yet, so many Christian books hold this standard up to women like this is how to get close to God.
I submit, if you're ADD, or a working mother, or a single chick and this is not your gig? Do not let some woman who is naturally controlling or detail-oriented tell you this is how to get close to God. Serving people in LOVE, not out of obligation is the way to serve. I am sick of the Pharisaical notion that it's serving to be seen. God sees you in the quiet. He knows your heart and your skill-set. And he's not going to ask you to debone a duck to prove yourself worthy.
Life is not a one-way street. I wish it were as easy as that, but it's not.
My current book is about mental illness. I'm not quite happy with the ending yet, but it's about the hard questions in life. Incidentally, my character's husband is paranoid schizophrenic, which I'll just bet turns out to be the diagnosis in the Duggard case -- they see reality in their own way, and they will force you to your will. This little girl no doubt, changed her way of thinking to survive. This is what happens when we slowly succumb to the rules being what we'd like them to be.
I think a lot of Christians can unwittingly do this type of thing -- get you to believe THIS is God's will. Living THIS way, in order and organization will bring God's harmony and peace into your home - but what happens if your husband leaves you? Or if one of your kids (God forbid) is kidnapped like poor Jaycee? What happens if life doesn't play by the rules? Does your faith still work?
I submit to you that mine does. I have been an executive wife in a big house with four lovely children and a pool to invite people over to -- parties to plan and private school decisions to be made. And I've been the busy working mom of four kids with a husband's retirement plan that didn't quite go as expected, and a whole lot of harsh living, illness and deaths in between.
Contrary to some people's opinions, this is not God's punishment on me or my family. The truth is that if I ran a perfect home and none of this happened to me and my family, I might get caught up in the fact that God is hear to be the "yes" in my Magic 8 Ball. Doesn't work that way, and if you think you're living the perfect Christian life but no one likes you? You might ask yourself if the sound you hear is your own clanging gong. Christians need more compassion. On each other and those outside the church. There but for the grace of God go I.