comfortable in our own skin

spin wheelone of the things i’ve always tried to do here is write from my heart. to be as honest as i could.  to not worry about who would think what.  it’s pretty hard to do!  there are so many different tribes out here in online-land with different passions & people & ways-of-living-out-their-faith.  for the past five years, i have always struggled with not fully connecting with any of them. for some folks, i’m not sufficiently theological or liturgical or serious or christian or universalist or denominational or missional enough..to feel like i’m tracking all the way.  i love & value them all and appreciate the various expressions more than i can say. but sometimes it can just feel..weird.  off, somehow.   like i don’t fully have a place in any of them.

and at any moment something i say here can bug pretty much any of them for one reason or another.

this is a really familiar feeling for me.  all through  middle & high school & college & pretty much all of my adult life i have always been friends with a bunch of different people that rarely all come together in the same place.  i love it because i know such beautiful, diverse, amazing people.  but it can also feel unsettling & uncomfortable.  i miss some of what you get when you are deeply embedded in a particular tribe.    i think one of the things that i appreciated about being on a mega-church staff for those couple of years is that it’s so big that you don’t really need anyone else.  it’s its own island and a really clear tribe with no room, or apparent need, really, for much else.  now, out here floating around on a lifeboat for the past five years clinging for dear life i have had to learn something that i knew i needed to learn–how to be comfortable in my own skin.

my skin.

not someone else’s.

not what this group is doing or that group is doing.  not what this church is doing or that church is doing.  not what this ministry is doing or that ministry is doing.  not what this person is doing or that person is doing.

i’m learning to become more comfortable with what i believe.

not what this group believes or that group believes.  not what this friend believes or that friend believes.  not what this blogger believes or that blogger believes.

yikes, it’s hard to do!  the systems of the world are built upon people conforming to each other somehow. my friend & awesome refuge teammate karl always says that we mistake uniformity for unity.  true unity is diversity, bound together with a common thread.  to me, when it comes to issues around “church”,  that thread is God.  but we’ve built systems that call for uniformity, that we need to be like “them”, whatever the them is, in order to belong.

i do not think that any of the things i believe are really very heretical!  they’re just one expression of faith that i feel dearly and passionately about, and stem from how i view the gospels & the Bible & what God has stirred up in me through the years. my point in my last post, yep, i guess i’m a heretic, is that by believing & practicing these, somehow i’m “out” of certain circles because of their interpretation of theological truth.  that’s so bizarre to me.  and sad.

but alas, my responsibility is not to change that system or anyone’s minds.

my responsibility is to learn to be comfortable in my own skin. 

my skin, not someone else’s.

but the skin God made that’s me.

this is maturity.  this is healing.  this is transformation.

and this doesn’t have to have to be perceived as something that only has to do with faith or church or anything “spiritual”.  it has to do with becoming better human beings, stronger, more secure, more free men & women, who discover who we each are in deep places of our hearts & practices.

one of the things i love about the christmas story and this time of year is the reminder of Jesus’ humanness.  he had to learn to be in his skin just like us.  and obviously, many, many people didn’t really like his skin.  he had to have his feet on the ground & his head in the clouds in order to walk out the journey he was on here on earth. he had a huge advantage, being God and all, but i take great solace in knowing that Jesus understands humanness.

in all its mess & all its glory.  in all its struggle & all its joy.  in all its reality & all its beauty.

the wise & prophetic father richard rohr says that other “a” words for advent are:  alert, awake, alive, attentive, aware.  i’m not big on alliteration but i love these words!   this season i am trying to be awake, aware, attentive to my story, God’s story-in-me.

and i think it’s a story of growing up somehow, of learning to be comfortable in my own skin. learning to be be less codependent & independent and more interdependent. to be more free.  to be less afraid. to be more clear, even if its only about a few important things.  to be more brave.  to be more weak in some areas & stronger in others.  to care less about what people think & more about what God might think.

God knows our struggle to be comfortable in our own skin.  God is E/Immanuel, with us.  here, now.  down here in the muck and mire of our real lives, our real struggles with life & faith & relationships & all that it means to be human, created in the image of God, living in this broken weird wild world.

enthusiastically wanting to teach us to be comfortable in our own skin.

i’m trying to listen.

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ps:  i stumbled upon this original advent song this weekend by matt staniz. i loved it & thought i’d pass it on to you today as we reflect on our skin, God’s skin.