GNO Edmonton Sheila 3

I have big thighs. I always have. I have a tiny waist, but my legs have always been big. That bothered me in high school.

I have a mole on the right side of my face. Periodically I wonder about taking it off.

But that’s not all that I don’t like about myself. I find it difficult to put up with people who are doing something that I consider stupid, or who refuse to see that there’s a better way of doing something. It means that I go through life often perpetually annoyed. I don’t like that about myself.

There are good sides to it: I’m an idea person, and I’m constantly coming up with new ideas of how to change a program at church, or a new idea for a book, or a new idea for how to do something at home. And people often embrace these ideas with enthusiasm. But I still go through life always seeing how stores could be set up differently, or how churches could run differently, or how the country could be run differently. It’s tiring.

At my last church there was an older couple named John and Bea, and they were just wonderful. They radiated Jesus. And I so wanted to be Bea. She was so encouraging to everybody. She found joy in everything. She was gentle.

I’ve never been gentle.

I’ve prayed that God will make me more gentle. I’ve prayed that I won’t see the inefficiencies or injustices in everything. And I’ve prayed that I could just be more peaceful.

It really hasn’t happened. In my interpersonal relationships I’m actually quite nice and loud and exuberant, most people will tell you. But in my mind I’m always coming up with new ideas, new thoughts, new ways to improve things.

Perhaps that’s why I’m a writer. I can get some of these thoughts out. I don’t think I would have been able to write as many books as I did, or stick with it as long as I did, if I didn’t have a lot of ideas.

But other writers aren’t like me, and that’s what’s been distressing me lately. When I read other Christian blogs, I read such beautiful things of people trusting God and seeing the beauty in things. Ann Voskamp, who is a personal friend, writes so gently. And other Christian mom bloggers talk about creating a peaceful and gentle home, where you know your role and you be Jesus there.

I agree with all of these things, but I have a problem. That is not who I am.

I still want to be gentle, but I’m beginning to understand that I will never fit the mold of a typical Christian mom blogger, or a typical Christian writer, or a typical Christian wife! I’m simply not made that way. That doesn’t mean I won’t love Jesus. It doesn’t mean that I won’t raise my kids to know Jesus. But I’m just not one of those people who will have a super-organized home with cookies baked (unless my daughter makes them).

I value those things, but I value other things, too. And I think this is the way that God made me. For years I tried to fit into a different mold, but I don’t think I can. And so what I’ve realized, instead, is that who I am is good. I just need to make sure that I’m acting and writing with God’s grace.

I don’t always succeed. I got a lot of flak on Monday for my post on 7 Pet Peeves About Worship Music, for instance. Some felt that I was inviting people to criticize worship pastors, which wasn’t my intention. In fact, if you read that post, many of the pet peeves are directed at those in the pews: no instrument is satanic. No time period is satanic.

But at the same time, I do think that blogs provide a place where we can talk about things without criticizing anyone in particular. And we do need to talk about these things. I think if everyone started an honest dialogue about what music in church should be like, taking responsibility for our own attitudes, then churches would be better off.

In retrospect, I could have handled that post better, and perhaps given it a name that wasn’t so inflammatory. And I could have warned people more up front not to criticize their own praise team leaders.

But often, whenever I say anything controversial, I get that response: we really shouldn’t talk about these things. This can stir up dissension. We should just get along.

I understand what you’re saying. I really do. But I’m not made that way. If that’s true, that we really shouldn’t talk about how to improve things in any area of our life if it may offend someone else, then my whole personality is wrong.

The truth is I don’t fit the mold. I never have. But I like thinking. I like dreaming. I like coming up with new ideas. And I am not a sweet person.

That doesn’t mean I’m not a fun person, or a Christian person, or a reverent person. But I’m not sweet.

I’m still praying for gentleness, and I hope that, in time, I’ll learn to write more gently in places while still making my point. But I think that most of you come to this blog because you know that I will tell it like it is, and I won’t try to paper over marriage problems by just saying, “just love him and pray and everything will be great“–because I know that in reality people often need more practical things than that. And so I don’t give the pat Christian answers. I sometimes fear this makes me less Christian. Don’t I believe in the power of prayer? Don’t I believe that we should just trust?

Yes, but in my life things have never been that straightforward. In the grief I’ve gone through, in the troubles I’ve gone through, it’s all involved a lot of struggling with God. Prayer works. Trust works. But sometimes I find it’s not that simple. We also have to acknowledge that life is hard, and sometimes what God asks is hard. But He is big enough to carry you through, even if it means you don’t achieve pure happiness in this life. Sometimes the joy we get is bigger. But let’s not pretend that hurts don’t still hurt.

I believe in wrestling with God, because I have wrestled with God. I don’t believe in status quo, because I think God is always calling us to something more. And I believe that God sometimes makes people out of the box, to encourage other people to be out of the box.

So I’m out of the box. I’m praying for more gentleness–please, make me gentle–but I can’t change who I am.

So let me know–why do you come here? Do you ever feel out of the box? What do you think?