Love is an interesting, brilliant, but yet complicated emotion. Wikipedia defines ‘love’ as a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from affection to pleasure. It can refer to an emotion of a strong attraction and personal attachment. It can also be a virtue representing human kindness, compassion, and affection.
Love can break walls that we don’t recognize we have built to separate ourselves from impending hurt, and even more importantly, inevitable vulnerability. I think one of the most interesting concepts of love is that it can hit us at any moment, and doesn’t have to be the traditional sense of ‘love’ a la spouse/significant other, parent-child, and other interpersonal relationships.
To truly love someone…anyone…even – and more importantly – ourselves, we have to accept being vulnerable. We have to put trust into someone, and put everything we have – the good, bad, and the horrific – on a plate and hope for the best (infatuation, adoration, and hopefully love), but the worst (rejection, hurt, and a broken heart) can result. C.S. Lewis describes it best from his book, The Four Loves:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
First, C.S. Lewis was an articulate mastermind and that quote sums up the intricacies – both wonderful and woeful – of love. Second, I’m not sure how everyone deals with love, heartbreak, and grief, but I absorb it in like a sponge does water meaning when I love someone, I love with every intense emotion I have. When I grieve, I grieve with every inch of me and when I am hurt, it confounds and overcomes me.
This spring I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, and I slowly felt a calling in my life that I have never felt. With that, I *felt* like I found the perfect church, with the perfect pastor, with the perfect little congregation, with the perfect everything….but it wasn’t the church that was perfect, but rather I was finally listening to the Holy Spirit and surrendering myself in a way that I never could before. I would spend the next three months giving everything I had to, not to just serving God, but serving His people.
I became enamored with a church pastor and its leaders because for the first time in my life I felt like these Men of God – who presented themselves as progressive, out-of-the-box Christians – didn’t squelch the voice of an empowered and vocal female. I felt like my voice was being heard, but in reality that wasn’t the case.
Even though, we all have the power of discernment, we squelch that. I had rose-colored glasses on when it came to the leaders of this sanctuary; things my husband saw, I didn’t see, or rather, I refused to see. I didn’t see the inappropriate physical interactions between the male leadership and women attendees of this place. I didn’t see the glorification of man over the only glorification there should be and that is of the Living God. I didn’t see the hypocrisy of claiming to be progressive, but the passive, quiet refusal to pray over a homosexual couple. I didn’t see the misogyny. I didn’t see the insecurity that ate at – what I thought was – confident, individualistic, godly men.
Around late August, God – quietly – was trying to lead me to a different church; a place that truly was about serving Him and spreading the Good News. Being as stubborn as I am – and I am horribly stubborn – I still was focused on what *EYE* saw and that was this pseudo-perfect meeting place for sinners that was some new age progressive place for everyone – from all walks to life – but then God decided to move things along as I wasn’t listening.
In late October, during a bible study going over 1 Corinthians chapter 13 – the love chapter which was pretty freakin’ ironic given the circumstances – I was verbally assaulted by a female leader of the church with the pastor to my right quietly instigating her venomously fueled anger by just sitting….Just sitting….Not a word….. I’ll spare my readers the details, but never in my life, would I imagine in a place of God would I feel so much anger, malice, bitterness, and hatred propelled my way. Why? Weeks earlier I had made a mistake in which I profusely apologized for, but this wasn’t about that. This was about projecting days…weeks…months of pent-up unhealthy emotions onto me.
I remember the verbal rampage and I shed plenty of tears, but I never defended myself. I kept on thinking “this isn’t about me…this isn’t about me…but it sure the hell isn’t about God.”
I stated “I don’t have to say anything, because God will defend me.”
That was the last contact I had with my former church. A part of me expected an apology from my former pastor….the incident was horrendously un-godlike, unprofessional, but most of all, there was no tact, nor love. Better yet, I was hurt. For weeks.
I looked to my former pastor as a spiritual uncle…I trusted him and I loved him as a niece-uncle relationship goes. He used the Gospel just right, told half-truths just right, did all the things the Bible warns believers about just right to garner my unyielding trust, love, and loyalty. I was hurt. I was pissed off, but I wasn’t mad at anyone except myself. God had tried to move me…he had tried to warn me…but my flesh – as it usually does – got in the way.
For two weeks in November, I just didn’t understand how someone could speak of God, but be the antithesis. It was mind-boggling to me.
I was flummoxed.
I was emotionally badgered. I felt at a loss and I blamed myself. See, even when I have nothing to feel guilty about, I still feel as though I am to blame. And I want to fix it….I’m a fixer…one of those people who wants to be the super glue to all of your problems. I cried too many times, I felt guilt too many times, I felt bitterness too many times.
Then I finally dropped the *EYE* and *MY* emotions and focused on God through scriptures and prayers and He made everything clear as day. He guided me to a new, beautiful church with an impressive, but loving leadership, Children’s ministry, Student Ministry and a plethora of volunteer opportunities.
He whispered into my ear that we must use our discernment at all times and if something seems “perfect” it’s probably far from perfect. He massaged my heart and in doing so, I learned my love wasn’t the problem, but it was the lack of someone else’s love that was. He stroked my wounded soul and instructed me that he created powerful women of God – from all walks of life – to shine the light on insecure, corrupted, and malicious individuals.
Even if others questioned and belittled my intentions and faith, God didn’t….and that’s all that matters.
After all, would a leader of any church call another believer a “witch” and trying to justify that with the Bible? The past few months have been both beautiful and beastly. God is truly the most comical entity that I have ever come into contact with.
Man says to silence woman, but God says my children are my children regardless of race, sexual orientation, creed, and gender.
I wish the leadership of my former church the best, but I’m letting it go. Of course, I would love “to get them back” and I was once a vindictive wench, however, that’s a Tammy that God has set free. Of course, I wouldn’t trust them with a penny, but that’s okay. I have discovered that once we’re brutally honest with ourselves and turn that over to God, He CAN and WILL move mountains for us for His glory.
Basically, I’m doing the impossible by allowing God to give me peace of mind and absolve them from my memory, but not my heart and an even more pivotal transition for myself is giving forgiveness without any expectation.
I can only hope I will receive the same from all those that I have wronged in my lifetime.
Forgiveness. Love. Vulnerability. Empowered. Vilification. Justification.
Surrendering is a beautiful thing and with that God is helping me do the impossible.