The Secret Life of a Waffler

food-863484_960_720A Waffler, not to be confused with makers of the sweet morning delicacy, is one who bounces between one or more things indecisively; one who is torn; plagued.

I’ve always known I was a Waffler. The battle has existed from the time I was a wee girl, which even then led me to play a role I was never meant to play; the role of the “good church girl”. Growing up in the church, I became bilingual—fluent in Christianese as well as World, but it was a role, not reality.

I wanted my words and actions to be pure of heart, honoring to Christ, but they weren’t always because they were often done out of expectation. I wanted to believe all I heard, but some things begged for answers to questions I feared to ask. I wanted the love songs I sang to the Lord on Sunday mornings to genuinely reflect my heart, but they didn’t. How could I say I loved someone I didn’t really know? I wanted the words in the Bible to jump off the page and penetrate my heart and morph into this intimate relationship with Christ that I kept hearing about, but rarely saw. I wanted God; I wanted to feel Him and when I didn’t, I just kept following all the rules— the self-imposed rules, the subliminal rules, and the rules bellowed from the pulpit week in and week out. Boy, did I know the rules! And boy, did I hope they would lead me to Christ.

As a young girl, I was certain the rules lined the yellow brick road, which would eventually lead me to Jesus.

The-RulesI like rules and boundaries. It makes succeeding—winning– easy. But what I discovered in this quest to know Christ more and who I am in Him is that rules do not equate relationship, nor do they equate salvation or anything else except to meet the expectations of others. And this is where I have struggled—and I think many of us have– because we’ve deceived ourselves into thinking if we _______, then God will ______. We’ve made our relationship with God contingent upon what we do, rather than what He did!

I struggle with my identity in Christ. I really do. I am fully aware of all the things that should disqualify me from God’s acceptance, forgiveness, and love. My defects stifle me and tarnish the relationship Christ desires for me. I do this by believing that Christ sees me as I see myself. In my head, I know this is far from the truth, but my heart consistently clamors to catch up.

I think so much of our Christian faith is spent in evaluation mode; looking inwardly, measuring ourselves against “God’s Standard” (which by the way is often man’s mislabeled standard) or adding and subtracting this behavior or that behavior in hopes to meet…I don’t know…holiness (I guess that’s what we’re after), that we spend more time thinking about ourselves than worshiping Christ.

Holiness means to be “set apart”. God sees us as such; clothed in His robes of righteousness, not in our inadequacies and sins.

I do not have His eyes. I cannot see what He sees.  I cannot even comprehend what He sees, but I believe in Him—and that has to be enough; has to be! As I write these words, I can practically hear the words of Hebrews 11:1 being whispered in my ear:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”.

Without a doubt, I believe God’s Word is infallible. I know, to my core, I can trust every word, every promise written. I do not question it. So if I don’t question it, why am I not living as if “He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world” (Romans 8)?

God is FOR us—not against us.

But we live as if He is. We replay our past sins and failures and live from the platform of condemnation when God clearly states that “in Him there is NO condemnation” (Romans 8:1). In order to truly live freely and embrace our identity in Him, we MUST accept and believe this. He did not come to live as man and die a brutal death for us to essentially die with Him. No! He came so that we might have life and life to the full (John 10:10).

I wonder what would happen if I started reconstructing my identity based strictly on God’s Word?

Who Does God say I am?

bible-1068176_960_720God looks beyond my defects, faults, failings, inadequacies and sees something I have yet to comprehend: my worth, my value; that I am His daughter. His beloved. His Delight. In Him, my identity is secure. It’s not contingent on what I do or not do.  It’s based on what He’s done.

I think that’s it…we, like Peter (the dude who walked on water), have to keep our eyes on Jesus because when we don’t, that is when our enemy whispers all our self-doubts, shame, and insecurities over us and we begin to sink. God’s view of us hasn’t changed, ours has.

I am learning I must affirm the identity Christ has assigned me and learn to live from this place for Him. I cannot do this if I keep feeding my insecurities. I am not discounting my past, sins, or failures; I’m just refusing to live from them anymore. I want freedom. I want Truth. I don’t want to waffle anymore.


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10 thoughts on “The Secret Life of a Waffler

  1. So do you feel that church actually hindered your relationship with Christ? I’ve heard from many that this fake-it-till-you-make-it tendency of the congregation is unsustainable that they eventually fall away from the Church, and in some cases, from belief in God altogether. Did you raise your girls in church? If so, how did you address these questions that the culture of church rarely does: that it’s all about what God does, not what we do?

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    • That’s a hard question. In a lot of ways I feel as if the church (and my parents) introduced me to God, but they were so hell-bent on teaching the rules and covering the academia part of “Christianity” that I did not realize “Chrisitianity” was never meant to be about rules, but about relationship. I grew up fearing God, not loving Him. My brokenness over my abortion led me to Christian counseling and it was there that it all “clicked” for me. I literally felt as if God was caring for me, speaking to me, healing me. That devastating and life-changing experience literally changed my perspective of what faith is all about.

      I am grateful for the knowledge that has been so ingrained in me as a child. I feel a lot of it is so foundational and is applicable in my daily living. The delivery was just wrong. I am certain that if I had not been led into Christian counseling, where I discovered God for myself, I very well might have left organized religion. This is not to say all churches are doing it wrong. I think good-intentions led to leagalism and no one can really live freely in that. It becomes a religion of works, not grace.

      We have raised our girls in the church, but this came with a lot of trepidation. We play a very active role in our girls’ lives, especially where faith is concerned. We read, we talk, we cry, we pray, we sing together. I allow them to see my relationship with God in all its good times and in all the times I am struggling over something. I never want to appear as if I have it all figured out. I openly wrestle. This leads to great conversations– and I feel that it will lead them down the path toward a relationship with Christ not just knowledge of Him. That really is my greatest desire that they would come to know Christ intimately for themselves, not because I pushed them or scared them into it.

      My youngest, Meg, is so grounded in her faith, so in love with Jesus that I just shake my head and praise the Lord for touching her heart at such a young age. Abigail is on the path. She’s a lot like me. In fact, when she read this post, she said I hit the nail on the head with her own thoughts surrounding the struggle she has in her relationship (or lack of one) with Christ.I love, love how we can talk as mother and daughter about these things.

      I’m curious about how you are raising your girls. Your upbringing, your converstion, and now in the Catholic Church…I can imagine you’ve done some wrestling of your own—or maybe its been easy for you…

      (Side Note: is typing responses on WP super difficult for you? I cannot see more that 5 lines at a time and all my words have a red squiggle line under them. My cursor will not allow me to go back into the text to revamp/correct mistakes…I am cetain my responses come across completely hapharzardly—yes, in my mind I am a little haphazard, but on paper I can usually clean it up a little—not in my responses, however. Maddening!)

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      • Side note first, I don’t know what’s up with the red squiggle lines or not being able to go back and correct mistakes. Are you sure your settings are set to English? I’ve gotten used to seeing only five lines at a time. At least it’s not like on facebook where every time you press enter, instead of going to the next line down, your message is sent. I can understand your responses, though.
        Your family has a good understanding of the concept of a living, breathing, bride-of-Christ church; one that doesn’t culminate with Sunday morning dress-ups and putting on smiles for your fellow members of the Body. It’s awesome that you all pray, sing, wrestle with God together, openly. There is no doubt that this is what God intends for the family, as well as for the church family, yet so often we get it wrong by adhering to the legalism you mention, no matter how initially well-intentioned.
        Maybe, and I’m not pretending to know why God does what He does, but maybe because God sees our hearts, this is the reason both you and I came to know and love God. He saw the deep-down buried longing and was able to fulfill that. Some people do not have that longing because they replace it with some other idol and then lack the humility to cry out to God. So how do we teach our children that being part of a church family just barely scratches the surface of how deep and beautiful our relationship with God can be? How do we teach them to reject the flashy specks of the world and to embrace something that is hard and requires a lot of work? My husband and I are undecided on how much church we want to prescribe to our girls, but I know in time God will reveal the answers. We do know that church begins with rich prayer life within the home and being people of gratitude. This topic is actually of great interest to me, especially since having kids, but even before when I recognized that most people who truly love God and show it in their daily lives, were prodigals, having fallen away from religion and then being found by the unconditional love of God. I wrote a post earlier this year, ‘Raising Spiritual Children’ hoping to get some insight from folks who have done just that, but I’m still learning as I go along, trusting God will provide for us.

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        • I’ve written on that subject recently as well– on the faith formation of my kiddos in light of our decision not to return to church. Our situation was a bit severe though– we went from mommy and daddy are studying at Seminary to be pastors, to being a completely un-churched family. I pray often about it. My faith, and that of my husband, is an organically integrated part of our lives. I’m hoping that watching us live into our faith and relationship with God is something they key into more as they get older.

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          • Personally, I do not feel church in a building is necessary. I do think Christian community is, however. We need one another and as the Word says, “Iron sharpens iron”. Church does provide Christian peers for my girls and scratches the surface of topics, which we usually pull apart and talk about more deeply once home. They, even at their young ages, see the commercialism/marketing in church and desire that it be a more organic community of like-minded Jesus lovers who just want to worship and grow more in Him. Still, it’s our starting point—definitely not our ending point.
            I do not think there is one right way to do “church” (only one way to salvation, however). For me, I’m a nature lover. I call nature my sanctuary. When I am gardening, I am on my knees. I am in prayer, deep thought, reflection. It is where I feel closest to God. A lot of people would not consider that church. I do. It is more fulfilling and life-giving that sitting in a padded chair in a huge building with thousands of strangers. Still, I go Sunday mornings. Sigh. As I write this, I almost wonder why. Guess that’s what I’ll be contemplating and praying about while in my gardens this week.

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          • Oh we are so alike…. Lol!
            Nature is the finest of all the Cathedrals:)

            I contemplate much as I’m digging into the earth, and caring for my plants. It’s a special relationship that my plants have with God. Sometimes I envy them– it’s so much simpler for lower creatures. It is us ‘higher’ creatures that struggle;)

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  2. Unsurprisingly, I can relate:)

    My reaction to the rules, when following them did not result in success, was one of defiance. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing… In rejecting a religious framework that did not lead you to what it was that you wanted, I think defiance can bring us a step closer to finding what it is our soul yearns for.
    It’s why I don’t fault Atheists. They have rejected the image of God they were told to behold. I get it. I’ve rejected that image too… It’s just that I thought it unwise to throw the baby out with the bath water;)

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  3. Um… Yay! Being on a blogging sabatical, I have missed your wonderful posts SO much! I have actually had this very topic on my mind recently. I’m constantly consumed by my sin, trying to be better for Christ. It is such a relief when the TRUTH finally crosses my mind and that is… in Him, I am made new. It is so sad that it is so easy for us to forget that with our tiny, human minds. Thanks so much for sharing and reminding me! I love reading about your experiences as a young girl in church. My perspective is so different, but as a youth director (in the past), your experiences are so important for me to consider and be aware of.

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    • I love it when we have something on our minds and then we turn around to see someone else has the same thing on theirs! God is so good to generate community like that.
      I have a feeling we believe our struggles and sins are unique to us so we keep them under wraps—just between God and us. However, once we are bold enough to bring them into the light, we discover we’re not alone—that in fact, many, many others wrestle with the exact same thing!
      Somehow, we think we should be further along in our relationship with Christ. We struggle with really accepting our identity in Him, we don’t understand this scripture or that, etc. We are unique, but we are not alone. I heard or read somewhere years ago that “we expect more from ourselves than God expects from us”–and that has stayed with me. I do think we expect more from ourselves because we are so ingrained to achieve, to attain, to succeed in all areas of life. We have a standard to which we strive to meet. The thing is, there is no such thing as “having arrived” in faith—or maybe there is—just not to what we think it is–or this side of heaven. Isn’t it enough to have faith and live from faith? Sigh….it gets complicated for sure. I trust that God genuinely knows our hearts, our motives, and that’s enough. I believe He will not let us miss His best for us. Without a doubt,
      Pursue Peace, God is working in and though you. Your gift of writing, touching on such spectacularly unlit issues is generating conversations and causing us to take steps we have struggled to take before. Our eyes have been enlightened through your perfectly painted words. Your stories are not words left on pages, but kept alive in the hearts who read them. You continually bless me. You’ve no idea! No idea!

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      • Oh my goodness thank you so much for the wonderful compliments toward my writing. Words can’t describe how much I appreciate it and I am so glad I have readers who appreciate my words. My pastor just preached on this topic actually. When God says, “You are forgiven” or “There is no condemnation” we just can’t possibly accept it. There must be more. We must do more. But really… the whole awesome, miraculous, mind-blowing thing about Christianity is that there is nothing we can do–He has given us what we will never deserve.

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