I’ve been thinking about love. And sex. And faith. I’ve been listening to interesting, thoughtful, compelling, compassionate and artistic women as they strip down and bare their beliefs. Wrapped in blankets and propped between pillows, when the night light is flickering and the radio winding down, I have sat and read their words and let them flow over me as we contemplate this most tender of topics: what. we. believe.
It’s intimate, sharing faith. Whether we agree with one another or not, the act alone engenders intimacy. That’s why, for me, when I think of faith I often think of sex. And when you meet me, I assure you that our first conversation would NOT include a play-by-play recap of my wedding night. Similarly, at first handshake I don’t plan to wade into a five point thesis on salvation. Those are the conversations that require trust and true relationship.
But you WOULD learn that I am married to a guy whose name I pronounce Pe-tAH and that we’re going on 11 years of marriage.
I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember.
Once we’ve had a chance to hang out over tea and between play dates, I may tell you the story of how Pete and I met, how he had the audacity to edit a paper I had already received an “A” on, and was the first guy who challenged me to match wits and humor with him.
I believe Jesus lived among coarse, rough-spoken, fishermen and shook up the social order of his day by socializing with outcasts, women and thieves. I believe he valued the opinion of children more than most professing believers today.
Once you’ve seen me in my “comfy clothes” and helped me fold laundry there will be time to compare stories about first kisses and what it was like to be introduced to the future in-laws. We may reminisce about our wedding dresses and pull out photo albums and scrapbooks to laugh at what we looked like back then compared to today.
My faith has morphed over the years as I have taken ownership of it. It has become real to me as I live it out apart from my parents and through my own circumstances. When I look back at my 18-year-old self I can see how what I claimed to believe then, I have only really started to understand now. My skinny faith has put on a few pounds.
Over a glass of South African wine or a strawberry daiquiri we may work our way around to comparing notes on our pre-marriage vs. post-marriage take on sex. We will likely laugh a lot, nod heads, affirm one another and appreciate each others’ different perspectives on such a universal experience.
I believe that we all long to believe in something bigger than ourselves. It might not turn out the way we imagined, it might be awkward and difficult to understand, and it may require stepping out into seeming nothingness because of a promise: I will not let you go. I will not desert you. I am for you even if it costs me my life.
There will come a point in our friendship when we are comfortable enough to confide our dark secrets; we will take time to talk about the courage required of marriage and the hard road of parenting. We will compare close-calls and the desperate fear we have that something might steal our children from us.
I have doubted almost everything I believe. I have been afraid that God might be out to get me. I have questioned him and wrestled with him and misunderstood him.
But, by now, you will know me and Pete and that we are still together after 10 years. You will have babysat our boys.
In perfect love there is no room for fear. And when my head is full of chaos I know that I only need to put my hand in his and trust him the way my kids trust me to keep the dark at bay. I don’t need fancy words I just need kid-sized faith.
When we are friends you will know that our marriage isn’t a happily ever after, it’s more like a DIY project that is constantly under construction. We hammer it out bit by bit, day by day so it’s loud and alive and growing.
I believe that being a Christian doesn’t make me better or holier or nicer than anyone else. I’m just as messy and shouty on the inside as the next person. The only difference is I believe there is someone who knows my mess and loves me regardless. Like marriage, my faith is a work in progress. It has its ups and downs, but at the core is a certainty that I am loved for who I am. Not for what I do, the state of my kitchen or how many kids I have. I am loved for me. Because he made me, he chose me, he knows me. And we’re in this together, Jesus and me, for the long haul.