I did not grow up in a Christian home. I mean, my parents were ‘Christians’ but … the kind where Jesus is an after thought and God is spoken about only during crisis.
We had a Bible laying around somewhere but honestly, as I typed that I was trying to remember where I saw the Bible but instead my memory went to where someone had Playboys hidden. My brother and I knew where those were.
When I was a teenager I was so hood. I laugh when I type that. I really wanted to be black. I had black girlfriends who lived next door and they were so cool. They weren’t hood … so I don’t know how I became hood – but I was.
I loved Tupac! I remember printing a picture of Jesus hanging on a cross. I cut out a picture of Tupac’s head and placed it over Jesus’ and then hung it on my wall along with all the other cool stuff I had up. [Side note: Back in the day we had a REAL wall where we posted all the stuff we like instead of a digital wall. Dang! I may be getting old.] Anyway – my mom FREEEEAKED out when she saw that picture. I mean, straight up went off on me! “Okay, okay … point taken- don’t put Tupac’s head on a picture of Jesus hanging on a cross.”
Christianity for me in my teenage years looked like this: “Oh! I’m a Christian. If I die I’m going to heaven. …. So let me go drink, tear my friends apart behind their backs, and have sex with my boyfriend. [<– Told you I would talk about sex and if you only came here to read this post because I mentioned sex … A) You’ve got some soul searching to do or B) You’re like me and just got really excited that a Christian was going to talk about sex from a Christian point of view … how to be freaky with your spouse without feeling sinful! BAHAHA! You already know YOU were wondering the SAME DANG THING! That’s for another time, though . Either way. Sorry to disappoint. HAHA!!]
So there- that’s what it looked like for me.
At 20 years old I gave my life to Christ (like for real) and that changed everything. Although I was a new creation, I didn’t feel like I was. I became incredibly insecure. I felt exposed. In church circles I didn’t feel good enough. I would sit in church and have NO CLUE what the pastor was talking about. I wanted to belong and be accepted. Queue the striving and queue performance.
10 years of walking with Jesus and I hit a brick wall. The performance had become too much. I just could’t go through the motions anymore. My whole life I have worked really hard to be ‘somebody’ and to belong. I would continuously muster up energy to be the go-getter and schedule hangouts and insert (force) myself into places that I was never genuinely invited to be. My. Whole. Life.
These past 6 months have been really tough but amazing. Actually more so amazing than tough. But when I really bullet point all the crap that has happened over the past 6 months I see how the world would view it as tough. Heck, I would have viewed it as tough too … BUT GOD…
God makes a way in the desert. When we choose to focus on the promises of God, we can see clearly even if we don’t see a thing. When we choose to believe God, we can feel the peace that passes all understanding. The Lord told me in July of this year, as I was standing at the airport, looking out the window at the planes, “In order to experience the peace that passes all understanding, you must first give up the need to understand.” God was telling me I had to surrender. Not just say I surrender, but wholeheartedly surrender.
There is nothing more freeing than knowing Jesus and knowing who you are in Him. Being okay with you is monumental. I look out into a vast sea of people and the ones that stand out the most are the ones who stand alone. They are the ones who don’t look like the crowd. They are the ones who operate in their God given talents and gifts and bring something different, they bring a new flavor to the world. The thought of blending in exhausts them. They make life look easy … it’s not that life is easy but they’re not striving, they’re just experiencing life as it comes. They are the ones who shine the brightest because they’re not hindered by insecurity, arrogance, or any other ‘self’ stuff that gets in the way.
The past week I’ve been singing a nursery rhyme, The Farmer in the Dell, in my head. This is what I keep singing – “The cheese stands alone. The cheese stands alone. High Ho The Dairy O, The cheese stands alone.”
I decided to look up what the history of this song was all about. There are different resources that give insight to the song but I like what Wikipedia had to say. I never played this game as a kid but apparently there is a game that goes with the song. It goes like this:
“The players form a circle holding hands around one who is designated as the farmer, singing the first verse while moving around. When the verse is over they stop and the farmer makes his choice of a wife (sometimes without looking). The wife joins him in the center for her verse and so through the verses until only one person is left to become the last character.”
If you’re familiar with the song you know that the farmer chooses a wife, the wife chooses a child, the child chooses a cow … and so on and so forth until you get to the cheese. The cheese is selected last and the cheese stands alone.
God is so good! He even uses nursery rhymes to speak to my heart.
“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” – those are Jesus’ words in Mark 9:35 as he was talking to His followers.
I am completely leveled. I am completely overwhelmed that God loves me enough to speak to me with such detail. I didn’t do anything to deserve Him. I didn’t grow up with parents who mapped out my journey to know The Lord. I didn’t even have an example of what it looked like to follow Jesus. I have a broken background. I’ve done really bad things. But that didn’t stop God from drawing me close to Him. That didn’t stop God from rearranging my whole life.
There is nothing that can separate you from the love of Christ. Nothing. (Romans 8:39).
I pray that this message gives you hope. I pray that you step over that line and stop holding back. I pray that you’ll be recklessly abandoned to Christ Jesus, in complete surrender … and be okay with being the cheese.
You are loved!