This. Is. Freedom.

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.32.50 AM

Remember I told you that a few months ago I lost my shit?!

See what had happened was … someone called me a hypocrite and some other names because they got their feelings hurt by me. It wasn’t so much that they called me names but more about the fact that they misunderstood my heart and would NOT let me explain myself.

It was as if the person enjoyed being the victim and found pleasure in punishing me.  They were not trying to listen to me or work it out or understand at all.

Just straight played the victim.

I did everything I could to make peace and ultimately I realized the person just wanted to hate me.  I couldn’t change their mind and I couldn’t do anything about it.

No control. No power. No influence. No reconciliation.

I, April Poynter, had an enemy.

I frickin’ lost it.

The Lord had already been working on my heart and rearranging furniture in my soul.  But all my performance and striving and good-christian-girl motives crumbled this particular day.

I realized that no matter how good you are (or think you are),  no matter how much you pursue peace among others –  you still mess up and people can still choose to hate you. I found myself so angry about this situation.  I’m talkin’ FUMING! I was mad, y’all.  But it was just what I needed to push me into a new place in my life.

For 2 days I pretty much said nothing to anyone.  I just didn’t have words.  I sat in silence and tears would flow.  You ever feel that pain in your heart and there are no words … just tears?  That’s where I was. I felt bruised on the inside and incredibly pissed off.

On day 3 I snapped. I was at lunch with my husband, sitting at The Juice Bar, sipping a green juice in silence when I finally opened my mouth and a flood of cuss words started flowing out.

I was really pissed off.  I was pissed off at everyone and every thing.  I was pissed off at church.  Pissed off at ministry. Pissed off at friends.  Pissed off about everything that revolved around serving Jesus and being in “community” with others.

All my efforts had left me really pissed off.

Tony, my husband, sitting in silence and listening to me rant- starts cracking up.  I mean, I’m fuming and the guy starts laughing at me.

I wanted to be pissed off at him in that moment but instead I started laughing too. I was exhausted.

Tony, with true compassion, looked at me and told me that he understood. He knew exactly what I was going through and it was actually refreshing to see me be human.

The next 5 days I isolated myself from the world (besides work) because I couldn’t trust myself to not destroy anyone and everyone I came in contact with.

If I heard one more “I’m praying for you” or “God will get you through this” or had another scripture texted to me – I was going to lose it. I know people meant well. Hey, that’s what we do as Christians.  Honestly, you were damned if you do and damned if you don’t in this situation.  Offer hope and support  and I would bite your head off.  Stay silent and I would be irritated that you didn’t care.

I didn’t need to be fixed.  I wasn’t broken in this season. I mean, I was broken… but not like that.  I actually felt like I was busting out of the box! I knew if I told anyone I would be called a ‘back slider’ or judged because I was going against the Williamson County cultural Christian ‘way’.  I get it.  I would have done the same thing to anyone else going through what I went through.

I didn’t trust myself during those days.  I was a loose cannon.

Everything I had built up came crashing down. I didn’t want to lead anymore.  I didn’t want to be a ministry leader, writer, or freedom advocate anymore. I didn’t want to save people and strive for opportunities to share the gospel … I just wanted to be April.  Broken, messy, lover of Jesus, don’t have all the answers, passionate, in process – April. I didn’t want a platform.  No audience. No “can you pray for me” messages….

Because for once I saw myself just the same as everyone around me… the same as those I had tried to reach and lift up.  I realized I am that person too.  I don’t have answers.  I’m no better or higher leveled than anyone else!

I created myself as a leader.  I created myself as a woman after God’s heart.  I painted the picture exactly how I wanted and I was tired.

I remember sitting on my patio one night – alone in silence.  Staring at the stars, tears filling my eyes from the unexplainable pain I felt in my core. I thought to myself, ‘THIS is not freedom.’  So, I said to The Lord, “Jesus! This is not freedom.  This is not what you died for. I believe in freedom but this is not it.  Take me back to that simple place with you – before the striving and the doing and the going and all these works. All this pressure and ‘look at me’ and feeling guilty for not acting/doing/being good/nice enough… or praying enough or reading my Bible enough or quoting scriptures perfectly…  I missed something along the way and I’m desperate for the freedom that you speak about.”

He answered, “Me.”

It makes me tear up now.  He is freedom.  Simply Jesus. I have tasted and seen that The Lord is good … just because He is.

You guys – I was a heathen hot mess for those few days.  My thoughts and words were awful. I was so mad. I was not put together. I was not nice. Yet, God sat right there with me. He let me be a horrible person (I consider it horrible for me … and for all “I knew better”.)  I was ugly and He came close. My ugliness didn’t scare Him away.

His goodness has nothing to do with my goodness.  He’s good because He’s God and that’s His very nature.  He’s good when I’m not good.  He’s good when I royally screw things up.  He’s good when things don’t go my way or when I’m not on my best behavior.  He’s good when I yell at my kids or act bratty with my husband.  He’s good when I’m acting worldly and sweetly grabs my attention through conviction.  He’s good just because.

His goodness and grace and love isn’t tied to our wretchedness.  No, it just covers it.

I cannot understand that type of goodness but I know it exists.  I know He offers it over and over again.

13 years ago I went to church and fell in love with Jesus – or so I thought.  In actuality I went to church and fell in love with church.  I saw women leaders in the church and realized if I could be as good as them – I was on the right track.  If I could hang out in their groups, I was on the right track.  If I could speak their language and pray pretty prayers like them – oh yeah, I was on the right track.

What a crock.

This leaves you empty.

13 years ago I did go to church and fall in love with church …  but a few months ago I sat on my patio with Jesus, completely broken and really pissed off and realized somewhere along the way I fell in love with Jesus and HE was all I wanted … and I was willing and wanting to give up everything just to have him.

No more lights and smoke machines.  No more ‘look at me’ moments posted to social media.  No more “community” that was really just meeting for coffee every once in a while, texting and/or Facebooking with each other (In Jesus’ name of course).  No more showing up to Sunday services packaged nicely.

Just desperate for Jesus.

And I heard Him say to me, “All I ever wanted was you.  Right where you are.  Not where ‘they’ are…. but where you are.  I can do more with you where you are than where you think you should be.”

“What?! Jesus?! You mean…. you want THIS?  You want the April who totally loves you and wants to live her life for you but still cusses sometimes and can be extremely selfish?! ….

You want this girl who doesn’t always have the best disciplines?  This scattered brain loner?  You want this person who’s natural gift is NOT hospitality …  more of a taker than a giver… You want that?!  Me?  Who struggles to trust people?  The me who can actually be extremely critical?!”

Yup.  And he loves and wants you too.  Yup. You.  All that you are – right where you are.

Romans 12:3 floods my mind:

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

I still don’t understand how God can love me right where I am.  I thought I was doing a pretty darn good job letting God love me where I thought I should be. I realized that striving was never about God’s approval.  It was about people approval.  It was more about where the church culture says we should be as individuals rather than where God says we should be.

I may not understand his love but I know I feel it.

And because I have let him meet me where I’m at … where I’m truly at …  love and grace meet me daily (moment by moment, second by second).  I’m constantly living under an awareness of his love and grace and how I don’t deserve it and yet he keeps pouring it out.

Fear vanishes.

Anxiety flees.

When you experience that kind of love …  When you accept – Hey! Here I am.  Here’s where I am today.  Am I still loveable?  And He says you are… The hurt and The Healer collide.

You are changed forever.

You cannot receive this kind of love without wanting to let it pour out of you and onto others.

It’s just too powerful.

It’s transformational love.

We don’t have to strive to be good Christians.  What the heck is a good Christian anyway? Who put the ‘good’ in front of Christian.  That says a lot, actually.  Just be a Christian. A devoted follower of Jesus Christ – in process.

We’re quick to say “Oh, I know we don’t arrive until we get to heaven” and yet we expect every one who claims to love Jesus to NOT be in process.  To not be messy.  To not speak out of line.  And Heaven forbid –  to not miss a Sunday church service. (Not to be confused with accountability… there’s definitely a place for that.)

That’s what following Jesus is …   ‘Look – I’m a freakin’ hot mess express and I’m in desperate need of a Savior!”  Right?!  I’m not who I was 10 years ago (Thank God!).  I won’t be the same 10 years from now (I’m sure I’ll be saying ‘Thank God’ again then).

Jesus met the woman at the well.  She was a hot mess express too.  He went out of his way, broke cultural rules and met her where she was.  Her encounter with Jesus changed her.  Yeah, He called her out …  but he didn’t box her in with a list of rules and regulations.  He didn’t rub her face in her short comings.  He met her where she was.  He loved her where she was.  However, she didn’t stay where she was because her encounter with His love changed her.

I believe the thought of bypassing rules and regulations of cultural Christianity leads people to believe you’re condoning bad behavior… as long as you love Jesus.

That’s not what I’m saying at all. Jesus met the woman at the well but that same Jesus flipped tables in the temple. Jesus will never condone sin. Never.

I get that.

Behavior change comes from heart change. Heart change comes from a relationship with Jesus.

Jesus touched the leper.  Disease stricken, nasty people.  They had to ring bells and yell “Unclean!” as they walked through the town.  Jesus walked right up and touched the leper. Jesus isn’t afraid of your mess.  Your mess doesn’t rub off on Him.  He rubs off on you.

This is Who I’m in love with.  This is Who I want to chase after all the days of my life.

This.

This. Is. Freedom.

His name is Jesus.

jesus-hugging-a-little-girl