At a recent meeting with my SEO I discovered that I am most readily discovered if you type “Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying” into your Google search. Second only to “Christian mom who doesn’t think her kids are great,” and also “why are my kids so sticky.” I don’t know why your kids are so sticky. Ask Dr. Phil .
This legacy is ironic.
Since I was old enough to talk, I have said the wrong thing.
But this Google rank started as a fluke and has been a huge part of my freedom and belief. I really didn’t have any idea what I was getting into. It was September 29th, 2015 when I received a phone call from my soon-to-be agent. She wanted to finalize her offer to be my literary agent. I had written maybe 10 posts, I was not even a writer, and yet in some odd twist of events, my blog had gone from 69 total views to 690,000 and climbing…
cause my kids aren’t that great.
She explained that even with a viral post I could easily be a one-hit wonder, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect because on October first I would need to join a challenge, Write 31-days. She explained that I would pick one topic and write about that topic every day in October.
Well, no. Not really.
I sat on my closet floor and tried to brainstorm. It was an hour into the mind games that I got a WordPress alert. Dread swept over me. Initially, when the Open Letter to My Children began its viral climb, I had been fascinated. I could refresh my iPhone screen and watch the numbers climb by the thousands. And then… the comments came rolling in.
Oh. My. Stars.
From death threats to 9,000-word manifestos on my wayward “Christian” heart to a Facebook page to support poor KKyylliiee in her time of need, I was unable to catch my breath between phone alerts and the next compliment or tongue lashing. And the next brutality came at just the right moment.
“You are the worst example of Christianity on the internet. Certainly, you will burn in hell for this blog post. It is tragic, you are engaged in the work of Satan. Your Sister In Christ, Marilyn”
An Open Letter to Marilyn, thanks, shoog!
Can I both work for Satan and burn in hell and still be your sister in Christ?
Viola! Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying was born.
“Stop Praying for Me Really Hard” and “WHEN ARE YOU DUE?” and my favorite, “Don’t Tell Me You’ve Been Up All Night Vomiting,” catapulted my little blog to the WordPress top-five for over a month with several days in the number one spot.
What I didn’t know then, and I fully see now was that I was embarking on a journey to freedom. In the midst of a wicked fast track to a two-book deal when I didn’t even own a laptop, I was the one who was about to completely change my verbosity.
The things that didn’t sit right with me, and no not just the stomach flu, but the deep seeded beliefs I was familiar with were making less and less sense to me. When I voiced my confusion out loud?
The resounding gong was, “AMEN SISTA!”
Was this my niche?
Would I just gripe about how I didn’t understand how you could be “kind of saved?” The corporate church’s hypocritical cries “get dunked, get saved, and now… fix yourself, woman!” wore me down and left me condemned and without hope. The promise of life, joy, peace, patience, and abundance was mislabeled, contrary to the scriptures from the front to the back of my Bible. No matter how hard I tried, I never knew when it would finally be enough. Would my entire, albeit very short maiden voyage into the world of publishing just be the burdensome confusion of mixed up covenants and a Jesus with a severe personality disorder?
And now, a two-book deal contract sat before me.
Stolen Jesus: An Unconventional Search for the Real Savior and Sacred Ground Sticky Floors – the outlines were stunning. She pitched these books out of the park. I was with a publishing house and editor, I adored. Fraudulence oozed from my hyper-Christian pores. A dyslexic author without a computer. Also… I couldn’t find a pen to sign my contract. So, I opted for a green crayon.
I set two goals.
Turn in the first manuscript one year to the day of my first viral post on my 45th Bday
Set captives free.
Little did I know, I meant me.
I was captive.
As I pounded out words on my new laptop, a journey unfolded. And the things that I wanted to stop folks from saying were the very words that I believed and harbored as truth. Late August of 2016, with my personal deadlines creeping near, I called my sister in tears, “This is funny. It is touching. But what is the arc? Where is this different? What is the left hook? I am no different? Do I say read your Bible more? Go to a certain church?” And she said, “I think you need to listen to this sermon I just finished by John Sheasby called The New Covenant, I think I am free.”
Two hours later I was free too.
72-hours later I finished my book.
And here is what I know now, there are three things that Christians simply must stop saying. Seriously, stop it.
ONE: I AM AFRAID
It’s ok, I know. I was afraid too. The truth is, I spent my entire life… terrified. We as humans tend to speak what feel and feel what we speak. It is a sad existence. And I am not insinuating that you can’t lament your fears to God or someone you trust. I confide things I am afraid of – egg salad, crickets, spiders, and elevators are paramount. But fraidy cat Christians are at epidemic levels.
Recently a popular blogger posted a long Facebook rant about a certain political view. With nearly 100,000 followers the post was shared and liked, loved, or #theendoftheworldasweknowit. The author lamented her hatred of new policy, and bawled, “WHAT WILL BECOME OF MY CHILDREN! WE WILL LOSE EVERYTHING.”
Yeah well, no one promised you a rose garden sista.
He promised you life and peace abundant, not health care reform. And might I interject, you can’t be kind of saved. If I pulled you out of a burning building and set you on a sidewalk four blocks away, you are saved. If I toss you a wet washcloth inside the burning building – you are just dabbing your sweaty brow… waiting for that beam to collapse and kill you.
Jesus is fully cognizant of the woes of democratic policy. And Jesus is fully aware of a momma in a grass hut dying of AIDS, wondering who will take care of her babies. Professing our fear constantly ceases to make us fishers of men. It confuses onlookers and mystifies them – if we are saved and protected by God, what are we afraid of?
Fear is a tactic most readily used by Satan to keep us bound up, miserable and desperate for the next good semi-convenient work we can contrive to maybe make God protect us.
God is for us and with us, believing and professing that belief is the key to the kingdom. No worries.
TWO: GOD MUST BE TEACHING YOU SOMETHING
For. The. Love.
Sweet Jesus, how much I hate this, I can’t even.
Wait, yes I can.
As my good friend, Bev Sheasby always says, “God is good. Satan is bad.”
Bad things happen. God doesn’t cause them. He is only good. He may allow things that we cannot understand. And guess what? He walks with us through them. But He doesn’t pass out brain cancer or extramarital affairs. He is a Good Father. He is good. To mix the message of His goodness with the message of His wrath that was settled on Calvary with the perfected sacrifice of His beloved Son is the opposite of faith.
And that is what He asked of us, to believe.
My mantra is:
I believe God is good.
Jesus, I believe you died for me.
Wholly perfected, I believe I am His and I am redeemed.
He is for me, He is with me.
The more I say it, the more it is my existence. He is not a harsh taskmaster, He is an adoring Father.
NUMBER THREE: GOD WON’T GIVE YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE
This is my Achilles heel.
Just for one minute stop and think about your children. Say your child broke their arm. They are in a cumbersome cast and it is mid-July. Do you take that child fully clothed, in winter apparel to the country club pool, and make them sit in the hot sun with nothing to eat or drink, while you romp in the pool and drink ice cold fresh lemonade… taunting them?
Just to see if they can handle it?
Simply because you want to test their limits?
Or for the thrill of training, to see just how far you can push them?
I hope not.
He is a loving Father. He calls Himself this, not to hear Himself talk… but because of the truth of His nature.
Luke 11:11, Jesus says, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?”
I am continuously struck by how efficiently we memorize scripture only to blatantly ignore it.
WHY??? What would make Him use this analogy if He didn’t mean it?
There is no example of God wreaking havoc on the lives of believers just because He can. Ah yes, Job. Poor Job, but while God allowed a season of trials FROM SATAN, God only gave back and restored.
Life is the pits. It hurts. It is laced with loss and struggle – He came to bring us peace and life abundant. What is this nightmarish Father that we credit with such harshness? Even if you had the worst earthly dad on the planet – can you not see other fathers rocking it out and recognize… that dude is a good father.
In Phillippians 4:13 Paul says the ever famous “I can do all things through Christ…” But Paul isn’t talking about sticking to his diet or breaking a high school baseball record. Paul is talking about going without, having plenty, and facing adversity. And in those cases, we are capable of doing all things through Christ. Things of this world that HE equipped us to do by conquering the world on the Cross.
From one side of the pew, we hum that can do spirit, and from the other side… we lament how He gives and takes away. Mincing words and butchering scriptures. Confusing onlookers and running over pedestrians with a mythical beast of a God who has been misinterpreted and blamed for the death of our babies and a rise in crime in our neighborhoods.
He is just good.
Say it with me: HE IS JUST GOOD.
Believing this, knowing He moves how He moves and He saves how He saves, I am undone by His presence. A presence I have not known in my faith walk because He was unrecognizable. The terror of believing my next horrific test was coming was unraveled on a porch swing with my earthly dad as I watched him teach my two young adopted sons to fish.
He was patient. A pole fell in the lake – he retrieved it. A grandson was afraid to touch a worm – so he baited the hook for him. He cheered when they pulled a fish up from the water and comforted when comfort was needed. He owes them nothing, yet he’d give them everything.
If He calls Himself good Father, why don’t we have the decency to believe Him? Stop falsely accusing Him and fall into His adoring arms to be protected, loved and gently corrected.
Or… at least just stop talking.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
Luke 11:11-13 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”…