My good friend Kendra Shriver at "The Joy of Sneezing" wrote this great blog post about life in the "club". She inspired me to do the same.
Okay...I can do this...I'm a little nervous...whew.
I've worked very hard for almost all my life to keep up with what other people thought I should be. I never misbehaved in class (I used to whisper jokes to the kid next to me so he could say them and make the class erupt in snickers). I tried to be kind to everyone, even when I should have stood up for myself. I played sports because other people wanted me to. I even pegged (or tight rolled) my jeans even though I thought it was the DUMBEST fad ever!
The problem, however, is that I felt other people expected me to be perfect.
I went to a small (very, very small) high school. Instead of homecoming kings and queens we had the "Christian Character Award". Each of the classes (9th-11th) would elect a guy and girl from their grade to be on the homecoming court. They were the representatives for that class. They elected the kids who best displayed the character of Christ. I was chosen by my classmates each year. Then senior year the entire school voted in. I won that year too.
Every year I was sick at the thought that everyone thought I was like Jesus. Because I wasn't. I didn't even know what it meant to be like Jesus.
So, I'd borrow a dress from one of my sisters. I'd try to do my hair. I'd worry about walking in heels. I'd thank God that I had to hold onto the arm of a guy who would most likely catch me if I sprained my ankle or fainted. I'd stand, waiting for it to all be over.
Then I'd hear my name.
I would walk/stumble/quake/trip onto the basketball court. Everyone was cheering. I distinctly remember hearing my name chanted by a few friends. I got dizzy if I looked at the crowd. So I looked at my feet or off to the sidelines.
And the whole time I felt so very unworthy. If they only knew that I wasn't perfect...they wouldn't have given me that honor, they would have talked about me, they would have kicked me out of the club.
That was so long ago. More years have past than my feeble math mind cares to count. I went to Bible college, had a "real world" job where EVERYBODY was in love with the F-bomb. I got engaged and dumped. I was a Bible teacher and a children's minister. I got engaged and married. I had kids. I changed careers.
Love, joy, pain, gladness, sorrow. Life. It happened.
And this is something I've learned. This is the important part. There is no club.
Being like Christ has nothing to do with behaving in class or letting people walk all over you. It has nothing to do with awards...in fact, that is so incredibly opposite of what it is to be Christ; being honored for being the best (the greatest among us is the girl who won the Christian Character Award...wait...that can't be right).
Being like Christ has everything to do with getting dirty, digging a latrine in a 3rd world country. It's about feeding poor people, not expecting a "thank you". It's about forgiving and loving and giving up what you hold most dear. That is Christian Character. It's love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control.
Christian Character is nothing more than fruit that blooms from the Holy Spirit's work in our lives.
I still struggle with this. I will most likely always fight against the urge to be what others think I should be. But I'm getting there. Or, more accurately, He is leading me there!