Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Republishing Grace and the Building of Boats - Part I

Every now and again I get a comment that lets me know I am being an encouragement to someone who has just left or is leaving an abusive church situation. Let me tell you, that makes my day. I remember writing Grace, clinging to anything or anyone to tell me I wasn't alone and maybe was not as crazy as I felt. The other day I got a message from someone and then they posted my post on Leaving on their website and said this: "Here you have it.. I am not alone!"

It is the reason why I published my own blog (that,.....and the whole not being able to afford therapy thing ;) ) I know there are many readers who have joined me since then and in looking through my blogs the other day, I re-read the ones that spoke of my religious 'boat' being destroyed and a new 'boat' called Grace replacing it. I thought over the next few days I would re-run those posts because in all that I wrote, they remain some of my favorite ways that I processed my journey.

So from November 11, 2007:

Just a mere 9 months ago I was in a boat. This boat was taking me and my family down the river we call "Life in Christ."

It was a good boat, very strong. It had all the bells and whistles of rules and legalism. Of course we looked at those who were Catholic or Amish and told ourselves that our boat was not legalistic...but it was in its own way. It gave you exactly what you needed to do to belong to our group and be what we thought was a successful and vibrant Christian.

We had the bells and whistles of Bible Study, Prayer, Journaling, Outreach, Worship, Tithing, Giving, Rest, Prophecy, Headship, Covering, Submission, Women in Ministry, Small Groups, Discipleship, and so on. The seat belts were installed and tightened by being loyal and not questioning the ones who directed our little fleet of boats. If you were really loyal then your boat got to be in contact with the leaders' boats in a much more significant way. Our job was to look successful and encourage others to build a boat just like ours and journey with us.

Those who did not build boats like ours we looked upon with sadness. They obviously did not know what we knew about boat building. Theirs had major pieces of equipment missing. They allowed other boats to float along with them. We could not understand why they would not see how wonderful our boat building projects were and just come over and build boats exactly like ours.

Best of all our children were safe in this boat with us. They looked good. They knew all the features of this boat and could tell you exactly what you were to do with them. Our family’s boat was one of the best in the church. Many times we were applauded for having the kind of boat that the leaders said best exemplified and reflected them. I was always looking for the new additions that they would propose and hurriedly add them to our boat.

Six months ago we left the group of boats we had been traveling with. We started reading about grace. Grace in the gospels is everywhere. Most of what the disciples struggled with after Jesus left them with the Holy Spirit was how to go about living this grace filled life in a group of people who understood nothing but legalism.As we left our group and started studying this message of grace, we found we also wanted to leave the boat that we had built.

I will leave the “why” of that for tomorrow’s post.


Anonymous said...

Hi Barb, you are an encouragement to all of us :)

God bless

Anonymous said...

Wow, I've never heard it put quite that way before. It makes so much sense!

I hope you don't mind me filling up your comments section, but this is how I see my own boats:

My old "boat" was as destructive but as gleaming as yours.
Unfortunately I spent most of my time hiding my Real Self down in the cabin with a big lock on the door. Most of the time I forgot she was even there.

My boat was comfortable and peaceful. I was always in control of it. Letting my Real Self out would have been allowing disaster - you see, she was a little bit crazy and probably would have destroyed some of my boat. Or at least messed it up a bit.

So I left her there, feeding her as little as possible, while I made sure my boat looked gleaming and shiny from the outside. I didn't realise she had company down there - the Holy Spirit spent a lot of time with her.

Then one day I let her out, the Holy Spirit with her, and between them they began to pull my boat apart bit by bit.

When we were all floating on a single piece of wood from the wreckage we decided together to build a brand new boat. So we did. This one seems to be full of leaks and held together by who knows what, but it floats. My boat is full of a huge mixture of wonderful people - I let them in now with little regard for the mess they might make and we talk and eat and laugh and have celebrations late into the night. Thankfully, when my little overcrowded boat springs a leak there are people with me who see the leaks often before I do and help to bail out the water and patch the holes up again.

And my Real Self sits proudly on the deck.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking, my comment needs to be cross-posted. Do you mind if I put it (with a link to your blog) on my blog?


Barb said...

Heather, I never mind someone posting their thoughts. I think that is what blogging is all about. I seldom have a thought that is not sparked by someone else!

My next post in the series will be up tonight. My 4th one is my very favorite.

getting there said...

Barb, wow, this one got me emotional! I thought I had the perfect boat. I was best friends with the pastor's wife.. so my boat looked spectacular because I fitted in perfectly. I had every kind of tool for my boat.

It took the grace of God to leave me ship wrecked. I had to lose the boat completely to find out what truly matters.

You are a special encouragement! Thank you!