I love a pretty package. Pretty wrapping paper and big bows automatically excite me. I imagine all the wonderful possibilities such a package could contain...something expensive, something exquisite, something absolutely fabulous.
I never imagine the gift inside being something that's been broken and glued back together. I always imagine the thing inside being just as marvelous as the package in which it's presented.
The conversation veered towards where most of my conversations veer lately: religion, Christianity, and the difference. The topic is almost always on the forefront of my brain in recent months. The more in-depth the conversation went, the more I felt the internal struggle. A familiar struggle. Present a pretty package and hope the other person believes what's inside is just as fabulous as what I'm presenting...or open the package and display the me that's been broken and mended. In a matter of a few seconds I questioned, Do I tell? Do I share? Yes.
I opened up what I'd wrapped just so, and displayed the not-so-fabulous parts of me. And the conversation got real, real quick. No more pretending. No more presenting. What I laid bare:
Christians mess up...sometimes badly. I regurgitated my mess, my story, as an example.
I struggle, but God...
Maybe the Jesus that many Christians present isn't the Jesus of the Bible: Jesus wasn't wrapped in a pretty package; He offended people with His love; He spent most of His time with social outcasts instead of with the religious.
A quote from my pastor: Jesus plus nothing.
Sometimes I'm annoyed by all the other pretty packages, as much as I'm annoyed by mine.
For the first time, I felt like I shared me, messed up as I am, and the God who loves me anyway, without wrapping it all up in a pretty package that leaves people feeling the presentation is fake. I walked away with an unfamiliar understanding: love strips away the pretty presentation and exposes the broken parts that God has mended.
With that understanding comes this: I no longer want to try to present a pretty-packaged Christian who people walk away from thinking that what's inside can't be as real as the package. I don't want to be the person that people walk away from and say, If that's what being a Christian involves, and if I have to keep all those rules and appearances, I don't want any part of it. I want to be the person who people walk away from and say, If that's what loving Jesus looks like, and if He can mend my broken parts, I want in!