Drafter's Note: Another month, another daily writing challenge! (I might officially be insane.) Welcome, National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) visitors. :)
I walked into a house last night, following a friend I'm visiting as she steps in to greet her friends. There is every reason in the world for me to feel awkward, uncomfortable, strange in standing.
"Thank you for Chandra," he says later in prayer, pronouncing my name better than people who've known me for years. "She walked in and was family."
What a crazy thing our faith is, that it makes strangers family. Not after introductions, not after a quick analysis of our standing, not after a Bible quiz or a prayer-off*. It does not--cannot--make sense. It is based on something from outside of this world, and the words of this world will inevitably fail to capture it. In this living room, curled up with coffee and crying and raising my hand in praise, I should be the most awkward houseguest in the history of houses or guests. And instead I am family.
We hug at the end of the night--people whose names I'm still uncertain of--and go on our ways. Maybe I'll see them again before I leave, maybe not. But one of the thousand beauties of this faith is that I am theirs and they are mine, even if the next time we meet is on the other side of this life.
A few weeks ago. A visiting pastor talked about the calling of a Matthew, a man we have no cultural comparison to--Mark's best effort was a drug dealer out behind the middle school, but one who the law approved of. And it is to this man--not the well-put-together, not the rule-abiders--that Jesus comes. And there are no expectations, no analyses, no Bible quizzes or prayer-offs. The truth is so good I jot it down in my notebook: "Jesus didn't say, 'Behave, and then maybe you can belong.' He went to the most despised, the most broken, and He said, 'Come. Belong. Follow. And as you do you'll see, slowly, that even your life can change, can be new.'"
This is the Jesus I love, the Jesus who restores me and gives me exactly what I need, even when it scalds and scars. Like His own love, like His relationship with the world, there is no escape from pain, from disappointment, from feeling failure. But He shepherds. He saves. He walks step by step, breath by breath, as close as I let Him be. I can crowd my life with every other thing, but He is the only thing that tells me I am okay, I am safe, I belong, I am family.
There are no more strangers in this faith--only family we haven't met yet.
(A quick note: this feeling of family is not just for those within the Christian faith. We are called, without disclaimer or release, to shamelessly love everyone else with no thought of ourselves. In this we--I--miserably fail, everyday. If you have been hurt by a member of this faith that should only know how to love, I can only say that I am so sorry, and pray that you will find that was a failing of the person, of that church, but never, never, never Jesus.)
* I'd like to say that's a thing I made up. While it is, I am also certain that somewhere, it's a thing. I'm so sorry for the rules we make up to leave others out.