March 7, 2014

Coming Out

       This week I had the honor of hanging out with an old friend who has the amazing capacity to bring pleasant, normal, conversation to a startling halt. He then proceeds to turn you around to kindly shake hands with your present self and come to terms with the fact that you're not perfect yet. I'm pretty sure everyone needs a friend like that; who forces your walls to turn to glass in order to make you more honest and real than you care to be.
      It was in the middle of one of those moments that I discovered I was completely TERRIFIED of being seen as "too spiritual" or religious. From my moment of true conversion, I hit the fast track. I cut off everything and everyone that would hinder me, jumped in with people who really burned for God, and ran with all my might. The Lord began to speak to me greatly through visions. I found myself literally unable to watch movies and television shows without breaking down into tears, knowing that what I was watching was exalting things Christ died for. I would go on long extended fasts and pray for nation-wide issues. I would spend my weekends at prayer meetings. I would doodle scriptures on my wrists in English class and host Bible studies in the hallways of my high school. It wasn't long into my hot pursuit after Christ that I realized this apparently was unusual Christian activity. I found myself on the end of pointed comments or looks that clearly thought this was "too much." Ironically, many of those comments came from fellow believers. Soon I began to think, maybe it is too much. Maybe I'm too spiritual. Maybe I'm a pharissee. Maybe I should keep my comments to myself. Maybe I should hang back. Maybe I shouldn't pray so loudly.
       So, I did. I decided to be the quiet one. I only shared my thoughts when it was in appropriate church settings. I let others do the leading in conversation and took to the corner. I listened while harboring up the many things I was seeing, hearing, and sensing. I didn't water down my pursuit. I still did all the things I did. I just turned down the volume of my voice in an effort to make sure I wasn't being "too spiritual." I'd let the comments get to me, supposing them to be true. The reality is, they were all lies. And it wasn't until this week that I realized it was a lie I still believed.
        I found my confession of this fear tumbling out of my mouth in the middle of our conversation at an IHOP table at 2 in the morning. I made sure the tears didn't fall as I shared how badly I wanted people to know I loved them. I didn't want them to think I was trying to be "holier than thou." I didn't want them to think I was trying to one-up them or convince them that I had some phenomenal relationship with God. I didn't want them to think I thought I was more anointed or wanted the spotlight. I didn't want them to think I was a fake. My friend laughed and said, "Maybe you should have a "coming out party." I laughed with him, but mid-laugh realized maybe that wasn't such a bad idea. "That's you, Jessica. You are spiritual and there's nothing wrong with that. You spend most of your time working in ministry...of course you'll get called religious. Being spiritual isn't a bad thing. It's you. Embrace it."
        With as simple a statement as that, I was free. Yeah! What's wrong with being spiritual!? I WASN'T faking it, so, what does it matter what they think? I'm NOT trying to be heard by men, like a Pharissee in the marketplace. I'm NOT just slapping, "God said" on everything. I'm NOT making up visions to be heard. I'm NOT praying loud just so people can hear me. I'm NOT fasting to be holier. I'm NOT legalistic. I'm NOT trying to make myself out to be anything that I'm not. I'm NOT trying to teach you something. I'm here for love. My voice is surrendered to be used to release love to people! I'm here to expose darkness and advance a superior kingdom. My heart really is pure!
        I can't be anyone else but me. Over and over again people are asking me to share my life with them. That is what love does. That is friendship. If you really want me to be me, then this is all I have to offer. This is the real me. I have lots of visions. I want to break out in prayer in the middle of conversations. I want to fast and groan for glory. I believe you can hear from God in an instant and not have to wait for months to get an answer. I pray pretty loud. I have stories of encounters. I want to pray for random people--including you. I talk a lot about Jesus and what He's saying to me. I don't watch certain movies or read certain books or say certain things. That is all part of the real Jessica. And that's all I can give! Even Jesus was seen for someone He wasn't. He was called a demoniac, a sinner, a political king, a heretic, a blasphemer, and mocked for what He said. But everything He did was actually love!
        So, if anyone calls me "too" spiritual or religious, it won't touch me anymore! Yay! I am who God says I am. I know my heart and He knows my heart. I live for God's eyes alone. So, if I'm seen as "too much" for praying before the prayer meeting starts, fasting while the people feast, sharing visions, speaking up, studying my Bible, and skipping out on certain social events...so be it. I've made up my mind to be a voice. I choose to speak up at an opportunity I'm given to share. So, I guess this is my offical coming out party:  I am Jessica and I am spiritual.