Red car. Blue car. Used car. New car. What model will I choose? I scan my options on the lot and survey their traits. That one’s not reliable, but it sure does look like it would feel sensational to drive. That one is costly- can I afford it? That one. That one over there- I don’t know anyone who drives that one, but why not? So what if it’s different? What if that one is exactly what we need?
I feel paralyzed weighing different life models. I know that some are completely off the table, as they’ve proven fruitless and destructive. No more drunken, messy nights for me, no more manipulation and flippant covenants. But here I stand, in an uncomfortable place of subtlety, or so it appears. A life like Christ is what I desire, but it seems the church is offering me a handful of versions from which I can choose which suits me best. And here I’ve found myself where I’ve nestled comfortably- somewhere between the Kingdom and the world.
I know I ought not be there. It may feel safe and reasonable, but Jesus tells me that I’m either in or out. He plainly tells me that if I continue to be lukewarm, he will spit me out of his mouth (Rev 3:16). This is my Jesus talking- my sweet, loving, tender-hearted Jesus. Yet he makes his words clear so there must be something seriously dangerous about a lukewarm life.
Yes, I want more of him, but not too much. I want less of me, but don’t take it all. We’re taught over-communication in marriage, but in my broken interpretation, that keeps feeding the beast of offense in my heart. I want Jesus, but I still desperately want my feelings to be heard, my needs to be met by other people (my husband, friends, and pastor, thank you very much!). All of this doesn’t sound too crazy, right?
Oh, now I can feel the discomfort bubbling up inside the body of my imaginary reader.
“This little girl has a martyr complex.”
“You’re only human, you’re not God.”
“You’re reading it too literally.”
Here I am, on the precipice of 30, standing on this car lot and I know my time of wavering is coming to a close. I see that single, overlooked model in the corner that I don’t want to give a second glance. It’s dangerous- “one hit and you’ll be broken,” says the world.
This model is the life without offense. None. Zero. And it is calling my name. I hum a little louder and busy myself, examining the inane traits of the other cars but it calls out louder to me “Try me. Test me.”
But a life without offense would mean I can’t be hurt when my husband says something insensitive or fails to meet my clearly judicious expectations. I can’t feel unseen when he refuses to take his shoes off even though I have plead my thorough case 500 times. I can’t be annoyed when a driver cuts me off or a cashier is just plain rude. I can’t complain when someone gossips about me or blames me for something I didn’t do.
No, no, just wait a second. Surely I can still defend myself if I’m innocent, right? Jesus, please, back me up here! But when a cacophony of false and confused accusations were being hurled at Jesus, “the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’ But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.” (Mark 14:60-61).
I stand, afraid. Will I look back on this, ashamed and think “You silly girl. You were naïve and foolish but that’s not how the world works.”
I walk over to that lonely car and think to myself, “You cannot be serious. You cannot actually be going all in here. You can’t escape the realities of the world.” The car sits still before me, displaying its barebones frame, and boasting only the essentials. I suddenly realize that I don’t even know how to drive a car like this. I think back to the multiple times TODAY that I have indignantly voiced my feelings, preferences and hurts. I’m the girl who demands restitution from the poor customer service representative who’s just trying his best. I’m the girl who makes a fuss when someone wastes my time.
I’m afraid of what I’ll lose.
Every marriage resource I’ve ever seen says, “Communicate. Communicate. Communicate _____.” Somewhere, between the lines, I’ve always filled in the word “offense”. What will this do to my marriage? Will my son need therapy for years because his mother was a nut and tried to live in the heavens when her body was restrained by gravity? But I know what Jesus thinks of that word lukewarm. My God, I need your help here, and you’ve got to push me in one direction or the other or I’ll spend another decade wringing my hands.
I’ve got these words written on my insides, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20) and He is clawing his way through the thick brush of my heart’s offenses. He is passionately tearing down these thorny walls to free me up so that I may LOVE. SACRIFICE. Know peace. Partake in His joy. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 16:25).
I’ve tried the other models and they’ve never satisfied. I’m stepping out, eyes closed tight, heart pounding, and trusting this upside-down kingdom. This shell of a car must be the best bet. I’m choosing the thrill of an offense-free life, of turned cheeks and a free heart. Any place in between has always entangled me so I must be willing to lay it all down. This life will require the power of Jesus in every moment, but I see no better choice.
Because my life is not about me, but about all the people I have the pleasure of knowing and loving. I’m starting the journey a clumsy amateur, but willing to grasp hold of his strength. Let us open our hands, shake off the advice of the world and take Jesus for his word.