Just Write {143}

July 8, 2014

It’s a cross tattoo, with the initials of her family in it. It has details I haven’t noticed before, so I asked to take a closer look.

We laughed about some huge changes that make the skin ink a little tricky to take in. Then I asked about the date at the top of the cross and she said, hesitantly, her eyes rolling, That’s the date I…well, that’s when I was first “saved”…

Why do you roll your eyes at that, I asked.

I don’t know…it’s just that I haven’t been all that close to God all the time. And I’ve made some big mistakes…

I wanted to shout HE LOVES YOUR FACE OFF, SILLY HEAD. Tattoo or no tattoo, date or no date, air quotes saved or air quotes not saved. He loves your face off. Instead we talked about praying a certain prayer to get “saved” and remembering the date. We talked about how it’s more of a process, to come to a real faith in a loving creator. And that sometimes following steps, Pray these words, ask Him into your heart, now live differently, amen. Lather Rinse Repeat…can set you up for failure, because you somehow believe this means you are perfected and spirit-filled to the point of no return to your humanity.

And then you return to your humanity, since you are human.

And then you think you’re a terrible Christian. And then you feel far away from God and you wonder if you ever really were close at all or if it was just some emotional rush, a new thing, a breath of heaven that slipped away.

This seems quite defeating, this systematic way.

Maybe the Way is longer, more mysterious, much bigger than we could imagine. Maybe while we stood in the kitchen, in that moment, talking about tattoos and God, we were holiness embodied. Despite our fumbling words and our currently terribly messy lives. Despite how life changes, altering the meaning of a tattoo. Despite ourselves. Despite all the different takes on the Bible and every answer for every question Christianity raises up.

Maybe the way we stood there in unconditional support and love, doing dishes and sweeping the floor, laughing and swearing and talking and for some reason, putting up new sheet rock…maybe all of that is really living His love and maybe we’re okay. No…not maybe. We are okay. We are more than okay. We are right where we need to be in this moment.

I know there is a loving God. Not because I prayed a prayer (about 297 times as a child, just to be absolutely sure), but because as I walked through life, feeling like I could never get it right, feeling so far away from Good and Right, He used people and experiences to show me a New Way–a grace way. A wide open, free, fully alive thing. A thing where I have no answers, and many questions, but I’m learning to put the questions down. A thing where I question my motives and choices against the rules and come up still confused and so I have no choice but to set them down. A thing where instead of feeling far from God when this happens, I feel more love. Because He loves my face off. And when I remember that, when I really get that, I don’t feel so tied up by something that is supposed to feel like salvation but doesn’t.

We talked about how the years change us, how our faith takes on different shapes and is richer and maybe even something more powerful than the original “by the book” understanding we started with.

Then we went back to the laundry and the feeling that maybe, just maybe, we’re going to be okay.


This is the 143rd installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments. {Please see the details here.} I would love to read your freely written words so join me and link up below. You can add the url of your post at any time. Just be sure it’s a link to your Just Write post, not to your main page. There are really no rules, besides Just Write! (Then link back to this post in your post so people know where to go if they’d like to join in.) (Any links not following those two guidelines will be deleted.)

Also. Please take a moment to visit someone else who has linked up! It’s a really good way to meet new writers and get inspired by the meaning behind their moments. Word?


anna whiston-donaldson July 8, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Love this so much, Heather! I started reading a book today, “Closer than your own Skin” by Susan D. Hill. I am loving how she is sharing different stages and eras of her relationship with God. P.s. Love/Hate Josh Garrels’ song Floodwaters. Tim and I sat in front row of his local concert and wept. So beautiful.
anna whiston-donaldson recently posted..Angel Watching Over Me?

Andrea July 8, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Hi Heather,
I just wanted to say that this post was just what I needed to read today. I have been struggling with this concept a little. I have various reasons that I have been feeling my faith slipping, but it’s good to be reminded that He “Loves my face off” anyway.

Pamela July 12, 2014 at 4:06 pm

I smiled reading how many times you “prayed the prayer” as a child, remembering that many times I did–just to be sure. I’m thankful that God “loves my face off” even if I questioned His desire that I accept His forgiveness by faith. There’s an old song I thought of: Oh how He loves you and me…He gave His life, what more can He give? Oh, how He loves you and me. ~Pamela
Pamela recently posted..7 Ways to Ease Fibromyalgia Pain

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