Being a Sheep

There is a song that our children sing in church. It goes:

I just wanna be a sheep, baa baa baa baa
I just wanna be a sheep baa baa baa baa
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
I just wanna be a sheep baa baa baa baa*

It’s a cute song and my boys love to sing it, especially because the other verses talk about what we don’t “wanna be”: a hypocrite (they’re just not hip with it), a Pharisee  (‘cuz their not fair, you see), or a Sadducee (because they’re so sad, ya see).

I certainly don’t want to be a hypocrite (although I know I am sometimes) or the other things either, but I don’t know if I can stand up and shout I JUST WANNA BE A SHEEP! either.

Every time the image of Jesus as the Shepard and his followers as the sheep comes up, I cringe a little. I know. That sounds awful, and I feel a little awful writing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the pastoral imagery, the connotations that He keeps us safe with love and guidance, and I am even ok with the whole “follow” him thing. I want to follow Jesus and his teachings. I do. I am a big believer in love and kindness.

But I don’t think I want to be a sheep.

sheep

Sheep follow blindly. They don’t question. Sheep are dumb. Sheep are thoughtless.

When I think of people as sheep, I think of that popular insult on the internet: Sheeple. You know, those people who seem to believe (and follow) every “expert” they read on the internet. The ones who blindly follow “data” without following up on it themselves. Those who don’t vaccinate, or do vaccinate, or use baby wraps, or co-sleep, or don’t co-sleep or vote Democrat or Republican, or repost articles without ever doing their own fact-checking. People who jump on bandwagons simply by trusting that what people (and the internet) tell them is true.

I know, I know. Jesus is different.

He’s a different kind of shepard. He cares about us and won’t lead us down the wrong path.

I get that. I do. And there probably isn’t other imagery that the writers of the scriptures could have used to adequately describe the idea that Jesus will take care of us if we follow him.

But honestly, that is where my faith gets weak. I have no problem getting behind the teachings of Christ. Love your neighbor? You betcha (even though I fail often, I still believe in this)! Love is the greatest? Yes, sir! Don’t throw a rock unless you are free from sin? Standing ovation.

I even get the whole, “Katie? You have to trust me. I know what I’m doing.” I get that. I don’t always act like it, but I do believe it.

But “act like a sheep and just follow with no questions just blind faith?”  I don’t think I can.

You see, I have lots of questions. If I was to be a sheep, I would be the bad sheep. I would be the one in the back saying, “where are we going? Will there be a snack because I’m hungry. What about a rest? Are we going to get a rest soon? My legs hurt. Hey, that tree is nice. Did you pick this way because of the nice view?  Do you think this wool makes my butt look big? I think I need a shear.”

I would be relentless.

I know there are Christians out there who would tell me, “just be quiet. He will take care of it.”  And I know in the Bible Jesus tells us not to worry. Birds don’t have to worry. Flowers don’t have to worry. And neither do we.

But I have questions. I have doubts. I mean, there have been some pretty terrible leaders who have told people just to trust them because they know what Jesus is all about and then those people drank some Kool-aid and well, let’s just say they didn’t end up in a green pasture.

I’m not comparing Jesus to those leaders. I’m saying those leaders thought they knew what Jesus wanted and they talked a bunch of sheep-like people into believing it too because sheep do as they are told. They think what they are told to think.

I can’t do that. I ask all the questions and have all the opinions.

“Listen, Shepard. Where do we go when we die? Why does it scare me so much? Is there a sheep heaven? Is it really like the book of Revelation says because honestly? That sounds weird. Why do good sheep fall down? Why do good sheep get made into stew and chops? Why are goats bad? Is it Ok if that goat is my friend? Because he plays a wicked guitar solo and I dig his sense of humor.”

Ok, so my questions and doubts are a little heavier that that, but you get the idea.

I can’t shut it off. I can’t stop being me with all my thinking and whatnot.

Sometimes I wish I could. I wish church would give us a little handbook that says, “Here are your opinions on all the things. Go forth and believe them no matter how anyone challenges them. DO NOT THINK ABOUT IT; JUST DO IT.”

But I know I would fail at faith if that was how it worked.

In fact, as a young adult, I thought that was how it worked and I thought I failed.  I’m coming to find out now, that maybe I’m ok the way I am: full of questions, doubts, and opinions.

But is it Ok to not wanna be a sheep?

*************

*lyrics and music for I Just Wanna Be a Sheep

**googling free images of sheep will make you happy because sheep are rather cute, if not totally stupid.

I don’t want to

A couple weeks ago I came to this space to write out my anger toward God.

Even though I closed comments on that post, many of you (many) reached out to me to tell me that either you could relate, to tell me your story, or to give me encouragement and prayers.

I want to thank you.

I have been wrestling with God since that post.

Today (Sunday) I sat in church for the first time since spring {we may take the summer off…I know, I KNOW} and guess what the sermon was about?  Yup. Bad stuff happening in the world.

I wish I could tell you that after two weeks of having my prayers sound like arguments, I could tell you that today’s sermon gave me the Ah Ha moment I so badly wanted and lifted my spirit.  But instead, I sat there feeling the old anger burn inside of me.  The tears were hot in my eyes and my heart beat hard against my chest.  For a second, I actually got tunnel vision staring at the visiting pastor that ended in a fight or flight response.

I so badly wanted to run out of that sanctuary, away from the pew I shared with Cortney, and out into the chilly fall air. I wanted to sit in the parking lot and cry.

This wouldn’t have been the first time I ran from this message.

Around Christmas of 2007, Cort and I were at a holiday family retreat with the entire side of his family. I was not yet pregnant with Eddie, but I had had one miscarriage and would have a second that spring.

Over 80 of us all in one building for a cozy weekend. It was glorious.

Cortney has two cousins who are preachers.  They take turns each year preaching the Saturday night “service” to all of us in the Great Room of the Lodge that we rent.  It is cozy and lovely.

That year, the more conservative of the two preacher-cousins gave us our message. Since we were gathering closer to New Year’s than Christmas that year, he chose to center his message on the idea of starting over.  A large part of his message was about how the pain in our lives is caused by sin.

I couldn’t take it.  The miscarriage was too fresh and I lost my mind. I ran from the room, crumpled on the bathroom floor of our room, and sobbed. I refused to believe that I miscarried because I somehow wasn’t good enough.  That Cort or I sinned and God was punishing us with a miscarriage. I seemed so…wrong. And not the loving God I had known my whole life.

When Cortney came to comfort me, he said everyone assumed I was crying because of the absence of his dad.  And then I started crying harder. Did we lose Steve because we sinned?  Did Steve have to get cancer because of something he didn’t do “correctly”?  That went against everything I believe in my heart.

I was so angry, and instead of going and talking to anyone about it, I just ran away.

But today in church I didn’t run. Instead, I fumbled clumsily through my purse hoping I had a pen. I did.  And I began to scribble furiously over my bulletin, wishing I had my Bible with me since I figure writing all over the pew Bible and then stealing it is frowned upon.

Over and over the pastor said, “Pain comes from sin,” but he never said whose sin.

I have always known that the shitty things in this world are because there is sin in the world.  This world we have? Is not what God originally intended. He gave us free will and with that came the invention of Bad Choices. Sin is a CHOICE, says the pastor man.

The problem is someone else’s Bad Choices end up affecting other people…generations of millions of people.

Because of Bad Choices there are things like cancer and infertility and diabetes and AIDS.  We have birth defects and brain defects and social defects.  We have hunger and rape and genocide and chemical weapons.

The whole message today was based on Jeremiah. A quick recap for those who are not familiar with my man Jeremiah. He got a crap job.  Even our preacher said no one wants a “Jeremiah Assignment”. It means you have a really, REALLY difficult time ahead of you.  You have to “destroy” and “tear down” in order to make new…in order to bring people to God.

So Jeremiah didn’t want this assignment because who would, honestly?  Being sent into a people who are going to hate your guts and you will have to bring down destruction on them in order to save the rest?  Total short straw, yo.

But God tells him this right before he sends him off to the Worst Assignment Ever: “They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:19)

Jeremiah is sent to a bunch of sinners. To a bunch of Bad Choice Makers.

But here is the thing I want to know…did I lose two pregnancies because of my sins or because of those sins that happened way back in Jeremiah’s day?

God had a Purpose. Send Jeremiah to spread his word, destroy the bad, make new again.  So lots and lots of people suffered for the Good of the Whole.

But what about those of us who are already “with God”?  If pain comes from sin, and God has a purpose in pain…

I’m just going to say it here because I’ve said it straight to God: “WHAT THE HELL?”

I’m going to go all selfish here (and maybe that’s my sin?) there are plenty of people who are sinners who don’t care that they are sinners and they have no intention of following love or anything and they have kids that they beat and kill and rape.  Are my friends and family and I suffering for their sins too? Is that it? Do we lose people or get sick or suffer because of the sins of others?

Am I supposed to be an example of what Godly Suffering looks like? Because like Jeremiah and Job and  Moses and anyone else God has ever asked, “I DON’T  WANT TO.”

Also? It’s not fair.

I am not comparing myself to those prophets and disciples. I’m not. In fact, I am way WAY less than they are. Because right now? If you gave me the choice between saving myself from hell and giving a friend her baby back? Or bring my husband his dad back? I would give them those people and go right to hell for it.

So yea, God and I, we have been talking.  I’ve repeatedly begged him to show me something that made sense.

I still thank him for all the many MANY blessings in my life because…well, my life is a charmed one.  But he and I, we sit at the table over coffee and we have deep, hard discussions. I ask him big questions. I grill him on things my soul hurts over.

And I am still too chicken to let you comment here. So there’s that.

”Blogging

It’s about fear

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I have been on a bit of a spiritual journey lately.

I’ve been writing some posts with some Bible verses.  If you follow me on Instagram you have seen my daily journal shot from my #SheReadsTruth devotional.

I feel like I am coming full-circle with my faith, but personally this time…and not just what I was told as a kid.

Today the #SheReadsTruth blog has given me the very humbling opportunity to share one of my testimonies of how God has been working in my life.

I’d be honored if you would come read.

It’s about fear.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...