One thing you may not know about me, is I have lived in the South before.
…And I hated it.
Upon moving to the South the first time, I changed my wardrobe, my hair color and even attached the word ‘Baptist’ to the name of my non-denominational church back home, in an effort to be more accepted.
I wish I was kidding…
More than that I wish it would have worked. But because it didn’t, this time I refuse to bend on the things God is asking me to do – I refuse to forget the person He has called me to be! (No matter where I reside.)
Three Things The South Wont Stop Me From Doing
1. I will protect my individuality
From the outside, Southerners always have the right thing to say and the right dish to bring. Their perfectly monogrammed families are pristine and the love declared for their spouse on instagram, admirable – It’s just not who I am, or likely who I will ever be, given the course my life has taken these last few years.
And God’s asking me to be secure in that.
Romans 12:2 puts it this way, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you.”
Letting God ‘transform’ you sounds like a pretty process, a holy endeavor, but I assure you it’s not. Here’s what the ‘transforming’ process has looked like for me:
It looked like selling everything I owned (including my house and two cars) to live in a mouse-infested 600 sq ft apartment in NYC. Only to lose another $25,000 in our year and half living there, so I could learn that money and possessions really don’t matter, especially when it comes to saving a marriage.
It took writing a blog post that accidentally went viral with 600,000 + people reading it (and equal to that, wanting to crucify me) for God to rid me of my people-pleasing ways, and instead teach me to unapologetically own who He has created me to be.
It took God blowing the roof off my marriage for me to understand the depths of who God is, and a bought with depression that almost killed me, to realize why I am alive.
That being said, It’s unlikely God had me live all over the country, to face the insurmountable odds needed for Him to transform me into the person He desires me to be, so that I could come to the South and become just like you.
Nor, you like me for that matter.
It’s also unlikely I will ever fit into the pretty little box of what the South thinks I should be…
And that’s okay. Because I’d rather keep my God-given individuality (and my curse words.)
2. I will own my (messy) story
It seems the South is more uncomfortable with the messiness of my story, than I am. As if my bad fate – like a sneeze – is contagious or something.
Case in point: The Bible study.
When while “hypothetically” talking about how we could protect our marriages from divorce, I admitted my husband and I just the year prior, were sleeping in separate rooms and on the verge of ending it all.
I will never forget the look of shock on their faces; the way they clutched their Bible’s and strained to make eye contact, as they searched for the words to respond – words that never came, because they quickly changed the subject, sweeping my admissions and ‘my mess’ under the carpet, never to speak of it again.
“…Did I say too much? Is my marriage – or worse, my story too messy for God to use? “
I thought to myself, late into the night.
Because I definitely didn’t ask for this to be my story… In fact, on many occasions I begged for it not to be!
(I also may or may not have begged God to bulldoze my husband with a bus, but I will neither confirm or deny those allegations.)
In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 Paul says, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
Maybe like Paul, you too have begged God to take away the story you are currently living, but He hasn’t. Maybe like me, the judgement of others has kept you up late into the night, or worse, kept you silent.
We must remember just like the verse says,
The same weakness others find worthy of pity, God sees as the platform most worthy of His power.
God’s greatest blessings are reserved for those of us with the messiest stories – and my family is proof!
3. I will proclaim His miracle
I have said it before, but it’s a miracle I am still married and still breathing.
Every day, every possession, every tender moment shared with my spouse is proof of a God who never gave up on me. – A God who swooped in when He heard my cry and not only led me out of darkness and deepest gloom, but is currently making our greatest dreams as a family come true! (Psalm 107:10-14)
But it comes at a cost…
In Psalm 107:2 it says, “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others He has redeemed you..”
Speak out – even if people gossip about the revelations you made (or if because of them, you have to endure such painfully awkward silences during said: Bible studies, that you’d rather light yourself on fire…)
Speak out – even when people in the South believe acknowledging your desperation is ‘airing your dirty laundry’…
Speak out and celebrate – not if, but when – God does what He promised and restores you, even at the risk of others believing you are being ‘showy’ or self-seeking…
(Because unfortunately, they will.)
No matter where you live, and no matter what they think, “…praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done.”
…And that’s exactly what my family will continue to do.
Because if it takes showing you our misery to show you God’s miracle, we will never hesitate to do so.
If it takes shining a light on our darkest days so others can know the same God is available to them in theirs, we’ll do it over and over, and we wont even be the slightest bit sorry about it.
Because I find it hard to believe God wrote a gripping story like ours, so that it could be kept silent.
So if owning our mess means we are forever at risk of getting kicked out of bible studies, and if proclaiming His miracles means constantly being misunderstood, we’ll come to terms with not being the most popular people in the room.
Whatever it takes –
So long as I don’t have to change my hair color.
12 thoughts on “On being messy, living in the South, and getting kicked out of Bible studies”
Krista, thanks for this post! I have been in paid ministry for almost my whole adult life and I have found that me being completely open and honest about my own mess or the mess others place upon me is usually met with, at the least unkindness and a lack of compassion, and at the worst, harsh rebukes and gossip. I am deeply grateful for the pocket of friends in my life that God has provided over the years who eagerly embrace me and my mess because they are eagerly embracing the transforming power of the cross in their own lives and radiates out to my life! May you and I be that friend to others so that their mess is verbalized and becomes a platform to proclaim the beautiful redemptive work of our God!
Yes…. so unfortunate that our vulnerability can be met with a lack of kindness. I couldn’t agree more that we can be those ‘ride or die’ friends for others! Thanks so much for reaching out!
Amen man! Yes, I say man regardless of who I am talking to;) This is refreshing and confirming to me Krista. I am that loud, hilariously quirky, demonstrative tattooed lady who loves Jesus. I met my husband at 13, had my first child at 17, have had my marriage fall apart due to pornography, had to let God re-build it again and make it better than it ever was. I was raised in a violent drug filled place without God. AND YET……..God has re-deemed me and my husband. He has allowed me to raise my children to love him, he has allowed us to be great parents (yes, I feed my kids Mac n cheese and chocolate for dinner and let them watch G-I Joe) and he has given us a messy, scarred, devastatingly beautiful marriage and friendship together. So, what does that mean for me? It means I have no friends. It means I don’t fit in this current church culture. It means I have battled and fought for my marriage completely alone. It means that people see my scars and not the victory I have had in the battle that gave me those scars. After all….scars are evidence that I am stronger than the enemy who tried to take me down. I fought and will continue to fight. I am not popular to the world. My life has been messy, my struggles have been redundant. BUT Jesus MADE me who I am. He made me knowing the pain I would endure. He made me knowing I would fight! He made me that way. I have asked God to change me in the past so that people would like me more. I have longed for girlfriends that would love me and not judge where I have come from. I have begged God to bring them into my life. Nope. I have measured myself against others and according to the yard stick of the world I come up way short. But God has taught me that I am intentionally made for HIM to love, for HIM to enjoy. God has told me that He is pleased with His creation that is me and that He sings over me with songs of joy! God has told me that He made me for His glory and enjoyment. God does not want me to be a different version of the Kristin he hand designed. If He did He would have made it so. I won’t be changing my hair color either;)
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hahaha! Love hearing your story and LOVE that you refuse to change your hair color! I like the way you think 😉 Thanks for reaching out Kristin! Keep owning who you are!
Thanks again Krista for your open honesty… I always look forward to your posts. I know that it has to take a lot to pour your heart and soul out like you do… I also loved your post called My Father Had An Affair With The Church: You Call Him Pastor. You are just so brutally honest. Got to love it! Anyway, I live in the South and I thankfully do not feel a need to fit into anyone’s box. I just desire to be more Christlike. No matter what region of the world, we are just people with our little critical, judgmental spirits unless we allow Christ to transform our thoughts and actions. I do not share my mess with anyone… Not yet anyway. There may be a day when God calls me to tell my story of His grace and sufficiency through it all, but not yet. It would be too easy for others to transform my wilderness with God into gossip, dirty laundry. But that’s just me, I am alone with God on this road to transformation and redemption. Desiring to live a life that is pleasing to Him, and Him alone. We are called to follow Christ, not fellow Christians. I personally have been called to lay my wine, my drug of choice, my idol, and the use of unwholesome words down. He is cleaning my house from the inside out. I have been called to holiness through the blood of Jesus. He is the lover of my soul. My Rock. My Everything… And I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it… You, through your posts, made me aware that what I am going through is governed by the hand of God. “Father Filtered.” Thank you!
Love hearing your journey! And thank you so much for your encouragement. (Maybe one day… maybe… my honesty will encourage you to tell your beautifully messy story that God has wrote… maybe… 😉 Thanks for reaching out!
I absolutely do plan on telling my story… I am just curious myself how God will intervene. 😉
Oh Krista, this is so true.
Our church is one that many don’t know what to do with but when people are in trouble they flock to BECAUSE all the things that you aren’t allowed to talk about or admit in “public” are not taboo here. We dropped the word Baptist so that people wouldn’t be scared to come here, even though we very much are. We took on the mantle of come as you are and actually mean it, so people do.
To quote Mike Yaconelli – spirituality and ministry are messy. Period.
I was one of the Southerners who found you and loved you because of that viral post and I applaud you and pray for you to keep that spunk that makes you who God has called you to be. Pay no attention to those who would want you to conform to the Southern Stepford Wives’ Club, they are just not as brave or comfortable with their story as you are. God will never waste our hurts IF we invite Him to use our testimonies. You have done that and He will continue to use your story to help others. You may never know how much and how far your reach extends. Thank you!
I can’t tell you how encouraging your comment was to me. I love to think that at least ONE Southerner doesn’t hate me… haha! Thats a win in my book! Wish we could do a cheers over sweet tea to women like us, who refuse to conform to the Stepford Wives Club 😉 Sounds glorious.
I am reading Passionate Pursuit by James Goll. On page 18-20 James shares his personal story of his relationship with his earthly father who never understood him. Though his father did come to faith later in life, “like many other believers, he still had a lot of emotional wounds and some leftover baggage.” Near the end of his father’s life he spoke these words to James, “Son, I never understood you all your life. How did you get so close to God?” That conversation was the first time his father had ever called him “Son”. After his father’s passing James saw a vision of his father’s face in which he was healed and in robust health. Then James heard these words in his heart from the Holy Spirit: I have a word to give you from your father. Just at that moment a man walked over laid his hands on James and prophesied, “There have been those in your life who have never understood you, but God has used all of this to create a brokenness in you so that the fragrance of Christ will be released through your life that will go across the earth.” James again saw a vision of his father and heard his father say to him, “I understand you now.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 comes to mind, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” May we all be encouraged that His perfect love will come through even if sometimes it is only seen through the shadows of broken, imperfect vessels.
Thank you, just thank you for writing all that you are, I really need to hear what you have been saying, thank you
Thank you for reaching out Rachelle! It means so much to me to think God can use my honesty to encourage others in even the smallest of ways ❤