"I've accepted your son"; not only lyrics to a song that is otherwise a sideline to this post but frankly, at the risk of offending many, many people, an overused statement if I were to be asked point blank. This phrase has run its course as far as emphasizing sacrifice and holy deliverance in my life. Emotional manipulation is something I easily recognize and passionately loathe. So having been bombarded, guilted and left in tears by charismatic pulpit scoldings and dramatic stories of , well you know the stories, over too many years of too much unquestioned trust I am left wincing when someone tosses the practiced and shallow aforementioned words in my direction. And I wish I could say I'm exaggerating as to my reaction but I'm being exactly descriptive of the involuntary movements of my face. My eyes flicker with a hint of pain that never fails to go unnoticed. Typically follows my sincere apology to the well-intentioned victim of my calloused heart. (And please know that I'm sincere in my apology for my looks can be quite wounding.) My brief explanation of my being a 'survivor of Christianity' coupled with a pathetic and light-hearted grin usually receives either a look of pity and the obvious mental note to pray for me later or a reciprocal grin with the 'I know where you're coming from' line simultaneous with the obvious mental note to pray for me later.
But today, a day in the midst of a whirlwind of recent personal anguish and change, these words struck me differently. And dammit, they still brought tears to my eyes! The meaning wasn't revelatory for I'd been aware of it and lived it out myself but still it lent me a more substantial perspective of the intimate relationship I cherish with my humbly compassionate guide.
Terms and Conditions.
It isn't surprising that these three words popped into my head following the phrase 'I've accepted your...' We all know them in our sleep, don't we? I've checked the little box on the screen hundreds of times stating that I've read (whether I actually have or not) the Terms and Conditions before accepting [ fill in need at present time]. It's a legal umbrella and it's surprising to me that I would associate it at all with God who I don't see as legalistic in any way! I know God to be within the moment and working through our individual lives giving understanding to our specific needs, circumstances and states of heart and mind. There is nothing legalistic, loop holed or untrustworthy about God. So when I thought terms and conditions it wasn't referring to a contract He was holding over me. He was reassuring me. And again, it wasn't a reminder that I signed on a line and said some magic words so I was now insured against theft, fire and flood. He reminded me that He was there and in having accepted His son, surely I already knew that. And He was right and I cried because again I was reassured that I'm not alone in my pain and fear and days with not enough minutes and paychecks with not enough money.
Every relationship has its terms and conditions. And simply that's what moved me; the reminder of a relationship I cherish that boasts a depth and intimacy rivaled and revealed only by the symbiosis of a creature within its environment. Which is why I consider myself a 'survivor' and not a victim of Christianity. I don't attend a church and am not currently interested in doing so. I wield no bumper stickers, necklaces or engraved bible covers that advertise my faith. I have a relationship that survived. And as calloused as my heart has become, I can still acknowledge the stripped down version of my faith to be the Christianity I had been searching for. It's the truth I had been praying to have revealed to me and, some days, it's all I have left to cling to. And that truth, for good or bad, will probably never fail to bring those tears back.