Surviving an F3

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Let me begin this introduction to say that I really love this girl. Over the past 18 years, we’ve prayed together, cried together, and laughed together until we’ve snorted. But what especially endears me to Amanda Walker is her ability to grapple with truth. Today’s post is no exception. She will have you grappling too.

On April 25th, 2019 an F-3 tornado plowed through our small town. Though miraculously our family slept through it, many of our friends’ homes, cars, and property were destroyed.

The devastation it caused was unreal. Immediately, the community was mobilized and disaster relief teams from all over the state (and even neighboring states) showed up to help. A newly-planted church became ground zero for the distribution of meals, water, and housing. Everyone was called into action.

It wasn’t the first time I had helped a community recovering from a natural disaster. What made the destruction so difficult was the fact that it was mycommunity, my friends, and my family members that were affected. Suddenly, what I often watched on TV became a reality to me.

Over the last year, another sort of “tornado” has ripped through my world. But, this one has sought to devastate my faith instead of my home. This time last year reports began to surface about people I held in high esteem.

The accusations included covering up rape allegations, demeaning a young woman’s body, and using denominational and “biblical” power to keep women in their “rightful” place. I dismissed the first article I read about the allegations. Over the years, the man in question had acquired “enemies,” and there was always a group trying to bring him down.

However, as the days passed, I saw a pridefulness and an unwillingness to call out misogamy or even ask forgiveness for absurd comments that “were taken out of context.” As that “tornado” played out in the media and blog-sphere, I was left with a heart that was hurt and a faith that was questioned.

Over the past year, I’ve learned (and still learning) a lot about God, myself, and others.

Here are just a few of the lessons:

  1. People are fallible. Ok…this is a given. But, when we respect and look up to someone, it is tempting to view them through the eyes of perfection. What they say and do holds weight (a warning to anyone in a leadership position). However, there is only one perfect Person, and His name is Jesus. Asking anyone besides Christ to carry the burden of perfection is a cruel assignment.
  2. Since people are fallible, their teaching can also be fallible. Most of my theological education stemmed from one particular thought pattern. (I now realize this should have been a red flag). I also learned that asking certain pointed questions would render sharp rebukes toward the one asking.
  3. Since people are fallible, their teaching can also be fallible. Most of my theological education stemmed from one particular thought pattern. (I now realize this should have been a red flag). I also learned that asking certain pointed questions would render sharp rebukes toward the one asking.
Asking anyone besides Christ to carry the burden of perfection is a cruel assignment Click To Tweet

I was taught that the “conservative” views of men and women’s roles in the home and church is the only true, biblical view. I was taught that the highest calling of a woman was to be a wife and a mother. (But, no one seemed to ask what became of a woman who never got married or couldn’t have children. Did she miss the “high calling?” Was she relegated to carry out a “lesser calling?”) I was taught that a woman didn’t have the authority to teach men. (So, does this mean that a man couldn’t learn anything from a woman? Or, could he learn from women in certain situations but not others?)

These questions were always in the back of my mind, but I didn’t feel the freedom to ask them. Now, I find it humorous (and sad) that I actually had the audacity to write a book answering these very questions without actually having the guts to debate them within myself. I feel like I’m back at the beginning with many of my theological questions. And, for the first time, I think I’m OK with it.

  • 4. God is good. After 20 years of walking with Jesus, you think I would have gotten this fact down. But, this year has been a hard one. I never realized how much of my perception of God and His infinite love for me was wrapped up in what I had learned from others. I’ve been studying the Bible for as long as I’ve been a Christ follower, but I didn’t realize just how much my theology was tainted by another’s views. Instead of allowing the Spirit to interpret scripture, my interpretation was filtered through the lens of someone else.

The last few months has been one of recalibration. I don’t see certain “truths” as clearly as I once did. At first, this terrified me (and at times still does.) I was taught that to question a set groups’ interpretation was to wade in stormy waters and into possible heresy. However, God has taught me that He is much bigger than that. To think that we have all the mysteries of God figured out, including ones on gender roles, the theology of salvation, or the end times is arrogant.

There are certain teachings that God has decided to leave a little ambiguous, and that is perfectly OK. The fact that God would allow anything to be clear to us, like His unfailing love towards us and His offer of salvation through His Son, Jesus is pure grace. God is not scared of your questions or your grappling. He’s not waiting to hit you over the head if you end up misunderstanding a particular passage. And, He certainly won’t cut you off from fellowship with Him just because you don’t agree with the “powers that be.” God is a good God, and His desire is that we come to know Him as we seek Him.

God leaves many things ambiguous, so that we come to Him often. If He gave us the rules, we wouldn't need Him Click To Tweet
  • 5. Life is a journey. This phrase is a popular one these days. But, I’ve learned just how true it is. Four years ago, I thought I had much of the questions I’m now asking answered. (Did I mention I wrote a book about them?) But, I am realizing that I don’t have a clue.

At this point in my journey, the following things are clear:

  • God gave me an amazing man and has called me to be his partner and helper in life. (I am questioning what I was taught about the “biblical” meaning of helper. I think it’s a little more involved, glorious, and challenging than I first realized.)
  • God has put a calling on every individual’s life and given them the gifts, talents, and resources to fulfill that calling. (For me, in this particular season of life, that calling includes—includes being the operative word—my role as wife and mother. But, how that calling will play out is still very unclear.)
  • God, in His wisdom, has established an order for His Church—men are to be the pastor/elder. (This is about all I’m clear on with this point. How much, when, how, or if a woman can teach a man is still a conundrum.)

That’s about it. I wish I had more figured out, but I don’t. And, since I don’t have it all figured out, I need to give others a break who are struggling as well. We are all a work in progress, and some are further down the road than others. Instead of insulting, bashing, and demeaning those who struggle, how about we help them?

Yes, there are people who are intentionally rebelling against God and His Word. But, I’ve come to realize that there are just as many who are really seeking and asking because they want to know. God gave us to each other to journey together, and we need to get busy doing that.

My community is still (and will be for a while) in the healing process. Most of us are experiencing fear when we get a severe weather notification or hear thunder in the distance. But, we are healing. If God can heal hearts and lives affected by a physical tornado, He can certainly heal hearts and lives affected by spiritual tornados.

I’m counting on it.