Saturday, March 18, 2017

Stepford Faith

I have made it no secret that I have been walking through a tunnel in my spiritual journey.  I am wading through murky waters clinging to my beliefs but being bogged down by hurt and pain.  I have found that God still speaks to me even when my faith is faded.  And, He often gets my attention through my beloved medium of film.  I will hear a character state something profound.  I will read articles on filmmakers “why” for making a film.  I read reviews.  I watch movies as a hiding place, a safe place.  I always take something away…and sometimes, I believe the things circling in my mind are directives from my Maker.

One such instance was through a cult classic movie that I enjoy immensely.  The Stepford Wives was released in 1975 and a remake in 2004.  I have seen both, and I do love seeing Nicole Kidman as the perfect, submissive, well-groomed wife.  The film is twisted, but filled with a dark humor that I have always been drawn to.  The premise of these films is a family relocating to a beautiful, perfect community where every marriage is ideal and everyone looks as if they have stepped out of the pages of a Ralph Lauren catalog.  There are no tears, no arguments, no bad days.  The men fit every archaic stereotype from golf-playing to pipe-smoking to whiskey-drinking.  The women shop, cook, clean and keep their husbands happy, all while wearing heels, having amazingly coiffed hair, and showing a permanent smile.  Throughout the course of the movie, Kidman’s character discovers the women are actually robots (or fembots if you are a little nerdy).  I won’t go into all the science-fiction vernacular, but it’s apparent the women have been wired by men for men.  There is no freedom, no choices to be made, and truly no variety.  The community is one of control and assumed perfection.

There is a myth in Christianity that once you profess Jesus as your Savior, once you are saved you change instantly to a perfect person.  Now, I can tell you that the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  This is telling when someone accepts Jesus and His forgiveness of sins shown by His death on the cross and His resurrection three days later, the sins of the old life have been forgiven and a new life, free of sin has begun.  However, we never are rid of the sin problem.  Everyone sins.  Everyday.  But, with Jesus at the helm, the gifts of forgiveness and grace are given.  The opportunity to repent from wrongdoings and to follow God and His Word come with the acceptance of Christ.  The Holy Spirit also becomes a part of the one who has given his life to Jesus.  All that to say, the truth is a new creation is born at the point of acknowledging sin, confessing to God, and accepting His Son, Jesus as the Sovereign One over life. 

What this does not mean is that when a person chooses to become a Christian, a flip is switched and they are morphed into a perfect person.  There are many perceptions that Christians are all “this” or “that”.  The most prevalent misrepresentation is perfection.  While I would have loved to know that when I chose the path to follow Jesus and the Bible, I would never mess up, I would always appear to be put together, and I would do life perfectly.  The freedom to choose does not go away.  The Holy Spirit and His discernment appear, often as a “still small voice” as referenced in the Bible.  BUT, the power to make good or poor choices still remain.  While Christian are often guilty of putting on their “church face”…you know, the “how are you”, “oh, I am great, how are you” routine…they don’t have it together.  I am speaking from experience.  I feel the greatest tool I have in my faith, whether it is bright and sparkling or whether it is faded and torn, is transparency.  I want people to know my faith shapes me.  I love God, Jesus, the Bible…but I am not a robot mindlessly following a church or a man.  And right now, if you asked me “how are you”, I would say “crazy, sad, mad, lonely.”  Not really a perfect Christian answer, right?  And, that’s my point.  Christians aren’t perfect.  I am DEFINITELY not perfect.  I have hurt people.  I battle demons of depression.  I doubt.  I question.  I worry.  I sin.  BUT, I have the gift of salvation.  When I realize I have sinned or am sinning (and I pray that the Holy Spirit pesters me until I do realize), I confess it in prayer to Jesus, I ask for forgiveness, and I am redeemed and restored.

I love the idea of a Stepford wife.  I would love to walk around every day with perfect hair and make-up.  I would always say the right thing.  My husband would always be proud.  My children would always be happy.  My programming would make their world ideal.  However, I am a broken mess.  Through the experiences I have had, the consequences of choices I have made, the battles I have faced, the joys I have felt, I am able to teach my children.  I am a model to them that life is not perfect.  I show that in spite of my imperfections, I have value and am being used to lift up others.  My imperfections make my life interesting.  God is not a God of control; He is a God of love.  He wants us to choose Him…to worship Him, to love Him.  He has the power to have a world of Stepford people, but He has given us the gift of freedom to choose for ourselves. 

You don’t have to be perfect to become a Christian.  You won’t be perfect after you become one.  You will remain a beautiful mess, but you will no longer belong to yourself.  You will belong to the God who made you, designed you, and has a great purpose for you.  So many gifts are free to you…forgiveness, grace, redemption, joy, peace.  You will never be alone.  I know that does sound cheesy, but it’s true.  Even in my darkest, loneliest times, I feel a comfort and peace that make no sense.  And, I know those are benefits of the Holy Spirit being an active part of my being. 

If ever you question Christianity, know this…we aren’t perfect.  Those who portray that they are, well, they are lying.  If you have questions or want more information on this topic, please let me know, and I will direct you to some awesome and intelligent resources.  I’m no scholar…I am a big sinner who is struggling with my faith, but who knows my faith is what is holding me together.