Free me from the complexity of guilt

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It’s December. This upcoming Christmas weekend, Jordan and I will have been living in Chattanooga for 1 whole year. That may not sound like much to you, but for a couple who has been on the go for the last 8, an entire year of staying put and laying low, simply put, feels strange. Am I supposed to be settled by now? Feel at home? Have my own house with a fenced-in yard? A set group of friends that gather bi-weekly? Routine? Direction? And what does ‘settled’ even mean?? That I’m supposed to bottle up my passion and drive for the things God has clearly directed me towards?

When you’re in a space, but it’s somehow not the right place, beneath the confusion, guilt lies sleeping.

Surely we took a wrong turn? Was I not responsible? What kind of friend am I–or even better, spouse am I? Child of God am I? What have I been doing with these 365 days of untrophied progress? These are the questions that spin around in my head as I try to lay down to rest. The momentum has stopped and I think I’m supposed to be ok with it, but I’m not really. Enter stage left: Guilt.

Let’s dissect the first issue. In last year’s post I was a bit vague on the complete reason of why we transitioned from Florida. Yes, we did feel that God provided an exit strategy to “break ties without burning bridges,” in that Jordan’s particular position wasn’t going to be held by the church… but with him being offered a different position we COULD have stayed. But we didn’t. And now Jordan manages (and loves) a Starbucks store. Because of various developments over the past 12 months, I feel comfortable sharing the key reason of why we left this church… of why our momentum stopped. And while I won’t go into full detail in order to protect people we love down there, I feel that it is more God-honoring to share our experience than to cover it up any longer. Simply put: Jordan and I do not believe in compromising Biblical truths in exchange for relevancy. Scripture should never be given the back seat in order to trend with popularity and culture. If I want a dose of the world, I’d rather go into it instead of trying to choke down a churchified refurbished one. If we walk into the doors of God’s house, we want to be fed. It is not right to ignore hunger and instead try to impress me with your knife skills. Give me food. I don’t care what kind. Just give me food. Nobody will ever be filled with theatrics. And God’s Word is LIVING. Yes, it is important to be in the world and aware of current battles and burdens, but becoming the world doesn’t help anyone. The LIVING Word will survive this generation, just as it has did for the last 2000 years before it. No more tricks. Give me Jesus.

The struggle was that our church KNOWS Jesus. They LOVE Him. Their intent and hearts are in the right place. But God’s word says that ministers will be held at a higher judgement (James 3:1). You can’t only focus on a cool menu. You MUST feed your flock. This is the type of ministry we will never be a part of. I remember reading the book, “Permission Evangelism” in one of my classes at Moody and I’ve always carried one statement with me (forgive my paraphrase): “We have committed a great divorce! When we separate evangelism from decipleship, we are dividing two things that were never meant to be apart.” In a nutshell, our experience was one of messy, confusing evangelism and virtually no discipleship. Thus, a constant revolving door.

Now that this is off my chest, maybe it will shed light to the daily battle Jordan and I face. After all that training in school… after an intense ordination from Dr. Chuck Swindoll… after working multiple jobs to stay afloat and doing things “the right way”… how… HOW did we end up here? What were all those hard years for? What do they amount to? What are you doing God? It’s me right? What are we doing wrong??  Reveal and correct!


Second issue. Community. I am officially a stranger in my own home town. People move or move on. I never expected home to freeze and wait for the potential chance that I may return. But wow. Has home changed…. or better yet, how I’VE changed! A few nights ago over some pizza, I was telling my husband that I feel like to the rest of the world I’m so southern that I don’t fit…. but to the southerns, I almost feel like I’ve seen too much of the world to ever be received back. But in a weird, lonely way I don’t want to be. What a strange emotion to wrestle. I am surrounded by faces that I love, but can no longer connect to other than in casual pleasantries. Somehow, I seem to find more comfort in the rejection of the outside world because there is beauty and adventure in it. Why am I so weird? My husband said it’s similar to missionaries moving back to the United States– you just can’t ever go back to “Americanism” when you know “WHAT ELSE” is out there. Maybe I’m just not trying hard enough to jump back onto the treadmill of life. The parties to plan, the wardrobes to constantly update, the social calendar to keep full. What is the point in all that? Fellowship is nice, but is there direction and purpose in it? Brandi, why do you sound pessimistic? Am I? It doesn’t feel that way… more like transparent. But perhaps I am.


And what of those relationships that have survived? Yeah, but there’s a lot of guilt there too. You see, we are all at that funky age of approaching our 30’s, or having just made the leap into them. This means starting marriages or building families.. building credit or purchasing homes… we’re finally at that age where our parents are getting older, and that means the first shift of unlucky ones are starting to say goodbye to Mom or Dad. It’s a season of highs and lows and yet we are supposed to be settling into the plateau of life. Therefore, all of my friends have their own issues. For the last few years I’ve consumed myself with trying to be the good and faithful friend. I’m not always the best at it, but I’ve balanced quite a bit despite battling depression myself. I don’t know that I actually let anyone, besides my husband, 100% in because I have felt the need to be strong for others. To burden the burdensome wasn’t something I was capable of doing. I’ve been depression free for about a year and a half now. But with that has come a more healthy selfishness. I cannot be all things to all people. What a prideful undertone I carried upon me for so long!! It feels good to let that one go, but with it guilt tries to sneak in. I recently read an article that said “It’s time to mean a lot to a little rather than a little to a lot.” I am guilty of even putting my daughter 2nd to the children of others… over and over and over again. That is not ok.  (MOM GUILT TOO!? Yep. It’s real.) Yes, there will be seasons when others REALLY do need me (and I’ll be there!), but I have got to make time for the ones that depend on me. When my daughter naps, I am now purposefully choosing to gaze down at her sweet little face and marvel at it’s shape rather than reading the text messages that pull me away. I am choosing to save the world’s problems for the end of HER day, when it’s time for her drift from it. The article mentioned something about purposing yourself to “dig deep instead of spreading out too thin” and that’s what I’m transitioning to do, despite the guilt that resides (people WILL be let down).  From a girl that used to send over 250 Christmas cards each year (and oh- they would already have been in the mail by now)… guess what? I’m thinking I may not even do it this year. Perhaps it’s a little extreme, and I may end up sending a few out to those who choose to journey with me…. but how very unsouthern of me to not concern myself with the superficial acquaintances of life! 

Guilt and Growth.

It’s time to stop running and season what has survived. It’s time to trample out the guilt, as impossible as that may be, and seek out the authentic and meaningful. It’s time to get reacquainted with God in this newfound freedom and let Him guide in His time. It’s time to mean the world to my husband and baby– and enjoy the simplicity of that.  It’s time to unplug for a little while. 

So with that said, I’m going to not be updating this blog until after my babe turns 1. That’s in March, so it’s only a few months. The adoption is of course still happening- it was never an issue of default. I just want to use the next few months to invest in the ones I love… and the ones who have chosen to love me in return. Right now I’m in an amazing season with my core team- I want to experience it with no bounds! I’m not worrying about finding a house. Or where ministry will take us. Or finding favor. Or keeping up. I’m going to savor each day and let The Lord teach me something new. It will ONLY be then that I am ready and refined for what He has in store.

To you and yours, Merry Christmas / Happy Hanukkah and blessings for your new year to come.

Have thoughts? Leave a comment below.