Guest Post: Virgin Faith

I know Melissa through the blogging world and I love her style of writing so much. This story is raw and beautiful, and I am honoured to have her share it here. You can read more about Melissa at the end of the post, and be sure to check out her blog. -Micaela 

I don’t know any girls at church camp. They seem like they have no idea what life could throw at them; they are stupid, innocent, seemingly flawless, spoiled girls. I’m angry at God. I’m a stone wall—hardened and cold. I don’t think about how there is “power in the blood” or “washing in the blood of the lamb” or being “covered by the blood of Jesus” until I wake up in my bunk covered in my own blood. And I don’t tell a soul because they’re all just interested in saving my soul.

Camp is not the first time I’ve seen the blood. Several months earlier when the blood appeared, I knew I’d “become a woman.” But when it disappeared for months, I guessed it was a false alarm. Perhaps I wasn’t actually ready to be a woman. I felt like a girl, a bud not ready to blossom, too ugly and stupid to bloom. I wanted to shut the world out and remain tight, forever in a bud.

I have stained sheets and stained faith. I tear strips of my white washrags. I then wind toilet paper around the rags and wrap them around the crotch of my panties to keep everything secure while wondering why those ridiculous wing commercials on television make having your period seem glamorous. I don’t think I can speak to anyone about supplies. I’m never good at asking for anything, especially asking for things I need. I bet the girls in the bunks surrounding me would have no problem asking. They seem like they wouldn’t be ashamed about talking to their moms about shaving their legs or using scary looking tampons or needing a stronger deodorant to prevent sweat stains from going all the way down to their waists.

I don’t think I can speak to anyone about anything. I can speak, technically, but what I can’t do is hear, not very well. About a year before I came to camp, God decided to take most of my hearing, take it away from the girl who is scared and awkward already. We went to hospitals and specialists. No tumor, no blow to the head, no ear infection. God just took it suddenly with no good reason. Now I feel stuck in my own world where the real world is muffled and muted, slightly spinning and baffling to me.

The bell signals flagpole time. I waddle to the circle hoping blood won’t seep through my jeans. With my luck, today’s Bible lesson will involve Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. Instead, we’re each given a notebook. I am handed a red one. Red must be the theme, the color of the week. I run my hand over the smooth cover and fan the pages. The first page is so white, so blank, and so pure. I stare at the first page for two hours. I write, “God, You feel far away.” There. That sentence wasn’t so bad. The act of writing was easier than holding hands around the table and listening to my disappointed parents beg God to fix me. Writing was easier than my dad’s idea of allowing the Elders at church to place their hands on me. I didn’t want them to touch me or hear them say, “Thy will be done- heal this child- out demon, out- restore her- to God be the glory.” I could, however, handle a notebook. I could control a notebook. I could fill it with what I wanted. I could take away from it what I wanted. I could close it when I felt like it. I could rip out pages. I could chuck it across the room. I could sleep with it under my pillow.

I tried to explain that I couldn’t pray out loud. When my youth minister took me to a shelter house to talk, he didn’t actually make me speak. He simply sat with me and read to me Romans 8:39 NIV: “Neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, nothing will be able to separate us from the love of Christ that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I wondered, “Nothing will be able to separate? Not my wall, not my distance I put between us, not my faith so spotted with questions and doubts and the embarrassment of being me?” Did God take away my physical hearing so that I could spiritually listen? Though I don’t know the answer to that question, I do believe God started listening to me. In Genesis, when Cain kills Abel, the blood cries out from the ground. God hears the blood. God heard what was happening inside me, inside my hopeful, pumping heart, inside my changing body.

That night, as I took my flashlight, virgin faith, pen, and red notebook under the stained covers with me, He heard the words I no longer hesitated to write but instead thrust onto the paper. I spilled out questions. I reminded myself that even Job questioned. I poured out fears, anger, and brokenness, knowing I’d heard somewhere that God uses brokenness. Faster than I could think, my words dripped out of the pen. At that moment, I realized writing was submission. Writing meant opening up, stretching, tearing, releasing, and most of all, giving and letting go. It was writing that redeemed me. Writing is what broke the shell, tore the curtain, destroyed the wall, and awakened a woman.

During invitation, I put one foot in front of the other until I made it to the altar. Jesus bled and died for me. Blood stands for sacrifice, for pain, for lifeblood, for womanhood, for birth, and for me—rebirth. As I emerged from the water with the floating melody of “Now I belong to Jesus,” I noticed, with a slight smile on my face, that I had stained the baptismal water with the slightest tint of red.

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Melissa Kiefer is a high school English teacher and writer who lives in Illinois with her husband Josh and black lab Jovie. She strives to live deeply, genuinely, and soulfully as she watches God work in those beautiful, mysterious, in-His-time ways. You can find more stories of grit and grace at her blog On Bruised Knees.

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Work-in-Progress

I’m figuring out what I think about Sin.

I’m figuring out how to live by Grace.

I’m figuring out where I stand on Calvanism, Arminianism, and every other theology there is.

I’m figuring out what it means to truly love and faithfully follow God.

I’m figuring how to live by the Spirit, and not man-made Christianity.

I’m figuring out how to show Christ in a real way, while being totally crippled by my own humanity and incompetence at the same time.

That’s the truth of it, and because I’m just figuring it out, I can be very mediocre. I sin every single day, some more than others.  I’m not going to lie to cover it up, or tell you that I’ll change. Some weekends I drink too much, I occasionally drop the F-bomb just for effect, I’ve kissed strangers before. Those are the sins we zero on and gossip about, right? Yep, done a bunch of them that I won’t list here.

But my other struggles, that are just as sinful? Unforgiveness, gossip, rudeness, impatience, resentment, gluttony, envy, judgement, unfaithfulness, bitchiness. Unseen or seen, all sin is the same in the eyes of God. The only difference is the consequence that comes with it and how other people (also flawed) judge it.

God forbid, I’ve done this whole walk as a Christian. It’s not my big dirty past, some of it is very much my present life. Forgive me for that and I’ll forgive you for thinking I’m a crappy Christian.

am a crappy Christian according to society’s definition of the word. Thankfully, I’m not looking to please people. I’m looking to please my God who sees my heart, sees all my brokenness and sees how far I’ve come. He knows I will always fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23), but as long as I’m leaning hard on Him, I’m doing good.

Some days I bring Him glory, and I pray that as time passes that evolves to most days. As the weeks, months, years go by, God will continue to change me. I will continue to sin less, but I will never be sinless.

I’m not where I would like to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be. For all my self-deprecation, I can see that I’m doing well (my best) on this journey of life, and of that I’m pleased. I’m not squeaky clean, but Jesus doesn’t ask for squeaky clean. He asks for followers and for us to have faith, and He desires us as we are.

So if you’re also a work-in-progress too and you’re discouraged, be assured that in all of your humanity and bad decisions, He loves you. He is willing to meet you where you are. Heck, we’re all the same, just figuring it out best as we can.

Thoughts? Criticisms? Wisdom? 

No Condemnation, Only Grace

Today I’m excited to be featured over at Prodigal Magazine with a story of how I had to experience God’s grace before I could extend it to others.

After reading my article there, you should check out the rest of the website. They tell hard-hitting, beautiful, real life stories that we can all relate to.

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A couple of Sunday’s ago, we sang Amazing Grace at church. I’ve always known the words to this beautiful song, but I’m used to singing it on special occasions or at Christmas. This time it was just on a normal Sunday, but for the first time it really meant something. This time I knew the Grace I was singing about.

Jesus is Grace personified, and we are all guilty of forgetting that. We’re all guilty of setting high standards and recreating laws that Jesus came to redeem. We’re all guilty of condemning others and ourselves when these standards aren’t met.

And I’m the guiltiest of them all.

Continue reading at Prodigal Magazine.