I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have God speak into my innermost being. I grew up hearing people talk about this intimate experience, which left them reeling in the emotional connectedness of being seen by a higher power. I’ve felt suspicious of such accounts and have held a firm stance that anything I hear in my mind is just my gut, and I always trust my gut.
For years I experienced intense contempt for others’ accounts of their conversations with God. Aren’t they really just hearing what they want to hear? Or better yet, aren’t they just listening to common sense? I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve been pricked by needles of shame when the voice my heart longed to hear was silent.
My innermost being has longed for a deeper connection and has strived to make this connection happen. To be quite honest, I’ve failed in my attempts to make a relationship work with the god that others presented to me. I’ve failed to meet the high standards of a man-built god laid out to me by fallen humans. I have endeavored to serve someone who was distant, critical, and unloving. It hasn’t worked.
As a result, I’ve let shame and resentment build a wall between me and my deep thirst for a God who loves my tattooed, foul-mouthed, playful self. It took sitting in a group of women to say the unthinkable:
“I need a new Jesus.”
Yep, I said it.
Gasp. Be shocked. Feel invited to think about the real Jesus you need.
My Jesus is kind and has a loud, melodious laugh. His eyes are full of knowing, love, and warmth. He has tattoos all over his body and maybe even the traditional Jesus beard we see in all the illustrations. He wears t-shirts, ripped jeans, and Converse.
My Jesus loves to hang out on the couch and talk. I want to be near Him, I want to belong. The silence doesn’t make Him uncomfortable. He sits with me. He holds my hand. He is there. He wants to drink raspberry flavored Bacardi with me and watch the newest show on Netflix.
My Jesus is wild. Adventurous. He invites me to be seen, heard, and healed. He arouses a desire for me to be more and to become who He has created me to be. He came to restore my humanity. He wants me to be here, be present, and hope with every fiber of my body for the next great adventure.
My Jesus is human and He is God. You can feel it in His presence, in His words and actions. He understands our humanity with full perfection and invites us to belong and rest with Him. He grieves. He marches. He inspires.
This is the Jesus I was invited to sit with during our group’s contemplative prayer time. I was angry at first, but as I journaled, my soul began to seek the face I desired. I waited, pen in hand. Suddenly the words released from a rusty prison and cascaded onto my paper.
He was here.
He wrote, and I wrote. We talked for the first time. It was raw, messy scribbles in a red journal that brought me connectedness to a God I have been starved to experience.
We talked about my deep anger that stems from a lifetime of hurt, my fear of being abandoned, my resistance to offer trust, my neglect in receiving nourishment. The list goes on. The words are misspelled, barely legible heart cries that probably look like the beginnings of a crazed woman’s manifesto, but on further inspection, you will find a woman who is communing with Jesus in the most intimate way. Words: powerful, unembellished words.
Is everything fixed?
Everything is exposed and in the process of much needed healing. More written conversations will need to happen. More time learning to surrender and accept His free nourishment will need to occur.
It’s all chaotic and tender, much like the aftermath of a complicated birthing experience. My body is making space to receive and to learn to be whole with a Jesus I have been laboring after my whole life. To be honest, it feels quite beautiful.
Mal Arnold is a chaser of dreams and believes in living life with abandon. She writes to pour some of herself out for any who care to experience her heart, but is an avid reader, lover of old movies and going on journeys with family as well. She has seen heartache and trauma in her past and is learning to step aside to let her Maker heal her broken places.