On Being Me (A Guest Post by a Simple Country Girl)
She writes boldly, and she makes me laugh.
Her words feel like freedom.
And her photographs? Stunning.
Her heart beats like this:
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
I’m delighted to introduce you to Darlene, who calls herself A Simple Country Girl. She’s all country, a little bit sassy, and she’s anything but simple.
We met through the High Calling Blogs network. Most days, you’ll find her over at Aspire to Lead a Quiet Life. But today, she meets us here at Getting Down With Jesus.
Please join me in welcoming Darlene.
ON BEING ME
By Darlene, A Simple Country Girl
What is a Wrangler-wearin’ country girl with a no-nonsense nature — who is also a bit sassy, goofy and bold — to do with these parts of her self once she meets the Lord?
I have struggled with that issue a lot over the last seven years. Hard as I tried, I just couldn’t transform my outward appearance and actions and attitudes to mirror those of the women in my newfound church.
I clearly remember my initial reactions the first time I stood inside sacred church walls. The first time my husband and I attended service with new friends, it was Communion Sunday.
I didn’t understand a thing about wine being blood, and bread being body. All I could think about was if I drank that little sip of wine in the cup, wouldn’t God be angry with me for breaking the vow I made with Him ten years prior? Not wanting to be a victim again, I had boldly made a promise with God in college. If my blood tests came back negative, I promised not to let another drop of alcohol pass my lips and numb my pain and alter my brain and set me up to be an easy target…
Would God strike me with lightning if I sipped from that Communion cup?
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
— Hebrews 4:15 and 16
“… do this in remembrance of Me.”
— from 1 Corinthians 11:24-26
During that first Sunday I noticed outward appearances; after all our society is eyeball-driven.
In order to look the proper part, I tried to dress the part.
If I succeeded in finding a skirt that I could tolerate, then I still managed to find ways to mess up how I looked. For instance, I would go in for a hug when the pastor was actually outstretching his hand for a mere handshake.
Great, I may be looking the part with my shaved legs and below-the-knee skirt, but what about that tackle-like hug I just used? Who else saw that post-service foul?
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
— Philippians 2:3 and 4
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
— Philippians 4:8
After adding a few skirts and sandals to my Wrangler and boot collection, I felt better about how I looked, but I started thinking: Should I really be attending church with this attitude of mine?
I wondered about the logistics of dragging my bitter brain and confused heart through those heavy wooden church doors. What if my sin seeped through my skin, and our elbows touched in the pews or our hands bumped as we reached for hymnals? Do I pull away and sit in the last row, or will they discreetly go wash once the service has concluded?
“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
— Galatians 2:17-20
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
— James 5:16
Even though some of the blaring newcomer shine had begun to rub off, at times I still felt stare-worthy. Even after fumbling, I could not seem to find my way through this new Bible.
I tripped between Esther and Obadiah and James, never quite landing where I was supposed to. How can I keep them all straight when I’ve never even heard these stories? And how could they possibly say anything that matters today?
The closest I’d come to a Bible lesson was watching Charlton Heston play Moses. I did occasionally hear my grandma sing about clefts and ages, but I had no idea what she was talking about.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
— 2 Timothy 3:16 and 17
He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.
— Deuteronomy 32:4
Although I still wear Wranglers to church, and I still drag my aching heart through the front doors, and I still get lost trying to find some books of the Bible, I finally have a basic grasp on what His word says about me. And try as I may, I cannot fully alter the fabric from which He cut my pattern.
With His help, I can trim the edges a bit, snipping away ugly threads of sin and shame and bitterness. With His divine sewing machine, I can nip and tuck my pieces so that my pattern more resembles Christ’s. And in some places, now it is even sheer enough for others to see clear through to Him.
So, what is a simple country girl to do with all the sassy and goofy and bold parts of her self? Each and every morning, I just slip on all who God made me to be.
In these seven years since coming to know the Lord, I realize He already knew me! He created and designed this unique pattern and He selected this particular fabric for me, just as He did for each of you.
I leave you with a prayer that I adapted from Ephesians 3:16-19:
May God, in all of His glory, strengthen you with might by the Holy Spirit. May that strength reach into your innermost being. I pray also that Christ lives in your heart through faith – that you are rooted and grounded in love. And that you understand how all-encompassing His love is for you. May God also fill you will all grace. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.
You can find more of A Simple Country Girl at Aspire to Lead a Quiet Life where she writes and posts photographs. She is also the founder of two ministries. Healing Hearts, Renewing Minds, a post-abortion ministry site and For the Least of These, an international photography ministry that financially supports orphans in Uganda. But what really floats her boat the most is being a child of God, a wife and a mother.
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Darlene, What an honor to have you guest-posting here at Getting Down With Jesus.
For those of us who've ever felt like we didn't fit, or that we didn't belong, you help us to see ourselves the way God sees us. We are loved, and we are His.
This is a good reminder to me of how people might feel as they come to church and try to find God. I am called to compassion.
I'm pretty sure God wears Wranglers and boots. And I'm pretty sure it's the simple folk He loves the most, because He's made so many of them.
Beautiful post, Darlene.
Thank you, Jennifer for featuring Darlene here.
Darlene – You make me smile ear to ear. Your honesty and acceptance of who God made you to be will attract more folks to Christ than a hundred seemingly put together, perfect church ladies ever will. We're all broken and in need of Jesus.
Billy, My farmer says he's pretty sure that God wears Carhartts.
Cassandra, I had the same feeling. I've been in Darlene's shoes … and now the pain of fumbling through the Bible and the order of service. Now, I'm called to compassion, to reach out to those trying to muddle their way through.
Katdish — Ditto.
Jennifer – This is so great! Thanks for the introduction.
Darlene – You know those book reviewers who shout, "This is a must-read for every (fill-in-the-blank)!"? That's this post. A must-read. It's fantastic! Thanks for sharing this…your heart…your experience…your sassy self with us.
Thank you kind friend for the invitation. It is truly my humble honor to get down with you and Jesus.
Seems I have always been the odd one out, but once I came into God's grasp, I have found myself a forever sorta bear-hug!
Indeed our compassion opens a door to a multitude of comforts.
Thank you for the reassurance, kind words, and new image of God wearing jeans-n-boots!
Your heart, words and honesty have given me strength to take the real me out-loud here in BlogLand.
I don't even own pantyhose (or nylons or stockings–whatever they are called) so I have this hysterical image of being an elderly church lady wearing tube socks and a patch skirt made of old Wranglers.
Thank you all for the kindness and love.
You musta snuck in there when I wasn't looking… Thank you for the kindness and encouragement.
Loved the post by a SCG.
The fabric illustration is amazing and will stick with me for a long time
Glad I stopped by your place this a.m. and followed you here. Your post kind of reminded me of a friend I invited to church several years ago who said he didn't have anything good enough to wear. Maybe it was just an excuse, but I still think how sad that we church people have created an impression among others that they are unworthy to come inside…
The church would be a dark and silent if only perfect people were allowed to come…
Love your honesty…your heart…
So glad to read your post!
It is something I really connected with. There are many times in life when we feel as if we just don't fit. I moved three years ago, and have struggled with the "Do I fit here?" way of thinking.
I like that you are you wherever I find you … and that God was in such a happy mood when He fashioned you.
Your honesty is one of the reasons I keep coming back to read your posts.
I'm a preacher's kid whose mom was obsessed with proper looks and for her and me that meant a dress or skirt and blouse.
I still have a hard time wearing blue jeans to church. I'm not worried about God, but I'm sure mom's frowning at me from heaven!
I say, "More power to you who can feel comfortable in jeans in church!" I might be a bit jealous.
"So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline . . . And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it." Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG)
I tried to turn myself into a gentle and quiet spirit–simply by not talking. It didn't work out so well.
Love doing life with you!
Thank you. To me the fabric of our beings are so diverse and the patterns are so varied–just like what you see in a scrap quilt!
I reckon it is like anything new with uncertainty . Devices such as clothing unfortunately are easy tactics to use when trying to see if one fits in with a group.
We are coming upon 1 year since relocating to a new area. Indeed it is hard, but with God as the tour guide, we can fit in–right inside His heart.
And I am not always in a happy mood–just ask my husband! 😉
* B. Meandering,
Yes, our new church is a little country place founded in 1888. It has chickens wandering through the yard and cows next door. One time a couple of ladies told me it doesn't matter what ya wear to church, but if ya come wearing only a towel, they would pass a blanket down the pew!
I love that scripture and have not read the MSG version–thank you. And I have tried that not talking thing, it does not work well at all. Not at all. Pity the tele-marketer who gets me on the phone that day!
*All of you–I have no idea if I am supposed to comment on comments at a blog where I wrote a guest post. I feel like I am standing in someone else's living room dancing to their stereo, with their kids peeking at me from the hallway. Basically, I saw JDL do it so I copied her! Yes, indeedily, I am a copycat. Jennifer, could we change the music to a little 2-step number for a bit? 😉 Or maybe even drag the trampoline inside?
I loved this. 🙂 It was wonderfully written.
I always feel outta sorts. But I loved Billy's comment about God must have loved people the best who wore Wranglers and boots.
Although I don't wear them, I have plenty of other things about me that are different.
But they can be good different. Or should I say, God different?
A trampoline sounds great, Darlene! I've got one out back.
Meanwhile, dance your heart out. You've got rhythm, girl. Love your style.
I'll crank up the music a notch or two!
I love your post. It was heartfelt, sincere, and honest. Thanks for sharing your heart. It's been a blessing to my spirit. The scriptures you used are very uplifting. Blessings to you always!!!
thank you jennifer for sharing darlene with us.
i loved this post so much. i felt like i was transported in time and walking through those church doors with her!
Darlene – God really spoke through this to my heart today. thank you so much and keep on wearin' those wranglers. you would be right at home in our awesome church family – deep in the heart of farming country.
Whew! We're in good company, that's for sure…GOD has CHOSEN the weak, the foolish, the simple…
Everywhere I read in my Bible, GOD always looks at the heart…even then we only have as much as He's put in…thank YOU JESUS
Those of us who were raised in the church take so much for granted. I loved looking through your eyes. As I read, I wanted so much for you to feel at home – just as you are. I think the father delights in the "uniqueness" of us. None of us just alike.
Indeed differences that give glory to God are way better than good, they are grand.
Thank you for your kind words. You are an encourager!
We are deep in farm land nowadays too…and most folks wear jeans here. One elderly couple sometimes wears matching denim overalls!
Yes, the heart is where we are defined, not even the label on our jeans.
Growing up in a church must be a real blessing…and that doesn't make the uniqueness any less.
~~ Thank you all again. I have had so much fun reading your reactions and feeling your hearts beat through the web. You bless me.
There is such freedom when we settle into who God created us to be…I was smiling all the way through your journey of finding the perfect fit…
Hi Jennifer, thank you dear one for sharing Darlene with us. I hung on every word.
While I haven't had your direct experience I certainly know what it is to sort of feel like the "odd ball" but it's alright because it's all about GOD anyway! His eyes, His lens is what I see myself through.
You have a beautiful heart Darlene as do you Jennifer.
Love and blessings!
This post blessed me…and was right on the mark with how I feel many churches are blinded by misguided perceptions of what is important…I, too grew up in the church…and remember several that did not make visitors feel especially welcomed because of "plastic" Christianity…I am so thankful to now be a part of a church that focuses on the heart of every person that walks through the double doors…instead of their hairstyles or choice of clothing…
I never felt like I belonged until God showed me how He saw me – that He created me like I am – and how I am perfectly how He created me when I seek Him out! Then, suddenly, I did belong – because I did not have to fit in – I just had to be who He created me to be – so fitting in never matters anymore:) Wonderfully thoughtful post!
our church is quite large and a mix of dress up and dress down, come as you are and Sunday best. It isn't a monetary thing, sometimes it's cultural or tradition. Regardless , it shouldn't be a barrier.
I have to say that it's refreshing and freeing.
I think when we join anything we try to well, follow, and I know , while I am not a leader , I am not always a follower either.
I am just me.
wonderful. I a glad you are getting to be you.