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Do you remember that kid in your middle school class who believed they were never wrong? You know who I’m talking about…” that kid”. The kid who would argue with their teacher every day? The kid who believed their way was the right way and that no one else could possibly be right? Yea, you know the kid I’m talking about and may have even had a slight moment of embarrassment reliving moments from your middle school years. I’ve felt like that kid for most of 2019.
Over the last few weeks, I have been reflecting a lot concerning this past year. So many amazing and challenging things have happened to me and my family this year. The thing that stands out to me the most is the self-awareness that I have endured, aka, I’ve learned just how much I am not like Jesus and it blows my mind!
I can honestly say that this year God has been peeling back the layers of my heart and pointing out things that need to be addressed. For the past few years, I have found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with the way “church is being done”. I will often get triggered by things I see churches doing on social media. Do you want to know the terrible thoughts that run through my head? Here are some recent examples:
-Church- “Hey come on out to our Christmas eve-eve service, Santa is gonna be there!!!”
-Me- “Sure glad Santa is gonna be there cause Jesus sure ain’t gonna be there.”
-Church- “Be sure to invite your friends to church this Sunday, we are starting a brand new series and it’s going to be amazing! #beabringer”
-Me- “Right, every series is amazing and awesome and epic…except that they arent and your highly attractional services and series are only creating spiritual consumers.”
Getting honest here y’all. These are the types of thoughts I have wrestled with and give in to. It’s not pretty, but its where I have been in 2019. I have found myself judging what is right and what is wrong. Can I tell you friends…this is a dangerous place to be. Anytime we choose to be the determiner of right and wrong, we feel any action we take after that is justifiable in the name “this is biblically right”.
A few months ago I had a friend confront me about my social media posts. This friend pointed out some things they had noticed me and challenged me on some of my thought processes. I honestly took what they said to heart and began to seek some insight from God on just what is going on in my heart. As I was praying, I said something along the lines of “God…I wish people could just understand where I am coming from…I feel so misunderstood. I feel like people are so closed-minded and not open to having their thoughts and points of view challenged.” It was at that moment that God reminded me of my journey in deconstructing my faith that started in 2015.
“Journey” is the keyword here. I didn’t get to where I am now, with the beliefs I now have, overnight. It has been a 5 year journey. There have been highs and lows, wins and losses, new friendships and old friendships that have ended. How in the world can I expect to change anyone’s mind about a topic I believe in a single conversation (or Facebook post). Truly, my faith journey hasn’t even been me searching out things as much as I believe it has been God leading me to different things to wrestle with and experience a tension that exists in the unknown. I cannot change people’s mindsets or hearts. Only God can. And guess what, He will do that on His timeframe with whatever topic He wants to.
So here is the tweetable statement, to sum up, the biggest lesson I have learned in 2019:
I am on a faith journey that is unique to me. I cannot expect people to be where I am at in my journey and believe the same things that I believe. My beliefs are a sum of my unique experiences with God and are heavily influenced by my life experiences. I want to meet people right where they are at in their journey and walk alongside them instead of against them.
If I care more about being “right” than meeting people right where they are at, I am nothing like Jesus. If I care more about winning an argument, I am nothing like Jesus. If I fire shots at other churches…I am nothing like Jesus. Friends, I want to be like Jesus. I want to embody his character and love the way He did. I am not perfect and will still probably get triggered and even rant a little on Facebook. I’m hoping to do that a lot less in 2020. I’m hoping to be more like Jesus in 2020 than I was in 2019.
May we in 2020, posture ourselves in a position of understanding and appreciating people right where they are in their journey.