Friday, April 20, 2012

Christian Enmeshment

As I look back on my life just a few short years ago, I realized today that I lived a life of Christian enmeshment. defines enmeshment as "entanglement."  A few short years ago, I was a counselor and faculty member at a christian college.  I was heavily involved in my church, and all of my friends that I interacted with regularly were from one of those two locations.  Most of my life has looked like that to some degree.  Christian school, Sunday School, church, church camp, Bible college (undergraduate & graduate work), and all of my friends were from those places.  I worked in secular settings a few times and I would approach them as a battlefield where I would be underfire the whole time instead of seeing it as a place to go and take life to people.  I would hunker down, see myself as better than them, and try to get through it until I was back in the safety of my Christian bubble. 

In November of 2008, I began doing church with my husband outside of a traditional church building, building relationships with people who weren't going to a traditional church.  Most of these people would never step across the threshold of a traditional church building.  In August of 2010, I started teaching in a community college.  As I look back now, I realize how free I feel.  I came alive especially when I began my job at the community college.  There are very clear lines between who is a believer and who isn't.  People are surprised and grateful when I give grace, or care about their lives instead of expecting me to.  They talk to me about why I am so peaceful and kind when that is very different from other people around them.  In my Christian enmeshment, I found a lot of bickering over doctrinal issues, or gossiping about the sin people were in.  Neither of which was inviting or encouraging.  We would often get in the way of each other and the work that God was wanting to do.

A friend of mine today used the word enmeshed when describing my life before.  He was absolutely correct.  There is nothing good about being enmeshed.  There was a whole part of my life for Christ that was missing.  It is hard to carry out the Great Commission when you don't know any unbelivers.  It is hard to be a light to a dark world when you only isolate yourself in Christian environments. 

Please don't get me wrong.  I love my Christian friends.  I treasure those relationships where I receive truth, encouragement, prayer, and unity of mind, and I can pour into their lives as well.  I spend as much time as I can with them.  When I am around my Christian friends, I see them as an oasis. I value my time in the Word alone, with my husband, and with my friends (believers and unbelievers alike).  Seeing the Word through an unbelievers eyes shows me new things.  God teaches me constantly whereever I go. 

I'm so grateful for the work He is doing in my Jerusalem.  He encourages and grows me daily through it.  I'm so grateful for my freedom.