Written By: Ryan Walters
in dedication to:
my Redeemer & King // my angel Christina // my only immediate family left- Gordz, Benz, Ma
Jesus is my best friend.
And typing keys to illustrate that through a blog does not seem too conflicting or arduous to present. In fact, it isn’t conflicting at all. Neither is it difficult to share that feeling with like-minded people who have a similar faith in the same Dude. In the intimate setting of a church community group, I could make that statement known all day long without flinching. I’ve written personal letters and notes about my love for Jesus that send crocodile tears down my cheeks, but still, no issue distributing these heartfelt letters. I talk to Jesus face to face through my scribbles on paper; simple stuff really.
So what is it about inviting someone who does not know Jesus personally that all the sudden makes me freeze up? How come my mouth is paralyzed from mentioning my love for the Author of Love due to another’s unfamiliarity with Him? This nonsensical response that flabbergasts me makes me feel like a fairweather fan, to be honest. It’s like your best buddy in high school who was friendly around you when spending time alone together, but disowned you unashamedly around a clique of others. It is absolutely humiliating for that person being disowned. The words that come to my mind right off the bat: embarrassment, shame, and abashment.
Interestingly enough, I experience each of those feelings not as the victim but as the perpetrator when I reflect on my refraining from inviting others to hear of my number #1 [Jesus], my number #2 [girlfriend] & #3’s [immediate family members].
As for my girlfriend, I tend to get a bit bashful at times when she comes up in conversation. I’ve seen this occur when my coworkers ask about her from time to time. I sense myself turning red. In some instances I look away; not being able to look the person who is talking to me straight in the eye. It’s so odd to me! I’m in love with Chris. She looks after me. Demonstrates care for my life daily. Expresses her love far better than I do for her. Offers acceptance, grace and forgiveness. Makes me feel like I’m dating Jesus. And yet, something occasionally forces me to bite my tongue instead of revealing my candid excitement and gratitude for my beloved friend.
I don’t understand. What is holding me back?
Then there is my blood family. My mom. My dad who has passed. My younger sister and my older brother.
Speaking of family, you ever notice that as followers of Jesus our propensity is actually to serve any people group before our immediate family? We’d rather minister to our neighbor, coworker, acquaintance, or stranger before our siblings and/or parents. You know why? They are without a doubt some of the hardest people to choose to love faithfully (I say this subjectively with the knowledge that family units do exist out there as the exception to this theory. God bless ’em).
We could sit at the round table sharing our opinions as to why family members are so hard to love. As far as a young boy who grew up in a house where every individual was estranged from the next, living completely separate lives with the absence of familial-intentional-relational pursuit, my primary thought is that:
post-upbringing, you cling to the version of each family member that you can attest to from your days of being under the same roof.
Good grief, as Charlie Brown would say, to do so is immensely unfair as it is harmful.
We are living a sad life if we don’t believe in redemption. Family ain’t a product of family; family is the birth of a blessing.
Maybe I don’t speak of Gordon and Kendra enough because I’m stuck in the disbelief that they won’t break the mold. That would make sense seeing I myself am hindered by the haunting fear that my metamorphosis in later years will lend itself to the family ruin of alcoholism, mental illness, and infidelity. Perhaps I’m not giving them a chance because I’m not giving myself one. My fear and insecurity has been projected onto them.
If only I’d look deeper into their true potential. Their artistic ability is sensational; worth admiration and praising. Their acceptability of all persons is respectable, and quite honestly something I could learn a great deal from. My siblings’ honorable ambitions to be simple people living unembellished lives is contagious. That character trait alone proves their willingness and ability to break societal molds. Who is to say that they won’t break the family mold?
My self-righteousness has kept me from consciously identifying my hardened heart towards my own mother. Eighteen years built a great wall between us. And I’ve given that wall permission to stand for far too long. An ambassador of Christ equals a messenger of reconciliation. Choosing to love unconditionally, holding no record of wrongs, forgiving freely, and remembering prevenient grace; I seek Christ only because He first sought me. My life is not to be one of harboring the past, but one of harnessing the future. My mom has told me that she prays for her children every day without fail. I do not know a single person in my life who has met that discipline on my behalf. That kind of determined will to lift up those she loves, despite their resentment and unreciprocated love, is incomparable.
As documented in this writing as well and as organic as can be, my top three have every right and reason to be brought up in my conversations. They have every right and reason to be mentioned in my speeches. They have every right and reason to be heard of.
…but I am human.
And as such I have fears. fears of being embarrassed. fears of being ashamed. fears of being humiliated. fears of being looked at funny. fears of being seen as weird. fears of offending. fears of my reputation being put on the line. and the list goes on & on…
a message from an adopted son into an eternal family, remaining secure in that family by the grace & power of the Father in Heaven, unable to be snatched by the hand of the Enemy soon to meet His defeat, may never genuinely with integrity of faith conclude with a final thought of darkness, of which the son was called out of, but instead may conclude with a final thought of hope deriving from the marvelous Light, of which this son was called into.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love -1 John 4:18
My heart & flesh filled with fear shall not outlast the days proceeding my final breath spent in Paradise with my Best Friend; the name above all names: J e s u s.
Until that day comes,
I hope my Savior-girlfriend-family can put up with my imperfect love.