Three years ago, when I started writing, The Second Table, I didn’t know what I was doing. I wrote publicly a little here and there, but most words never left the pages of my journal. My entire life I have always struggled with verbally expressing how I felt.
And so, I wrote.
When I felt I was supposed to crack down and write an actual book the only thing I knew was that I wanted to be honest with the world. In whatever way that looked like. I wanted to push the line of what is socially acceptable to talk about. And I wanted to take a giant step over the line of perfection and listen to the religious people gasp.
I knew I didn’t want these words to be polished and I knew I didn’t want to have every sentence written the way we were taught to in Language Arts class. I didn’t want to have these words go through handfuls of people and have them take out the pieces that are “too much”. If I was going to write a book, it was going to be raw and it was going to be honest. And it wasn’t going to be perfectly polished. Which I know not everyone would agree. But isn’t that how majority of our lives are? There will always be somebody somewhere who does not want to sit at our table with us because we aren’t who they think we ought to be or because we aren’t doing what they think we ought to be doing. We’re foolish to believe everyone will always be accepting of who we are and what we do. But that’s the beauty of it. Showing up in this world honest as can be and owning it the best we know how. Because I learned the ones who always have something to say are really just the ones who wish they were bold enough to do the same. Rather than getting upset or offended with the ones who don’t agree, let’s keep being bold and let’s keep being us and teach them how to be them, too. Because we’re all here together trying to figure this thing out.
I didn’t want to write a self-help book. I didn’t want to write a five-step plan to being a great leader book. I didn’t want to write a devotional. I didn’t want to write something surrounding an idea that I knew would grab the attention of others. I just wanted to create something honest that would invite the ones who read it to be honest, too.
Seven years ago, I stood tall behind my own created truths that there was no God. I hated humanity and I believed humanity hated me, too. I found myself in a toxic relationship at fifteen which led me getting kicked out of youth group my freshman year of High School. I had built up such a hatred for Christianity and church people to where I would only go to service on Sundays if my mom paid me. And then using that money I was paid, I would maintain my unhealthy habits. At sixteen my depression owned me and drugs were my only friend. Kids were cruel and my mind was suffocating so I dropped out of High School my sophomore year.
Seven years later, I stand tall behind the only truth that there absolutely is a God. I love humanity and I believe I was made to reach humanity. I’m now one of the directors for a ministry school at the same church I got kicked out of my freshman year. Sure, I’m leaving out some of the most defining parts of my life within that seven-year gap, but that’s why I wrote a book. It’s all there and it’s all honest.
I don’t know a lot of things, friend. Really. But I know what it’s like to not want to feel again. What it’s like to have the only people you trust stab you in the back with the same knife. What it’s like to feel like nobody in this world understands. I know what it feels like to be hurt by the church. What it’s like to feel pushed away by church people. What it’s like to feel unwelcome and judged. I know what it’s like to hurt an extreme not even words can measure up. What’s it like to ache in every breath and what it’s like for confusion to direct my steps. But I know what it’s like to be introduced to a God who sits down with us in the valley. A God who didn’t expect me to get up like nothing happened. A God who knew every hurt, and who knew every way He intended to use it.
I don’t know a lot of things, friend. Really. But I know that we live in a world that is taught to clean up our mess before talking about. A world that strives for the picture perfect. A world that is all wanting of the same thing but who is scared to give it – transparency. I know we are all human and we all have hurt. We all have ached. We all have fallen short. We all done really stupid things. But we are all human. And the thing about being human is we are not called to have it all together.
I use to spend months, and I mean months, breaking myself in pieces trying to perfect every detail of my life. When I fell short, I panicked and grabbed whatever was in arms reach and I booked it. I hid for weeks freaking out over what I had done in disbelief that I had fallen once again. Terrified to face the world again and was unsteady in the fact that I had no idea what relationship with Jesus really meant.
You see, I sat down at this table once. Everyone was wearing masks and had their baggage next to them zipped up so no one could see inside. They told me that following Jesus meant to never do wrong. Because if you trip even a little, then that meant you never loved Him to begin with. And it wasn’t long before I was shoved out from my seat. My life was too messy to try to mask it to fit in. I walked alone for a bit, but I was not lonely. I was walking with Jesus trying to figure out what the heck it meant to be close to Him. While walking, I came across another table. Everyone was bare-faced and had their baggage next to them wide open. They were taking turns reaching down and pulling out their mistakes, and I watched as they tossed them behind their shoulder one by one.
This table. I sat at this table, and I stayed. Without having to try to hide my short comings. instead, we shared ours and even slapped our knees laughing about a few. Because some mistakes are so undoubtedly insane that you have no choice but to laugh at them. We didn’t try to perfect ourselves, we embraced our imperfectness. Then we moved forward to what was ahead.
Loving Jesus isn’t contingent on whether or not you mess up. Loving Jesus is acknowledging you fell short, (even if it is yet again. Trust me, I know all about that) and choosing to get right back up. Christianity isn’t perfection, my friend. We are not called to have it all together. We going to mess up and you’re going to fall. We choose to get back up.
I wrote this book because through it all – I am still sitting at the second table. Everyday. And there’s room for you to sit here, too.
If you have ever felt pushed away from the church, this is for you.
If you have ever felt unwelcome by the church, this is for you.
If you have ever been hurt by someone from inside the church, this is for you.
If you have ever felt like you’re just too human, this is for you.
I can’t wait to share these words with you and I can’t wait for you to read about a God who I never believed in and how he changed everything.