The first step to gaining social membership into a group is to learn the lingo in which they speak; you don’t necessarily need to know WHAT that lingo means, but just that you can spit out the same words that the people do. It’s like, when I order my drink at Starbucks. If I can say, “Non-fat, double shot, extra steamy, no foam vanilla latte with a splash of grenadine”, then the barista automatically assumes that I am an expert in Starbucks coffee and I can gain social membership into the coveted Starbucks Society. So, if you want to appear to be a God Fearin’, Bible Beatin’, Church Goin’ Woman, then you have to learn how to sound like one. Here are some common phrases you will hear in the Church World and how to use them appropriately:
“Carve out space for Jesus”: This means that, at Bible study, we all sit around with our planners and calendars and use an X-ACTO knife to cut time slots in our days so that we can paste a picture/put in a sticker of Jesus and schedule time in our very busy days to only be with Jesus.
Just kidding, that doesn’t really happen like that, but what we are ACTUALLY doing is being intentional about setting aside time for prayer, meditation, reflection, and reading the Bible. I mean, for some of us Super Schedulers, we DO have to manually input and schedule time to read our Bibles, go to church, pray on our rosaries–we have to tell ourselves, “from 5:30-5:50 A.M. every morning, I will get up, drink my coffee/tea, and open my Bible and answer these structured questions” so that we make that time, but we aren’t literally carving out time in our physical days…
“My heart is full”: This is a similar sensation to when you overeat at Thanksgiving dinner and you have to go lay down on the couch to prevent barfing. Except, you feel this in your heart rather than your stomach. Symptoms may include: increased heart rate, maybe some extra heart burn, pale skin. What, you’ve never felt that sensation before? That’s because you must not be going to church enough, girl.
Just kidding. This is another figure of speech. Our hearts cannot literally be full (because if they WERE full, they’d likely be full of some kind of unnatural substance that would cause us severe medical issues and we would all require a doctor). In the church world, our hearts are a metaphorical connection to our souls; when we say our hearts are “full”, this means that lots of good stuff is happening and we are really happy and really content (because we are church people, this usually connects back to our families, to our puppies). Maybe we watched a cute little girl skipping up and down the aisles in her Easter dress or we had a really nice brunch with our family or we got to pet lots of puppies that day.
“Surrender to Jesus”: When you surrender to Jesus, you decide to quit your job and volunteer your time to the church, you move out of your house and donate all of your belongings to the homeless shelter, and you walk around all day with a cross on your back, praying to Jesus and talking about Jesus all the time (this is what it means to be a good Christian, right?)
….or, instead, you surrender your control to Jesus. You tell yourself, “There is a larger universal force at play here, I’m not in charge of The Universe, and whatever is supposed to happen WILL happen”. You have faith that everything will have the outcome it is supposed to have (so you stop stressing about finding Prince Charming or about receiving that job offer or about following up on that doctor’s appointment because you trust that all outcomes are the outcomes that are part of the Master Plan, and it’s not up to you to figure that out. And, then you sign up for Bible study, for church choir, for volunteering in the childcare center so that you can be useful and around Jesus people all the time.
“We walk together through life”: Walking together with your church friends does not mean that you stand alongside your friend when they are breaking up with their no-good significant other and give him R.B.F. as the whole thing goes down; it does not mean that you attach yourself to your friend’s hip and walk arm and arm to receive Communion during service; it does not mean that you play ‘counselor’ to your friend; rather, it means that you are simply with them throughout all the good, the bad, and the ugly moments in life. You are consistent–you show up, regularly, even if it is no fun for you. You maintain a relationship, ask them questions, are supportive of them when they are getting married (and you are not), they are having issues with their M.I.L., they are having a baby (and you are not), etc.
“I’m just in a season of [INSERT ADJECTIVE]”: These seasons include changing our air fresheners to cinnamon and Christmas tree during the holidays, cutting up lots of watermelon and eating corn on the cob during the summer, and drinking lots of pumpkin spice lattes during the fall.
Except, in church lingo, we are always speaking in code. And, “seasons” is code for “a time in my life that will last an unseen amount of time”. As church goers, we are always in a kind of season (which is usually a season that we are struggling in)–a “season of waiting”, a “season of change”, a “season of longing”, a “season of obedience”, etc. (we rarely are in “happy seasons” or “seasons of my heart always being full”).
So, if you want to appear to be a God Fearin’, Bible Beatin’, Church Goin’ Woman, then all you have to say is: “Hi, my name is Britany and my heart is so full. I’m totally in this season of surrendering to Jesus and I’d love to walk through life with you. When is the last time you’ve carved out space for Jesus?”
(Photo: Facebook/Going Beyond with Priscilla Shirer)