I get a lot of backlash for doing what I do. I think that comes as no surprise to most of you. How can I like clothes and work in fashion while being in a family of well-known pastors? Travesty! That is just highly inappropriate. You can’t try to look good and love Jesus. You can’t like clothes, that’s just vain! No way! It’s ludicrous! Just awful.
Well, I don’t believe that is true. So since I have been accused of my “message” being unclear, I thought I’d clear that up so that nobody will have to go about their lives being ‘confused’ by mine. (Haha. Isn’t that funny how we blame people for our own confusion… For goodness sakes, be secure in what you believe! Where is our personal conviction?!)
Let’s go back a few years, when I first came into what I knew was a relationship with God. Reminisce… I love those moments when you bring yourself back to where you were and just remember… It’s never good to forget where you come from. My friend Carl Lentz says, “Let’s not forget that we WERE the woman at the well before we started to judge women at the well…” (Just saying).
One of the first things I experienced about God was a feeling of freedom. Everybody is always talking about rules that come with religion. My experience was the very opposite. For the first time I realized that I no longer had to prove myself on a daily basis because I had ALREADY been accepted. I was already loved… I didn’t have to win anybody’s love… Didn’t have to prove that I was good enough. That’s why Jesus came- to take the pressure off me and pay the price for me… So that we could “cast all our cares upon Him and lay ALL of our burdens at His feet.”
However, that just seems too good to be true. Nothing in life is free, nothing in life is easy, right? But our salvation seems to be; we have been accepted, yet not because of our works. By faith we have been saved. What a revelation! We can now live FROM a place of acceptance, not FOR acceptance. Wow. Groundbreaking.
Now a little background. You have to understand how I lived most of my life. I never felt secure, never felt free. I always had to prove myself and make known the reasons why I was worthy of my position and status. Do you understand how exhausting that is? Always putting on masks. Always putting a smile on your face while you silently and slowly break down. Always keeping up a thousand relationships when you actually have none. When I felt God’s presence, what changed me was an instant sense of acceptance and love. I no longer had to prove myself. What a crazy concept. I was already accepted. Now I can exhale. Years and years of insecurity.
Not the kind of insecurity you could ever tell though. No way. I was very calculating. My insecurity was the type that you could NEVER tell. I was the most insecure person in the room even though I looked like I had it all figured out. Oh my gosh, maintaining those perceptions… I’m exhausted thinking about it. What would happen if anybody ever found out that I wasn’t invincible? If anybody ever found out how lonely I actually was? How much I cried behind closed doors? I had anxiety just thinking about it. Take a pill. Numb it. Get over it. Move on. Be strong. Pretend. Oh, you have NO IDEA.
With Jesus also came my freedom. All the things I had to prove, all the perceptions I had to maintain- I was now free because He loves me. I was free because His love is tangible, powerful, real, sufficient and life changing. I wasn’t alone anymore. I could live FROM a place of acceptance, not FOR it. Not to achieve it. Not to conquer it. But to just humbly live in a constant state of gratitude and awe. And what a difference it made.
I don’t know what some Christians have been doing with their lives, but I tell you this- my relationship with Jesus is nothing but freeing. I can now breathe. I can now love. I can now pour out what has been poured into my soul. So when it comes to petty things in life like fashion and vanity and being “too sexy” and too this and too that… Listen. I am free. Nothing can imprison me. I am saved by grace. I am loved just because. I am accepted because the price has already been paid. Now I get to live. I get to enjoy the same things that I’ve always had but haven’t been able to find joy in because of the constant run on the treadmill. Getting so tired and yet going nowhere. Trying to catch the wind. What a waste.
However, against ALL ODDS, I married into a “big” Christian family. So now people have been trying to put me back into the same box from which I JUST CAME OUT OF. Hah. And we call ourselves Christians. Let’s throw stones at the same person we were a couple of years ago. Let’s tell them what to do, what’s acceptable to God, how to live, what they’re doing wrong, how they’re not setting good examples. I’m just so confusing! I’m a pastor’s wife that should know better… Should be clearer about my message… No, no, no. I’ll tell you what I am: I was blind and now I can see. That’s who I am.
But ok. Let me be clear about my apparent message. I prefer to take criticism rather than to pretend like I’m ok with this idea that I or anyone else should have to fit a certain mold in order to please God. What a joke. Are you kidding me?! Do you think God goes through all the trouble to reveal Himself to us personally and to offer us abundant life in Him just to then realize that we’re not good enough? Can you picture our God, creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, thinking, “Wow. I really messed up. I thought Esther would come through. I’m quite disappointed at her performance… I should have picked somebody else… Somebody who wasn’t in the fashion industry… Somebody who dressed a little more ‘conservatively’, who acted more like a pastor’s wife… “ What does that even mean, to look like a pastor’s wife? Who made these rules anyway? I don’t remember having that as a requirement when I got married. All I remember is being accepted and loved as I was.
According to me that’s the whole point! The point is that I am not good enough, and neither are you by the way. We AREN’T good enough. But God doesn’t use people who are qualified, He uses people whose hearts cry out for change, mercy and grace. People who are constantly on their knees asking Him to show them the way. To enable them, to give them wisdom. And I can tell you I am that person. So therefore, God can use me. High heels and all. Believe it or not. Maybe He even purposely picked me so that I could stir things up a bit- who knows? I don’t know. What I DO know is that He picked me. And He also picked you.
I HAVE BEEN SET FREE. What I do no longer defines me. Who I am is no longer a mask. How I live no longer dictates my status. God has loved me, saved me AND has set me free. Although I respect all of your opinions, it doesn’t really matter. I’m the daughter of the King. I’m a princess. I’m God’s favorite. I’m His chosen one. He took me out of darkness and into His light. He allowed me to see Him while I was blind. He loved me when I didn’t deserve it. He pursued me. He was faithful when I was not. And FROM a place of freedom I will live my life. FROM a place of gratitude I will live in awe. And out of my brokenness, He will use me.
He always had a plan. A perfect plan we could have never thought of ourselves. Do you think it’s out of His control that I’m here? That you’re here? That we’re here? I think not… Be free and make a difference. Stop worrying about petty things. Fix your eyes upon Jesus. He could use fewer referees and more team players; less critics and more willingness to actually do the work…
Photo: Hannah Burton