Saturday, June 25, 2011

home sweet home

it all started last sunday when i walked into church not wanting to be a christian any more. well, lets be honest, it started waaaay before that but for the sake of your time and sanity, i’ll start there. ok, i lied. i’ll back up a little. background: the biggest thing i have learned from being involved in circles is how to be part of the body of christ. i’m still not totally dialed in on what my role or my place is or how we can have the same ends in mind with such seemingly diabolic means, but i’m learning. needless to say, it has been a challenge for me. my identity is in christ not in being a christian but learning how to be part of His church is a process i’m still stumbling through. thanks for baring with me. so, back to sunday. i walked into the center not really knowing why i was there. i was not looking for an “experience” that would change my mind. i didn’t want a stream of tears to fool me into thinking something had changed. i just wanted this to be real. i wanted consistency. i wanted authenticity. i wanted a genuine outpouring of His power and authority that came from death to myself and submission to Him and His will. not a hyped up pep rally to get others to join the Jesus train. i want us to experience the fullness of Christ out of the overflow of our surrender and the consequent emptying of our lives and resources and dreams and expectations. i’ve been burned by more christians more frequently and with far more intensity than any non-christian i’ve ever known. i see christians (myself included) and frankly, we aren’t living up to the example of freedom and authority and authenticity that Jesus set for us. our prize has become souls on the scoreboard of eternity or seats filled or tears shed or holy fist pumps or frequent use of spiritual idioms. no! 
our prize is Jesus. 
it isn’t what we can get from Him. it isn’t how He can change us. it isn’t the ways He chooses to use us. it is Him. just Him. if Jesus were to never allow us another “experience” with Him on this side of heaven would we still follow Him? i’m not devaluing the times we experience God or neglecting the ways He faithfully and graciously answers prayer but i’m wondering if that is what we desire or if what we desire is simply Him. 

so there i was in the back row, slightly distracted as i brewed on the injustices i had recently seen and experienced within the figurative four walls of the church. the sermon spoke directly to what i was wrestling with. if you weren’t there-listen to it online. but for the sake of this blog, it was essentially about how Christ has set a standard of excellence in the use of divine authority that we as the church have on several accounts failed to meet. it was a sobering check to our spirits, begging the question why we follow him-because he is God and worthy of our all or because of the cool things He does and can consequentially do through us? at the end darin apologized to those who had been on the receiving end of the shortcomings of the church. i bawled. i was so broken and honestly kinda frustrated. i felt like i had been on the receiving end of so many burns by people who claim to be passionate lovers and followers of Christ and i know that i myself have been the culprit of burning others. what are we doing? where are we missing the point? i know God met me there and reminded me of the human-ness of the church and myself. 
i left for NYC. bright eyed and excited for a change of pace and brief escape from that which was causing so much frustration-it was a much anticipated trip. i took a cab from the airport to the studio i was working at to arrive at what can be described as nothing less than absolute chaos. the reality that the men and women in this room functioned in was one that has become absolutely foreign to me. within the first few minutes of being in that studio i was given a much larger responsibility than i had signed up for and was faced with darkness at its very core. i felt like i was walking among corpses. i don’t know. people void of life. they walked and talked but there was nothing in them. nose bleeds were common among the models who’s cocaine habits seemed to not only be accepted but encouraged. the little rails of white powder might as well have been a ball and chain wrapped around the ankles of their souls. it was a place where people have no value and pleasure is god. the currency for success is measure in “good times” as defined by an ambiguous high or strung out passer by. unfortunately, many aspects of this scene used to be part of my story. if you were to tell the dannah four years ago that i would be raging with high ups in the fashion/beauty industry in an all expense paid trip to NYC you couldn’t have gotten me there fast enough. today and only by the grace of God, you couldn’t have gotten me out of there fast enough. someone asked me if i was “feeling tempted”, knowing this is something i struggled with in the past. and in some ways, yes, i was and in others i wasn’t at all. yes because this is my industry, this was supposed to be my scene. i love doing hair. i wanted to fit it. i wanted to have a good time. and in that atmosphere it felt like a good time was unattainable without getting wasted or strung out. on the other hand, i feel like God gave me the ability to see drug use and the over indulgence in alcohol for what it really is. i always saw those things as a gateway to a good time rather than a self destructive mask to disguise the pain and fear and pride in my heart. i finished the two runway shows and the editorial shoot i had committed to and got on the next flight to LA, two days before i was scheduled to come home. as we taxied the runway before take off i literally felt like i had been punched in the stomach. i really had no idea what had just happened-the trip was a whirlwind of darkness and fear and temptation and loneliness. the flight home was a sweet time of reflection thanking God for protecting me while i was gone, thanking him for bringing me out of the lifestyle i was in bondage to, thanking him for the flawed but faithful community he has allowed me to be part of, thanking him for grace, and thanking him for reminding me what life without him looks like. oh, and i apologized to God. i've got to stop threatening to walk out. i'm His, He's mine, nothing (not even my failures or being at the receiving end of someone else's failures) can change that. thanks, God, for sticking with me.


  1. this was so wonderful to read all written out, after talking to you this morning. i loved seeing the processing and the transitions between each event that happened. dannah, i am so proud of you. i don't mean that in the "hey girl, you're great, hope you're doing well" nonsense... but in the most sincere way. over the last few weeks, i feel like you and i have gotten closer and it has been such a blessing. i love the way you think and the way that you perceive God and life in general. it is so honest and so refreshing. we already talked through a lot of this, but i just want to encourage you to keep on going strong, because even though a lot of this sucks... sometimes amazing ends call for extremely painful and vigorous journeys (that sounded so cliche haha). well, i love you and i'm excited to keep walking with you on all this. you are definitely prayed for :)

  2. I've definitely been in that situation. Getting hurt by Christians is so much more painful. Encountering "Christian culture" for the first time and the rest of the stuff that came with the package was another big part of my life that I struggled with in the past. Lately I've been thinking more about how I would act if I was living in a non-Christian environment, versus a "Christian" environment that had so many...distractions, to put it simply.

    In the end, though, I think it's all about giving others the grace that God so freely gave to us. In the past, I used to think that just being nice to others was enough, even if they hurt us- but I knew that deep down, I still resented them, and was only being nice out of duty. I learned that I had to truly love them, as though they were my blood-related brothers and sisters, and be concerned for them, and pray for them. It's not always easy to remember that.

    Onto more important matters, I felt out of the loop that Friday when you three all ate the same salad from Trader Joe's. Please repent about that, thanks.

  3. woah what a hectic two weeks.... but it seems as if, in my experience at least, that the most painful times are when God teaches us the most. i remember you sharing at circles how you felt like God took you out of the "Christian bubble" and placed you into pure darkness to show you persepctive on how far you have come and what He has redeemed you from. Praise Jesus :) But yeah it definitely hurts in a different way when believers wrong us. It doesnt make sense when people say they believe one thing, and then act in a totally different way (I am the most guilty out of anyone for this.) Lately Jesus has been showing me ALL that matters is authenticity. Real. Genuine. Love for Him and for others. I'm sorry if I have ever hurt you. I feel like I have. Please forgive me? I'm young, and I'm dumb, and I'm learning. I have a lot of the right answers in my head on things concerning God and the Bible, but i'm just beginning to realize that knowledge is nothing to the Lord if there is no love and love is nothing if there are no actions to show it. I know the ways im suppossed to act, and God has been showing me that sanctification is a constant engaging process in eliminating fleshly thoughts/actions and replacing them with Spirit led thoughts/actions. I love you :)

  4. Dannah, I love you! I love how God is working and transforming in your life and how even though you have been discouraged you continue to run back to Jesus. I'm grateful God was able to show you the light by being in the darkness for a brief time. I'm praying for you and I'm excited to see where God leads you.