By Kandi Pfeiffer
It was Day 4 of solitude. I had left my husband, my two children and my city to spend time alone, praying and asking God to show me if there was really MORE to this “Christian life” than what I had experienced to this point.
I was raised in Texas by wonderful parents. We were dysfunctional, like most are behind closed doors, and we went to church every Sunday, like most do in the South. I was known in my home church for being the bold, energetic one who received much disapproval over my flip-flops and raised hands during church services. It fed something in me and made me feel all the more alive when even the slightest expression of myself made others upset.
When I graduated high school, an option to model came up. So I traveled to New York, Europe, and Japan over the next seven years. I attended church in these various places, and no matter where I was, I found that the teaching always seemed to communicate the same thing: “Believe in Jesus and experience TRUE LIFE.” This declaration was then followed by rules and consequences and expectations and, inevitably… HELL!
Hell didn’t sound fun, but the conditions to acquire TRUE LIFE didn’t sound fun either. Somehow, when God was explained, the relationship between us & him always came across as strangely manipulative to me. If you do ____, God will be happy, and if God is happy, maybe you’ll get a treat.
Sounds like dog training, doesn’t it?
It wasn’t until years later that I realized my own relationship with God quite often fell into this stream of thinking. I had “repented” of drinking and drugs and short skirts and foul language and clubbing and boys and more, all in hope that my sacrifice would be great enough to win me a treat. And if I could do all this with a wagging tail, maybe I would get a few pats and cuddles too.
Although I had several genuine and incredible experiences with God over the years and was quite head over heels for him, I found myself often viewing him as a distant, reserved Father. Father had the power to bless me, but for that to happen, I just had to win him over again and again and again.
So there I was in Day 4 of solitude. I had presented my entire bag of tricks in hopes of something radical, something miraculous, something as big as what the Bible boasts. But now my bag was empty and my tail was no longer wagging. I broke down. I sprawled out on the floor and sobbed, “I have nothing left to give you!”
An image suddenly came to mind of me dressed in layers of extravagant clothing. One by one I handed each article over as an offering to God, but now I was completely bare and crouched in a ball on the floor, ashamed at my nakedness. While I connected with the image, I heard a voice speak softly. I didn’t hear it with my ears or with my mind, but inside the depths of me.
The voice was gentle and kind, “I don’t want those things. I want you.” This made me cry even more. “I don’t know how to GIVE myself to you!”
“But I do,” the voice responded. “I know how. Just stay here and be with me and let me be the Giver.”
Somehow it all began to make sense. Although I had not realized it, I had been working so hard to do what was “right,” to be a good Christian and sacrifice all I could to make God happy that I was His daughter. But in this lifestyle I had created, I had placed myself as the giver and God as the receiver.
In only second, my paradigm was shifting. In the image Jesus began drawing close and was now on the floor beside me. “I want you,” he spoke again gently. I was dirty and battered and could not understand why he would want me this way, but somehow, in His presence I believed. I lifted my face to look upon his, and when I looked into his eyes, love poured forth from him into me. It poured over my questions; it poured over my doubts. It poured over my fears, my shame and my dirty, battered body…
And I began to receive.
Kandi Pfeiffer and her husband Eric are part of the 3DM team. Kandi is also the director of EDGE, the high school ministry at Pawleys Island Community Church. You can connect with Kandi on Facebook or Twitter.