My first recollections of communion are from going to church with my great grandmother. But before I go into that there are a couple things you should know. 1st, my great-grandma, aka MY granny or G-ma, was my world. There is no one on this earth that I believe loves me like she did. My grandmother was the most loving; awesome, coolest, wonderful, amazing…continue adding adjectives here about her wonderfulness. She was all of that, plus some. And y’all, I’m just going to say it…my grandmother was better than yours. And I’m certain I was her favorite. Yeah, I said that too. 2nd, my grandmother attended a small town 1st Baptist church where she was very influential and well respected. You know, a pillar in the community.
Now, let’s get into my recollections of communion. When I would visit my grandmother, I always attended church with her. I remember when the communion plate would pass I was always told to not take it. I would get a very assertive look from my grandmother and other churchgoers that I was to not take it. As a young kid, at first when this was happening, I was more concerned why I was being denied a snack when everyone else got one. The other kids got to. What’s up with that? I mean, really! It was never spoken of why, but I knew deep in my soul that it was serious. And in my young mind and heart, I even felt the weight that something was wrong with me. I must have done something wrong. Even more so, that I was wrong. Finally, after multiple communion denials, one day I asked my grandmother about it. She explained the importance of communion. She went through the process of explaining the elements.
- Bread, or mini hexagon shaped cracker, was to represent His body and life given. We take it to remember.
- Grape juice, not wine, as it was a small town Baptist church, was to represent Christ’s blood and sacrifice for our sins. We take it to represent the new covenant.
- And overall, with communion, it’s an examining of oneself. Presenting yourself right before the Lord.
Okay, I get all of that. I can get behind that. I think. Maybe that “right” thing I got an eye twitch from because, again, I knew something was wrong with me. But overall, I agreed with the communion process. So, again, why was I denied? Now here’s the kicker of where my struggle with communion began. My grandmother and this church, and many other churches I attended, believed that you could not, and definitely should not take communion unless you were RIGHT with Him. Do you know what I mean by right? Yes, that…not just right, but perfect. It wasn’t stated, but most definitely implied. Only the “good people” without flaws and mistakes were able to take communion. Insert now…shame and an even greater building inside of me of the truth that I created in my little mind, I’m not good enough. So, here you have me, little Raelynn, who is a lover to the core of all that’s within me. Even then, before I fully gave my life to Him, I loved Jesus. And I wanted Him to love me too. And I learned in Sunday school that He, in fact, did love me. But with this communion issue, I understood, that even though He loved me, I wasn’t good enough. I quickly learned and knew I wasn’t good enough for a multiple of reasons that would take too long to explain in this post. But super short version is…being in small town Oklahoma where Native American’s were considered heathens and less; not to mention, my Father’s family name was associated with trouble and all manner of negativity. Plus, I never felt right. I always felt I was messing up. I was just a little shame bucket. I was far from RIGHT!
Fast forward to my adult life. Communion Sunday’s still make me anxious at times. Even though I’ve prayed, discovered, and explored my own thoughts on communion; I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t believe it’s that cut and dry. But honestly, at times, that need to be perfect still creeps in. Shame and fear rear their ugly little heads in my thoughts and remind me that I am not good enough to be standing before Him. They point out my flaws, sins, and those ugly things I don’t like about myself. And then I start thinking about His sacrifice and life and compare it to where my life is. And I want to run. I want to hide because I have made, and continue to make, doozies of mistakes. I am reckless with my life at times. I forget to remember Him in those times and I want the fleshy part of me to reign a little more because I want my own way. And this may come as a surprise, but I am not perfect. I know, weird, right? The only thing I feel perfect at is being perfectly flawed. So for me, it’s always been a bit of a struggle when it comes to communion. I feel like that little girl who was not good enough. Who understood because of the not so great circumstances of her life, is not allowed to stand before Him until she is perfect. This belief created a whirlwind of striving within me and I have yet to measure up. Because I know me. I know I’ll mess up again. I know i’ll make mistakes. I know I’m not perfect. I know, that even recently, I have been reckless and have made said mistakes. So how will I ever be able to stand before Him and commune with Him truly? It’s created quite a conundrum of sadness in my life through the years. How do I work this out?
The last couple of weeks I’ve been working through some hurts and mistakes. You know, those things that hurt deep in the soul. The ones you worry you can’t come back from. We all have them. But I always feel mine are greater and bigger and unredeemable. And I was laying in my bed thinking, okay over analyzing to death, the unbearable mess-up-ness that is Raelynn. And I heard God clearly say to me, “commune with my Son.” And I said, “What?” He said, again, “commune with my Son.” And I began to list off to Him all of my flaws, mistakes, sins, and why I shouldn’t really be communing with Jesus right now. Basically, I was like, can I get a rain check? And I was heartbroken. But God, being who He is…gracious and merciful, began speaking to me about the truth of Jesus life on the cross. And why it is important to remember; but more importantly why it’s important to have communion with Christ. Communion means to communicate. And then it happened, the Aha moment! Yes, Christ died on the cross for me; yes, He gave His body and shed His blood to cover all of those things I was listing off on why I couldn’t and shouldn’t come before Him. The enemy does that to us. Reminds us of our flesh and mistakes. He shames us. But the power of the cross is greater than that. More powerful than any of those mistakes or any shame that I am trying to get right before I can stand before Him. And then I realized if communion is a remembrance of His life on the cross, then at those desperate times of my flesh, I should be running to Him. I should be running to communicate with Him. I shouldn’t be shamed in staying away, but instead should be in His presence. I understood that it’s okay, actually more than okay and allowed, that I should be taking the elements as a symbolic act of remembrance of His life and work on the cross. It’s so that I can freely come before Him and commune with Him. To have an honest conversation of the good, the bad and at times, the even uglier moments I’m dealing with. Remembering that those things that I’m working through are just “stuff” and He’s bigger than the stuff. The work on the cross is more powerful than the stuff. I don’t need to be shamed. Again, I NEED to be running to communicate with Him. Because in that communication the enemy loses his hold, he can no longer keep me from my freedom that was freely given me because of Christ’s work on the cross. I no longer have to live under this cloak of “perfectness” in order to have a relationship with Him; because let’s be honest, it’s not going to happen.
It’s liberating. It’s freeing. It’s true communion.