Posted: January 24th, 2017 |
Filed under: God | Tags: divisions, grace, hope, personal |
16 Comments »
I’m a passionate person. If something interests me or affects me, I exhaust the available information to learn as much as I can about it. I’ve always avoided learning about political matters because I didn’t feel them affect my day to day life. I took for granted that more knowledgable people would keep things in line and I focused my energy elsewhere. I saw people get passionate about politics the same way I would get passionate about the Gospel and, of late, using food as your medicine, and I didn’t want to get caught up in it. However, this political season has pushed its way into my world to the point of not being able to ignore it. People are getting weird and I try to check out their sources. I want to see things from their perspective to compare it with mine. Consequently, I’m more informed. Being informed leads to shock and, at times, disgust. The more I see, the more I have something to say.
Politics began creeping into my awareness in the form of dissenting opinions of people I would consider friends. I would see their social media feed, the brazen negativity from otherwise positive people, and I would do a bit of research to gauge their accuracy and see what was getting them so worked up. Barely scratching the surface of the easily accessed information revealed the inaccuracy of my friends’ shared opinions and hurt my respect for them. It stained everything else they said. Including the things with which I would normally agree.
This had me double-checking information that I would normally take at face value, which isn’t a bad thing for me. However, if my friendship and/or respect is important to these people, then it was a bad thing for them. I became disappointed and increasingly sober. It wasn’t humorous in the absurdity. It was disheartening and scary. How could they not see it?
I found myself wanting to create distance so that I wouldn’t be associated with their politics, but I didn’t do a good enough job. Uncertain, uninformed, and, admittedly, unthinking friends, who didn’t know which direction to vote, would check out my posts, find nothing, and then gravitate to my friends’ posts who were more vocal. Someone came up to me and told me they voted for Trump because my friend made such a good case for why she was voting for him. My silence looked like my agreement. I learned a valuable lesson. Silence is not always silent.
Since then, that same friend confided that she regrets looking to my friends for voting direction and wishes she could take it back. She gained her independence through this, though. I know she’s not alone. And I’m sorry she trusted me so much that my associations were good enough for her. I need to be more careful about my associations or at least let my feelings be known.
I watched that man do everything possible to sink the ship on which he was sailing while my friends and fellow Christians made excuses for his behavior and patched up his holes. He was vulgar and sexually predatory and they would say “That was ten years ago.” He would mock a disabled man and they would say, “That’s just how he makes fun of people.” He would lie and they would say, “He’s just a colorful communicator.” He would talk about women saying they were “disgusting”. I watched him wish “the good old days” back as a protestor called him out on his KKK approval. “What good old days?” I wondered.
“In the good old days this doesn’t happen because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily. …I like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you what. I love the old days. You know what they use to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on stretcher, folks. That’s true. …In the good old days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast…. In the good old days, law enforcement acted a lot quicker than this. A lot quicker. …I am the law and order candidate.” – Donald Trump in response to protestors at his rallies. Click here to see his words against the backdrop of “the good old days” as portrayed by the documentary “13th”. I highly recommend watching the whole documentary.
I don’t want to talk about him anymore.
I couldn’t believe he was actually elected. I was at work the following day and more than once, I escaped to the bathroom to cry privately when those around me were celebrating. I didn’t cry because he won. I cried because of what his win said about our country. I was no longer blind and what I saw broke my heart. I wanted this insanity to be over and for us to move on to a different kind of challenge, but it’s not over and I refuse to “normalize” what is abnormal and horridly destructive. I live in a very conservative part of the country. I’m surrounded by people who voted for him. I have kept my mouth shut because nobody has asked me what I think. I’m the quiet one. But as I sit quietly, I can’t believe that no one is speaking up. It makes me feel alone.
I struggle to separate politics from the person to the point of wondering if, in this case, there is a difference. I don’t think so. This isn’t about red or blue. Is it about Red, White, and Blue? The active word being “white”? Is it about a Russian agenda? I watch as children suffered horribly in Allepo at the hands of Russians and wonder how in the heck anyone could be okay with a friendly connection to them. Their faces haunted me and woke me up at night. I would pray myself back to sleep and cry when I was awake. It wrecked me. I would ask people around me if they were aware and they weren’t.
Do they not read the news? Oh, yeah. They don’t trust the news. Real things are happening, things they could do something about, causes they could support, they could be lifting these babies up in prayer… and they don’t watch the news. They don’t read the articles. They’re robots, but who is the programmer?
You know what’s most disturbing to me? A lot of his supporters are self-proclaimed Christians. They’re exalting him as though he’s going to do something to make their lives better. Do they think he’s going to get them more money? At what cost? Isn’t the love of money the root of all evil? Do they think he’s going to make them safer? He uses props and constructs a show like there are no consequences to the masquerade fallout. He’s used to a world where there is no such thing as “bad press”. If they’re talking about you, then you still get ratings. He calls himself “the ratings machine”. But this isn’t a show.
How can a Christian be a nationalist? We are no better than anyone else and thinking that God loves Americans more than any other country is asinine. I’m not saying that I don’t love my country or that I want to live somewhere else. I’m just saying that we are not better than anyone else and it’s more patriotic and Godly to embrace the outcasts and outsiders, and provide shelter for the war wrecked. Hypocrisy is the alternative. Read the words on our Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
We, both as Americans and as Christians, are supposed to be a safe place. We, as Christians, are supposed to be gentle and kind. This man is dolling out lies and inconsistencies like a pedophile in an ice cream truck and the gullible are intoxicated by his schoolyard tune of dirty lyrics. They’re starstruck. They think this guy is going to get them something. Meanwhile, they sacrifice their witness and say things they can never take back.
I’m a Christian and I’m not like them.
I don’t support protesting him with violence, by defacing or misrepresenting the flag, or by hurting other people, and I don’t support the divisions. I don’t even support divisions between countries, colors, languages, genders, or any other differences. I’m struggling to know how to navigate this time in our history, but I know enlightenment can come from what appears to be darkness.
The whole world is watching us right now. Don’t stand down. Let love win.
Posted: May 13th, 2015 |
Filed under: life | Tags: hope, hurting, personal |
4 Comments »
I put on my tattered black and lay by you while the reality works its way through your veins. Breathing the creeping emptiness to keep it from making your room cold. I’m helpless to the loss that scathes your innocence inside out. The cruelty is unmatched as I lie helpless. The strength of my love cannot shield you. I can only lay beside you and watch you try to be strong.
Your pain is a badge over my heart. I let it wound me knowing that it won’t keep it from wrecking you. But I can’t let you suffer alone. I would suck it out like poison if it would save you. Your pain burrows like tentacles and wracks me like it knows my name. The hunger is enough to eat us whole.
I watch the trees to see if they quake with us. I look into the eyes of the moon to see if he knows. I look in to the depths of creation to see if she will gather us to her breast. I call on Him to be a better Father than I am a mother.
I’ll wear black as long as you wear black. Nobody gets through without feeling this, but knowing the Heartbreak Road is well travelled doesn’t make it easier. Everybody has to scratch their own name at the finish line. I’m torn between wanting to save you and knowing you’re earning your depths. I try to find solace in knowing the pain is digging your heart deeper. It means that the coming joy is too big for you as you are. I know it seems unfair, but this is how we become.
I watched as you, my selective one, gave away your heart. I followed behind and the longer you walked, the deeper you went, and I knew. I’m watching you, my solid one, trying to figure out which pieces are yours and which are his. I’m breaking, my determined one, as I watch you ready your glue and line up the shards like puzzle pieces. I’m staying back, my girl, knowing that you’ll do what you need to do. One day you’ll be able to thank God for the things you suffered so that you could have the space you needed. I’ll hold your hope for now.
Posted: October 25th, 2014 |
Filed under: life | Tags: divisions, grace, healing, personal |
19 Comments »
It’s been nine and a half years of healing. I don’t feel like garbage anymore.
It’s funny how feeling like garbage can give you more of a purpose than feeling invisible, or worse… ordinary.
I’m afraid of becoming cynical. I’m afraid I’ve become cynical.
I’m rainbows and butterflies. How could I become cynical?
Insight into the Mysteries has made me more disapproving than approving. Disapproving of Christians because I expect them to be just like The Others. Disapproving because I notice how irresponsible some can be with their bodies, their positions, and their beliefs. They clog themselves with sugared cheese, exploit the outcasts they’re supposed to be helping, and refuse to use their own brains and think for themselves. They destroy the earth with consumerism. They close off their social groups and become the equivalent of high school cliques. They jump on every feed trend, feast on fear, and cower when they should speak up. When I do find Christians who are well thought and have a voice loud enough to hear, I see them pelted with blasphemy from those who call themselves Christians.’
Yeah, I’ve become negative and cynical. I might also be a hypocrite.
I sugar my Velveeta when I feel like it, figuratively speaking. I turn smug around the less learned. I see negativity. I sing harmony with grace while refusing it to those who don’t know what it is. But seriously, Christians, how can you not know what grace is?
I’m real, though.
I don’t know if the Body is sick or I’m the sick one. It’s probably both.
I have a hard time thinking that I can be satisfied with the blase´. I think going to church is boring. It would be different, maybe, if I wasn’t an introvert with a wildly active brain. But, I am and church feels like psychological coddling instead of spiritual awakening.
The more I know, the more I know I don’t know. The reciprocal relationship where the mass of knowledge reveals the mass of unmet knowledge is a blissful trap of learning. A black hole of dark matter that infuriates and excites the researcher who can discern what he can’t see and know of the existence of what cannot be fully known.
I don’t know if I want to reenter the machine just in case I’m missing something, or if I should let my free spirit ride free. Untethered is my home. I miss the idea of joining with “like-minded” individuals, but I don’t think I’ve ever had that. I daydream about starting a bible study just so we can talk about the mysteries of sovereignty and grace, but I don’t even know where to start or who would come.
I like that I’ve let the audience dwindle. I can speak as loud as I want, ….want…..want.
I don’t know if I’ll go back to church. I don’t know. It almost feels like going backward.
I need some source of conversation, though…. though…. though.
Posted: September 22nd, 2014 |
Filed under: life | Tags: aftermath, change, forgive, healing, personal |
2 Comments »
The quiet gets masked in fatigue so nobody will ask. Dull pain deep enough to sleep until the distractions can overtake the memories and the questions and swallow them into routine. Helplessness can make a gentle man angry, so the gentle man sleeps.
And I wonder.
God is not bound by time. He forgives from the outside of our beginning and beyond our end. Time heals human wounds unless you pay homage to the sins that caused your hurt. You mark the yearly landmarks like a sin historian whose only sense of worth is through the failures of others. Vowing to never forget only serves to justify your long standing vengeance.
What if you don’t know how to change the course?
The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment… – 1 Timothy 5:24 ESV
His sin was obvious. It walked itself into the light. While he stood exposed, his sins marched ahead of him and laid down at the cross. Like venom to venom, a scour to a wound, pain was the antidote. God knew the way to his heart. Gutted by his own sin, this man gladly gave away his rights to your failure so that he could be free from his own.
Are you are afraid of losing something?
…but the sins of others appear later. – 1 Timothy 5:24 ESV
Like a child hiding from his father, you poke sticks at the carcass just to see how the dead moves. You bear witness to his sin, turning the poured out Gospel into a lie. They are so deep that digging out would rearrange the life you built on top of them.
What is a life built on lies? Switch the names. Tell the story that makes you a redeemer. They don’t ask and you don’t tell.
Do you feel like it’s too late?
So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden. – 1 Timothy 3:25 ESV
Does it make you limp?
Isn’t it tiring to hide all the time?
What do you do with the fear?
You keep telling yourself that the monster chasing you is him. But, he’s not chasing you.
Don’t be afraid.
Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. – Luke 12:3 ESV
The truth-bomb is still ticking, but you’ve become accustomed to the sound.
One day, every tongue will confess that He is God. Your justifications are a wagging tongue of self. You hide behind his mistakes and justify yourself by blaming him. His sin was blotted from the books when the blood spilled. Are you the book keeper?
Put down your towel. This blood won’t wipe off.
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out. – Proverbs 10:9 ESV
Does your word mean nothing? You’ve built a house of cards, but he steadies his breath because she lives in that house. I already told you. He’s not your monster.
So, Who is chasing you?
He’s your Shepherd.
Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. – Luke 12:4 ESV
His quiet gets masked in fatigue so he can sleep it away. He lays under undisturbed blankets while the King breathes peace over him. He waits for the housetop proclamations and the mountains bow to the One who watches him sleep.
Love her extra for him today, will You? It’s her birthday.
Posted: September 12th, 2014 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, grace, personal, purpose |
2 Comments »
“What is salt made of?”
The best conversations start out this unassuming. Eleven had some deep questions and salt was the best place to start.
I thought for a moment, trying to conjure up fragments of information from my biological science class. “Salt is a crystal made from minerals. If you looked at it under a microscope, it would look like uncut diamonds.”
Not Yet Satisfied asked, “Well, who was the first person to make things like salt?”
“Are you asking about the first of everything?” I’m a closet mind reader.
“Well,” began my genius bequeathment of eternal knowledge, “when God made the very first person…”
“Wait, start with who made God.”
“Oh, there is no start to that. He’s always been.” This is one of many slow motion moments where I may sound like a lunatic to the one I’ve taught to be outspoken. And I’m fully aware I built my own gallows by urging my children to think for themselves and question everything until it becomes nonsense or truth.
“No,” says my obedient questioner. “Who made him up?”
“Nobody made Him up.” I pause so that I can read her face. “He made us up.”
Her face tells me that I need to explain. “God has always been…” Churchy-habit forced me to add, ” and He always will be.”
She didn’t get it.
“You know how outer space doesn’t have an end? Like, you’ll never be stopped if you travel in one direction? There is no end to the space?” I know I’m speaking perspective-relative gibberish while failing to mention the numerous pitfalls of space travel, but I’m unrehearsed and this is where my brain went.
“Exactly.” I went with the ‘comfort in the unknown’ approach because that’s the point. “There are a ton of things we can’t swell our brains to fit. But, we are accustomed to shrinking everything down to a manageable size. We need to know where we are in relation to where we live. We need to know where in the town our house is located. Where in the state our town is located. Where in the country our state is located. Where in the world our country is located and people usually stop there. But we have a location in a galaxy and a galactic location in space that is entirely unexplored and completely unknown. It’s called space because it takes up room, but is mostly undefined.”
I watched it dawn … “There are tons of things we can’t shrink to fit our understanding. God is one of them. He has always been.”
The satisfied question gives birth to a dissatisfied question. “Why did he make us?”
“He made us so that He would have something to love that would love Him back.” I wonder if it’s too simple. “You were made on purpose and for a purpose. You’ll spend your life learning how to love, how to discover, how to survive, how to create, and somewhere in there you’ll feel a deep calling to Something More and you’ll start being able to hear God. You were made to be in a relationship with Him and with each other.
“The problem is, sometimes our relationships with each other can get in the way of our relationship with Him. Sometimes our relationships with ourselves can get in the way of our relationship with Him.”
“Well, while we’re busy being people and figuring things out, we make choices. We make choices all the time that tangle us up in guilt and regret. God gave people a way to keep the guilt at bay and a way to clear the slate periodically.”
“You know the story of Adam and Eve?” I assume she’s heard it in church, but she shakes her head. “Really?” I stonewalled my own torrent of disappointment with standardized religion because I wasn’t in the mood for the soapbox.
I’m not a spoon feeder or an opportunist. I’m not trying to sell religion or peddle salvation. God doesn’t forget, so I can wait until she starts to hear Him. Then I can grab her hand at the “knowing” that dawns while I tell her it’s Him.
“God made Adam and Eve, the very first people, and they spent their time the way they were designed to spend it. They created, they loved each other, and they loved God.
“One day they were given a choice. They could know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, or they could stay the way they were. They knew that knowing took disobeying, but they didn’t know the price of disobedience. They thought, with everything inside of them, that they could be trusted with ‘right and wrong’.”
I wanted her to get this part, so I repeated it. “They thought that if they knew the difference between right and wrong, they would always choose right.”
“Isn’t it interesting that their faith in their ability to choose the right thing was carried in the bag of disobedience?”
“What?” She laughed at me because she knows that I speak in metaphors.
“They really wanted a chance to make their own choices about good and evil, but they had to choose the wrong answer to get that ability.”
She’s getting it.
“That’s called ‘irony’.” I raised by eyebrows up and down, silent-movie-style, when I said ‘irony’.
“The problem is, people can know right from wrong, but still choose wrong.” I wrapped my arms around my stomach for dramatic flair. “That’s the most gut wrenching part of being a human being: knowing right from wrong and being completely unable to get it right every time.
“So, God created these rules for people to follow that would help them avoid that horrible feeling. Remember, all He wants is for us to have a relationship with Him?” She nodded. “So, He made a way for us to not be blocked by that feeling.
“Here’s the thing, though. Breaking the rules required a death and even the death had strict rules about it. People started paying more attention to the rules, …getting them right, and forgot about having a relationship with God. They felt good about themselves for being decent rule followers, but knew nothing about their Creator or why those rules were put there in the first place.
“Then, God sent Jesus to satisfy the rules, the “Law”, that He made. Jesus was the only one who could pay the price of death that would work for everyone. He sacrificed Himself because He wanted us to not have to worry about always choosing the right answer. He knew we couldn’t and wanted to save us from always feeling like that. Jesus made it to where there was nothing in between us and God.”
That should be the end of the story. Technically it is. But, she’s my baby girl and she just returned from a summer visit to see family that has a bad habit of being overly critical with an occasional religious bend. She was feeling like a failure. I needed her to know why people get weird and unnatural when they talk about God and why they uphold various versions of the openly disputed and infuriatingly inconsistent rules. When you’re a child at the mercy of people trying to prove their religious worth, it can feel like walls crushing in around you and can give you church-minted anxiety.
“The thing that kills me is when people use their behavior to refuse the validity of what Jesus did. They think that following a set of rules is proof of their love for God, but they’re still focusing on the rules. It would be like if you had the best behavior, but never hugged me. Or if you were so formal with me that I never got to see how goofy you can be. I would literally want you to misbehave so that I could see something real. It’s like the difference between a perfect robot and a human. The flaws are how you can tell real from fake.
“It’s like that with God. He loves you exactly the way you are, not matter what. He used Jesus to scoot everything out of the way so that nothing would ever keep you from Him ever again.”
I get intense when I talk about this stuff. It’s the seat of my passion and I can’t help it.
“I get it.” She’s smiling and I know she’s not just trying to shut me up.
“Really? You mean you can feel it inside you?” That’s the best way I can explain it. You feel something come alive inside you and you know that it’s right.
“Yes!” I think she’s surprised that I know what she’s feeling.
“That’s what happens when you hear the Truth.” I’m beaming because I’m watching Him talk to her right in front of me. This is the dawning of the knowing and I’m grabbing her hand. She’s beaming because she can hear Him.
After a moment of us grinning at what just happened, she ask, “Why don’t they talk like this at church?”
Ugh. “What did you learn at church?”
“Nothing.” And like a dagger with a twist, “We just play games.”
I don’t understand the lack of passion or the preoccupation with making church a “super-fun” agenda of instilling a balance of guilt and hidden-conditioned acceptance. We have to take on the responsibility of teaching our kids how to recognize the voice of the Spirit in their everyday lives. It’s not a Sunday thing. That’s primarily a social outlet to find like-minded people. If you don’t have your own relationship with the Truth, then how do you know when you’re being entertained with a lie?