Monthly Archives: September 2016

Our Broken World and the One Thing We All Seem to Be Forgetting

“It’s 2016. How are we not past this?”

Do you know what I mean? This is the Digital Age! Information at our fingertips! We should know better. And when we know better, we should do better. It was one thing when we were cave-dwellers, grunting and beating our chests, right? It was one thing in the 15th century when we didn’t have Freud to analyze our fear of other, right? It was one thing in the American South when we actually believed we were benevolent, taking people away from their families and homes, because we were giving them a better life, right? It was one thing in the sixties when the new ideology clashed with traditional and created a turbulent time, right? But now? In 2016? We should be past this. I mean, we’ve had billions of years to evolve. Billions of years of history and experience. At this point, this should pretty much fix itself, right?

But somehow, racism persists. Human trafficking persists. Sexism persists. Poverty persists. Abuse persists. The idea that one group knows what’s better for another group persists. The raping, pillaging, and plundering of creation persists.  And somehow, the leading presidential candidates in the United States are a man who whines about anything that goes against him like he’s a five-year-old and a woman who has built her career hiding things. (Not that there aren’t other choices, but they are what the majority of our nation has chosen.) Somehow, this isn’t fixed yet.

How? How are we not past this?

I believe – no, I know the human race cannot fix our own issues. That much is clear from a history of repetitive and increasingly pervasive mistakes. Or it should be, but somehow, in spite of our proven track record, we still cling to the idea that we can and will fix ourselves – if we just put the right officials in office in November, if we just talk enough and do enough about the issues, if we can just get everyone else to see things the way we do,… well, you get the idea. But it’s still not enough, because there is always something (usually in the form of someone else) standing in our way. Other people are always the problem, and we are always the solution.

This tells me we need something other and infinitely greater than ourselves to make things right. An outside force greater than the sum of our parts.

I may not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, may not always have the best relationship with the Church, but let me tell you, I believe in Jesus.  Jesus is the Only One able to make our wrongs right by restoring our relationship with the Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit. Living in harmony with God is the only way we can live in harmony with everything He made.

We cannot hope to do this ourselves, okay? We have failed ourselves, history shows, and let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking we haven’t. Let’s not let the enemy deceive us into thinking we’re doing pretty good on our own.

It’s time to look to Jesus. Time to surrender our independence from God, to surrender our independence in trying to be God. Time to recognize our need for Him, our inability without Him. Time to let God be God, and to just delight in being the created, which is all He has ever asked of the human race.

For those of us who already believe in Him, it’s time to talk more about Jesus. Time to show a hurting world that Jesus is the Only One who makes wrong things right, the Only One who can show us the Heavenly Father. Time to prove He’s the Living God by letting His Life live in us. Time to stop talking about what we can do, and start talking more about what He can do.

“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.   I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.  Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me” (Revelation 3:15-20 NRSV).

 

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I’m not going to lie. I’m scared.

My body thinks it’s time to stop functioning. It’s fed up, and it’s shutting down. Independently of me. Against my will. To protect itself, I guess, mostly against myself.

Maybe if I take better care of it. Maybe if I feed it better, rest it better, pamper it better. Maybe if I stop internalizing everything, controlling everything, carrying everything.

Maybe it will heal. Maybe it will open up again.

But I’m scared it might not. I’m scared this might be the quality of the time I have left – flat on my back, more often than not. By myself, more often than not. Crying, bleeding, aching … more often than not.

All because I treated me the way other people treated me. Started talking to myself the way they talked to me. Accepted everything they threw at me.

I’m scared I might not be able to change that. Scared that even if I can change how I treat myself, I won’t be able to cope with how other people treat me. Scared because I’m not sure I even care anymore.

Being a channel means that the people you into which you are flowing not the ones flowing into you. It means the people flowing into you are not the people into which you are flowing.

It takes away the expectation and obligation of reciprocation.

You will always have what you need, and others will always have what they need from you.

That’s what flowing is all about.

So. This is war.

How could I forget?

How could I forget that you are coming after me with every weapon in your arsenal?

You punish me for my resistance.

You think if you just put me down enough, I’ll stay down.

Because that’s what I did last time, I guess.

But you’re not going to win. You’re not going to win. You’re not going to win.

You cannot have me. You cannot have my loved ones. You cannot have the people God has placed in my life.

Maybe God isn’t going to make you move today. Maybe God isn’t going to make you move tomorrow. Maybe God isn’t going to make you move out of the way in this situation at all. I don’t know.

But eventually – eventually – you will have to move out of the way. Because at Jesus’ name, every knee is going to bow and acknowledge His Lordship, His Sovereignty, His Absolute Above-it-all-ness. You will not have a choice.

Me? Maybe I’m flat on my face today. Maybe I’ll be flat on my face tomorrow, army crawling over the obstacles in my way. Maybe I’ll be flat on my face next month. Maybe next year.

But eventually – eventually – I will rise. I will walk again. I will flow again.

So I will keep going, no matter how afraid you make me. I will keep my eyes fixed on the One who is so much bigger than you.

 

They say – they say – you will invest in what you value.

The past two weeks, I have asked the people around me to show me how much they value me. Not because I don’t know my value, but because they’ve been treating me like I don’t have value at all.

And they haven’t been able to do it.

Like so many times before, they haven’t been able to do it.

Part of it is, they’re empty themselves.

Part of it is, they’re cups instead of channels.

Part of it is, I’ve been a cup and not a channel.

It’s been about filling, not flowing.

That has to change.

I have to stop accepting the disrespect, the neglect, the indignity like I deserve it. I don’t. And if you can’t give me the respect, nurture, and dignity of which I’m worthy, I will find people who can.

I will find channels, and I will be a channel.

I will not be empty again. I will flow and flow and flow and flow.

This emptiness? God is raising up people to flow into it right now. He’s raising up channels for me to flow through right now. I will not let go of Him until He blesses me.

The question is no longer my value or whether I am worthy of respect, care, and dignity. I’m totally worth it. The only question is whether or not you’re going to be part of it.

 

 

On a Walk with My Niece

“Do you want to go for a walk?” she asks, and I’m glad she does, because there are fewer things I enjoy more than spending time with her.

She’s twelve. And she’s my oldest niece. And she’s so different from me – so well-adjusted and bright and sweet – and kind of the same – so sensitive and we both crack ourselves up.  

I truly adore her.

So I don my tennis shoes and some mosquito repellent, and a-walking we go.

And we talk about boys. (You did not hear it from me.) Mostly, she wanted to hear about my boyfriends. She wanted to know when I had my first kiss and if I loved them and why they didn’t work out.

And as I was talking about the guy I briefly dated earlier this year, I was surprised she already knew the details of why we didn’t work out. Details I wouldn’t have shared with her because I don’t want to see her ever choose this kind of guy just because she saw me do it, you know? My sister-in-law had apparently showed her this guy’s picture, so my niece says to me, “Yeah, he looked too laid back for you anyway.” At which I could only shrug and agree.

Well, I came back from vacation, and almost immediately, another guy started pursuing me, and let me tell you, it’s like I never learn! I was ready to buy everything he was peddling. Ready to take it all, just because it was being offered. Like I always do.

Only I know this guy is bad, bad, bad for me. I’ve observed firsthand how he treats women, and what? I think he’s going to be different with me? Like I have some mysterious and magical quality that’s going to mysteriously and magically make him shape up? I’ll be honest, that’s exactly what I was thinking.

Just like that, I forgot. I forgot my twelve-year-old niece, and the six other nieces coming behind her. I forgot the young girls I teach at church. I forgot my younger sister. I forgot that they’re watching and listening to what I do and say, even if I don’t realize it. I forgot that they will base what they accept in relationships based on what they see and hear me accept in my relationships.

If I accept not being a priority in a guy’s life, they will, too.

If I accept being disrespected by a guy physically, emotionally, or spiritually, they will, too.

If I accept immaturity and constantly excuse and cover for a guy’s behavior around others, they will, too.

If I tell them they are beautiful and worthy of being cared for, respected, and adored, then I have to surround myself with people who nurture, respect, and adore me.

If I tell them they are sacred, I have to be incredibly careful to whom I give my time, energy, talents, and heart.

If I tell them to wait for a man who matches their time, energy, talents, and heart with his own – for a man who leaves no doubt where his heart is, I have to do the same.

Because I should be setting the example here. Because they’re watching and listening, and in a few short years, they’re going to be emulating.

 

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You’re on your own, kid.

Maybe it’s terra incognita. Maybe I’m being called to trailblaze a path for which most people don’t even see a need, and by the time they do see it, the path will be there, and they’ll just take it for granted, like it always was there. And maybe I’m being called, not because I’m particularly courageous and tenacious and graceful, but because I’m the only one willing to go there right now, and maybe – just maybe – it has to be right now.

Maybe I am on my own, humanly-speaking. Maybe it’s just going to be God and I, hacking it out together, like we have with countless other situations. Maybe that’s how it has to be, because maybe – just maybe – God needs this path to be a certain way.

Maybe it won’t be so bad.

But, just once, I would like to go where all of humanity has gone before.

Sigh.

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#FindingGodChallenge Week Four: God Is My Life-Giver

Here is this week’s Bible verse, song, and (16-minute!!!) testimony for God as my Life-Giver this week. Next week? God is Love.

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#FindingGodChallenge Week Three: God Is My Healer

So I shot this two weeks ago, and forgot to post it here.

 

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That moment when you realize,

“Hold up, this is my drawer, and I decide what goes in it,”

“This is my plate, and I decide what gets put on it,”

And you empty out all of the junk,

And scrape away all of the crap,

And you’re left with nothing.

And that’s frightening.

Because – nothing.

Because – more junk, more crap will come along, wanting to fill you.

And you have to say, “No. That’s not good enough for me.”

And nothing may be all you have for a really long time.

But you will have room when something comes along,

Something

Something

Something

That is worthy of you

That will hustle and match you, effort for effort

That will feed you, not just satisfy a craving.

You have to leave that room.

Stay empty.

Live in the nothing.

Live fully in the nothing.

Be royalty.

Work your ass off.

Feed yourself.

Others will follow.

 

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