9/8/16 Morning Musing: “And Playing the Role of Jesus…You!”

During my life, I have had many difficult interactions with people who resolutely identify with the hero in nearly all interactions. As an example, the person might be trying to convey something to me using Biblical examples and in the example, they are Jesus and I am the sinner…be it the Pharisees, Judas, or Peter during one of his overly-enthusiastic rants (that last one might have some credibility to it .😉) And while I think it is great to use analogies and stories (and especially scripture) to get a point across (that is part of why I write musings!) I think we should be careful about the perspective…the role we assume that we play in these interactions. Now, I get that the majority of people identify with or see some deep value in the hero/heroine…if they didn’t, the villain would naturally become the hero/heroine to that person…but I think we should use caution when we assume that we are the hero in the majority of our interactions…especially to the other person. My reasoning for this is that when we pick a hero to identify with (and especially when the person is Jesus who is sinless) we frequently can lose our humility…and shut down any further communication. For example, if in your mind, you play the role of Jesus, then you obviously have no sin to own in the interaction…everything you did is good and justified…and to disagree with you is to disagree with God and all things that are good. It leaves the other person no room to disagree or question without becoming the designated villain…and that trap makes interactions with you unsafe for the other person…which can cause that person to shut down a bit because, regardless of what they say, the assumption is that they have already been designated as the villain.  

So, how are you doing with this? Do you regularly identify with the hero character in the film (starring you, of course) that plays in your mind? What room, if any, do you leave the other person to disagree with you? How often do you enter into these interactions looking to own some portion of the fault? How often do you attempt to find value in the other person’s perspective?  

My prayer today is that we would all understand that there is so much to be learned from others. I’m praying that we would make efforts in our relationships to understand and learn from other people’s viewpoints. (After all, if I know what I know and also learn what you know, I have doubled what I can know…there is value in that!) Finally, I am praying that we would own our own parts…the things that break down communication…so that we might grow to love each other better.

Much love friends,
Beks  

9/1/16 Morning Musing: Choosing to Enter In

I could feel the heat spreading to my face and neck as perspiration began to prick at my skin. I exhaled slowly and shakily through my mouth…I hadn’t even realized that I was holding my breath until now…it’s funny how I catch myself holding my breath as a way to brace against possible impact…possible pain. And, as I felt the wet sting in my eyes, I waited…I waited to see what they were going to do with what I had just shared with them. See, as I am prone to do, I was questioning something that had been accepted as a truth…a rule…and I had unwittingly invited them into the uncomfortable wrestling with God that I do regularly. I was showing, through my own experience, that while we love to see things as black or white…there are gray tones that we have to deal with…there are shades that are neither black nor white…shades that exist and challenge the tidy equations that we try apply to life. And to my great relief, most of them entered into the wrestling match with me. Once invited, they chose to step away from the comfortable conclusions…outside of the neatly-drawn lines…and into a place where things are a bit messy…and require more work…more effort to understand. They willingly stepped out into an uncomfortable and unknown place with me…and while they can not see from my perspective…they wanted to understand…and that meant EVERYTHING…meant the whole world to me.

Why am I telling you about this and why the heck am I being so vague about the content of this conversation? Glad you asked! This experience…these feelings…can be applied to other people and situations and I don’t want to bog you down with my specific situation and experiences. What I do want to point out is what was done well and why it matters:  

First, my friends did not know about a specific aspect of my background in this conversation…and they could not ever know about it unless I shared it with them. So, as difficult as it was to verbalize…as bumbling and lacking in eloquence as I am…as painful as it was to reveal my brokenness…in order to be the kind of friends that go deep, I had to let them in on my experience and perspective. So, speaking up (gently) when you need someone to understand you or your experience is important.

The other big thing that was done well was that my friends were willing to be inconvenienced for me. They were willing to enter into the messiness that accompanies investing in someone else. Because they care about me, they allowed themselves to trust that I wasn’t just throwing monkey wrenches into the conversation for sport…but that I needed to be understood in a way that they couldn’t access from the place where the straight, clean lines exist or where unemotional formulas can be applied. Once trusting my motives, they allowed themselves to wrestle through different aspects of the topic and they allowed themselves to feel compassion for me. What better picture of living out a life that reflects Jesus is there than that? None! They didn’t just throw out some head-knowledge and leave me to my wrestling match…they entered in with me. They didn’t just blindly approve whatever I was saying in order to avoid making waves, they entered into the mess with both their minds and their hearts.

This stuff really matters! Not just in my situation but in most (I think.) Think about the areas of life where there is the most strife…think about racial tensions…think about political tensions…think about areas where a majority are ignorant to the plight of others…all these areas are exacerbated by applying a formula and only perpetuate the ignorance and the number of injuries incurred.

So, how are you doing with this? Do you feel understood? If you don’t, are you speaking up to the people that you crave understanding from? Is there someone that you love but that you just simply don’t get? How much are you investing in, not just mentally comprehending their situation, but also empathizing and feeling compassion. Are you communicating together with love and kindness and a willingness to hear? Really hear (not letting them speak long enough to get your chance to talk.)  

My prayer today is that we would be led by truth that our heads know but also compassion that our hearts experience. I am praying that we would be drawn to those who are less like ourselves so that we may learn and increase our understanding of people instead of just understanding ideals.

Much love friends,

Beks

8/25/16 Morning Musing: Puppies, Rocks, and Smiles

This morning, my alarm went off and, after I turned it off, I said good morning to my husband and then stretched out as long as I could. While my feet moved around under the sheets and blankets, I could feel little warm puppy bodies laying near my knee and elbow and then I heard the sound of something small and hard hit the floor. I hopped up to see what had fallen and was straining to see in the dark until I found it…a rock. It made me giggle a little because it was definitely another “gift” from my two little pooches, Shiner and Bock. They are super-sweet pups…they are great companions…but they don’t do the things that other dogs do to “earn their keep.” They aren’t sporting dogs. They don’t catch any pests. They don’t fetch and they aren’t intimidating at all. What they do well is just joining in our pack…Team Massey…they follow me every where I go in the house… when I go run errands, they beg to ride in the car with me…they like to run upstairs and wake up the kiddos for school…and on occasion, they bring me a rock or an acorn as a gift.

So, why am I telling you about puppies and gift rocks? Well, I guess it’s because I think I have learned something about God through my exchange with these pooches. There is no doubt that God does things to bless me every hour of every day…and because he’s God, I don’t think he “needs” my help…but I think that he smiles when I make efforts to bless him in return…whether it is praise coming from my lips, finances intentionally dedicated to him, or kindness invested into someone he loves but who I deem unlovable. He can accomplish these things without me, no doubt…but I think the effort and motivation to love him and be more like him pleases him. It is much like the pups bringing me a rock this morning…do I need the rock? No. Can I see the motives behind the gift? Absolutely! And it will have me smiling all day long!

So, how are you doing with this? Do you have gifts to offer God and others…gifts that you are holding on to because you think they are only rocks? Are other people offering you gifts? Do you recognize the gifts being offered to you or do you just see a worthless rock? What gifts do you talk yourself out of giving away? Do you think they aren’t good enough? Do you think others will find them silly? Can you be vulnerable enough to give them anyway?  

My prayer today is that we would freely offer God our gifts. I am praying that we would make the Creator of the world smile when we humbly offer him our little rocks. I am praying that we would bless other people with our gifts and use our little rocks to lift each other up and give each other something to stand on.  

Much love friends,

Beks

8/12/16 Morning Musing: An Open Letter to My Daughter as she Begins Middle School

A few weeks ago, we threw a dinner for Michaela as a celebration about entering into a new life stage (starting middle school.) We invited women who are invested in her (family members, teachers, Sunday school teachers, family friends) so that we could come together as a group of women who have gone before her and who really know her and affirm characteristics that we see in her as well as tell her some of the “When I was a teen/middle schooler, I wish I had known…” stories. It was a very special evening and this is my letter to Michaela:

Dear Michaela, 

I may not remember much (or any) of what I was taught back then…but I remember every detail of how I felt. I remember feeling uncomfortable in my own skin…like I always needed to be “on”…performing…portraying who I was supposed to be…although I didn’t actually know who that character was. I remember learning that disagreements meant big nasty fights…and that anything you’ve ever done could be called into question during a fight. I remember being afraid that I would be late to class or get lost and then get yelled at in front of everyone. I remember really wanting to “fit in” but never feeling like I got there. I remember all the other girls getting boobs and periods and me feeling virtually un-female. I remember a letter home to my parents from a teacher who recognized the work I was putting in that he wanted to recognize. I remember lots and lots of anxiety…before tests…before interactions…before going to school…before going home. I remember trying to impress people with how grown up I was by cussing and trying to make every conversation point back to sex somehow…even though I didn’t really know what that was. I remember deeply hurting someone without meaning to and realizing that injuring someone through neglect still hurts just as much as hurting someone through intent. I remember my first real compliment from another girl…not because she wanted something in return…but because she saw something in me that was special and different. I remember that terrible super-short haircut and the humiliation when a boy in the hallway asked me if I was a boy or a girl. I remember having a bit more freedom and a bit more responsibility and desperately wanting to do things right. I remember tight-rolling my jeans and wearing multiple pairs of slouchy socks…and shoulder pads…Lord, why the shoulder pads??? I remember putting on makeup and big earrings at the bus stop because my dad didn’t allow me to wear that stuff…instead of complying, I snuck it…and it made me feel grown up and independent…but looking back, it looked really horrible. I remember riding the bus home, and doing my homework with Bandit in my lap…man, I loved that dog!

I’m bringing up all these memories because, on top of increased work load and amidst lots of changes, there were so many new and strange feelings for me in middle school. You too are going to go through a ton of new feelings…some like mine and some completely different…and whatever you are feeling, it’s ok to feel it. There are going to be times when all the feelings are like a big storm that just hits you suddenly and soaks you to the bone and there are going to be times when the sun is out and everything seems fine and normal. It takes a lot of energy to feel all the feels so you’re probably going to get grumpy and snarky at times and I guarantee there will be times that you think your mama is so out of touch that I couldn’t possibly remember what it is like to be a teenager (since I was a teenager back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.) But I get it. And I am on your side…always…no matter what. There is nothing that you can do that will make me stop loving you…nothing that will pit me against you…you are my heart, outside of my chest, walking around in the world…and I could never be against my own heart.  
You’re going to interact with other kids…and sometimes it will be pleasant and fun and light…and other times it will be like absolute torture. People are going to say really mean things…hurtful words and ideas that are shocking to you…and people are going to do really bad stuff…stuff you can’t even imagine right now…and at some point, you are going to be one of those people. Apologize sincerely and make a course correction so as to not repeat the same mistake again. Understand, that just as you don’t want to be defined by your darkest moment, nobody else wants that either…so show grace…forgive…release it. (Carrying around a bunch of drama and hurt and anger is exhausting and it’s exhausting to be around…it hard to be a good friend when your hands are full of anger and resentment…and most people want to be friends with people who are easy to be friends with.) Be kind to everyone…not because of their behavior…not because they are kind to you…but because God made them just like he made you and he deeply loves them. (This is my biggest regret from middle school through grad school…I wish I had shown more kindness to people…don’t wait until your 30s to learn this.) 

Know that the same feelings can look different in different people. For example, when someone is embarrassed, they may get quiet or they could get angry. They could laugh it off or they could cry. It is unlikely that they understand why they are responding this way…so kindness is always the answer. This holds true for kids and grown ups…so give a little grace and kindness to everyone…nobody started their day thinking “Man, I can’t wait to make this a terrible day for myself and I’m taking down everyone else with me.” In the end, we all want to feel accepted and loved and appreciated…we just all implement different techniques for getting there.

Baby girl, you are such a bright light in this world. Your sweetness and compassion are beautiful gifts from God…protect them and nurture them…most people don’t have those qualities for long…they get replaced with cynicism and self-preservation as that compassion gets taken advantage of…decide now not to let that happen…practice it every chance you get.  

You are going to be bombarded with self-doubt so I want to tell you a few things that I see in you that you should never doubt.

You are deeply loved…by us and by God. I love you so much that it aches.

You are smart. Grades don’t always reflect this because they don’t measure intelligence, they measure performance. All you can do is the best that you can do.

You are enough. You are valuable just as you are. There is nothing that needs to change and this isn’t earned. God made you precisely you. So, don’t ever allow anyone to mistreat you or make you think that you need to change to be their friend.

You are creative. Our amazing God is the Creator and you reflect him when you are creative too. Explore this life and try things. Continue to love learning, creating, exploring, and contributing!

You are beautiful! Different people think different features make someone pretty and the only consistency about that is that, over time and from person to person, what qualifies as pretty changes. But you are beautiful! (Sometimes, I sneak up to your room while you are sleeping and watch you…my breath catches in my throat because you are so stunningly beautiful.) There will be people who try to tear you down in life and the first area that they will hit you in is your appearance. Don’t listen to this…it’s the least insightful and the least invested way to insult someone. It’s lazy and malicious. People who aren’t invested in you don’t get a vote in your life and people looking to tear you down don’t get a place in your life. Don’t listen to their lies. You are beautiful.

I’m excited for you as you begin this next chapter. I love you sweet Michaela and I want you to remember that I always have your back! Now, get out there and grab life by the tail because it’s yours for the taking!

Mama

7/8/16 Morning Musing: Judging a Book By it’s Cover

In the last hour, I learned of the shootings that happened back home in Dallas last night (on top of recent ones in Orlando, Baton Rouge, and Falcoln Heights.) I’m heart-broken for the victims and their families. I’m heart-broken over the violence. But most of all, I am heart-broken over the very large number of people who are embracing hatred as an ideal. Racism (any bigotry really) is hatred wrapped up in laziness…it is judging someone by one characteristic that can be observed hastily and from a distance (lazy!) There is no investment in this type of judgement…no conversation is had…no learning about the other person…no identifying what you might have in common…no understanding that, at our core, we all need and crave the same things.   

What repulses me the most about this is that so many of the people on either side of this conflict claim to be Christians. Let’s be clear, racism (bigotry) is in direct conflict with the gospel:

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” ‭Colossians‬ ‭3:8-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So, instead of choosing sides…instead of assuming character traits based on someone’s appearance or activities…instead of deciding which side different people are on…instead of fueling the inferno that leads to pain, death, and hell…let’s choose to love…let’s choose to put in effort…let’s choose to move toward those who are different from ourselves (and maybe, just maybe learn something other than our own limited perspective)…let’s choose to serve others…let’s choose to seek to understand…let’s choose peace…let’s choose grace…let’s choose forgiveness…let’s choose life…let’s choose to deny ourselves an easy, lazy, hateful, and evil way out…let’s choose to all be on the same side. And let that side be one where we are all humans…unique, gifted, valued, and loved deeply by God.  

I don’t think that God does things by mistake. So, isn’t it interesting that Jesus came as a member of one of the smaller and most-hated people groups in the world’s history? Isn’t it interesting that nowhere in the Bible does it say that Jesus came for all people except __________? Isn’t it interesting that God made such a diverse humanity to live here together? Imagine what we could do…what amazing things we could accomplish…what a different future we could create…if we would quit having temper tantrums about people being created differently from ourselves.  

My prayer today is that we would take a minute with the people we interact with…that we would make fewer assumptions about them, and instead, actually learn about them. I am praying that we would be people who invest in others, search for value in individuals, and that we would love…love when we are uncomfortable…love when we feel unheard or misunderstood…love when justice has been defied…love when we are hurting…love when everyone around us is choosing hate. Lord, let us be one people who reflect you through love.

Much love friends,

Bekah

6/9/16 Morning Musing: Healing: Prayers for All Involved In or Following the Stanford Rape Case

This week, the country has been virtually vibrating with the news of Brock Turner’s conviction and puny sentencing. I’ve read the articles, the letter from this man’s father, and the 12-page testimony by the victim. There are several things about this that really bother me and so I write this post as a way of sorting through all of my thoughts and feelings:

First, a prayer for the victim: Father God, I want to lift this amazingly brave woman up to you so I am asking for blessings for her and her loved ones. Lord, please ease her pain as she steps forward into her forever-changed life. I know that this trauma will be with her throughout her life but I ask that one day, it becomes a source of only strength for her instead of pain. Lord, I ask that you continue to turn her scars into something beautiful…strength and an un-quenchable passion to take a stand for the marginalized…for the abused…for the ones who have been cast aside. Lord, I thank you for this woman. I think the world needs her and her story. Please continue to speak into her who you say she is: Not a victim…a warrior. Not worthless…priceless. Not unloved…worth dying for. Help her to see that she is a beautiful, valued, treasured daughter of the King. Finally, Lord, please help her to restore her relationships that have surely been damaged because of the fallout of this trauma. Father God, please hold her close to you. Amen.

A prayer for Everyone: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the outrage that is felt on behalf of this woman, but Lord, I ask that we would not merely settle for the addictive high that comes with righteous indignation. I ask that you would spark in us an insatiable need to stand up against injustice, oppression, and evil. I ask that you would grant us the gift of sight…that we would see the invisible ones…see the marginalized…see the voiceless…see the hurting ones around us. And once we see, Lord give us passion, creativity, and compassion so that we might be able to help meet the needs of those around us. Lord, give us a willingness to be inconvenienced and to get messy so that we might be able to be real. Finally Lord, I ask that you would please help us to see that, while Mr. Turner is the criminal in this case, we are all responsible for some bit of this woman’s pain (and the pain of all victims) when we feed into this prevalent evil attitude that further harms the hurting and blames the victim. Please help us to be willing to change and Lord, please do some much-needed work on our heart-spaces. I love you Lord. Amen.

A prayer for Brock Turner: Father God, as outraged as I am at this young man’s actions and lack of remorse, I am deeply saddened about his heart-space. Lord, I ask that you would help him to come to a place of true understanding of the depth of his broken-ness. Lord, please help this young man to stop resisting accountability and…well…Lord, I ask that you would change how he sees the world…not to harden him…but to help him to see outside of himself. He can’t take back what he did…he can’t undo what has been done…but I ask that he be changed so that he no longer sees the world for what he can take from it…but sees opportunities to give. Father God, please help this young man develop compassion and empathy and a desire to submit himself into a position of serving others. Despite Brock Turner’s crimes, I know that you love him God…just as you love everyone of us despite our sins and broken-ness…so I ask that you would heal this young man while he lives out the consequences of his actions. In your name, Lord, Amen.

A prayer for Dan Turner : Father God, no one understands the heart of a father like you do so I ask that you would do work on Dan Turner’s heart. I can not imagine the pain and grief that he is experiencing so I ask that you would minister to him but Lord I also ask that you would do work there. Please help him to lovingly and wisely guide his son to a place of accountability instead of dismissing how Brock has injured others. Lord, please speak truth into this father’s heart. Amen.

Much Love Friends,

Bekah

6/6/16 Morning Musing: Life-Breathing 

A few weeks ago, I was at a doctor’s office and found myself speechless (and anyone who knows me know that never happens! As Stan says about me: “There are just so many words!”) Let me back up a bit. I was trying out a new location for getting my testosterone pellet implant and was talking with the doctor about normal stuff when she noticed how I had noted something in my file. I had written something in a manner that indicated that I had some understanding of medicine and so she inquired about my educational background. I proceeded to tell her that I had learned what she was asking about when I had worked for a veterinarian but that I had an undergraduate degree in biomedical science and a master’s degree in integrative physiology. She asked me what I do now and I told her that I was a stay-at-home mom. It was her following question that left me momentarily speechless: “But why would you waste your education?” Do you hear it? Because to me it was loud and clear: “You aren’t enough! What you do isn’t valuable. Investment is wasted on you.” After a few seconds, I recovered and told her that I never thought that education was a waste because regardless of the field of study, learning to think is valuable. Now the truth is that I really learned to think after all of my education but I wanted her to understand that investing in people is never a waste.

As usual, this got me thinking…a lot…in fact, I haven’t been able to let it go for the last 5 weeks…and I think I have finally figured out why it has stuck with me so much. I think that, for my entire life, my biggest struggle has been in understanding and accepting my identity. Now before I lose you, hang in there with me for a minute while I explain with a few examples. When I was young, something happened to me that made me question and doubt my value as a female…as an integral part of God’s family. With the poisoning a few years ago, I came to question if I was worth the expense that I was costing my family. That also led to spiritual upheaval and doubt as to whether anything that I had spent my life believing was true. Recently, I left my job at our old church and that led to me questioning whether or not I could do ministry the way that I am designed to (I mean, if I can’t do ministry at a church, is it likely that I will be able to do it on my own outside of church?) There are tons of other examples but what I am getting at is that I have experienced attack, for the duration of my entire life, on my value as a female and as an image-bearer of God.  

So, going back to the story at my doctor’s office, that is why her seemingly innocent question did not feel so innocent to me. I don’t think that she meant to offend me at all…but I do believe that her words betrayed her thoughts…and those thoughts were clearly that I am not living up to my potential. I, however, disagree with her. See, my constant question over the last couple of years has been “What does obedience look like right now?” I’m not making a five-year plan. I’m not climbing the ladder anywhere. I’m not trying to make a pay check. What I have been doing is trying to be present and obedient to God in the now. Some days, that doesn’t look like much to most people. But some days, it looks like everything. My availability to be obedient to God now has helped a friend with an eating disorder in recent months. It has allowed me to have life-breathing conversations with women who are experiencing marital problems. It has allowed me to be present with my kids and talk with them about who they are and how they are designed. It has allowed me to grow closer with my husband during this time of questioning what God would have him do as he searches for a job. I may not have a title or job-description that impresses anyone, but I am fully present with the people in my life when they need it…and that is what obedience looks like for me right now.

So how are you doing with this? Do you know who you are? Really know? Do you know what you were designed for? If you don’t, think about the things that really get you fired up and energized. Think about what it is that you can do for hours and then look up and wonder where all that time went. What I’m getting at is this: Do you know what your calling is and are you doing it? I firmly believe that what we choose to do with our short time here is either life-breathing or life-consuming. Can you identify the things in your life that fall into each category? If you are unsure, ask yourself how you serve others…because if you are only serving yourself, it falls under the life-consuming category. You have gifts…and by definition, gifts are meant to be given away…don’t deprive the world of what you have to offer.

My prayer today is that we would be life-breathing people. That we would not be content to just consume and discard things and people…but that we would invest in others. I am praying that we would start by learning more about Jesus so that we can learn more about who we are as image-bearers. I am praying that we would discard the conversations or events that we play on repeat in our minds that rob us of life and an understanding of our callings. And I am praying that we would be here now and that we would be still enough to ask God “What does obedience look like right now?”

Much love friends,
Beks

Breathing Life

5/9/16 – Morning Musing: Being Me

Last fall, I went to a conference specifically for Christian women in leadership. I was really excited to go and there was one particular session that I was looking forward to: Working With Men: Dive, Survive, or Thrive. I was familiar with the speaker for this session and knew that she was a pioneer for women where she is employed. Since I was working in a place where the overwhelming majority of leadership positions were filled by males and the majority of supportive roles were filled by females, I had found myself chaffing…struggling under the weight of this. Now don’t get me wrong…I was never looking to climb the ladder…I wasn’t even looking for a job when I got that one…I just wanted to minister to people…to help people see and embrace the truth and grace and freedom available to them…I wasn’t interested in money or position and so I was able to approach things without an agenda.  

Anyway, I went to this session with some of my work friends and the most humiliating thing happened: The speaker began to speak and I began to furiously take notes. As the session progressed, I began to feel heavier and heavier until I just sat there open-mouthed and confused. Is this really happening? Did I really just hear her say that women needed to suppress their emotions in order to work with men? And thank the men that allowed them to be a leader? What? And then it happened. I felt the first tear fall down my cheek. No!!!!! Stop! I berated myself as my vision blurred while I sat there on the second row and cried as the speaker asked this room full of women leaders to suppress what is a big part of many of us and is fully God-given. The message I received loudly and clearly was “If you want to be successful in this male-dominated field, you will need to become more masculine so that the men can feel comfortable with you.” The speaker made eye-contact with me and was visibly disturbed by the expression on my face complete with the tears, sniffing, and red blotchy skin. No poker-face here!  

My co-workers who were with me were trying to help me out but I just couldn’t seem to reign it all in. It took me a while to find words for why I was so broken by that speaker’s message but I finally did. I was grieving. This woman, whom I had looked up to was giving me the same message as the men that I had struggled with: There is a specific persona that I would have to embody if I wanted to get to really do ministry. I would have to suppress the strongest parts of myself and be inauthentic in order to get the opportunity to speak truth to people. Do you see the irony? I would have to lie about who I am to myself and others if I wanted the chance to speak truth…any truth I could ever offer anyone would have to begin with a lie. I couldn’t stomach this at all. I had come so far from the self-doubting girl who didn’t understand why God had made her “incorrectly” (a female with “male” gifts of leadership, pastoring, teaching, etc.) I had finally reached a point of understanding that I, too, was an image-bearer of the Almighty despite being female…had finally started to accept my God-given and carefully designed character and personality and this message directly attacked the freedom that had finally become available to me. I had gotten this message a lot over the years and had been able to disregard it most of the time because I figured that we all learn our lessons at different rates…just because I knew something was true didn’t mean that everyone else already knew it. What made it so very painful this time…was that this message was coming from a woman who had paved the way for me…she should have known better.  

I lost respect for one of my role-models that day because she was asking me to be inauthentic…to lie to myself and others about who I am…to hide. I have a lot of flaws…and I own them fully…but inauthenticity is not one of them. I can not and will not pretend to be less so that others can feel good about themselves.  

So, how are you doing with this? Do you know yourself? Really know yourself? Do you understand how your specific characteristics are meant to benefit the world around you? Do you sometimes doubt your gifts and design? Where do those doubts stem from? What usually spurs you to deny who you are? How can you change that way of thinking around so that you can honor not only how you were designed…but also the One who designed you?  

My prayer today is that we would be authentic people who love others, ourselves, and God well by speaking and living out truth because if what we offer isn’t truth, we are just filling the world with noise.

Much love friends,
Beks

5/2/16 Morning Musing: Owning Your Own Stuff

They were sitting in our dining room yelling at each other across the table while Stan and I watched them…studied them to get a feel for how they handled disagreements. My conclusion was that they battled against each other instead of with each other. When we got everyone settled down again, they each continued to get riled over the most trivial things until there was another explosion of venom from each of them. “Alright, this isn’t productive. Let’s take a step back for a minute.” But they kept yelling and trying to get the last word in. “You may be alright with disrespecting each other but I won’t have you disrespect me so each of you needs to back down now.” That got their attention. They sulked for a bit. We talked through a plan with them and they were thankful and shocked when we said that we would be willing to meet with them again. But the real test came when they went back home and didn’t have any referees present to call out the penalties…when they had to choose between saving their marriage or saving face. They chose to save face.

This was hard for me…I had to let them choose…even if their choice was wrong…even if their choice was going to harm them…even if their choice would have lasting repercussions for their kids. I have been through this with people before and while I can do my best to advise them and love them well, I can’t want their health more than they do. I can’t own it for them. (I’ve tried that before and absolutely failed…failed the person I was trying to help and completely depleted myself as well.) Their success or failure would be completely their own…although I suspect they would each find someone to blame.

So, how are you doing with this? Is there someone in your life that is struggling with something? Can you help them without taking ownership of their problems? It’s a hard line to walk…caring deeply and loving well without protecting the other person from the hurts that could lead to learning and change. Are you personally struggling with something right now? Is it possible that you are trying to hand ownership off to someone else? A potential scape goat to blame if things don’t work out the way that you want? Are you looking for someone else to be more invested in your recovery than you are? How can you find that elusive place of seeking out help and resources but still maintaining ownership of your situation?  

My prayer today is that we would love deeply while seeking wisdom. That we would remain clear about our own limitations (physical or psychological) and that we would learn to honor those limitations. We can’t be all things to all people…we weren’t designed to be…and if we were, it would only diminish others…so it wouldn’t be very loving. I’m praying that we would also have clarity about our own stuff…that we would fully invest in these lives that we live and not squander the blessings by believing that they are obstacles.  

Much love friends,

Beks