1/12/18 Morning Musing: We Damage His Name…

After reading another story about another woman being sexually assaulted by a man and it not coming to public knowledge for decades and hearing her disparaged and minimized because she “waited too long” or because it was “decades ago”…I just can’t be quiet any longer. (This time, it was Andy Savage of Highpoint Church in Tennessee.) It’s late and my heart hurts so be patient with me as I try to make coherent points.

I can not understand how “waiting so long” is supposed to negate the victim’s reliability or the truth. People in power have gotten away with abuse of the ones without that power forever…and unfortunately, it is also true in churches. But unlike outside of the church, we Christians should be held to a different standard…not because we are better than anyone else…not by a long shot. We should be held to a higher standard because we have intimate understanding of Jesus’ example of giving a voice to the voiceless…of bringing justice to the marginalized…and giving dignity to the broken or hurting. This intimate knowledge of our God and his heart means that we can not continue to ignore injustice and abuse of power while representing our Lord accurately because each time we do, we aren’t just lying…we aren’t just hurting the individuals being denied justice…we are also damaging the name of our God.

We damage his name when we continue to turn a blind eye to abuse.

We damage his name when we refuse to see other people…other image-bearers…as valuable.

We damage his name when we give racism or sexism (or any other ism) a pass by remaining quiet when we know we should be speaking up.

We damage his name when we refuse to enter into honest and respectful dialogue about topics that matter. (This contributes to the trend of people seeing the church as obsolete.)

We damage his name when we defend abusers and judge victims based on whether or not we align with them politically, denominationally, etc. (Yes, I just went there.)

We damage his name when we push for male leaders in church to receive funds for their ministry, appropriate pay and title, and continuing education while denying it for their female counter-parts.

We damage his name when we beat people up with our religion instead of listening to them and loving them.

We damage his name when we applaud what is wicked and criticize what is good.

We damage his name when we deny others the freedom that we simultaneously demand for ourselves.

We damage his name when we judge others instead of remembering how we have been forgiven.

We damage his name when we mistreat each other in the name of “witnessing.”

We damage his name when we abandon the needy, weak, marginalized, aged, or hurting.

We damage his name when we refuse to own our sins and, instead, justify our ugly behaviors or minimize them by using more palatable wording so that we can feel better about ourselves.

I could go on and on forever with this. At some point, we must quit tolerating the abuse of power. If we are the ones with power, God’s blessings are not limited…there is no need to try to hoard it. If we are the abusers, yes there is forgiveness…the gospel is not too small for any sin…but that doesn’t mean that accountability is void. If we are the survivors…and hear me on this…please hear me…our pain is not to be wasted! It can become a beautiful place that will allow us to minister to others and understand the hurts of others if we allow it. If we are the ones without power, our God is the God Who Sees us (El Roi) so he clearly sees the power-mongers and they will be held accountable.

How are you doing with this? Did any of these points make you wince a little or bring a specific incident to mind? Is there some way that you can pursue a more truthful and authentic way of living this out? Is there someone that you feel you should apologize to? Is there forgiveness that you can extend to someone regardless of whether or not they have asked for it?

My prayer for us tonight is that we would simply love each other better. I am praying that instead of constantly grappling for power or position or status or whatever, that we would see the truth of what is important and life-giving and pursue it with abandon. I am praying that we would try to squeeze every bit of living out of this life while we have it instead of pursuing the things that lead to our physical, emotional, and spiritual death. I am praying that we would also learn how to receive love when offered by others.

Much love friends,

Beks

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11/14/14 Morning Musing: When Strength Must be Silent

I hate it but there is nothing I can do to correct it. If I make sure that everyone involved truly knows my character, then I am making a bigger deal of something than I should and would cause irreparable damage to others. If I let it go, then I have people believing something untrue about me. This is one of those dilemmas that will keep me up at night (and if I’m going to lose sleep, shouldn’t I at least be greeted by a shiny, clean house in the morning?!) But no, I am greeted by a mirror that I look into and think “No…no, that can’t be right.” So I rub my eyes and try again…not any better.

Misconceptions. How do you handle them? The thing about me…the thing I would change if I could…I really do care what other people think…not in a shallow way, but I feel what other people are feeling and truth is really important to me…which in and of itself isn’t a problem, but it leads to the dilemma above. Knowing something is being perceived or interpreted incorrectly is physically painful for me. And letting it go…well…I can only do that if God is helping me because I just…can’t..handle it!

I have an area in my life where I am dealing with this right now….well, two areas…but one is big and has been going on for a long time and the other is smaller and will be temporary…I think. Anyway, the painful conclusion that I have come to is that sometimes, we have to suck it up and be perceived incorrectly and let truth come out gently over time through our actions because our words won’t/can’t be heard right now. This was really bothering me when I woke up this morning. With one of these scenarios, I am the victim (which I hate admitting) but in order to do right by the people who have mistreated me, I have to take the label of the “designated a–hole” and just sit there in it…set up camp in the middle of all of the discomfort…in all of the falseness…rest in the mess…and prepare to stay a while with my mouth firmly closed…and it sucks.

On my own, there is no way that I could do this…but in obedience to God, it’s amazing how it becomes manageable (not easy…hear me on this!) despite it being completely contrary to my wiring. Actually, that is how I know it’s of God…being empowered to do something that I simply can not do if left to my own devices. And that…that right there…that is what encourages me and gets me back where I need to be…it gets me away from the pity party and strengthens me. The knowledge that I am being obedient despite what I want to do…that fills me with satisfaction and contentment that could never be produced even if everything I wanted known was revealed to the entire world.

I know this was a bit vague, but what about you? Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever been writhing inside because you have something to say but, for one reason or another, you must be muted? Have you ever taken a personal hit for the “greater good?” Have you ever had to watch something play out in order to not rob others of what God is trying to do in their hearts? I think that in the end, it will unfold beautifully but in the interim, it really does suck.

My prayer today is that we will have the goal in mind…the big picture…as we interact with people. I’m praying that we will be strong enough to make the painful investment that is sometimes required for a bigger payoff later…the investment of having silent strength…subtle strength. I’m praying that as we struggle through all of our dilemmas, that we will huddle up close to our loving God who wants his best for us all and who is the author of all things good. I’m praying that through our sacrifices, more will come to love the God who sustains us. Much love friends.

Beks

6/2/14 Morning Musing: Caught in the Act

Even though his eye was red and his breathing was wheezy from allergic reaction to the puppies, he still picked up the little pooch and gently nuzzled it…not because he loves animals the way I do…but because he loves me so deeply. I’ve gotta tell you, there is nothing sexier that when a strong man voluntarily softens himself to be gentle with animals or children or anyone weaker than himself. Stan does this with regularity and it still makes my heart beat a little faster every single time! Oh my! Tempered strength is so attractive!!!!

I remember how the guy kept going on and on and on about what a “pro” he was in softball. You know the type, bulldog mouth but a candy…uh…tail. He was bragging and bragging and then couldn’t actually perform as described. Then, Stan quietly took his turn at bat. The outfield moved in on him because he’s not that big of a guy…and without all of the noise of the guy before him, he burned them all…hit it to the fence and left them all gaping at him. He swiftly ran all the bases and then trotted into the dugout without all of the hoopla of the guy before him. We weren’t married yet then and I was still getting to know Stan but…that made such an impression on me…his quiet confidence was so attractive! I remember him telling me later that if you are really that great, you won’t have to do your own bragging because other people will do it for you. Oh my! Quiet self-confidence is so attractive!!!!

I remember Stan building a patio in the back yard…it took several days of work and he had lots of heavy lifting to do. The kids wanted to help him…and…well, as it always is when kids help…it slows down the process. But Stan saw the big picture and wanted to cultivate an attitude and culture of service in Team Massey. So, he allowed himself to slow down and elongated the already-long process in order to let the children help him create the patio. With the patience of Job, he created a beautiful and sturdy patio for us to enjoy for years to come as well as creating a sense of ownership and service in our children. They shared quality time together as they worked shoulder-to-shoulder. Wow! Wisdom, patience, and foresight are so attractive!

The point of this musing is two-fold: The first point is that it is possible to actually be the kind of person that inspires others to be better. This isn’t accomplished through “demanding what you deserve” or thinking only of yourself…it is achieved through selfless sacrifice, love for others, and being slow to speak but quick to act honorably. The second point is that it is good to be an observer of the people you love. It is good to try to “catch them doing something right.” With Stan not seeking attention in these circumstances, it would have been easy for me to over-look them and not show him appreciation. It would have been easy for me to focus on the times when he was short-tempered with the kids or when he didn’t thank me for whatever tasks I was doing at the time. But, our relationship was strengthened and Stan felt more known and seen because I took the time to study him and see the motivations behind his actions.

So, how are you doing with this? Can you honorably and selflessly serve the people you love without looking for appreciation for your service? Can you quiet yourself when you really want to brag? Can you let your actions speak volumes more than your voice ever could? What about observing your loved-ones? Are you their greatest observer? Do they feel known and appreciated? Do they feel like you are looking for the best in them instead of only trying to catch them at their worst? How could you improve your relationships in this area?

Praying for love, wisdom, and peace for you all. Much love friends.

Bekah

5/5/15 Morning Musings: When Blessings Hurt

I have heard some conversations going around about how Christians use the term “blessed” inappropriately and should refrain from using this word. Because people are using that term to mean that things are going well, it begins to not only lose meaning…but also imply that when things aren’t going well, that God is with-holding blessings from us. People use blessed to mean happy…and although my dictionary app says that happy is a synonym for blessed…it is not…not really. Blessed means consecrated, sacred, holy, sanctified, and divinely or supremely favored. This is not the same as happy…it means that things will be better in the long-run (because our God is good) but not necessarily easier in the short-term (because most things that are good are usually not easy.) In fact, in the short-term, things often really really suck and other people’s “blessings” can be even harder to swallow when your circumstances are difficult. Instead of refraining from using the term blessed, I think we should acknowledge a larger definition for it.

I know that when hard times come, it is hard to see other people’s blessings as legitimate. For example, I remember having my soul crushed at the end of college: I was rejected from being admitted to Veterinary School at Texas A&M. It was all I had ever wanted to do. I had worked for a vet for 10 years, (started at the age of 13!) majored in Biomedical Science, (what the heck was I going to do with a degree like that if I wasn’t going to vet school?) and spent more hours than anyone I knew studying (this was my very best effort…so my very best was being rejected…ouch!) I knew other people who got in…breezed in actually…and in my mind, they were politically connected…or somehow had an “in.” The hours that they spent studying and learning were somehow illegitimate to me…the fact that they were wired differently than I was, was unfair to me…I was bitter. I had to distance myself from them and somehow explain away their good fortune in order to numb my own pain…I ended up moving away and going to grad school somewhere else in order to apply a little anesthetic to the wound of rejection.

On the flip side, I’ve had some unexplainably amazing things happen to me. Take meeting Stan for example. I can not, to this day, say that I deserve him. He is absolutely the best person I’ve ever known in my entire life (and I’ve seen his “bad” side.) His heart and motivations are truer than I thought possible in a broken, sinful human…and I simply don’t deserve him at all. But, over the years of marriage, I am growing and become truer too…my motivations are becoming purer…my rough edges are being slowly and gently rubbed off to reveal a finer version of me. (There is a verse about sharpening one another: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. -Proverbs 27:17 NIV…maybe this is blasphemous but I see it a little differently…I see it as bumping into each other until we have smoothed each other’s rough edges off…like sharp, hard stones that keep bumping into each other until we are smoothed and beautiful and shiny like quality marble.)

The thing is…both the rejection of vet school and the meeting of the love of my life were and are blessings…I just didn’t recognize one of them as such at the time. If I had not been rejected by the school of my dreams, I would not have met the man of my dreams and I wouldn’t be living the life about which I dared not dream. But, at the time, it really hurt and I thought I was destroyed…my best wasn’t good enough… and that painful revelation was one of the biggest blessings of my life because it changed my path for the better. If I hadn’t been rejected, I probably would have remained in College Station and said yes to the man I was dating at the time who eventually proposed to me…and that would have been tragic…because it wasn’t God’s best for me…but to get me on the right path, I had to be painfully removed from what I thought I wanted. I had to be so injured that I would leave this town I loved and consequently this boy that I thought I loved in order to pursue a life somewhere else. And it was good…the pain and the blow to my ego was a blessing…and I regret not one bit of it.

So, back to the conversations: I think that we tend to misuse the word blessing by saying it when something seemingly favorable happens. We don’t tend to use it to describe soul-crushingly painful situations…because we don’t want to believe that this was “supposed” to happen. In truth, we are all being blessed in amazing ways by a God who loves us deeply…so deeply that it results in his own hurt and pain…this makes me think we should probably talk even more about our blessings. We should recognize them in hind-sight so that we can trust this amazing God more readily in the future. We shouldn’t judge each other’s blessings because everyone has had some of the painful blessings that we don’t tend to ask God for…the ones that steal your breath away and leave you blind-sided and questioning God’s goodness.

So, how are you doing with this? Do you tend to get jealous of the blessings of others? Do you tend to only see good things as “God’s will” or blessings? Are you struggling to see God in your life right now because things are painful? What past experiences have you had that were painful at the time but turned out to be blessings in the long run?

Praying blessings and recognition of blessings for you all.