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

Advertisements

10/4/17 Morning Musing: Become the Expert You Pretend to Be

“I think it’s all in your head. If you just quit thinking about it, you’ll realize that you are fine.” My body shook with rage as I listened to these words and felt this person slip away from my inner circle. My face was hot and my breathing got faster and I was very aware of my heart beating fast and hard…so hard that I was sure that it must be moving my shirt on my chest. The only thought I could pull together was “You are not a safe person for me anymore. You simply are not safe.” 

This interaction happened in the year following the poisoning when I was going through hell. At the time, I was trying to regain my health through very extreme measures…I was dealing with bitterness and anger toward the man who had stolen my life from me…I was mourning the loss of the life that I had before…I was spiraling in a spiritual crisis…I was facing the isolation that accompanied my decimated health because people simply didn’t know what to do with me and consequently quietly pulled away…I was feeling guilt and shame for not being able to contribute to the family in any way…and I was already battling thoughts of suicide. And then I had this person tell me that all of my health issues were make-believe. What he really wanted was for me to get over it so that he didn’t have to feel any awkwardness. But if I could have just made it disappear with positive thoughts, don’t you think I would have? If I could have taken any shortcut out of this…anything that would make it end…I absolutely, without a doubt would have taken it…but there was no shortcut…there was only through.

Why am I writing about this? Good question. I think that we have an epidemic today. I think that we are so busy being busy that we don’t take care with our words…we are careless and we injure people. I think that we are so stuck looking at things from only our own point of view (and surrounding ourselves only with people who will validate our own point of view) that we think we are qualified to pass judgement on things that we honestly don’t know anything about. I know that my story is extreme…I haven’t ever come across anyone else who has experienced it…but I’m using my story to make the point…nobody could even get a glimpse of what I was experiencing unless they took the time to hear me…and in my brokenness, I found that people didn’t want to hear me…what they wanted was for my experience to be simple and neat and tied with a bow so that they could consume the cliff notes version, file it under some already existing category in their minds, and move on. And I frustrated people because their pre-made categories didn’t work with my story.  

The thing is, I don’t think my experience is unique (the poisoning…yes, that is unique…but being helpless to have people understand before passing judgement…well, I think that happens to people every single day.) I think that this happens when a new mother is dealing with depression and people tell her that she has no reason to be blue. I think this happens when someone makes a political statement and we dismiss them as a crazy/stupid/illogical/heartless person from across the political aisle from us. I think this happens when a person of color simply makes a truthful statement that black lives matter and people scream back that all lives matter. I think this happens when a person struggles with mental illness and people ignore it because they look ok on the outside.
I guess the point that I am trying to make is this: In a courtroom, not just anybody can be brought in to speak about certain matters…people who are qualified to speak on a subject…experts…are brought in (and their credentials are heavily scrutinized)…so why do we think we are qualified to pass judgement about things that we don’t know about? Why do we try to negate the experiences of others when learning from people that are different from us can only broaden our knowledge and deepen our compassion?

This one was hard for me to write. Not only did I struggle with reliving that memory and the feelings that go along with it…but I also struggled with facing my own guilt in this area. How about you? How are you doing with this? Do you spend time with people who are different from you? When you hear a perspective that is different than yours, do you take it in and crunch on it a while or do you begin to mentally rip apart their experience so that you can negate it? What do you have knee-jerk reactions about? Do you actively seek out people who stand counter to you on those subjects so that you can have a deeper understanding or do you surround yourself with people who will agree with your current stance (making it unnecessary to allow your self to become uncomfortable and brave enough to lean in to the discomfort?) Are you still learning something new every day or have you embraced becoming stagnant?
My prayer today is that we would be authentic people who are confident enough to allow others to be authentic also…that we would love people enough to listen and really hear them…that we would step away from our battle stances and step closer to someone who is different from us. Friends, I am praying that we would each draw closer to God and allow him to move us closer to each other. I am praying once again that we would love well.

Much love friends,

Beks

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23

9/7/17 Morning Musing: How I Practically Found My True Identity

Since my last musing, I have had people reach out to me and ask some questions. The most common one was: “Ok, I get that I need to find out who I am…learn about my individual identity…but what does that actually look like practically? It’s easy to do it in theory…but how does one go about actually discovering their God-given identity?” So, I’m no expert (when has that ever stopped me from talking?) but I will happily share how this process went for me so maybe it will be easier for you.

I have been on a journey of learning who I really am for over 6 years now and I would say that the most meaningful thing I did was put aside an entire day last year for just spending time with God asking him who HE says I am instead of telling him who I say I am. No distractions. No plans. No screens. An entire day of just listening. And I’ll be honest with you…it was hard and frustrating for at least 2/3 of that day. I don’t know about you, but being completely still and quiet so that I can hear is really hard for me. I have trouble doing this for 15 minutes let alone an entire day. I had to be comfortable enough to not be distracted by my discomfort. I had to be uncomfortable enough to keep from falling asleep. There were a lot of little things I had to eliminate through the course of my day to keep distractions at bay.

I recognize myself to be both an interpersonal learner and a kinesthetic learner meaning I learn best with my hands on something or my body moving and through dialog with other people…but I was trying to have a dialog with someone who doesn’t audibly answer me back and if I’m too active, it becomes a workout as opposed to a conversation. So, what I came up with was that I would art journal with God. I didn’t know what I was creating along the way…I just knew that I would create something with him…and that my hands would be busy so that my mind could be thinking. (For those with ADD/ADHD, like myself, this is a very helpful tool that is not always true for the general population.) So, I just started gathering stuff…anything really…that I could use in the project and I started laying it out on the paper and a characteristic of mine…not necessarily my identity…but a strong characteristic none the less…began to emerge. I had managed to pull two different fabrics together that both apply to me on a daily basis: denim and lace. I love jeans! They are strong and durable and go with everything…when I want to be tough, I wear jeans. I am not a fancy gal and I don’t do formalities (it makes me feel inauthentic)…I like comfort and depth and jeans seem approachable to me. On the flip side, lace is delicate and light and gentle and beautiful…it’s not as durable as denim…it has vulnerability to it and, at times, I like that too. I loved the contrast of the two fabrics when I saw them together and it made me think of how I hate being pigeon-holed. I am a multi-faceted person and I hate being forced into a mold…and when I recognize it happening, I respond rather violently to it…I feel the need to not just break the mold but shatter it…tell me I can’t do something and I will absolutely spend every ounce of energy I have proving you wrong. (I had a male teacher tell me once that girls were not as good at math and science as boys were. When I had completed both my BS in biomedical science and MS in integrative physiology, I went back and told him how wrong he was…a full 10 years later I was still trying to ravage a mold that I didn’t want to be pressed in to!) All that to say that I had my background for my individuality…among all of my likes and dislikes, I had found a thread connecting many of them…freedom! I needed the freedom to be and do what I wanted…not what others wanted for/of me.

And that is where the progress came to a screeching halt (or so it seemed) for several hours. I slowly started arranging and attaching the fabric background to my art journal pages and talking (sometimes out loud) with God. For most of the day, I would throw out some of the characteristics that I saw in myself (fierce, independent, deep, intelligent, etc) and got angrier and angrier at him as each one would not sit quite right. “No…that isn’t your identity” I would hear in my head over and over…and it pissed me off…I even resorted to arguing with him because I was these things. “But that isn’t WHO you are” I would hear. Aaarrrgghhhh! 

By early evening, I finally heard the first word: Created. “Are you serious God? Really? Everyone is created! That freaking rock on the ground is created. That is so boring! Even cockroaches are created! Ugh! This sucks!” As I wrestled with this word, an adverb was added: purposefully. Ok, so purposefully created…what do I do with that? I started thinking about how I like to create things (I was literally doing it right then!) and realized that I was purposefully created so that I could create with a purpose. Hmmm…ok, so that’s better than the cockroach thing. That is something to ponder for a while. What else have you got for me God? Loved. Ugh again! Everyone is loved by God, aren’t they? But…I have really experienced God’s love in some of my most broken places…deep inside where I have protected my damage from others and even from myself. And then I realized, maybe for the first time, that I love my people with a huge love…it’s not like other people I know…there is definitely something distinctive about it. Ok, more to ponder. Then, came the third and final word that day: Forgiven. That one immediately put me in tears as I relived how I have injured others during my life and I grieved deeply having hurt them. I started to think of some of the injuries I had received from others as well and realized that I am a forgiver. I am forgiven and it allows me to be a forgiver.

That was it that day. I spent about 15 hours and literally got 3 words from God: Created, Loved, and Forgiven. Those were not the words I had wanted…I wanted something with badass as a description…but apparently that isn’t WHO I am (It’s just what I am! Haha!!! Couldn’t resist.) I saw a pattern emerge: God gives from who he is…so who I really am will reflect him. This helped me see a couple of more words later as I reflected on my favorite name of God: El Roi (God who sees me.) I love that name because I often struggle with feeling invisible…and out of that struggle, I have come to a place where I see people…really see them where they are…and can love them and value them right there. That is where I got two more words: Known and Wanted. 

Since then, I have become more comfortable with my true identity. I have been able to see how I had previously come to different conclusions about my identity…I discovered that a lot of my characteristics were really a response to situations that I have experienced as opposed to characteristics given to me by God. (For example, I was tough because I had been injured in the past and never wanted to feel like a victim again…so I became a 2nd degree black belt. I wanted intelligent as my identity because I felt dumb for most of my life because I learn differently than is valued by our educational system. I wanted to be defined as independent because I know I can count on myself…it’s others that have let me down in the past.) I may or may not be those things…but they aren’t my identity…they aren’t WHO I am…because if they were, I would actually be defined by the hurts that caused me to respond in those ways. No, I am not defined by my damage…I am defined by the meaningful ways that God has poured into me…and that is why I am able to pour out those characteristics…and I feel whole and amazing when I get to do them.

That is how I arrived in this new place of freedom…and if you have read this far, then you not only have a lot of endurance in this long musing, but you may also want to ask yourself some questions: Do you know who God says you are? Are you able to differentiate between who he says you are and who you tell yourself you are? What might you do in order to position yourself to hear from God instead of all the noise around you? What characteristics do you have that are a response to pain in your life? Are you letting those characteristics (and pain) define you? What is the thing you give to the world and despite continuing to pour out, you end up filled up?  

My prayer today is that we would be able to still ourselves enough to hear from God. I’m praying that we would achieve our purpose in life by fully coming to terms with our true identity. I’m praying that we would become positioned so that we can continuously receive from God and consequently keep pouring out from him as well.

Much love friends,
Beks

9/5/17 Morning Musing: As Is

Last week, I went out and got a new tattoo. The artist was hesitant to ask the importance of the tattoo because it said “freedom.” He was afraid that I would answer his question with sadness and tears about a divorce or leaving an abusive relationship. During our conversation, I told him that my husband didn’t have any tattoos and that was when he felt able to ask about the one that I was getting…if it wasn’t about getting out of a sad relationship (apparently something that he hears a lot about) then what was the meaning? I tried to condense the huge meaning for me to a couple of sentences so that I wouldn’t talk the poor kid to death…because…well…me…y’all know me…there are just SO many words!!!!  

Anyway, I told him that I have spent my entire life as a people-pleaser…that I have always tried to make myself into the person that others needed or wanted…and that finally, at 40 years old, I was learning that I am enough and that there is rest in that. He nodded his head and said “I see…so you are starting to live just for yourself.” Nope…he isn’t getting it…that is ok…I can still explain it better. “Actually, I believe very strongly that I am meant to live a life full of loving others and putting them first…in serving people and doing what I can to help them also achieve freedom from whatever holds them back…basically I believe in following God…but the freedom I feel that I have finally achieved is in understanding that I don’t have to be what someone else wants me to be in order to do those things really well…I don’t have to “try” so hard…I can just be me and offer what I have and know that it is enough without striving to be something or someone better…this tattoo is important to me because it is a reminder that I already am exactly who I am supposed to be…and God loves me and can love others through me right now…as is.”  

I could tell he was thinking about what I had said as he finished up my tattoo. I wish I could tell you that I then was able to tell him all about Jesus…but in truth, time was up and it was time to pay and leave. Since then, I have run through that interaction with the artist many times in my head and I feel certain that he was struggling with his own sense of being “enough.” So, I’m wondering…how are you doing with this? Do you get to be the real you? Do you even know who that is? Do you get caught up being who you think others want you to be or striving to be or to do more? What would freedom look like for you? Does it involve shattering a mold that you feel you keep getting pressed into? Could freedom be something that you offer yourself by allowing yourself to just be? After all, we are human beings…not human doings.

My prayer today is that we would all ask God who he says we are. As our designer and creator, he knows what characteristics and purposes are in place for us. I am praying that we would stop fighting who we are and embrace it instead. I am praying that we would reach a point of freedom and rest when we stop striving and competing so much…because the real me or you is exactly the person that is needed wherever our purpose is.

Much love friends,

Beks

8/3/17 Morning Musing: Finding My Voice…Unity is not the same as Uniformity

I remember the exact moment that I lost faith in him. He was someone I had looked up to for many years and then…it was gone. He was a leader for many of us and the topic for this group that was gathering was actually leadership. He had missed the previous meeting and his co-leader had asked the group why we thought the conversation the previous week had so much more depth. A couple of “safe” answers were tossed out and then I answered. “Last week, the lesson was presented in a more conversational way instead of one person dispensing information. There was give and take and it led to a natural and healthy challenge for everyone to think. Not only were we getting to know you better…but we were becoming known ourselves.” That was when it happened. The leader that had missed the previous week abruptly took over the lesson and let us (me) know, in no uncertain terms, that he was in charge and that he knew the only good way to lead the class. He repeated multiple times during his rant “I have things to say!” I can still see the red tension in his face as he held back the anger and tried to control his very strong emotions about what I had said.

This may not sound very big to you but it stunned me. As someone who was still learning that I had a voice…still learning that my voice had value…still learning that I had value…and still learning that there was room for me in this world, I was shocked to hear this Godly man shut down open and honest conversation and basically demand that this class about leadership be just another platform for him to share his ideas and use his voice but not be willing to hear the ideas and voices of others…he was unwilling to learn from the other people in the room and it became clear that his idea of leadership meant that the people he led had to be sheep…not leaders.  

As usual, this got me thinking and looking for patterns. This leader had a team of people he worked with…all of them had similar abilities to him…all of them had similar leanings and perspectives to him…all of them were the same gender as him…all of them were the same race as him…all of them even looked a bit like him. He surrounded himself with people whose voices were echoing his own.

Surrounding ourselves only with people who are like us and will agree with us isn’t leadership because it doesn’t allow us to learn anything new and if we aren’t learning we aren’t growing. If we only allow ourselves to hear our own voices, it is very easy to become proud because there is no challenge present…no give and take…our own voices are the only ones we hear and the only ones that matters to us…and that isn’t leadership…it’s idolatry. In order to have a full understanding of something, it is imperative that we listen to the voices of others and then decide what we think. We have to get uncomfortable and look for diversity if we want to see the whole picture and then we have to look for diversity if we want to carry out a resulting project well. We are referred to as parts of the body in scripture…not a pile of hands…and if we don’t respect what is different from us…if we don’t allow ourselves to see things from another person’s perspective…we will condemn ourselves into becoming nothing but a pile of hands…and there isn’t much value in that.

So how are you doing with this? Have you found your voice? Do you tend to surround yourself with others who sound just like you or have you found a place where your voice can contribute to a choir of other voices…creating something that is greater than the sum of the individual voices? Do you question others in a healthy and respectful way or do you just follow along like sheep? Are you still learning or do you think of that as part of your past? Are you able to hear a differing point of view without it raising your hackles? Are you able to humble yourself? If you find these questions difficult, you aren’t alone. I felt my heart rate increase as I was writing them. While I think that I do look for diversity in a lot of ways, I still think that there is a lot of room for improvement for me.

My prayer today is that we would each take our next step in valuing the voices we have but not at the expense of shutting out the voices of others…that we would take the time to hear…really hear others who are different from ourselves…that we would also learn to be still and hear our own voices…that we would become part of a choir of voices and that we would embrace our opportunities to sing solos and also thoroughly enjoy when we get to sing with others. I’m praying that we would seek to become leaders who value other leaders and who make lifting each other up a priority. Friends, I’m praying for unity that does not require uniformity.

Much love friends,
Beks

1/13/15 Morning Musing: Drawing From an Empty Well

Three times in the last week, I have been asked by people that I respect spiritually, “I can see you are deeply committed in your ministry…and you are carrying some heavy burdens around for others…but what are you doing personally to commune with Jesus and refill your own soul?” Ummm…yikes! I’ve been awfully busy lately…not all difficult stuff…but very very busy. I admitted to each of these friends that I feel closest to God when I am musing…and over the last few months, I have had less and less time available to do this. For one thing, I only seem able to do it in the mornings (hence the name “Morning Musing.”) It is as if my brain turns off by about 12:30pm and the opportunity for that day is lost…bizarre…no? And of course, my mornings seem to get filled by stuff…not bad stuff…just stuff…like meetings or doctor appointments or volunteering…just stuff…and the musings have been crowded out. I don’t know why I am unable to write like this in the afternoons…but…as of now, I am unable to (believe me…I’ve tried…and failed…a lot.) Then, one of my good friends, one of the people I trust most in the world, asked me yesterday “Why is what fills us back up always the thing we think is expendable…the thing that we can afford to drop from our lives?” She then told me about one of our mutual friends who will volunteer and pour into others and get so busy emptying herself out that she quits painting…but painting is what feeds her soul so that she can pour into others…it is how she meets with God and hears him speak…so then this friend gets depleted (and I imagine frustrated because she runs out of steam on her own.) Hmmm…I guess that is why the verse reads: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭13‬ NKJV) It doesn’t say I can do all things “if I schedule my time right” or “if I try hard enough” or “if I…anything…fill in the blank.” I can only do all the things that I am called to do through Jesus.

So, I know this all sounds like I’m on a soapbox…but it is aimed at myself. Over the last few years, I have learned some things about myself: I learn primarily in two ways: through doing (kinesthetic…this is why I love science!) and through relationships (interpersonal…I never tire of meaningful conversations with people…my brain feeds off of this and I am rejuvenated by it…I know that sounds weird to you introverts…but it is true for me.) I’ve never been one who was a verbal learner (can’t just hear a lecture and learn…can’t just read and learn…that is why school was so difficult for me and why I thought for so long that I was not smart…think of how 99% of “learning” happens in American schools…no wonder I thought I was an idiot!) And this morning, it finally hit me (ok, it took this long…maybe not so smart after all) that my musings are how I have conversations with the Holy Spirit…it is how I have that interpersonal interaction with him…how I enter into relationship with him and give him the space to speak to me instead of me doing all the talking. I’ve honestly been confused for the last year as to why I feel I need to write…remember…not a verbal learner…I don’t follow anyone’s blog…I don’t learn by reading…it seems weird that I would be a hypocrite and expect anyone else to read my stuff…but this morning, through this musing, I have come to understand that it’s not about anyone else reading this…no offense, but it’s not about any of you…it’s about me prioritizing it so I can hear from Jesus…but I leave it open to be observed by y’all because I feel like I am supposed to…so if anyone else can hear from Jesus through this…then they are welcome to do so…maybe some of you are verbal learners and can learn from reading or maybe you are interpersonal this makes you feel like you know me better and like we are having a conversation. I don’t know how it all works…I just know that I must.

So, the question of the day for myself and you: How are you doing with this? How has God wired you to learn? How are you using that natural wiring to learn more about him? How are you letting God speak to you? (Are you letting God speak to you?) What impediments to your relationship with God are popping up? What can you do about those? For me, I’m going to have to prioritize this morning time. I’m going to have to re-arrange my schedule some so that I have more mornings available to sit at my Rabbi’s feet and learn from him…because I have been swapping things out…I have been giving up the best thing for some good things…and it’s unfulfilling…and honestly, it’s sinful. I welcome feedback on this. I welcome accountability…if you see me falling off the radar with these musings…feel free to nudge me gently and remind me to get back at it. If you want some accountability, let me know…we can encourage each other to pursue Jesus.

My prayer this morning is that we would all look honestly at how we are designed and discover how God talks to us. It won’t be the same for everyone and that is fine…that is why we are called to be in community with one another…so that we can all share what we are learning about God with each other and gain new perspectives. Friends, I am praying that you would pursue relationship with Jesus today and that you would not sacrifice the way he speaks to you (through busy-ness or ministry or anything else.) Much love friends,

Beks

6/12/14 Morning Musing: “If You Were Thinking, You Wouldn’t Have Thought That!”

Growing up in Fort Worth, I had fairly normal experiences as far as education goes: I went to school, was given lists of factoids to memorize, was basically told not to think (not by every teacher mind you…but the message was there), and given my “A.” In middle school, I became aware that I was not good at memorizing and that I was a painfully slow reader…that is when test-taking got stressful for me and the vommitting began (it was performance anxiety…I felt like I had to perform to keep up.) When I got to A&M, it became clear to me that the really super-successful students had something that I didn’t have and it frustrated me (the vommitting got even more intense and even more frequent.) My roommate, Becky, was able to hear something once and then remember it whereas I would have to slave over the material to get a mediocre grade…I didn’t get it. (That is when I really started to believe that I was not very bright.) In grad school, it became even more apparent that I was not like other students and the idea was coming to me that I was a fraud…that I was a dumb person who was pretending to be a smart person and that I just was a really good actress. When people would tell me I was smart, I couldn’t believe them because I knew that other students were able to connect with the material on a deeper level than I was…that I was skimming along the surface and a good test taker who put out a lot of effort. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, I have several reasons.

The first reason is that if you struggled with school, or even if you were successful in school but didn’t feel like you learned, that doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. I discovered after grad school that I am a kinesthetic learner and an interpersonal learner. What this means is that I learn by touching things, moving things around to wrap my brain around them, and I learn best among other people. (Do you see why I gravitated toward science? Experiments!) That is not how most schools are set up to teach…most schools are really good for visual or auditory learners because it takes less effort…you simply say it or tell them to read it and do workbook pages. The students who don’t learn this way, cope by studying harder or giving up. So, if you felt like an under-achiever in school, chances are pretty good that you were simply being spoken to in a foreign language to how you are wired to learn.

The second reason I am telling you this is that I have a heart for your children and their educations. I am frustrated at how little progress has been made in education since I was in school. Michaela had a teacher a few years ago that depleted her joy for learning. She muted my excited and enthusiastic child and made her feel like she was dumb and unsuccessful…my child…my unique and talented little leader…the one who doesn’t have an “above average IQ”…she has a “superior” ranged IQ…the one that inspires me to learn every single day. She cried and didn’t want to go to school anymore because how she learned was about who she is…and who she is was being rejected by an authority figure. The next year, Michaela was placed with an enthusiastic teacher that really got her. This teacher invested in her and the other students and made an effort to teach in a variety of ways so that the students could all connect with the material: Michaela would come home singing songs that taught her the material or spelling things with her body so that she could physically connect with the spelling words. There was a lot of growth that year. But like most adults, she finds it easier to believe the bad things than the good things about herself and she still struggles with thinking that she isn’t very bright…just like her mama.

The third reason that I am telling you this is that I think, as a society, we have become addicted to not learning. We would rather do anything than actually think. We are consuming other people’s thoughts but not having any of our own. (Think about how dangerous that is!!!!) I discovered this in myself a few years ago when I went through a bit of a spiritual crisis…it occurred to me that everything I “believed” had been taught to me by someone else…that I had not necessarily experienced my beliefs or developed my beliefs…I was still regurgitating what I had been taught…just like in school. And I simply don’t learn that way…for me, it isn’t internalized and real with depth by just hearing it. I have to wrestle with it and dance through the material in order to learn it and come to a decision on it. I met someone a few years ago who really challenged me to think…to quit repeating what I’ve heard and really think and dissect thoughts…to turn them around and explore them from different angles. Now, I’m addicted to thinking…I’m addicted to learning…I’m addicted to discovering new things. And I’m telling you this because you can be too.

If you or your child does not get to think through things, it is not to late…you can learn (I was in my 30s when I learned) but you may have to quiet the noise so that you can have the space in which to wrestle with your thoughts. The noise can come in the form of busyness, tv, surrounding yourself with people who never shut up, stress, disputes, emotions, lies you tell yourself, etc and all of these things will tend to crowd out genuine and deep thinking. So how are you doing with this? Do you ever take a few quiet minutes and just think? Do your children? What does your lifestyle teach your children about thinking? If you have constant noise and action, you are teaching your child (and yourself) to simply consume other people’s ideas instead of creating your own. How can you create an environment at home for you and your family to spend time thinking?

Praying for depth and thought for you all today. Much love friends,

Beks

3/31/14 Morning Musing – Good mirror

My pastor preached an amazing sermon yesterday on forgiveness…something that all of us struggle with at some point. One of his points was that “When we forgive, we bring glory to our Heavenly Father because that is what he does. Our king feels disrespected by his unmerciful servants when we fail to reflect the mercy of our king. It shows that we are children of the father when we forgive.” I’d like to camp out here a little bit.

What makes a good reflector or mirror? Does it shine it’s own light? Does it say “Look at me and how awesome I am?” Or does it convey the glory of something greater than itself? The best way that we can glorify our Lord is to reflect his character to the world around us…that is our mission. We don’t have to be great apologists or theologians to simply reflect the truth that we know about our God. That requires that we think outside of ourselves for a little bit though…we are not reflecting our own skills and talents…we are reflecting the One who imparted gifts and talents in us…we are reflecting the One who walked with us through our experiences, joys, and pains…we are reflecting the One who has blessed us with the experiences and gifts of those we love.

I think we all have a different perspective of God because we have different experiences with him. If we would all be faithful to reflect the truth that we know of him, the people around us could have a more full and true understanding of him. For example, I have personally experienced aspects of his character that are forgiving, loving, healing, and personal. God has come to me and been a very real presence that is invested in my life. When I felt abandoned by people, I felt known deeply by God. I knew that he saw me…really really SAW me. I felt his tenderness during chaos, pain, and turmoil. I have felt his arms around me when my life was falling apart. I have also felt his presence when I have experienced joy, love, and forgiveness as well. (And believe me…I have a LOT to be forgiven of.) THIS is what I am called to reflect to people around me. It is my testimony. It is the undeniable truth that I have experienced of God.

A good mirror reflects what is in front of it. But here is the thing. I don’t want to just know my experiences…I want to know about your experiences as well. Please consider sharing them. I want to know your truth about God…how he has worked in your lives…because that makes my truth about him bigger. Also, if I want to consider your truth of him, that means that I have to be willing to go outside of my knowledge and comfort and hear you…really hear you…and the same goes for you if you want to learn from me.

I am pretty good at sharing but I am sometimes overly-skeptical of what others share with me. I am not saying that I should believe everything that every crazy crackpot shares with me but, when I respect people, I should hear out their thoughts before I jump to conclusions…I should make a judgement based on what I already know to be true about my Jesus. So how are you doing with this? How well do you share what God is doing in your life? How well do you listen to others who share with you what God is doing in their lives? How can you improve on this?

Picture taken from: http://www.fengshuiweb.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Feng-Shui-mirror.jpg