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,
When I think back over the last 40 years…and think about the times when I hurt others, either intentionally or unintentionally, I can see how my mouth seemed to play the biggest role. Either I said something insensitive and hurt someone with carelessness…or I said something hurtful intentionally to get some emotional space in an argument…or I didn’t say something comforting and loving when I should have…or I felt awkward and did my nervous babbling thing and it prolonged something that I should have let die down. I can remember specific instances of hearing unjust statements made and not speaking against them…or nervously laughing…or…I’m ashamed to admit…contributing.
I can also remember being cut very deeply by words…and being a people-pleaser for most of my life, the person didn’t have to be in my inner circle to hurt me. I can remember spinning on the words afterward for hours or even days or weeks…not being able to let it go…continuing to re-live the conversation and what was said over and over again…going into “analysis paralysis” where I excavated every possible corner of my heart to see if there was truth to what the person had accused me of (even if they didn’t realize that they had.)
Words matter…and we can’t get them back. Written or spoken. Intentional or not. Once they are sent out, we don’t get a do-over…and we have revealed who we are.
“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” Matthew 15:18 NIV
Over the last year or so, I have been broken by the hateful things I’ve seen posted on social media by people that I wouldn’t consider hateful. And there were times that I spoke up against the unjust words in a gentle way in order to not escalate the hurt. And other times, I kept quiet because it wasn’t my turn to speak. Some times I saw others speak up in ways that brought people’s hackles down. And other times I saw others speak up in ways that just threw a hand grenade into an already tense situation. And it occurs to me that what we are putting out there is what is in our heart-space…it is the mark that we are leaving on the world…and it matters. Now, some will say that is why they don’t post or comment…and to them, I say…have a voice of truth…don’t be silenced. Others will say that they encounter so much friction because they are standing up for something…and to them, I say…stand up for someone instead of something.
I think our mouths were meant to communicate what is in our hearts…and hearts were meant to love people. So how are you doing with this? What comes out of your mouth? Is it loving? Is it truthful? Does it build people up? Does it encourage others to do what is right? Do your words accept responsibility for what you’ve done wrong or do you make excuses? Do your words encourage the hearts of the discouraged? Do your words gently speak truth into broken spaces? Do your words stand against injustice? Do your words represent truth about the one who is The Word?
My prayer today is that we would ask for wisdom and wait to receive it. I am praying that we would speak when we are meant to and that we would shut up when we should. I am praying that we would learn to be gentle with our words and that our words would be guided by a heart-space that is taught kindness from God. I am praying that our words would be a tool for healing instead of breaking…that we would build things instead of breaking them…and that we would, once again, love well. Finally, I am praying that we would honor God with what comes from our mouths…because then, we would also be honoring him with what comes from our hearts.
Much love friends,
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,
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,
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,
Just now catching up on the news in South Carolina and am just…full of grief. I don’t have wisdom or words or encouragement and…even if I did, they would be insufficient…so…I will do what the victims were doing when they were betrayed…I will seek God. Christians, please go to your knees.
I feel so heavy learning about this senseless evil and as much as I am mourning, I know that it grieves you even more. Lord, I ask that you please comfort the families and friends of those who were killed and I ask that you continue to hold them and care for them as they attempt to make sense of the senseless violence. Holy Spirit, I ask that you please convict the hearts of those who harbor hatred for any of YOUR children and I ask that you shut the mouths of those who would stir up more anger and hatred. Jesus, please help us to learn to love better…there has to be better than this! Help us to learn to reflect you and stop marring your precious name…help us to become people who mend relationships instead of breaking them…people who build up instead of tear down…people who see commonality with others instead of differences…people who love instead of spread hate and wickedness…people who would seek wisdom and humility instead of selfish ignorance. Lord, please help us to love. Help us Lord.
Finally Jesus, I ask that you celebrate your faithful ones who, at the moment of their deaths, were seeking you:
Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Ethel Lee Lance
Daniel L. Simmons
Depayne Middleton Doctor
I ask that you embrace them as you comfort their families and community and Lord, I ask that you please, please teach us how to embrace each other. I love you Lord, Jesus. Amen
You guys!!! I just…I just…I can’t even…there aren’t words!!!!! There are times that you can see God working in your life and it’s cool to see…it’s amazing to get to experience life with God in that way…but I have just experienced nothing short of a series of miracles all in quick succession and all undeniably God…and I am just sitting here crying…with joy…with praise…with this feeling of fullness…and…my soul is dancing!!!!! There are details that I can not go into because I am not the only person affected but…oh my…please know that God is good and he cares about our stuff.
There is a relationship that has been damaged in my life and has been full of pain and brokenness for…well, forever. It has been a source of chaos to my spirit, pain in my marriage, dysfunction in how I have related to people (including my kids) and has caused me, as a person, to be…just be…fractured or…splintered or…even shattered. About a year and a half ago, I gave this relationship and this person over to God…I don’t say that lightly…I do not mean that I gave up and said “Ok, God…it’s your problem now.” I had been grasping at this relationship for years and years and was trying to hold it together with my strength…I was white-knuckling it and was trying to keep it in one piece…and my soul was crying and breaking and dying. (Not as in losing my salvation…that’s not what I am saying.) But this sick and twisted relationship was poisoning how I interacted with people, how I viewed men, and how I loved my children. (Not how much I loved them…but HOW I loved them.)
Almost two years ago, there occurred another rupture in this relationship. It wasn’t unlike all the other damage that had occurred…but…something in me was different and I could no longer allow it. I had been growing into a deeper understanding of God and could no longer reconcile being a child of God who Jesus died for…and the abuse and mistreatment that I was encountering in this relationship. These two things were in direct opposition and I came to a place of understanding where they just could not co-exist! As much as I loved the person that I was in the dysfunctional relationship with, I could not fix him…or us…and I could not cover the damage that was beginning to radiate outward to other people that I love. The thing was, not everyone was privy to the source of our damage so when I calmly pulled away and said “No. This isn’t healthy and I can not allow it to continue”, other relationships were affected and suffered as well. From these peoples’ perspectives, it looked as though I was pitching a fit and taking my toys and stomping my way home. I have shouldered a lot of fallout from this decision…I have endured a lot of scorn…and pressure…and even accusations…and that would normally drive me just nuts…but God gave me peace in the midst of it all…un-natural, un-explainable peace and clarity of mind that was contrary to my very nature.
And I sat in it. I sat in my discomfort. I sat in the filth of my doubts of my own motives and my constant re-evaluating of whether or not I was doing the right thing. And I continued to sit in it despite the input of others who believed I was single-handedly destroying things. I told God that I would trust him with this relationship and quit trying to fix it because God was the only one capable of doing it. See, I didn’t need an apology for all the wrongs…I needed the other person to simply acknowledge that I (and others) am a human deserving of basic respect and love…and change his behavior. (That is a big ask! That is bigger than an apology. I needed the other person to have an encounter with God that changed him from the inside.) I knew God could repair and redeem anything…but I also knew that he would not over-ride our wills…so while I knew God COULD do it…I somewhat doubted that God WOULD do it. Does that make sense?
Well, El Roi is my God and he has truly seen me during this time of “sitting in it.” And while I sat…and trusted…and doubted…and prayed…and cried…and wrestled…and grew, he was working. He was “massaging” the heart of the other person. Not forcing his way (I have a good friend, Chad who has referred to God as a gentleman who would not use force to show his love (paraphrase)) because that isn’t his nature…but massaging this heart so that it could beat for God again…softening it so that it could choose to serve God again. And while I can not share the details of how that has come about, I can tell you that it has, in fact, happened. There has been a dramatic change that can not be faked…and I am just…so full of praise to God for this!
Why am I sharing this? What does it have to do with you? Well, first of all, I need to say that there is nothing and no one that Jesus can not redeem. Seriously. Know that! Secondly, there is no pain that is meant to be wasted. Our God is not a sadist, and because he deeply loves us, he does not allow us to suffer pointlessly. Finally, there is no hurt too deep for him to touch and gently begin to heal IF we will allow him access to it. (Remember the gentleman analogy.)
So, how are you doing with this? Who is the lost cause in your life? Who have you given up hope on? (Please know that it is absolutely ok to separate yourself from people who are un-safe…it is not ok, however, to deem them as unworthy of redemption.) Where are you experiencing pain in your life and are you allowing Jesus access to that wound or are you “protecting” it while allowing it to fester. (I picture in my head an incident at the vet clinic I worked at where there was an injured dog that we wanted to help but she wouldn’t let us near her…teeth bared and hackles raised…we had to sedate her to help her because she was so busy “protecting” her injury from those of us who wanted to help her heal.) Are you allowing that pain in your life to be wasted? Are you allowing it to become your identity? Why are you with-holding it from the God who would love to heal it into the most beautiful of scars? A scar that could point others to a God who heals and restores?
My prayer today is that we would trust God with our stuff. Really trust him. I’m praying that we would love others well by prioritizing our pursuit of our savior. And I am praising God for the many miracles that have been unfolding in my life over the last few weeks! Hosanna! Much love friends,
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me…To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:1-4 NKJV)
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,
During the aftermath of the poisoning, I was really really angry…so angry that I would now probably describe myself as having been “seething.” I had a name and a face for the person responsible for altering my life and the life of my family so dramatically and so terribly. I had a name and a face for the person who was to blame and I was filled with rage. There is no other term for it…it was rage and it was ugly and it was all-consuming. Bitterness was growing in me and, as I’ve shared with y’all before, my damaged brain was looking for a way out of this hell that I was in. I was watching our bank accounts dwindle from all of the medical expenses that I was incurring and I was seeing my body begin to just fade away. I was watching my relationship with my loving husband get more and more strained as I kept warping into different people (he kept trying…bless him…he was so accepting of every new version of Bekah that popped up over those years.) I was watching my relationships with the babies change too. They became much more fond of Stan and I became much more fond of being alone.
Every bit of my surroundings was a reminder of what had happened to me. Every meal (or lack of) was a reminder of the poisoning. Every ache and pain, every time I would forget where I was, every time I would be unable to control my body, every time I had to give myself a shot in my stomach (9 every 4 days!)…I would remember what happened to our family and I would seethe. It was extremely unhealthy and I can tell you that bitterness and anger is no place you want to live…but it is mighty good armor. See, it is easier, in my humble opinion, to be angry than it is to be hurt. I think that is why I was angry for so long. It is much harder to hurt because hurting means vulnerability whereas anger gives the illusion of strength. Hurt allows people to see your wounds…it allows people to see your “weakest” areas. Anger, on the other hand, tells them to back off or else they will be the next person to get their butts kicked and then handed to them whether they deserve it or not. Anger is armor. It keeps people at arm’s length and doesn’t allow them close enough to injure you further. The problem is, it doesn’t allow people in to help you heal either. And make no mistake about it, without letting people in close…you won’t heal.
So, what is my point? Well, I know a lot of people who are living in anger. People who are, in fact, dangerous to be around because of the anger that is dripping off of them. My personal experience is that you can not pull them out of it…you can not reason them out of it. The angry person has to realize that their anger is alienating everyone around them and landing them in isolation. Then, the angry person has to decide whether they prefer to remain isolated in their anger or if it is preferable to remove one of the pieces of armor in order to gain some community. What you can do is this: be available when they begin to take off the armor, pray for them even though they are pushing you away, and please don’t hold a grudge. I lost 90% of my people when I was angry and bitter…I didn’t get those people back into my life and I have regrets about that…but if I am honest, I simply was not strong enough to fight the illness and the anger and still think outside of myself at the time because I was just surviving…it’s all I could do to breathe in and out every day. But the people who stuck with me…those people I would give my last breath for…those people are my Team…those people are my heroes…and those people I will continue to lift to God because they have found a way beneath the armor and they have allowed healing in me and have breathed life into me. I can not express the love I have for them.
The challenge for today is this: if you are an angry person, please consider who might be trying to breathe life into you and try to remove some of the armor where that person is concerned…even if you only take off one piece of armor, it’s progress. If you have angry people in your life, please first determine if you are in danger. Angry people lash out and damage those around them…it makes our damage seem less obvious when others are damaged too. Please don’t put yourself into situations where you can be deeply harmed but don’t run away either. Step away, and pray but remain loving if you can. Don’t write the angry person off forever…check in every now and then to let them know that you are still praying for them and loving them…just do it from a safe distance so that you don’t get injured in the process because once you are injured too…you have less rational to pull from…you have less tenderness to give them. But keep at it. I really believe that the only way to overcome hate and anger is to continue to love…sometimes that love is from a distance…sometimes that love means praying for hard things to happen to the person that you love…but love them however you safely can do so.
Today I am praying for healing in all of you because we all have damage. I am praying that God would breathe life into you and that you, in turn, would breathe life into others. Much love friends,
Picture taken from: http://kelsisprogressionobsession.blogspot.com/2013/11/anger-management.html