Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fear Not

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I’ve been reflecting on this post by Glennon Melton a lot recently – holding on to the most repeated directives in the Bible: Fear not and Remember.

There’s a whole lot to fear in the world today. With a few taps on my phone screen, I can be fully informed on the latest fear-inducing events. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, school shootings, Trump’s presidential candidacy… it’s all there for my quick and complete absorption.

But here’s the problem: I don’t want to live my life in a posture of fear. I don’t want to hunch over my stockpile, wary of all the perceived thieves and threats. I don’t want to tattoo “afraid” across my forehead and have it dictate, or even just inform, my decisions. Rather – I want to remember. Glennon writes about remembering that I am a child of God and so is everyone else. Yes. And when I was thinking and writing this morning, the words of Kid President came to mind. I want to remember:

You’re going to do so much! But it’s not about what you do, it’s about who you are. You? You’re awesome! You were made that way. You were made from love, to be loved, to spread love! Love is always louder, no matter what. Even if hate has a bullhorn, love is louder! So let your life be loud. Let’s shout to the world, “Things can be better! It’s okay about all the mess ups! Corn dogs rule!”

I love this quote from his Letter to a Person on Their First Day Here. The only thing I would change is the reference to hate. Hate is not the opposite of love. Hate is still invested and engaged in the relationship, albeit in a negative way. Fear is the opposite of love. Even if fear has a bullhorn, love is louder. Fear dictates fight or flight, ultimately pursuing disengagement through distance or death. Love (and hate) necessitate engagement, discussion, grappling, pursuing. And our world, our lives, desperately need us to engage.

Fear is not the voice of God. Fear is not the voice of wisdom. Fear is only the product of a scarcity model, an economy of “not enough.” And that voice lies. It is lying to us every day. There IS enough. I don’t have to be afraid of you or intimidated by you and your success. I don’t have to strive day after day after day, looking over my shoulder and trying to accumulate accolades or money or attention. I don’t have to hoard for myself and mine while actively preventing your ability to thrive. In fact, if I want to find my life, I have to lose it. If I want to keep my life, I must give it away. (Matthew 10:39, 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24, 17:33; John 12:25)

I’m tired of being lied to, of being shouted at and over. I am working every day to remember: love is always louder. Sacrifice, generosity, simplicity. Will these things get me on the 10 o’clock news? Absolutely not. But it will provide my life a posture of dignity. I will stand erect beside my brothers and sisters, instead of hiding from them under the weighted blanket of anxiety and dread. I am not a victim, I will not be bullied. I will not negotiate with the fear terrorists.

“When the lies speak louder than the truth, remind me that I belong to you.
When I can’t see past the dark of night, remind me you’re always by my side.
We are the sons, we are the daughters of God.
No matter where we go, we’re close to the Father’s heart.
And though we stumble he will not let us fall,
We are the Lord’s and he will never forsake his own.
We are the sons, we are the daughters of God.”
—Brett Stanfill, Sons and Daughters

Friends, let’s not buy into the message we’re being spoon fed every moment from all directions. Let us live lives that elevate love.
Fear not.
Remember.

Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong

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“You need to step outside of that tiny, terrified space of rightness and look around at each other and look out at the vastness and complexity and mystery of the universe and be able to say, ‘Wow, I don’t know.  Maybe I’m wrong.’

 

My mom sent me this.  You should watch it.  17 minutes.  Art over science.  Honesty over perfection.

 

 

 

Seeking and Choosing

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We recently bought this piece of artwork to hang in our house.

The words are cut off and the picture is kind of blurry, but it reads:

WE TEND TO SEEK HAPPINESS WHEN HAPPINESS IS ACTUALLY A CHOICE

And on this Valentine’s Day, I’d like to propose to you that the same thing goes for love.  Loving your neighbor, your friend, your enemy, your lover…  it’s a choice.  Not something we seek and then find or don’t.

This isn’t at all to say that it is easy – oh no!  And it isn’t to say there’s not an emotional component intrinsic to happiness or love.  But just to say they are made up of choices at the very foundation.  Little ones.  Ones that aren’t even big enough to feel like a decision of any kind, but just appear to be life on sensible auto-pilot kind of stuff.  But it is possible to not choose love over and over and over again in the tiniest of ways, and end up far down a road of unhappiness and unlove and have no idea how or why you got there…  and to assume that you simply must not have “found it/him/her yet.”

My hopes for me and for you are that we:

Choose love.  Fight, but fight fair.  Don’t manipulate.  Be real.  Admit it when you’re wrong.  Don’t admit it when you’re not.  Have conversations with other people’s humanity in the forefront of your mind.  Be proactive.  Don’t passively look for something that might come your way.  Choose it!  Cultivate it.  Practice it.  Do it.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

More than you can handle

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I recently read a book – Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis.  (You can read all about her here on her blog or here on her ministry’s website.)  I wish I could tell you all about her in a sentence.  It’s impossible but here’s my best shot: she’s a young woman who went to Africa after high school and fell in love, decided to stay, and has adopted 14 Ugandan girls as her daughters while serving hundreds more children, orphans, widows, and elderly.  And while the whole book spoke to me, overwhelmed me – there was one particular passage that stands out above all the rest.  And I’d like to share it with you:

“Remember, God will never give you more than you can handle.”

People repeat this frequently; I heard it when I was growing up and I hear it now.  It is meant to be a source of encouragement, and it would be if I believed it were true.

But I don’t.

I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle.  Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives.         …

I have learned to accept it, even ask for it, this “more than I can handle.”  Because in these times, God shows Himself victorious.  He reminds me that all of this life requires more of HIm and less of me.  God does give us more than we can handle.  Not maliciously, but intentionally, in love, that His glory may be displayed, that we may have no doubt of who is in control, that people may see His grace and faithfulness shining through our lives.

And as I surrender these situations to HIm, watch Him take over and do the impossible, I am filled with joy and peace – so much more than I can handle.

Kisses from Katie, excerpts from p.135-137

If you’ve been a part of a Chrisitian community – you’ve probably heard that “comforting” phrase before.  If you haven’t, you might be wondering what the heck I’m talking about – but bear with me.  I think there is something in this for everybody.

I am totally with Katie on this one.  For much of my life, I’ve felt like I’ve had more to deal with than I possibly could deal with as one young, rather inexperienced person.  And yet, I’m well educated, I’m smart, I’ve been blessed (or maybe shielded) by resources that I didn’t personally earn – and so I’ve dealt with it.  I did in fact handle it.  And pretty independently.

But that background musical theme of my life has had it’s volume turned up again, and not by me.  It’s thundering, “More!  More!  Go deeper.  Go beyond the shallows that you can so easily handle.  Be willing to experience more.”  And I’m starting to wonder: am I really handling these life things all that well independently?  What if we all dug into life seeing challenges as impossible to face without the dying American arts of…  Family.  Community.  God.  Something beyond me.

Art of Honesty.  Art of Community.  Art of Life.  I keep coming back to the idea that these precious parts of my experience on earth are not sciences.  They cannot be managed and measured perfectly so as to be better prepared to answer the next question, conquer the next problem, do away with the next gut-wrenching pain.  Well, they can…  but at what cost?  What do we miss out on when we deal with our struggles in ways that never make a space for the impossible to happen?  If we never invite miracles to occur?

What if I seek challenge and contradiction – and depend on more than myself to learn, mature through hardship, and develop appreciation?  Instead of managing the chaos, never wandering so deep as to be pulled out with the tide without rock or sand to stand on… what if I dove in head first, asking with an open heart for more than I can handle?  What then?  Why not?

What am I so afraid of?

Mo(u)rning Poem

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like I do                                                                                                                                                                                                        Do you ever feel clever and good                                                                                                                                                           as if you’re a force in the world?                                                                                                                                                               that you make a difference                                                                                                                                                                     and it all makes sense –                                                                                                                                                                          “The Plan” tied with ribbons and curls.

like I do                                                                                                                                                                                                       Do you ever feel under attack                                                                                                                                                               with your intentions all blown to bits?                                                                                                                                                     you were on the right road                                                                                                                                                                         til all seams came unsewed                                                                                                                                                                   Now all you can think is “Well, shit.”

like I do                                                                                                                                                                                                       Do you ever alert the media                                                                                                                                                                        be it social or not?                                                                                                                                                                                       to share your pains                                                                                                                                                                                 and loss of gains                                                                                                                                                                                            And how it is all for naught.

like I do                                                                                                                                                                                                       Do you ever stand up and keep walking                                                                                                                                                     when it doesn’t even seem possible?                                                                                                                                                   it’s on you that they count                                                                                                                                                                         to be down but not out                                                                                                                                                                             ’cause all your problems should be “solvable”

like I do

 

Buttons

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I pushed somebody’s button last week.  Not on purpose… but I was telling them something true – something I was required to say.  Not fun.  Not enjoyable.  And boy, did I get lashed out at in response.  Not because of what I actually said… but because there was a button there.

Buttons scare me.  I don’t like pushing other people’s and I certainly don’t like mine being pushed.  I am a conflict avoider to the core.  If it’s fight or flight, you can win money betting on my flight.  Unless… you hit one of those buttons.  And then, I will verbally spar and cry my eyes out to the proverbial death!  I save up all my spunk and spit for these occasions – it’s not pretty.

My less serious buttons include:  college football (Please don’t be a pretend fan.  Or an uneducated yet irrationally passionate one.  I will most likely go off on you.), confusing Type 1 Diabetes with Type 2 (yes, I know I’ve already vented/blogged about this before), and cheating or being unsportsman-like during board and party games (i.e. Pictionary and Settlers of Catan…  don’t shout over my teammates guesses so they can’t hear themselves think or gloat when you cut off my potential for the longest road – I will probably glare at you and make snide comments).

My more serious buttons include:  accusing me of being intentionally insensitive, cruel, or unkind (I genuinely think very few people are as self-aware, self-conscious, or self-critical as I am – therefore, correcting me is best done gently…  then I’ll feel safe enough to admit I was wrong.  But if I feel attacked, I will defend myself to the bitter end.  Not saying this is an admirable thing – just naming a button.), being drunk (I have too much family history there… it freaks me out and I get upset and will react in a way that is most likely disproportionate to the situation), and any perceived child abuse or taking advantage of those who cannot fend for themselves (Sean made me stop listening to/reading about the Penn State fiasco because I legitimately could have popped a blood vessel).

What are your buttons?  Have you ever thought about why they exist and/or how they came to be your buttons?  When do they most get in your way?  How do you overcome it when other people push them?  Do you recognize when you’re reacting because of your button and maybe not because of what somebody actually did or said?

Just thought I’d share/question.  Happy Thanksgiving!

“Loving people is not efficient.”

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I was listening to Derek Webb’s The House Show on my way to work…  and on that album, it alternates each track: one is introducing the song – sharing the thought or message behind it, the story of how he came to write the song, and then one of the actual song itself.  It is extremely thought provoking and interesting.  (The next time you have a road trip by yourself, I recommend listening to it.  It’s best experienced the first time in one whole sitting.)

Anyway, I was listening to one of the “talk tracks” and this phrase jumped out at me:  “Loving people is not efficient.”  I have listened to this album many many times but this has never stood out before.  I didn’t really hear the rest of the track as I drove into the parking garage at work.  I was busy mulling this over in my mind…  when I drove back home, I went back to this track to re-listen, to see if I had missed something from the context of his talk.  But I hadn’t.  This was kind of a random aside that had a little bit to do with his main point, but not really.  But it was my main take-away.  I was intrigued.

Much of the time, I want loving to be efficient.  I want to see positive returns on my “investment” in people.  I expect to express myself to someone and for us to then be closer, more intimate, for our relationship to have grown and changed.  But sometimes loving someone is painfully inefficient.  And in the day and age of instantaneous communication, drive-through food, and out-sourcing to China – I can’t help but wonder if something as work intensive and non-instantly gratifying as true love is headed the way of the dodo.

Of course when anyone starts discoursing on love, I start to think about 1 Corinthians 13.  “Love is patienct, love is kind…” and all that.  After 3 1/2 years of marriage, a very broken family of origin, and many difficult friendships, I at times want to yell out at then end of the usually cliché quote, “THEREFORE, LOVE IS IMPOSSIBLE!”  Of course, it’s not.  It’s just inefficient.  Uneconomical.  Slow.  Love is hard work.

To piggy-back on something that Andy Stanley has said before, Love is wanting something for someone instead of wanting something from them.  Who are you trying to love right now?  Are you frustrated by the drudgery of it some days?  Are you wanting from or for?  Be encouraged by the fact that 1. You are not alone, and 2. By nature, love is not quick or easy or “cost-effective”.  Do it anyway.  It’s worth it.  Sometimes the very beginning of 1 Corinthians 13 is left out, but I think it is important:

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.  If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.  If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.  So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

It may be the least efficient thing we do today, but let’s do it anyway.  Without it, we have nothing.  We are nothing.