Every Season’s Worth

I depend on laughter most days. Even when I’m knowingly distraught, I’m usually the one quick with a one-liner to make sure no one else feels as if they’re being held captive by the need to cry. (Sidenote: If you do that too, just know it is the most frustrating thing for those who love you.) Humor is fantastic. It’s incredibly powerful, necessary and–believe me–a lifesaver during the weirdest of transitions.

I like humor. It’s easy to define: You laugh= It was funny. No high IQ required to understand that one.

I may be more comfortable with humor, but I honestly struggle with how the majority of white America handles sorrow.

One of the hardest things to get used to while living around a different culture when I was a kid was the fact that most were of the opinion pacifying someone’s hurt too early was the worst thing you could do. What that translated into? Someone crying like their heart was being torn in two and everyone encircling them but rarely coddling the one who was hurt. Why? Because tears needed to happen. 

Holding them would make the tears stop and honestly, only God should be the one to determine that.

When King David lost the son conceived with Bathsheba, he secluded himself for days in order to mourn and to pray. He understood the need for tears. He understood the need to let emotions run their course. He understood God was still present when the tears flowed and, in some ways, sorrow so deep made His presence easier to comprehend.

We seem to shortern the things that can make us heal the most: tears and circumstancial loneliness are two of the hardest ones. Your heart hurts? Find someone who can make you laugh. You’re lonely? Quick! Get in a crowd so you can appear to fit in but still struggle with convincing yourself you belong.

What if we’re stealing some of the deepest transformations within ourselves simply because we’re uncomfortable (and ready to be fun to be around again)?

What would happen if we acted as if we believed God wasn’t lying to us when He says there’s a season for everything? What would happen if we believed God was/is sovereign enough to know what our hearts need to go through in order to become more like Him? 

What would happen if we embraced what we needed rather than only praising God’s goodness for the the things we wanted?

Powerful Questions

We are no longer in a generation where being confronted by “Churchy people” on Sundays is attractive, convicting or a game-changer for someone outside the Body of Christ. 

Once upon a time, you still came to church if you had tattoos, but you covered them up.

If you were simply 3 days clean off a drug, you kept your mouth shut, your eyes down and you collected the atta-boys of people who were perceived as holier and cleaner than you.

Technically, it was equally the shame of the action (the desire to cover things up) and the desire to change (if you ignore your past long enough, it’ll disappear and you can have a fresh start, right?).
Recently, I struck up a conversation with a single father in town. We talked all things parenting (Praise ya, Jesus, for the gift of insightful yet ignorant empathy…) and all things trial. He laughed about no longer going out with the guys at night and I chided him that sleeping in was probably no longer in his vocabulary, either. He made it clear he could be a better dad. I reminded him his daughter was beautiful.

Then the enchantment ended as soon as I brought up God.

“You? Really? But…”

His eyes spoke the volumes his lips refused to mutter. You’re too nice to me to be a Christian.

The conversation quickly died down from there, but I was reminded of a Truth that broke my heart.

The days of opening the Church doors and ringing the steeple bell to strike curiousity in a person’s heart no longer exists. We’re no longer seen as a loving place to try out. We are us and they are them. End of discussion. Though that’s not necessarily accurate across the board… it’s a reality that’s getting harder to deny. 

We’re playing our own game of ignore it and it will disappear. 

So, I simply challenge those of you that claim Christ as your savior and Lord to own up to your redemption in every way. Whether your sin struggles are in the “acceptable” sins (gluttony, lying, gossiping) or the life-style temptations, be willing to let God use your experiences to reach out to someone who thinks they can’t come through those church doors without cleaning up first. Because that is quite simply a lie from the pit of hell.

They need to know it’s possible to be seen right where they’re at. Though that’s been a concept ever since Billy Graham was first given a podium, it’s becoming more urgent… and more an issue for the Church to address than it ever was for an independant evangelist. Outside of the comfortably-Christian communities, we are losing our impact on those who believe differently because we’re not willing to get down in the mud of life next to them and ask one simple thing:

I’ve been where you’re at. Wanna talk about it?

Ironic Purpose, Meaningful Life

“You’re letting me die and I haven’t even been kissed, gone to Prom or gotten my driver’s license. Okay.”

Tomorrow it will have been 10 years since I mentally went through and prayed about the things I thought I’d never experience as I was being prepped for brain surgery. Those three things were what stuck out as important… and those were the three things I was more than willing to give up if it meant God would take me Home instead of “making me” live.

Oh… How things have changed.

1o years later, none of those things are drastically important to me. I had to laugh this morning as I remembered my almost 16-year-old brain thinking my life was incredibly boring because I didn’t have those things. I was so enraptured by the lack of those experiences I even dreamed about them… I thought those dreams were all I’d have before looking my Savior in the eye.

This morning, I was humbled by the fact that such a memory brought joy, not mourning. Then I heard my heart cry, “You have so much more for me to do, Lord. Keep me here. Find me faithful. I’m not done yet.”

It’s been 10 years of joys, trials, tears and laughter, but God kept me here for a reason. I used to happily tell people my life’s purpose was to be a testimony of how to suffer and die with joy. Not kidding. Now, I’m starting to believe that I may be the last person God takes Home, simply because He really enjoys irony.

The idea of “knowing your calling” as a Believer in Jesus Christ has become a dramatically important thing. There are so many books on the topic (Thank you Os Guiness…) I’m fairly certain it has its own section on the self-help shelf at bookstores. I often feel as if I disappoint older Christians when I don’t tell them specifics in regard to what my “calling” is. Wife? Mother? Writer? Journalist? Teacher? … Hobo???

Who knows. But my ultimate calling has been ironically and beautifully defined. I have been called to plan for the moment yet live for an undefined, God-filled future. A future that I couldn’t dare to dream about as I signed a Do Not Resuscitate order 10 years ago. 

Come what may, I know the price of living on my deathbed. Now my God is giving me the right to discover the epitome of what it means to truly live.

Killing the Holy

“Hot (darn), you sexy beast!”

“Ohhhh, be still my heart, those eyes!”

It’s comical really, this stupid thing called Social Media. I’ll be the first to admit, I spend way too much time on Facebook. I was dumb (once upon a time…?) and “liked” things before I knew what that would mean. So, on occasion, I get subjected to actors’ mugshots and personal lives I really don’t need to acknowlege. (Like the ones above.)

Older women verbally throw themselves at younger men because (newsflash) the photoshop worked. Men very quickly type durogatory things about women no one should ever have to hear… simply because, well hey, the picture’s on Facebook.

It’s harmless, right?

As life keeps marching forward, I’m being faced with one very drastic, terrifying truth. As we sit behind our well-veiled computer screens, somehow personal dignity and boundaries go down the drain. My culture is completely satisfied with making everything that was once sacred public. We’ve gotten used to the humdrum of fantasizing behind a computer screen and we’ve forgotten how to live in the moment for the glory of God. 

It’s just one look, right? It’s just one dreamy idea that my husband will look like Tom Seleck in Heaven, right? (Yuck. No.) … It’s just one objectified exclamation that I could drown in a stranger’s eyes, right? I’ll be godly and satisfied in my husband or wife/significant other as soon as s/he shows up. Really, it’s fine. No one will notice, anyway.

The Bible talks about how we are given the moment–nothing more. Which can go both ways; I understand that. As a believer in Jesus Christ, though, shouldn’t that mean living in such a way to impact the people who are right in front of me right this moment? Who gets ignored while we spend time purusing pictures of people we don’t even know and/or don’t really care about?

Who doesn’t hear about Christ because we’re too busy keeping up with the Joneses and comparing our dirty laundry to someone else’s drama?

The hardest question of all: Who gets their fear confirmed.. Their fear that their worth really is in a bra-size or the definition of their six-pack rather than in the reality that they are a beautiful creation designed to pursue the God of the Universe?

I am 2nd

In some ways, I press forward in my faith to honor the people who expect me to fail. In one aspect, I do it for the precious ones who knew me when christianity was a status symbol, rather than a Covenant between myself and my Savior. 

They need to know one thing: 

If they’re waiting for me to fail… I will. 

It’s the astonished tone to their voices, “Wait. You… You still believe this Jesus thing works? Don’t you know life without boundaries is so much freer?” The dearest of friends guffaw good-naturedly and mutter the same idea over and over again. 

“Come find me when you give up. Come find me when you’re finally done playing an invisible game.” 

I was reminded the price of my belief in Christ tonight as my commitment, and the shared commitment of another like me, was met with disgusted, confused and annoyed silence. 

My faith has nothing to do with my ability to be good enough, on the straight and narrow enough, or even loud enough about my faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God as my savior. Though all those things are a portion of a lifestyle, relational Christianity, that makes it all about me… When it’s not. 

God used a highly frustrated friend to remind me that my faith in Christ is about giving Christ the chance to shine more brightly through my brokenness than I ever could simply out of sheer will. 

When I told the truth about my convictions, my heart broke because I knew he wouldn’t agree. My heart broke as I was silently taunted by the reminder that I was the most unqualified to speak truth. But instead of fighting, I was met with complete silence and God simply whispering: 

This is my story, not yours. You spoke Truth tonight. You might not next time, but it’s not about your ability to convince anyone about My existence. It’s about your transparency in showing how quickly and fully My grace, love and redemption pursue you when you run from Me. 

Talking at Him

“You’re pretty. I haven’t talked to Amy in a long time.” I made eye contact with the announcer, assuming he was just another loud-mouthed, phone-using customer. One look at him and I knew he was a peer who had high functioning mental disorders. 

He didn’t have a cellphone. He was talking to me, apparently.  Oh Jesus… help me. Use me if you want. What does this dude actual need? I silently prayed. Upon acknowledging the fact that I saw him, the man repeated the same precious words.

“You’re pretty. I haven’t talked to Amy in a long time.”

I did the only thing I could. I smiled and replied, “Okay. Hi, Bud.” 

Usually, that opens major doors to long conversations. Usually, when I intentionally open myself up to those moments, I get asked questions everyone else would consider brash. Ya married? You have kids? You want kids? Do you like me? Do you think I’d be good for you?… I was steeling my pathetically impatient heart for all of it. The reality was, I had time to kill… being peppered with innocent questions wasn’t going to destroy me.

Instead, my not-so-quiet observer gaped at me, finally nodded his head, blinked twice and walked off. The end. I supressed a chuckle as I wondered what anxieties I had added to by opening the way for a conversation. My potential special friend never found out what talking to me was like, though.

I wonder how many times we do that to Jesus. We observe his presence, get curious and, instead of saying hi, we bring up the one thing we think will tell our story for us:

“I’m addicted to food.”

“I’m a drug addict.”

“I don’t love my spouse.”

“I’m not being honest with my money.”

Whatever the line is, we shout it at Jesus, rather than letting Him discuss it with us. Somehow, we assume that since the rest of the world identifies us by our weaknesses and reject us… So will Jesus. So, just to get it out of the way, Lord, I know you appear to be loving, but I’m disabled, I have a frustratingly quirky personality and I’m terrified of rejection……

Instead, He smiles, dips His head a bit and says, “Hi… Wanna talk?”

He does the one thing that has become incredibly rare. He sees the story that made up the person and works with it, rather than runs from it. 

The question is, do we give Him the chance to even begin?

Defunding It Ain’t Enough

When I hit 18, I lived my life in such a way where I got incredibly used to love leaving. I can cynically chuckle at the memories only because I remember thinking I was “all growed up” when in fact… I could have safely stayed under the leadership of my parents a bit longer. I could have sat at the feet of wisdom a little longer, rather than assuming 17 years of Sunday School was enough. But instead, I ran off (5 miles away from the front door, but that’s beside the point) and decided I knew everything there was to know.

It’s because of that approach to life that I look at the women sitting in the abortion clinics and I weep for them before I weep for their babies. Though I understand an abortion is legitimately murder and its tactics turn my stomach… I wonder.

How many of them were told they had to choose between either their baby or their family?

How many of them were told they were being merciful to the child because their baby’s father was a good-fer-nothin’ low-life?

How many of them were fed horror stories of foster care when they brought up the idea of adoption so they decided a horrific death was better than a painstaking life?

And then, I ask the questions I don’t know how to answer:

How many of them were pegged as a person who “knew better” but was never poured into? Ya know who I’m talking about… the girl who tried drugs, so we kept our distance. The girl who, to the world’s eyes, had amazing parents so obviously it’s her fault for being stupid. What if there was more pain in the family unit than ever met the eye? 

What isn’t she telling us because she knows we would rarely listen to the point of taking action?

Abortion is horrible. But defunding Planned Parenthood isn’t enough. It never was and it never will be. The women who are carrying these children need us to step up and go the extra mile. 

Defunding an organization that feeds off of naivety and convenience is an amazing idea. But what is the church — not the organizations the Church funds but the Church itself — going to do with the naive and broken that Planned Parenthood leaves behind?

America, defund Planned Parenthood. Please. But then start funding love that takes action. Otherwise, nothing will change.