Value More Than Love

If I’m not leading with a joke about my half-brain, quirky limp or down right weird spastic right arm, something is seriously wrong with me. 

Not kidding… If my circumstantial frustration isn’t followed up with a quip, I must be dead.

This week was different, though. This week, I fought with a vengeance to hide my shortcomings. This week, when my loved ones joked about my half-brain, instead of joining in on the fun, I silently begged God to remind me what it meant to be loving. I knew my fun-loving attitude would come back eventually, but for some (unknown and short-lived) reason this week, with every joke, my heart whispered only one thing:

What is my value, then?

My heart’s poorly timed dilemma this week took me on a totally different view of God’s love and His creation.

In Genesis, when God created both man and woman, He pronounced them “Good.” He didn’t pronounce “I love you.”

He saw in them value — whether Adam and Eve exuded perfection or not was not the issue, He spoke value over them, anyway. He looked them in the eye and said one word, “Good.”

I wonder, did Adam and Eve learn to love their Maker because He did not spare a moment in speaking of their value? Did they fall in love with Him, learn how to trust Him, because they knew their value in His eyes? 

Is it possible His love for them wasn’t questioned simply because they saw love in the value He placed on them?

I wonder how many times we say “I love you” simply because it’s culturally relevant and expected. Though it’s an excellent aspect to share (I really love love, I promise), how many of us ask to hear “I love you” and really what we’re asking is affirmation of our value?

How many of us assume that everyone knows their value when in reality, God is asking us to be His voice for them because the world has deluded their ability to hear their value and believe it’s actually theirs?

Sometimes, proclamations of value speak louder than reminders of love. 

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?

Deep Truths

It’s a viral clip on Buzzfeed. Blind-folded children find their respective mothers by ‘feeling’ for them. It’s beautiful. It brings back memories of when it didn’t work between myself and my own mother.

During one particular seizure, I was convinced my mother was a total stranger. Being afraid of her, I sunk deep into the arms of a nurse I had never met. My brain was confused. I don’t remember much.

I do remember one thing, though. The nurse hugged me tightly, knowing it was her job to adopt my false reality in order to make the seizure end. The woman hugged me and I calmed down, but I calmed down for a weird reason. My brain registered the nurse’s hug and somehow I knew it wasn’t my mother hugging me.

The realization made my brain find reason and the seizure was over.

Those types of seizures are impossible for me now, but through them, I learned how to find value in the smallest parts of my reality. Nowadays, I don’t do reality checks because of seizures. I do reality checks for what  I know of the character of God within the torrents of life.

When my heart hurts, when my friends betray me, when I’m so stressed out I can’t tell the difference between upside down and right side up… I’ve learned to look for the Heart of my King. 

Even when I can’t identify the big truths, the little truths lead to the Ultimate Truth Himself. During that season of heartwrenching seizures, I learned to identify Jesus by the “little truths.” 

The reality is, though, even when I can’t identify Him, He identifies me. That is enough.

Leary of Heaven

The idea that epilepsy, cerebral palsy or even my Tzeitze Disorder won’t be in my body when I get to Heaven breaks my joy. Seriously. Though I understand disabilities are perceived as “imperfect” so therefore, they won’t be in Heaven, I still want mine.

All I want out of Heaven is Jesus… and I met my Jesus because of my shambled body. Looking Jesus in the eye with a perfect body in my possession terrifies me.

To be fair, I often times forget this desire. When a 15 minute seizure wracks my body at 1am, the thought, “I get this blessing forever!” is the last thing on my mind.

First thing on my mind? “Dear God, please help me remember my name if this episode gets much worse.”

Second thought? “Lord, are you taking me home?” Though that possibility is so slim doctors rarely talk about it, most nights are met with some kind of test for my peace of mind that I have no idea how long God will allow me to love on this side of Heaven. When my body is in that much pain, the desire to be in that type of pain forever is a huge turn off. I’m still human.

But still, I met the Jesus of my Childhood face to face because of these disorders. I have countless stories of moments when loved ones remember me going crazy and all I remember is kissing the face of Jesus. Or days when I couldn’t remember my name but I was too busy literally hearing Jesus sing over me that He “knows my name”.

What most people see as a “disability” or an “inconvenience” I see as my first and final moment where someone muttered, “Meet the Lover of your Soul.” That doesn’t mean my life is impeccably perfect, but anyone who is in love with another human being will tell you- even the heart-wrenching moments are endearing and precious if they’re shared with the person that holds your heart.

Because of that, when people tell me the suffering will be over “soon” (Lord willing in another… oh…. 70 years?) I cringe. Not because I can’t wait, but because I can.

I met my Jesus because of the aches most people would call a curse.
I gladly gave God the right to the deepest, most intimate parts of my heart because of the pain that often leads me to consider the “joy” of going Home.

People often misunderstand me when I say I can’t wait to go “Home to Heaven”. They’ll pat me on the back and say something like, “I know, a painless eternity must be your greatest anticipation.” The reality is, that’s not what equates joy in my mind.

What makes me smile is the fact that some day, I’ll get to heaven and Jesus’ nail-pierced hands and scorn-pierced heart (which I’m ashamed I added to) will carry the words, “This is what pain looks like. You were so worth it.” My own pain will remind me of the value of those words.

I never want to give that reminder up.

Strange Resentments

Someone forgot to tell the guy he wasn’t allowed to run my trail when I’m on my trail.

I got away from humanity tonight and, man, did it feel good. I was having an absolute blast tickling the ears of God, asking questions I’m told I’m too old to ask.

“So, Lord… why can’t the trees talk? What story are they telling that I can’t hear?”

“So Lord, how come you can mix pink, green, brown and yellow on the inside of bark and it doesn’t look like a disaster? I mean, humans tried that in the 60’s and it looked awful…. this looks amazing!

“So, Lord, what’s up with the way the ice melts and freezes? How do you come up with all those different designs?”

“So, Lord, how in the world do you preserve some plants to pop with color in the dead of winter? That plant was bright red! Why??”

I love those moments when God whispers, “Just enjoy me, Baby Girl.”

But then the guy ran by. In as uncreepily a way as possible, I watched him until I could no longer see his legs. This man was in his mid-50’s and in better shape than most 20-somethin’s. But for whatever reason, I got stuck on the image of his legs. (We interrupt this blog post to affirm I am not a stalker.)

He could run.
His muscles reacted when he commanded them to move.
His hips weren’t popping in and out of joint every other pace.
He could run. He could do something my legs have never done without injury. Resentment for this stranger (who had no idea he had bothered the community’s loudmouthed midget) crept in quickly.

My joy died. I was no longer making up fun conversation starters with God. I was going through the list of the things God withheld from my body. Seamlessly working limbs were definitely at the top of the list. Dang it, I want to run…. Why can’t I run?

Right before I threw myself on the dirt to throw a tantrum (you think I’m kidding??? Thanks, but not really), I looked back at God’s creation. Only moments ago I thought the dead leaves, bending trees and gurgling brook were the only things I needed to make me remember the goodness of God. Yet one thing came across my path and I forgot that goodness.
As my heart calmed down, I heard the heart of the God I love.

He simply reminded me that if I was capable of running, I wouldn’t have taken the time to slowly enjoy the things most people ignore. It felt as if He kissed me on the cheek as He muttered:

You and I can run in Heaven. Enjoy me now anyway.