Reviving My Song

The day I stopped singing, people started asking me imposing questions. “What’s wrong?” “Who hurt you?” “Why’d your song die?” Being the ever-ready, people-pleaser, I tried — I really, really tried — to sing just to get the people off my back. I tried smiling while I sang my favorite hymns. I tried faking having a song in my heart. 

I couldn’t do it, though. The song was dead. At 20 years old, I no longer found a reason to sing upon waking up. There was no joy. There was no peace. Jesus felt like a childish figment of my imagination. Every powerful, Christ-centered truth I had relied on throughout my childhood was very much paralyzed in my life. My song had died. I felt helpless in my attempts to act as if it had not. 

Sin is not a placid monster to play with. My life had become proof that selling your soul to a lie takes away every ability to experience peace –let alone live in it. My heart’s joy and peace were once upon a time so abundant I couldn’t help but sing everywhere I went. It was in music I found intimacy with Jesus which took my breath away with its beauty. Living in sin killed that intimacy. 

Once, while standing in a empty wooden cabin, my comrade within the sin mockingly told me to, “… sing something and make [him] believe I meant it.” All I knew were hymns, and somehow, all I remembered from my childhood was “Amazing Grace.” As my tongue struggled to remember the words, my heart pled with my mind to treasure the joy.

I couldn’t. It was just a song. It was merely an exercise to test the acoustics in my friend’s cabin. I had wandered away from the Lord, and my song did not follow. 

Yesterday, seven years later, I stood with fellow Christians singing “Come Thou Fount.” 

Prone to Wander, Lord I feel it! Prone to leave the God I love! Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above. 

My heart nearly burst with the memory of the dead joy in such a song mixed with the current reality of my redemption. My song is back. My Lord is not dead. God has finally revived my heart’s song. 

These songs hold sweeter truth simply because I understand the price paid in order to bring me Home. 

Written By the God Who Sees

Dear Little One, 

You’re seen. Behind the instantaneous smile, the immediate laughter and the flamboyant charm, I see you. I recognize your desire to hide, even when you stand in front of the mirror and challenge Me to prove your value. I hear the brokenness in the laughter, I feel the tears behind the smile. 

You don’t think you can tell Me you’re hurting because you’re so accustomed to playing a part in healing someone else. Stop. I’m not broken. I’m not in need of you. You need Me. Let yourself be broken and hurt in My presence. As your Creator, I can only heal what you show Me. Your cracked heart merely hurts My heart, it doesn’t overwhelm, anger, or turn Me away. But you do have to give it to Me. 

Please? 

I see you when no one does. I hear you cry when everyone else only hears you laugh. I feel your fear when everyone else only sees your confident leadership. You’re not confident, are you? You believe in My power for everyone but yourself, don’t you? 

Why? 

Do you understand that your purpose, value, and reason was found the moment you were conceived? Do you understand that when I breathed life into your lungs, I not only gave you purpose, I gave you My purpose, My joy, My love? Because of Me, your pain isn’t weakness, it’s strength. Because of Me, your identity isn’t found in your mistakes.

You are found in Me.

I haven’t call you to lead alone. I called you to be Mine. Hold on to the fact that you’re Mine. When you feel invisible, you’re Mine. When you feel alone, you’re still Mine; besides, you’ve never been alone a millisecond of your existence. 

You tell people you love the fact you’ve learned I am Elroi, the God Who Sees. But Child, why haven’t you let that Truth sink in when you’ve needed it most? 

I love you. I’m here. You are not invisible to Me. 

Your One and Only Elroi

A Lesson From An Atheist

Our differences are stark:
He’s a “man’s man who don’t need no woman.” I’m every type of tomboy imaginable but I still look for sentimentality in stupid places and love leaning on the man of my heart.

My friend is an atheist. I’m a Christian. 
He thinks I need more rights as a woman. I couldn’t disagree more.

He’s black. I’m so white I’m translucent.

He can’t stand “the system.” Though it rubs against my every day activities, I’ve learned to roll with the punches unless it’s biblically and morally uncalled for.

Our similarities crack me up:

We both love to argue.

We both like to argue.

In case you missed it, we both love to argue.

We both know how to source our facts.

We both hate politics, but our shared desire for justice makes most of our conversations about things we need to see change in this country.

There is nothing more comical than putting a determined atheist in a friendship with a stubborn follower of Jesus Christ. Many o’ times, one of us (usually me) calls a time out on our heated arguments about Jesus, religion, women’s rights, marriage, children and every other hot topic because our friendship matters more than our opinions. Too many times, I’ve wandered into the Throne Room screaming, “Why, Jesus?!” when the arguments can’t end on agreeable terms. I’ve been told a time or two this guy would love it if he could just program me to “get it.”

No matter how much our differences heat us up, though, we stop when our respect for each other is threatened. I have my boundaries, he has his. Crossing those boundaries is not allowed, especially if we feel like the other person’s value is undermined because of our disagreement. It’s acceptable to be passionate about something the other person is not. It’s also acceptable to shut up for a while. It’s even acceptable to decide talking till you agree isn’t worth sacrificing the friendship itself.

It is not acceptable, however, to devalue another person or attempt to strip them of their opinion because it makes you uncomfortable. 

Being acclaimed as right is nice, I’ll give you that. But sometimes, the people that are able to stand strongly by simply living out their views in how they treat others will leave the most impact.

Still Not a Feminist

I grew up in a culture that only proved one thing: Women are objects. Blessedly, I got a reprieve from that image and belief system any time I walked into my church… But those mixed messages got confusing. While working in retail, I would get suggestive “proposals” all the time. I learned quickly I existed for “harmless” conversations and a man’s desire to live dangerously without getting caught. Anytime I tried defending my value, my job got threatened.

Go equality.

When I bemoaned the harshness of my world to a fellow Christian, he cried harder than I did. We had both been subjected to perspectives of our value no young adult ever should. My friend quite simply squeezed my hand and muttered, “I’m so, so sorry, Cass. Men are… Well, you know.”

Trying desperately to get control of my heart, I asked cryptically, “Why don’t men step up for women anymore? Why is it so easy for value to fall between the cracks? What have I done wrong?”

In a moment of bravery, he replied, “Any time people like me try to stand up for you, you claim independence, act offended and throw my God-given right to protect you to the wind. I may have fallen short, Cass, but your unwillingness to challenge me to do better confuses me as a man of God. I’ll always love you, but I think you’ve completely misunderstood what mutual love between a brother and sister in Christ is supposed to look like.”

I’ve never forgotten that conversation. Currently, this friend and I see each other once a year and maybe talk every couple months. But he struck a cord in my heart that scared me into action. I may be a woman who can stand on her own, but somehow my, “daggum, I can do it myself” attitude spiritually confused and hurt the men in my life more than I ever thought possible. 

Men are divinely created to protect, serve and provide. When we as women push that piece of the puzzle to the side in order to prove our independence, life gets sticky for the men we interact with. God tells them to do very specific things. We often times make it impossible for them to do it. 

In the last three years especially, I’ve had to learn that allowing myself to be served (when appropriate) is not a sign of weakness. Rather it is a sign of strength that I am confident in my role as a woman and able to put aside my need to prove myself in order to bless my brothers in Christ. 

It’s funny, though. Initially, I felt like I was being the “bigger person” by letting guys do the little things like open doors, help me with my coat, or even protect me in weird social situations. Kind of like a, “Here Kiddo, you need something to do” way. But after awhile, I saw my relationships with the men in my life take on a deeper mutual level of friendship and respect. 

Like it or not, Christian or not, women were made for men; men were not made for women. The moment we as women come to terms with that Divine plan, and learn how to be secure in our identity as the helpmeet of men (not necessarily the main attraction), the more valuable our roles in society can be. 

It’s not about equality. It’s about seeing God’s hand in both gender roles and loving unconditionally because we need each other. 

Heavenly Minded, Patriotically Shifted

I’ve never told anyone who I’m voting for. Inasmuch as my Spiritual gifts call me to confrontation (attempting to do that always in love), I hate rocking the boat. Declaring I support one person over another hurts at least one side of my circle of friends. I wept in anxiety with people afraid of Hillary and I mourned just as bitterly the idea of Trump taking office. 

That’s not the point. I wish it was. As deeply troubling as both sides of the spectrum are, neither of those approaches are what takes up my mind’s time. 

I’ve known almost all my life that American Christianity is weak. I do not, whatsoever, believe that our chances at a relationship with Jesus Christ are any smaller or less important than any other nation’s. Once saved, always saved… no matter what your nationality. But we… we just don’t get it most days. 

In America, Christianity is a label that makes us feel good. It is not, on the other hand, always a sobering call to sacrifice and love for the betterment of others as it was meant to be. (John 15:13) Often times, we as protected American Christians decide christianity is best for us when we ask the question, “What’s in it for me?” and we like the answer for one reason or another. 

Wrong. 

So, just a thought: What if, now that we know Trump is taking office, these next four years are God’s way of purifying the American Church (nationally as a whole, not small affiliations)? Because some of his proposed policies will make us reevaluate what it means to love (protect?) our neighbor, Christianity may possibly be taken to the firing squad. 

Within our American Christian circles, we often use the phrase, “Go all in for Christ.” What if God’s sovereignty allowed Trump as president because God wants us to start putting our money where our mouth is, so to speak? We’ve become too comfortable in our concept of Christianity. What if we’re being called to so much more? 

Terrified Truth-Speaker

I have a shepherd’s heart that comes to life when I write. There are a million things I could write about to challenge thought and prayerfully provoke change in our failing world. But I don’t. There are just as many things I could cut up into a four-part series and feed to you bit-by-bit to increase my readership. But I don’t. 

Why? 

Because we now live in a world where when truth is spoken, we feel attacked, undervalued and demoralized. When truth is spoken, we don’t often change our respective lives to rise to such truth. Instead, we shut our ears, close our eyes and scream, “That’s not nice! That’s not nice! I thought you liked me!” 

And before you turn me over to the firing squad, please know I’m the worst of the worst. I may have a shepherding heart, but I absolutely detest getting corrected, challenged or criticized.

I used to rub shoulders with homeless druggies, drunks and all around God-haters (yay, job!). In those circles, I had no fear blatantly sharing truth. They were so desperate for help, they welcomed the times I willingly adopted their rhetoric but spoke truth. They weren’t “nice” in their responses, but it was obvious truth went soul-deep.

I’m more hesitant to share truth with a fellow Christian because of how they’ll respond than I ever was calling a meth addict to attention. So, because my skin has been bruised by a follower of Christ a time or two, I’ve stopped sharing truth that needs to be heard. 

It’s funny, really. Up until this week, I blamed everyone but myself for how weak American Christianity has become. But the fact is, I’ve stopped heralding life-changing truth because, well, because I want to be liked? Crap, maybe I’m a part of the problem.

So, for that, forgive me. I seem to have slipped up and forgotten what being a Truth-speaker is all about. Truth — actual truth — is a conduit to soul-deep change, which honestly isn’t fun at the onset.

But oh, hallelujah, it’s a glorious thing when a sinner like me sees God’s Son despite my wretchedness. Writing simply to tickle your ears isn’t worth you missing out on seeing the same miracle in your own life.

Put It Away, Kid

I had two little boys between the ages of four and six live with me for right around a year. I am not, by any means, anything now but an amateur idealist when it comes to being a good mom after that experience. A year of playing their referee, jungle gym, nurse, teacher and caretaker (caretaker came first… usually… I think) taught me a lot and yet taught me nothing. 

One thing I learned was giving them broad instructions didn’t work. I learned to say things like, “Boys, by the time Auntie comes in there your socks & underwear, shirts, pants, shorts, shoes, dinosaurs, etch-a-sketches, paint brushes, 8-balls, tools and books better be on the shelves where they belong.” 

As their forced angelic voices wafted down the hall, “O’taaaaaay, Auntie Tassie, we do dat,” I flew through a mental catalogue of everything they had. Inevitably, they’d come tromping into my kitchen with a toy and the innocent question, “What we do wit’ dis one, Auntie? You didn’ say anytin’ about dis one.”

I spent an entire year trying to learn the right amount of patience, enjoyment, and training to teach those boys life skills. I wasn’t very good at it, but somehow their grins and inquiries usually made me want to hug them rather than scold them. That was my momentary taste of parenthood.

Fast forward to today. I’m no longer an “auntie” to two rambunctious boys and I no longer micro-manage my household just to keep it standing one more day. I am, however, finding that at 27 years old, there are days, weeks and months where I identify deeply with those two boys. 

I understand all too well what it’s like to not quite get life just yet and being in need of a God to help me through ridiculous, clarifying questions. He patiently reinforces His command to “trust and obey” really does mean with every corner of my heart over and over again.

But still, I have to ask, “Yes, so God, you said trust You with my future, but what about my future in regards to…? What if this crazy situation happens and I’m left with a broken heart? What then? Do I have to trust you then, too?” 

My whimsically imaginative heart can almost picture God chuckling, kneeling down and whispering, “Kiddo, put your worry where it belongs.” Somehow, His enjoyment & patience in seeing me work out my salvation never ends & He’s never too annoyed to give me the same assurances He’s given me my entire life. 

This is the grace the teaches me to love even when I can’t get my mind around how it gives my life purpose.