Is Perspective Truth?

Perspective can be a beast, can't it? What's interesting is that the word 'perspective' has multiple meanings. It can be both our point of view or the art of drawing objects on a solid plane to give the correct impression of their height, depth and width. Either way - perspective is our brain's attempt to conclude truth. It's how we try to process so that we can come to a conclusion. The problem is that, sometimes, our perspective is wrong. Sometimes our perspective is skewed by the way we were raised, the people who have hurt or manipulated us, and our tendencies towards selfish thoughts and behaviours.

When we rely on our perspective to be the absolute truth something happens: we find ourselves in a battle for control. We hear other people's perspectives - that don't line up with our own - and we start pushing for their understanding to conform to ours. And where is the freedom in that? Who receives life from that? No one. Not them and not us. We all end up in a battle for the greatest truth. And, if we aren't rooted in the truth that transcends our perspective, we will chase our own flimsy truth for a long, long time.

Paul says that the hard work that leads to living a holy life is simply this: get along with each other. Yep. It's hard work, friends. It's hard to get along with people who are living from a completely opposite perspective. It's hard to reconcile our own way, our own wounds, our own defenses, our own understanding to someone else's. It's hard to relinquish control and allow other people to be different people. It's hard to love, and to be at peace, with people we don't understand.

It seems like the nature of humanity is to reject other humans. Everywhere we turn people are fighting for control, pushing for their own perspectives to be declared the ultimate truth. People are manipulating and slandering and throwing up barriers everywhere they can; drawing lines and throwing up their own flags, screaming, "THIS is the truest of truths!" 

Those of us who love and follow Jesus should be sad. Our hearts should break. The truest of truths has nothing to do with perspective or interpretation. The truest of truths is that Jesus was driven by love, held by love and is preparing a restored earth for his BRIDE, whom he LOVES. The truest of truths is that the rising cry of his Bride, his church, his people has not a tinge of judgment or fear. We who love him, who have followed him to the cross, can only absorb the cry of the King we have surrendered to - "Forgive them. They don't know what they're doing." If ever we are raising a sword to wound another - he'll only reach out to heal them. He'll only surrender his life again, and again, and again. He will step outside of time and space - because he's God and nothing holds him. He'll draw the perspectives of every human being to him. He'll see that our own point of view has wounded another. He'll step over the lines we've drawn and ask us to surrender our need to be right, or to be in control. Because that's what love does.

And love is the only perspective of the Bride of Christ.

God is ultimately the reconciler of human hearts, healing and restoring what the consequences of sin and separation have done to us all. Because of his great plan to revive us, and the mercy he has poured out on us,  love is the truest of truths.

If we don't believe that compassionate love can draw the hearts of lost and broken people to the Kingdom of God, then we don't believe that what Jesus did on the cross was enough. Why on earth would we need to add to his act of salvation with a single rule, or judgment, or power play? Whose kingdom would we be seeking to build by building on anything other than love?

So let's stop building our own kingdoms on our own perspectives. Let's stop trying to create an accurate understanding of our own broken points of view. We can't shoulder a Kingdom, friends. And we don't need to add to what defines the Kingdom of God. Remember when you were in Sunday School and you sang that song: 'they will know us by our love'?

That is the truest of truths.

The hardest thing we will ever do is learn to love well - to get along with each other.

But Paul said that a perspective of love will lead to a holy life - a free and spacious life. And that is the universal calling for every single person who has committed their lives and thoughts and actions and words to the King who was bolstered by love, even as he was dragged away by hate and darkness. Because love conquers. Love is not a weak thing that breaks down the power of truth. Love IS truth. Love is stronger than perspective. Love is deeper than any line we could ever draw in the sand of our lives. Love says that all are longed for and none are rejected. Love paves a way for even the most broken and abrasive people to enter into mercy. Lucky for us - no one's perspective, not even ours, can determine what love does. The only thing we get to decide is whether or not we participate in the great sweeping work of Love that conquered death.

*February 2014

Give Life

I've been really asking The Lord to show me what makes life FREE. Ephesians 1 says that we're not just barely free - we're ABUNDANTLY free. Abundantly, friends. How often do you feel abundantly free?!

Life is hard and circumstances are chaotic. I often tell myself that I don't FEEL free because of the turmoil in my life, or in my heart. I long for the feeling of living free and I fully believe that Paul's message wasn't a pipe dream. That man was stoned, beaten, shipwrecked and imprisoned. If he believed in an abundantly free life then I do too. But how do I get there? What stands in my way?

You have to know that God is faithful to answer our cries for understanding. He plants seeds of truth in our way and after we've traveled for a while, we look back and see that fields of truth and gentleness have sprouted up behind us. God is a gentle revealer. He is so tenderly firm with my heart - I'm so thankful for that.

That being said, He's been sowing a field of truth in my life for over two years. Truth is hard to hear. Sometimes offense rises like a weed and threatens to choke out the vibrant life that sprouts from truth. It's our job to choose - we choose truth or avoidance. We choose abundance or scarcity. We choose life or listless existence.

You know what has stood in the way of living abundantly free for me? My attention to what is life-giving has been divided. I have left a wide girth for gossip and judgement and loss. I have let my own perspective rob me of relationship and integrity and abundance. I have participated in drawing lines in the sand that were never mine to draw. I have listened to other people's opinions instead of God's. In a lot of ways, I have served man over God.

And that gets in the way of abundance. I'm not living the free-est, most spacious life, not because it's not available to me, but because I'm flinging open the door to the kind of behaviour that plants itself like a mountain in my path.

You know what finally sparked me, after years of searching for the why?

I finally decided to love someone well instead of needing them to see how they had hurt me. I stopped talking about it. I stopped the flow of unforgiveness and really, truly just LOVED them. It was like a dam broke in my heart. In one great big rush I saw my own contribution to the ache, my own responsibility for the years of walls and wounding. My perspective shifted and I felt abundantly free for the first time in a very, very long time.

A few weeks later I listened to a talk from Jessi of Naptime Diaries on speaking life. Friends, it was like cool water on my fiery heart. All of the weeds withered up and it actually felt GOOD to acknowledge that I don't want to be the kind of person who doesn't give and speak life all the time.

All the time.

Doesn't that seem both impossible and breathtakingly beautiful?

I've been challenging myself to give life and it is not uncommon for me to have to go humble myself to someone after reverting to my old way. But I'm determined now. My heart and my mind are set.

This is the way to abundance. Stop offering anything other than LIFE. Stop speaking words that don't produce life. Stop participating in situations or conversations that don't lead to reconciliation and abundant freedom.

Here's my invitation. If your heart is heaving in anticipation and grief over how often you have participated in a way of life that doesn't produce life in yourself or in others, join me. Intentionally commit yourself to only give life. Know that you're going to mess it up. Know that it's going to be hard and disorienting.

But know that giving life is the way to abundant freedom.

*February 2014

The God of More

"One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer--at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.  When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!"  So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."  Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong.  He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God,  they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." [Acts 3]

A man was crippled. And he'd been crippled since birth. He had never run through a wide, rippling field or danced at a wedding. He had never walked, or skipped or stumbled. His entire life he had been carried everywhere he went. This man was a beggar, and he'd been begging for a long time.

But then one day he was carried to the temple gate Beautiful. He was left there to beg people for money - enough money for today. He saw two men walking into the temple and it didn't take much to ask them for money - he'd swallowed his pride a long time ago. So, he asks and they stop. One man says, "Look at us." He looks, expecting something. The man says, "I don't have silver or gold, but I'll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth get up and walk!"

You know what could have happened at this point? The man who had never felt his legs could have pushed Peter's hand aside. He could have embraced the cynicism of a life of Never Enough. He could have laughed at the offer and pressed deeper into his beggar's mat.

He didn't though. For whatever reason, faith or desperate hope gripped this man and he reached back. He put his hand into the hand of a man who was once a fisherman, but who now fished for men. He heard this whisper behind Peter's words, "There's more. More than what you need in this single moment; more than money for a loaf of bread. There's more." 

Peter pulled him to his feet and his legs and ankles were filled with strength. Muscular atrophy disappeared in the presence of More. Fear and disbelief vanished in the light of Yes. The man who had never put weight on his feet and toes, immediately ran and danced. His mouth spilled open and praise came pouring out.

You and I - we are sometimes crippled. Often we are stunted. We sit on our beggar's mats and cry out for just enough - just enough to make it through today. We're just trying to survive, but we aren't thriving.

The God of Peter and John, the God of Paul who was once Saul, the God of hope and redemption - OUR God - He is a God of More. God will offer more than we even knew to pray for.

You know what the cross was, friends? The cross was his hand extended to the crippled, to the broken, to the blind, to the battered, to the lonely, to the desperate, to the outcast, to the rejected, to the abused, to the lost. The cross is the invitation to MoreAlways more. 

Beth Moore says that sometimes God says no so that he can say a bigger yes. And his answer is always yes.

So, if all you hear is, "I don't have gold or silver..." you're missing the greater truth, the bigger yes - you're missing the MORE.

This is for YOU today.

"I'll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth get up and walk..."

*February 2014

Living Light

Living light is a long road of discarding heavy burdens. It is inside out and upside down; gloryless and sometimes hopeless. Living light is living with less and giving more. It is redefining beauty by the scars on your heart and the balm of being loved anyway. Living light is what happens when we relinquish our power for our strength; when we abandon our expectations for our contentment; when we surrender our rights for the ability to see everyone clearly.

Living light is what happens when Jesus smears mud on our blind eyes, caking dirt over our weakness and calling forth our healing. It's what happens when we press in, afflicted and broken and weeping, fingers reaching for the slightest brushing of his robe. That touch will be enough. It's what happens when our sin is exposed and we're thrown headfirst into the dirt we've walked through every day of our lives. It's what happens when accusations rise like stones in clenched fists. It's what happens when the moment swells and our grief explodes in our chests. It's what happens when mercy comes bursting forth instead of punishment. It's what happens when we stop defending, stop justifying, stop running. Living light is what happens when our shame dissipates; when the ripples of our guilt are consumed by a great a wave. That wave is enough.

Living light is what we were created for. Free. Unhindered. Restored. Revived. Unmasked.

It's a long road, family. It's a long road, but it's contagious. Light spreads. It creeps into dark corners and ruined cities. It floods broken hearts and weary bodies. It started in a stable, in the dark. It sparked the night of every captive and it has never stopped. The Light grew and spoke and touched and healed. The Light rescued and loved and affirmed. The Light shifted the weight of the world, calling messy people into His warmth. The Light burst into an ancient darkness and the darkness ran. It fled.

Once I was a captive, crawling through dense, suffocating darkness. Once I was ruled by rules and expectations and words that weren't His. Once I was in darkness, but now I'm in the light.

The light.

His light.

Listen, weary heart. Press in. Relinquish. Stop to breathe and then give some more. The Light is your invitation too. Not for a moment or a week or a year. The Light is your invitation to live - to fully live. Live scarred, but free. Live with a story and with the lingering sensation of the hand that healed you. Live without expectation, but with calling. Live without fear, but with mercy.

Live light.

*January 2013

The Light of the World

The light of the world is a simple thing, I think. Jesus said that its us - me and you and the rest of us - we're the light. Somehow we are the blazing, warm light that radiates from the beginning of creation. When he called both light and darkness into being he must have planned, even then, to wrap us in light. When I think of light I think of warm sunshine and soft shadows. I think of life and vitality. Growth. Things grow in the light.

Darkness lives here in our lives too. We spend our nights in darkness, resting and sleeping, tossing and turning, waiting for the moment the sun comes creeping over the horizon. Our life cycles revolve around day and night. Over and over again we live out our lives in the daylight and then lean into one another at night. Somewhere we know that there could never be light without darkness or day without night.

I wish I could remember who said it, but once I read something that has changed everything about the way I see the darkness. It was this, "I have come to love the darkness of sorrow for it is there that I see the brightness of God's face."

Doesn't that turn everything upside down?

I've come to love the darkness of sorrow. I am at peace, even in the dark.

Without the darkness I might never notice how bright God is. I might go on with my life, never fully aware of how brilliant and holy and glorious he is. I might never taste and see how good he is. I might never have any kind of contrast that reveals how radiant God's love is.

In our darkest spaces God becomes an oasis - a mysterious invitation to rest and grow and be nourished.

Loving the light is one thing. We all love the light. We love warmth and the comfort of seeing everything around us. Loving what the darkness reveals? That's a hard pill to swallow.

But maybe not.

I've had a whole lot of darkness over the past ten years. Addiction, grief, abandonment, deep rejection, self-hatred... I have crawled my way through very dark places. I've wiggled my feet out in front of me hoping I was stepping onto solid ground and not off of another cliff edge. It's been dark. But, oh. Oh, Jesus has been bright. I have been warm when I should have been left shivering and desolate. I have been sustained when I should have been starving. I have been comforted and loved and healed.

I don't know that I could have told you how brilliant and beautiful and fully embracing God was before I entered the darkness. In fact, God has been the most tangible to me in my darkest seasons.

My mom is always saying that we have what we need until we don't have it anymore - and then we don't need it anymore. When we're in the dark for a moment, we have what we need.

Because what we really need is for God to be revealed.

*Have you experienced the brightness of God in a dark place?*

*January 2014

The Year of Living Light

"In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others."
[Brennan Manning]

Like the rest of the world I'm thinking about what worked and didn't work in 2013. I've been writing down what was good and what was gunk. I have a lot of gunk. 2013 was the year of painful separation, difficult processing for my kids, transitioning into being a work at home mom instead of a stay at home mom, and lots and lots of learning to balance well (or not so well). It was a rough year for us and I'm not sorry to see it end.

In her New Years Eve yoga class my girlfriend Amy challenged us to leave something behind as we venture into a new year. I know exactly what I'm leaving behind and it's not even the gunk I just listed. It's my own private burial. I'm taking something ancient that has been passed down for generations in my family and I'm leaving it in the old ground of last year. I don't want to live in that old way for one more second, much less one more year.

One of my desires for 2014 is to do more Freedom Sessions. I want to be a part of other women (and men) leaving their old gunk behind to travel new, fresh and holy roads. I want to breathe the clean air of community and respect and kindness and bravery. I want to open my heart in ways that have been previously unavailable to me. I want to minister life and hope and joy to everyone I encounter. I want to use my story to illuminate dark places.

This month I'm going to do a series on light. We're going to talk about the light of our hearts, our lives, our beauty and our stories. You are invited to a deep and joyful month of learning to live LIGHT.

 

*Where do you encounter the most brilliant light in your life?

*January 2014

Is the Love of God Enough?

I've had a sweet little break over Christmas. I've connected with my kids, actually watched movies with my family -  instead of glancing up from my laptop every now and then, rested, hiked, yoga-d, and cleaned. I'm so aware that this kind of rest comes so rarely for me and that's my fault. I need to find more space to step back and breathe. I'm working on that.

I've been thinking a lot about the love of God during this break. I know it's something I talk about a lot and it seems cliché, but it just keeps tugging on me. I often have conversations with some of my girlfriends about whether or not the love of God is enough to create holy change. Do we need to take strong stances? Do we need to defend belief or rules? Do we need to define sin for the rest of the world? What is the appropriate line of grace and law?

 

 

The thought wouldn't let me go - because I'm of the strong belief that the love of God is powerful; more powerful than anything else we have ever encountered on planet earth. It was the love of God that filled Mary's womb with life. It was the love of God that kept Jesus confined to human flesh for 33 years. It was the love of God that sank into the dirt of humanity's brokenness and healed individual bodies and hearts and lives. It was the love of God that wept over Lazarus and called him back to life. It was the love of God that restored a naked, adulterous woman who was thrown into the dirt in front of her entire community. It was the love of God that gathered hurting people onto a mountain to listen to stories and words that would revive their tired hearts. It was the love of God that kept Jesus quiet while he was accused and beaten. It was the love of God that dragged that heavy tree up a hill and willingly surrendered itself to death. And it was the love of God that CAME BACK. It was always his love, wasn't it?

We know so little about Jesus' interactions with humanity. We have some stories and some memories, but we don't have a day-to-day account of his life. What we do know is that every author of the gospels found it pertinent to point out that Jesus had no tolerance for the people who were shaming and abusing other people. He called that one to light every time. He would not be trapped into condemning anyone according to their interpretation of the law. He was much more concerned with the hearts of the people who came to him. If they came broken, hungry, desperate and humble, Jesus was stirred by compassion. If they came to accuse or trap Jesus into shaming people, he was quick to shut them down. Jesus didn't need to reiterate laws or rules or the chasm that separated people from God. He didn't come to obliterate it either (maybe that's where we lose our way - assuming that love is an invitation to live selfishly?). Jesus showed up to bridge the chasm. He didn't come to push people farther away, burdened by the weight of their great shame. He came to lift that old, heavy yoke from their shoulders. He came to do just what he did.

We keep distorting the love of God because we don't understand it. Some people picket and demand and accuse because they are taught that the love of God must be balanced by "the law". Some people cower under the weight of fear - never speaking a word of truth because they are afraid of the consequences.

You know what is really, really hard for me? It's hard for me to love the people who aren't loving people. I see injustice - and injustice is always a hand that waves away the great love of God - and I flare. It's very hard for me to love the people who are shouting rules from the rooftops. Powerful love would require that I acknowledge that God produces mercy for them too. It's not easy for me, but I am so grateful that others loved me when I was that person. Remembering those experiences gives me freedom to love the unloveable.

do believe in rules. Rules are important in so many ways. Rules keep people safe. They are meant to keep us from hurting each other, from taking advantage of one another, and from putting our own safety at risk. Rules shouldn't be thrown out the window. But we forget that the most important rule - the one that everything else should hang from - is that we love God and we love people.

We forget that love comes first, and in the midst, and last. 

If love doesn't come first then we are paving a bleak road that we ourselves would never want to travel. That road will quickly take us away from Jesus and we will be left defending our "Biblical" stances against other people. If compassion doesn't stir our hearts we are in danger of painting a religion that has nothing to do with Jesus of Nazareth. We don't need to defend, or concoct, anything that doesn't reflect the great love of God. If we're standing on any other platform, we have lost our way.

At the end of the book of John there is a recollection of Jesus having a very private conversation with Peter. Peter is broken, friends. He has given up his old life to follow Jesus, seen glorious and holy things, defended Jesus with a sword only to be reprimanded, denied ever knowing Jesus and then he watched his hope die a brutal and horrible death. He's also already found the empty tomb and talked with Jesus in the resurrected flesh. But here he is, fishing again. He's ashamed and sad and afraid. He doesn't know what to do with his humbled, uncertain self. But Jesus comes to him, walks on a beach with him and speaks right into Peter's broken heart.

"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."  Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."  Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."  The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?"  He said, "Lord, you know all things;  you know that I love you." Jesus said,"Feed my sheep."

[John 21: 15-18]

Did you catch that, friends? Jesus says it three times." Do you love me? Then feed my sheep. Feed them, Peter."  Not "Make sure you always point out their missteps. Make sure they don't ever do something the law condemns." He also doesn't make it a point to tell Peter to just let people do whatever they want. He doesn't take a stance. He doesn't create a platform for Peter to stand on - except for this, "Feed them." 

Just feed them.

People are hungry. They are desperate for comfort, for nourishment, for mercy, for kindness, for restoration and life. We are born into judgement. We have enough shame pulling us in a million directions. What we REALLY need is for something to ground us to freedom. The only thing that can do that - the only thing that can shatter our darkness - is the great love of God. Have you ever heard of someone being set free by guilt? Have you ever heard of someone being delivered by fear and loathing? Never. Because those things can't revive us. They can only be handfuls of dirt thrown into our shallow pits. They can only cover over our sadness and suffocate us into silence.

I get it that this is a great big debate in the church. I get it that lots of people have lots of teachings with lots of Bible verses defending their rights to wound and break apart human hearts. The Pharisees had that too. And Jesus wouldn't have any of it.

If we love him, friends, we'll feed his sheep. We'll let that be our one platform and we'll do it well. We will feed every single human heart that comes to us with the great love of God, with his chain shattering truth, with barrelfuls of mercy and kindness. We will trust that God is big enough, strong enough and loving enough to draw us all to repentance in his way and in his time. We can trust that, friends.

*December 2013

Worship Is Your Gift

I've been desperate for worship.

Some days I'm starving for a quiet space to sit with my iTunes radio tuned to a Will Reagan channel. I want to lay with my eyes closed, moved by the depth of someone crying out to God. I get why King David loved the desert; why he longed for his old place of solitude and worship. Life climbs up on top of us and demands every moment of attention and every functionality from us. Often I'm surviving, but I'm not living. Worship feels like living to me.

Worship has meant different things to me in my lifetime. When I was really young, worship happened every time it rained. I'd grab my umbrella and my rain boots and walk circles in a field by my house. I'd listen to God in the silence and come home alive again. In high school worship was a wild culmination of emotion and experience. And then in my deepest darkness, worship was my lifeline. I would lay in my bed, with the lights off and turn up my stereo as loud as I could. I would cry over my brokenness and beg Jesus to rescue me.

Right now worship is where I go to knead away at my fear and shame. I sink into a place where only Jesus is. Sometimes worship is just my breath. It is waiting, always waiting. I stop striving and pushing and forcing. I stop demanding and searching and running. This is where I relinquish. My heart rises up and my gunk falls away. I'm learning new ways to sit in the presence of God. I'm learning new ways to bring all of me, even my childish fear of what I'll be in an uncontrolled environment. Who am I when I just let go? When I sit still and quiet? When I release my plan, my expectation and my desire? Who am I when I'm not running?

Isn't that the question we all want to avoid? It nags away at us in the background of every experience. It sits quietly and firmly in every overwhelming moment. Who are we when we aren't DOING? Who are we when we are still and quiet with our whole hearts turned towards the throne of God? Who are we when we relinquish all of our platforms and accolades? Who are we when we come to the rawest of spaces, where life melts into eternity and we have nothing else to do but acknowledge the God who holds our Hope in his hands?

There's only one way to find out. We must gently set life on the floor, with the full assurance that we will be back in a few moments. With the kind of trembling that comes from simply not knowing what lies beyond the threshold, we have to enter in. Enter in. Raw hearts, breathtaking surrender. Just sit with him. Breath in his nearness. Relinquish our expectation of what we will experience and let words and music and movement wash over us. This is where life lies, tucked away in the small moments of solitude. No pretense. No posturing. No explaining or demanding.

We who have listened to the sounds of the desert; who have opened our hearts to worship in our driest, loneliest, most glorious seasons know that this is where The Encounter happens. When life moves on and promises spring to life, we long for those moments again. That's where he was, and is. We were meant to experience God all alone and altogether. We were meant to connect our hearts to him. We are his. He is ours.

If you're desperate for worship too it's because you were created for it. You raise your hands and dance and jump and sing along to the music you love because it ignites something deep in  your soul. You are MOVED by it. You were made for it. My prayer for you this week is that you will find worship. True, deep, holy worship. Maybe while you wrap presents, or run errands, or light candles on Tuesday night. Maybe in the moment between unwrapping gifts and eating breakfast all together. Maybe while everyone sleeps in front of the fire in the middle of the afternoon. Wherever you find it - find it.

Worship is your gift.

*December 2013

The Rigging

When Israel was a child, I loved him, 
and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.
{Hosea}

Hosea is a heartbroken love story. This is the part of history when God looks back at those first moments of molding a nation. He remembers the stumbling, the faltering, the fear and the fully human stubbornness. He remembers the spray of the sea holding back its walls. He remembers the wonder of being a people who are fought for. He remembers the complaining and the hoarding. He remembers that, as a young people, Israel just kept running. He called out and they went scrambling for the next thing.

He remembers that he taught his people to walk. He asked them to hold up Moses' arms the way he held up their arms. He kept showing up to nudge them along, growing and strengthening them. He gave them what they asked for - even when he knew that a King would make their lives harder. He loved them and sometimes his love was quiet like a breeze, rather than wild like a storm.

He didn't capture them, like their enemies would have. He didn't hold them in bondage, but he did wrap cords around them. Cords like the rigging of a ship. And, like a sailor, he worked hard to steer that ship. He ran and jumped and he sweat blood. He pulled the sails and called up wind to move the ship from stagnant water. They didn't see him of course, they just felt the wind. They called their direction 'chance'. They even thought they were the ones steering the ship. But he worked anyway.

And he knew his young people. He knew what they needed. So he carefully selected the rigging he would use. He wrapped human kindness around them, steadfast and secure. He breathed life into the importance of community. When they loved each other, when compassion came gushing from their hearts, he tugged that rigging and they soared. He tied them with love because only love can really heal them. God, knowing the truest true of the human condition, knew that shame would never lead them, hate would never strengthen them, fear would never deliver them. So he poured out his own truest true and he loved them. Even if they couldn't recognize it.

Even then, God lifted the yoke off of their necks, he rescued them from slavery. Because that was always the plan. He never intended to do anything other than come for them. Even when he was working the rigging, he knew exactly where he was headed. But then God, who was Jesus, knelt down in their dirt, in their tired excuses and wild wandering, to feed them. He was the King who had what they needed and he had never stopped working for the moment when he would put it in their hands. Nourishment.

You might not see him, friend, working the rigging. You may not know that the seasons of wind and movement are his intention. You may not know that he is deliberate and precise and good at his job, but he has not rested. He has held nothing back. He won't hold anything back. Maybe faith is simply surrendering to the direction of the ship. Maybe, in the dark storms, faith is remembering that God alone can calm the storms. Maybe faith is resting when you just can't see which way you are headed.

Because God is at the rigging.

Whose kindness has he used to tug you? Who has he used to love you to healing? He's calling you, you know. He's calling you to be a part of those cords. He's calling you to love and to be brave and kind. Who is he calling you to?

*November 2013

Hard Things Can Trigger Healing

The last few days have been emotionally (and physically) exhausting. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you know that Daisy (who is almost three) has an abscess in her mouth, right next to a tooth that she had worked on about five months ago. Actually, she had almost all of her teeth worked on, due to a crazy amount of tooth decay and cavities. She had a tooth pulled and she's sporting four silver crowns. And now this abscess, which maybe you know, is stupid painful. Her face is swollen and she spent an entire afternoon and evening crying until we switched from tylenol to ibruprofen. She's also on antibiotics and her dentist appointment is this afternoon.


Daisy is really susceptible to cavities and tooth decay because she was on a ridiculous amount of antibiotics when she was six months old. Apparently an overdose of antibiotics equals weak and sensitive teeth. This teeth issue has been super triggering for me from the start. When they initially worked on her teeth they had to put her under, which left me shaking and crying. Surrendering her like that reminded me of Daisy in the hospital, fighting for her life. She came through just fine and my mom reminded me that God had something for me in that experience too. So, when her face swelled up and she spent hours sobbing and kicking, my mind threw me back into those hours that feel like a long second - Daisy convulsing and vomiting and screaming after being stung by a scorpion.


It's not the same thing. I know this. I know that she isn't dying, or even probably in any real danger. I know that the dentist will intervene and she will heal. I know that she is safe. I know that, even in this, God has something for all of us. Sometimes I feel stupid, or silly, for even still having these emotions. I'm afraid that people will roll their eyes and judge my fear. As if that would have even an inch of bearing on what God is doing in our lives.


Sometimes I put too much value into what I think I should do or feel. My heart gets yanked around on the strings of expectation. I'm realizing that I've spent so much of my life judging my own and other people's actions. I've looked at the lives of people I love - their choices and feelings - from the outside and rolled my eyes in judgement. Which is why I assume other people are doing the same to me.

Cause you reap what you sow.

What you do to others, they'll do to you. It's the rhythm of life.

If I want kindness, I have to sow kindness. If I want compassion, I have to sow compassion.

 

That's what God has for me in this.

My heart, and my fear, are being stirred up to keep me turning in another direction. I'm relearning life and it is really, really not easy. But we can do brave things with soft hearts, right?

*Is there a difficult, or triggering, situation in your life that is stirring up truth and freedom?

*October 2013

The Story of Shame

"Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change."
[Brene Brown]

 

Something happens once shame enters into the equation. Something old and deep shifts inside of us and we find ourselves at a complete standstill. Maybe we've become pretty good at ignoring shame, letting it turn our stomaches and then swallowing it again. Maybe we've listened to it whisper, but denied its existence. Maybe it's so rooted in us that we don't even know that we're operating out of it, but then it comes slamming into our bodies like a freight train. Something triggers that old, powerful force and it completely crushes us in a fraction of a second.

And then there we are, flat on our backs, shame towering over us like a thick shadow, it's very existence smothering us like a stifling desert. There's no breeze, no chance of relief. Just ominous, low hanging clouds. Shame is a force like no other.

I've known shame in the deepest recesses of my body. I have worn it like a robe, black and heavy, stained with my grief. I've known shame that had nothing to do with my own choices. I've worn other people's robes and felt the weight of it sink into my bones. I am not unfamiliar with shame.

It's pretty likely you've known shame too. Which makes me think about the very first human experience of shame - the day it was birthed into the world. When Adam watched Eve reach for something she was never meant for. And then he reached for it too.

It wasn't that they were suddenly naked. It's just that they were suddenly aware of their nakedness - and ashamed of it. Maybe they were crushed by the realization that they were exposed. Maybe it had nothing to do with their bodies and they were just looking for a robe to cover their grief. They hid in their shame and waited for God to come for them.

You know that sick feeling you have when you know you're about to be found out; that things have changed forever and you can't undo it? You're suddenly living in loss, when just moments before, you were living in joy.

One stupid choice that introduced shame and struggle and sadness for the rest of humanity, for the rest of time. And, every time shame hovers over us, we feel the same weight. Great loss and sorrow sink into our deepest spaces until we are paralyzed.

But there's this.

"Where are you?" He says it quietly, with a tinge of sadness, because he knows where they are. He just wants to know if THEY know where they are. He's not wondering what bush they are crouched behind - he's asking about the position of their hearts. He didn't send someone else to clean up this mess. He came himself. Great, pulsing grief leading every step. Brushing past tall grass and swaying tress, breathing in cool, sweet air - the earth is free and beautiful. Joy lives here, flooded with peace and rest. This life was good.... pleasing. But here they come, trembling. Defensive. Blaming.

For the first time he spills blood. He draws life from an animal and uses its skin to clothe them, covering their shame and whispering, even in that moment, that a stronger blood will be spilled to cover them. Someday. Maybe it seems like he was too harsh, closing the doors of the life they had loved and sending them out into a world that shame had birthed, but this was the only way.

This is how deliverance comes.

It didn't come in that lifetime, or in thousands after them. But it came at the right time - when the ground had been plowed, worked and prepared. When the world was teetering on the edge of being lost. When he had been silent for 400 years and his people had been crying out, but he hadn't answered. In silence and questioning and burning desperation, he slid in under the wall. He went unnoticed, walking with them again. Not with cool breezes and vast oceans of paradise, but with dirty sandles and human grief ripped open in front of him. Blind eyes and twisted legs. Mad minds and broken women. Disease and death. Abandoned and rejected people, clinging to his robe, wanting desperately to shed theirs.

Knowing all along that this time it was his own blood that had to seep into the earth. This time he would have to surrender himself for the sake of their shame.

Our shame.

My shame.

He did what they could never have done. He bore their shame. Naked and exposed. Beaten and despised. He let it heap up on him, crushing him under the weight. That cross, it was nothing. Those nails, they were powerless. It was love that held him there. It was the remembrance of those days on the earth as it was meant to be, walking in the cool of the day. It was the sound of their laughter, the memory of they way they interlaced their fingers when they ran, without growing tired. It was the joy of not being alone and knowing that this was the price to pay so that he would never be alone again. This was the righting, the turning, the redemption that would put things back in their place. And that made every second of shame worth it.

Which is why we are capable of change.

Shame doesn't own us anymore, not when we are his. He righted that wrong. He shouldered that great weight. He did the impossible to call us out from hiding. Naked or no, we don't have to be ashamed. The cross was more than an instrument of death. It was the second tree. For the second Adam.

I heard someone say that Jesus has invited us to eat of the fruit of that second tree.

He is inviting us to dismantle shame; to break it apart in our hands and let it crumble at his feet. He's inviting us to consume something new. Something that allows us to be what we are, as we are; to come to the table broken and desperate. Just come.

This is where change is possible.

* What about you? What role has shame played in your life? What does this speak to your experience?

*September 2013

The Encounter

I taught a yoga class yesterday. It wasn't my regular class - I was covering for someone else - but it was one of those sacred classes. The Spirit swept through that room like a barely noticeable, but thickly present wave. The mystery of life in Jesus opened up wide and, for a few moments, I felt like I was standing in a raw and completely immersed space. It was like my liminal space, my practice of Waiting, turned sweet. The desert dripped away from my body and left - Him. Just Him.

I don't know if it was as holy of an experience for anyone else, but I wanted to cry. More like weep. The gentleness of God, in their mysterious goodness, washed over me and I didn't want to move. I would have stayed there in the dim light, music playing somewhere around me, heart melting in that Presence. Their Presence. It startles me with its strength and swings over me like the branches of an old tree.

The Divine is my shade.

And more than the shade of a little desert tree.

They're like a tree that's rooted into solid rock, bent by the intensity of desert winds and thick with survival. They've existed here all along - unfazed by the deadness of desert. Fully alive. Vibrant. Quiet. Steady. Always flowing. Never needing me to acknowledge them to prove their existence. Reprieve from the intensity of Waiting.

I've been asking for depth. I've been asking for encounter. I've been asking for Presence.

And, just like that, I'm stunned. I'm teaching and they're speaking. I'm practicing and they're diving deep. The rest of my day is like a shadow. Nothing touches on the realness of that encounter. Nothing stirs my soul like the Presence that came for me.

And I just want more....

*September 2013