Category: writing

tell me what you’re for…

So don’t waste my time and your curses on verses

about what you are against, despise, and abhor.

Tell me what inspires you, what fulfills and fires you.

Put your goddamn pen to paper and tell me what you’re for!

Taylor Mali, Silver-Lined Heart

A fear years ago Magic Mike came out. It starred Channing Tatum and was a story about male strippers. It was barely on my radar. Until my friend asked me to go see it with her. At the time (and to this day) this was a friend that if she invited me to things, I said yes. I learned a long time ago that no’s are detrimental to relationships and I wanted her to know that I am for her and for her family. So I went to a midnight showing, opening night to a movie I never thought I would see. I had fun with my friend. And I am so thankful she invited me, and let me share something with her that excited her. I entered her world. I loved her.

After my experience with the movie, I had a conversation with a long time friend and she confessed that she wouldn’t have been able to see that movie. It would have done something to her heart, her emotions, and her mind. I empathized—thankful for her honesty and encouraged her in her conviction. Mine was different. We both exercised our freedom and we were both loving ourselves and others. Neither one of us felt the need to condemn the other or publicly shame someone for enjoying a movie.

//

My Facebook is blowing up. I have friends excited about Fifty Shades of Grey. I have friends banding together in protest—grieved by a world where this book could have been written, let alone published. I haven’t read the book. I may or may not see the movie depending on who invites me. Do I love the idea that this book is a phenomenon? Not really—mainly because there are some amazing stories out there, rich and full of depth, and this book strikes me as more of a candy bar (but I’ve read my fair share of candy-bar-books, so I’m not really going to take a stand on that principle either.)

Love to me looks like making room for people’s stories. Not everyone in the world is like me, and if Fifty Shades taught them something, or entertained them—I think it’s a conversation worth having. It’s out there. I can’t put my fingers in my ears and pretend it isn’t. And I don’t have to be hateful towards the people who find some merit in it…And if I’m lovingly part of the conversation, then maybe I get to be a voice for change, pointing out healthy ways for men and women to interact, fighting against injustices and abuse women face around the world, or conversing about the darkest parts some of us can descend when we’ve been hurt. That we all have our shameful secrets and fetishes.

Instead of standing against something, I want to stand for something.

So watch or don’t watch Fifty Shades as your conviction leads you. I think love and wisdom may look like private conversations with face-to-face friends, rather than a newsfeed where people will have a different experience and may be hurt by your cause.

Instead, let’s have a conversation about what we’re for. I want to hear what inspires, moves, and brings you to life.

For me right now I’m for:

  • 6:30am workouts
  • a glass of red wine before bed
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • Noonday Collection
  • house concerts by Sue Fluger (www.suefluger.com)
  • birthday celebrations
  • poetry by Taylor Mali and Rumi
  • clothing swaps
  • movies with friends

What are you for?

brave is…

kyler fairy

I’m usually brave.

Her words are bold—and true. She often walks up to strangers and starts conversations. She’s fearless. She expects the world to be a good, kind place and she meets it with the same energy. I didn’t want to crush her spirit, so I let her words hang on the air, pregnant with all the possibility. She feels brave. I love that she does.

But.

But I know as an adult that she’s not actually brave. She’s unafraid. She doesn’t see how high the tree is off the ground because she knows I’ll catch her when she jumps. She doesn’t see all the little strings connecting that have the potential to spin her world upside down on a whim. The butterfly effect is outside of her comprehension. She is fearless.

I long for that fearlessness. I was the girl who wanted to go as fast as possible. I raced horses, road roller-coasters, skied and snowboarded. I roller-bladed down steep hills, often sporting scraped knees and elbows. I climbed trees and jumped to the ground. And did it again and again. I always thought I would bungee-jump and sky dive.

I’m not that girl anymore

Because now I see how high that tree is off the ground. I feel how hard and unforgiving the ground is. The knowledge of all the way all the things can go wrong rests heavy upon me. I know the world is dark and scary—that monsters are masked as a grandfather. A friend. A neighbor. I know that one wrong turn or stop can end my life as I know it.

I am not brave.

I have been held captive in fear. Terrified of the things outside of my control. And it’s different for me. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who is afraid. It’s a new thing. And I don’t like it. I’m the mom who took a three and two year old to Africa three years ago. But this past Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to go visit my sister in Uganda. And I didn’t. Because I was afraid. And that’s when I finally admitted where I am. I missed out on an amazing adventure because my brain sky-rocketed to all the worst-case scenarios (which, at the time, included contracting ebola.)

And then my five year old’s words loosened something inside me.

I whispered to my heart, to my children, and to my Jesus

Brave isn’t the absence of fear—it’s doing it anyway.

And that is sinking deep into my bones. The words washed away the scars and raw, exposed skin. It healed something in me that had broken open.

I don’t want to be fearless.

I want to be brave.

the opposite of drunkenness

IMG_3179I read some words today.*

It was a list. A litany of things that would keep one (myself) from inheriting the kingdom of God. Some of those things I had done last week: fits of anger, idolatry, rivalries, envy. Some I committed within the past few months: drunkenness, dissensions. And as the words wrapped themselves around my heart, I tried to glance away. I tried not to see.

But my kind and gentle Savior led me forward.

I thought the opposite of drunkenness would be sobriety. Or the opposite of rivalries would be forcing myself not to want good things for myself, sort of a lack of competitiveness. I thought it would be robotic control of thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

But that’s not what is written in Galatians. Consider the words that follow. It’s another litany of words. Words we’ve read often and turned into kitchy little plaques that we hang in our homes. I want to pause and rest on these words.

Because the opposite of drunkenness isn’t sobriety.

The opposite of drunkenness is love.

Joy.

Peace.

Patience…

The list continues with kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

And I am led back to that place where it isn’t about so much what I do or don’t do, but what the Spirit is growing in my heart. This is the Spirit’s work in me. It’s the work of love. The work of kindness. The work of gentleness.

And it breaks my heart because I see the lack of that inner-working when I interact with the world. I am not quick to show love and kindness to the ones who are different from me. Or even the ones closest to me. In the name of truth, we forget gentleness. The world looks at our Church and they don’t see our Jesus. Our words have become hurtful and divisive. We don’t make room at the table for the ones who scare us with their different-ness. We tremble at discussion and are fearful of the unknown. We don’t trust the work God does in the hearts of those around us.

We’re so afraid of “false” doctrine that we’ve castrated the Spirit.

We tell people how to read the Bible, how to interpret it and give them rules in place of relationship. We don’t meet people where they are—we ask them to conform before we are willing to bend down and wrap our arms around them. Or if we do, we connect strings to our aid, “Believe this,” we demand. Love is absent. Often gentleness and kindness too. Our hearts are hardened to people’s stories. We stop our ears, and the ears of those around us. We try and silence them—and when that doesn’t work we yell insults and defame characters.

We don’t trust the Spirit is working out salvation with fear and trembling in the hearts of the individual—ours, their’s, and even the ones listening to their story. We are not tender-hearted. We are so fearful of what’s to come, of God being forgotten, that we’re acting like we have to save God—and it’s a desperate act. An act that doesn’t allow for anyone to have a different experience or to ask questions.

Instead of showing the world how good we are at love and kindness and gentleness, we show them how good we are at hate. We are no longer known as the people who love the unlovable—we are the people the unlovable avoid. Rather, they turn to the government to find people to fight for their injustices, to give them aid, food, and shelter.

It’s amazing, really. The things the Church in Acts was known for, we are not. People hear the classification “Christian” and cringe. I know I do too.

We’re not all like that. I know. Some are in the trenches, with full selves and all the messy brokenness creating space for other’s full selves. They strive to bring the kingdom of God to the ones whom God would give it. They read the litany of words stacked against them, and cling to Jesus to make them new, knowing they understand less than an iota, and giving love instead of fear or judgment. They sit. They listen to stories. They allow questions and the unknowns, the unanswerable hanging thick with wait. And with one breath at a time, they make space for the Spirit to do the work that the Spirit does in the Spirit’s time and the Spirit’s way. Letting the stories play out over lifetimes and trusting fear will not overcome.

This is God’s work.

We don’t have to try so hard—doesn’t God say God will bring about God’s good purpose?

I breathe God in.

I breath God out into the world.

*Passage from Galatians 5:16-26

a dose of irreverence

kyler

My kids are ridiculous.

I have to keep reminding Kyler over and over again that people are not her own personal jungle gym. She expresses love with exuberant hugs, jumping on top of people and with aggressive energy. She doesn’t know where she ends and you begin. Bumped heads and a knee in the gut or groin are common. But when she wraps her arms around me and squeezes with all her strength, my heart melts.

Gloria is sassy and spunky—perfecting the use of sarcasm and quick to laugh at me when I misspeak. At her basketball game during half-time music played over the speakers. Gloria danced while the coach gave directions. Of course. I enjoyed watching her. My heart glowed seeing her be so free. She was fully her in that moment.

I love seeing them laugh. I love watching them interact with the world, discovering problems and finding solutions. I love the spontaneity of the ridiculous.

//

Twice a year I help with lunch duty at my kid’s school. It’s amazing watching five groups of fifty kids over the three hour span—the social interactions, the way humor changes, the girls vs. boys mentality, the unfiltered energy their bodies are trying to so hard to contain but seeps out around the cracks. It’s controlled chaos.

At the beginning of each lunch time, one kid is asked to pray. It’s always a battle quieting the room, reminding the kids to listen and to contain that boundless energy. And of course at one point, right after a child started praying, something funny happened, and the kids giggled.

Parent intervened.

Talked about how we approach God as Father, and how we treat our own father. Respectfully. In awe. With reverence.

Somberness.

And it broke my heart a little bit. Because it reminded me so much of my own upbringing. I learned to relate to God as this somber creator, who loved me infinitely, but who was to be taken seriously. Church was about quiet and reflection. Fulfilling duties so God was pleased. There was no play. No silliness.

The games and silliness were separate from and apart from God. Something we were allowed to do before we had to buckle down and work at making God happy.

But.

But what if God delights in the silliness and play?

What if he’s more than somber? What if, more than he wants our awe, he wants us to enjoy him? What if he wants us to feel his absolute and unending delight over us?

//

Today I read Isaiah 52:10.

“The Lord has bared his holy arm…”

You showed the world your guns, I whispered. Maybe that was irreverent. Sorry, not sorry. And then I giggled. It was ridiculous and good. And I thought, maybe God delights in this. Maybe he wants me to lack inhibition, to be fully me. Maybe he delights when I dance in the crowd. Maybe he wants me to be exuberant in my actions even if it’s off-putting because he delights in me loving this world with all of my being.

Maybe he wants me to giggle when something absolutely ridiculous and awkward happens during prayer simply because it’s funny and I’m not a robot. I don’t have to be stoic or somber. Abundant life, full life are the promise—and those are not separate from our emotions.

We remember the grave and the cross—but on this side, it is never separate from the joy of Easter. And there are occasions and times when quiet and reflection are good and needed. And sometimes at dinner instead of praying, we ask our kids to sit quietly for a few moments—taking deep breaths. And giggling and play are set aside for a minute…but there is no rebuke for silliness, no reminders to approach God with reverence.

He finds us in our mess.

He finds us in our silliness.

He is with us in our play.

And he laughs with us.glo

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