Month: September 2018

Sunday

First, the bad news: We will NOT be on the riverboat Sunday. There has just been too much rain, they cannot sail. I’ll take this time to thank Dennis for all of the work he did to secure the pavilion, and then to change the reservation. We all appreciate you, whether we get to enjoy the fruit of your labor or not.
Followed by good news: We WILL be at the Bridge at the regular time, and we will continue in Romans, opening ourselves up to what someone called “the greatest of all monsters, and the root of all evil.” You can’t wait, right? As far as serving, no one was scheduled this week, so we’ll keep the kids upstairs – I’ll keep the message very short, probably 5-10 min;) and there will be no snacks at the hospitality table. That should be ok because we WILL still be having our meal together after the service, still following the sign up sheet.
If you have any questions about Sunday, please ask
I hope I see you all there, there’s almost nothing more beautiful than a community meal.

Love. Peace.

Dancing

You know I’m writing a book, and that takes up an awful lot of time. I spend most of my days in front of a screen, pounding away, tying stories from the Bible to the Bridge and middle school and floods and faith and doubt and anger and family and movies and songs and everything else. I’m getting close to the end of what it will be (I could go on forever, probably, but it has to end somewhere, right?) – my hope is to have it finished and printed by Christmas. So, I want to share a little with you, an idea of what this monster might look like:

I just watched the movie V For Vendetta. (It’s super violent, so if that’s not your deal, I wouldn’t recommend it.) It’s about the exact same thing the New Testament is about: a Revolution of the Mind, a call to reawaken the imagination that’s lain dormant for way too long. The main character, simply named V, refuses to give up on a culture, a world, that has fallen into fear and despair. He refuses to accept that “it is what it is.” He refuses to abandon the idea that change is possible.  

And he’s exactly right. God hasn’t abandoned this world, His creation. In fact, He’s redeeming it. That’s what the cross is all about, that today is different from yesterday. That this world isn’t lost forever, that ‘it is what it is’ might have been fine yesterday, but now there’s an empty tomb and nothing will ever be the same again. Jesus is the perfect sign that He hasn’t left us all alone, in increasing darkness, and if He hasn’t, then we shouldn’t either. 

All we have to do is open our eyes to the reality all around us, open our ears to the music that’s already playing.   

V quotes Emma Goldman, “A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having.” The Trinity (God, Father, Son & the Holy Spirit) is a relationship, not static and rigid, but fluid, based on mutual giving, receiving, community, movement – like a dance. 

We are not drafted into an existence marked by more rules and checklists and entrance requirements. This is not a faith of sterile automatons trying to stay out of trouble, not a life spent trying to keep our hands clean. 

No, we are invited into a total revolution where we don’t surrender our beautifully determined hope to discouragement and desperation. Instead, we dance. 

+3

Last week, I stepped on the scale to find I had gained 3 lbs. 

You see, my entire life has been a struggle with weight – up and down (mostly up) and always a battle. It’s caused all sorts of insecurities, held me back in a variety of ways. I wore t-shirts into the pool and ocean (I understand some wear clothing to protect skin from the sun, very smart, but that wasn’t why I did. I did it to try to hide, because obviously, when you wear a shirt at the beach, you become invisible, right?), but that was only when I couldn’t get out of going in the first place. I missed nearly all of the pool parties, beach trips, to which I was invited, stayed away from locker rooms, and excused myself, faking stomach aches, from gym classes, especially ones where teams were differentiated by ‘shirts and skins.’

(Seriously, shirts and skins?!!!?  That IS a real thing, and not just a mythical legend from the pits of hell! What are these sadistic gym teachers thinking?! As if adolescence wasn’t difficult enough…)

So. I would lose a little, gain a lot, staying round-ish and weak, unthreatening. But it was always a thought, concern, embarrassment, an energy drain, stealing so much, like a weight around my neck and a nail in my brain. 

Here’s the thing, though, that I’m finding. Maybe it was never about weight, maybe it was about a tendency towards perfection. I always wanted everyone to like me, to think I was funny and cool, smart, that I was awesome. And no matter what I did, there was always this voice in my head, lying to me, persuading me that none of those things were true. This voice screaming at me that I was alone and stupid (that hurts, even now, to write, and it should hurt to read and it’s why we don’t say it in my house), and the H for Husky on my jeans and the way my clothes fit (or didn’t) were just very visible representations, symptoms that I confused for the illness. I could never figure it out, though, couldn’t connect the dots. So, I stayed super sad and self-conscious, terrified of a number on a scale. Of being less than ideal. Scared to death of never being good enough.

Ok, now. The second thing I do, every single morning, is climb onto this black square of horror, and last Thursday, I gained 3 lbs.

(Of course, I know you can’t gain 3 lbs in a day, but logic and truth are hardly substitutes for 40 years of self-abuse and lies, right? So, this is where the downward spiral usually begins, where the tapes start playing, reminding me that I am these terrible things and any growth or movement were impossible dreams and 3 lbs will soon be 50 and how could I ever think it could be different and blah blah blah.)

The point I thought I was making with this post was about taking a long view of our own development, that we’ll have 2 or 11 or 30 steps forward and 1 or 2 or 29 back, that those steps back don’t mean all is lost, that the steps back are actually an integral part of the process.

But then these words came out and the water got very deep and now what do I do with that? I can delete this whole page easy enough, keep these things inside, private. Or I could leave them right here.

We like to tell stories of our struggle once they’re in the rear view, framing them with ‘How I Overcame (Whatever).’ We begin with “I used to..” or “I was…” We do not like to tell stories that start with ‘I am fighting with (whatever) RIGHT NOW.’ Our vulnerability is past-tense, and I’m not sure that’s an authentic vulnerability at all. Perhaps, it’s just another monument to our independence and strength and pride. The truth is, the voices still come for me, and I still sometimes listen. I still cringe when I see a +3. I still am pretty scared of not being good enough. 

That’s the biggest change in me, since I fell in love with Jesus. I’ve found the old voices don’t have an off button (yet), but now they have competing New Voices (the lovely voice of my Jesus as well as the voices of the others I allow to see me as I am) that show/tell me I am loved, here, now, +3 or -3, steps forward or back, pass or fail, up or down, days I am awesome or days I am not. 

The brilliant Anne Lamott writes, “my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”

She’s right, it breaks my heart how much I missed. And I’m not letting it happen anymore. I’m writing a book, I go swimming often, my life is getting more juicy every gorgeous day.

I’m more and more convinced that all spiritual journeys require this ‘waking’ to the life we have been given, and jumping into the invitation to actually live it.        

Pigs

This was last week’s post: 

“Today, all I have is this blank screen. My head is crowded, there are so many things to tell you, I don’t know where to start…”

I thought just moving my fingers in naked honesty would stir something meaningful and words would flow like waterfalls. But as you know, this space stayed silent last week. It happens. Sometimes, things happen and you don’t have any context for them, no way to make sense of them – not everything lends itself to communication. There’s kataphatic theology/prayer, and that is when you use words, symbols to communicate with God – these posts are my kataphatic worship. Sure, I’m writing to you and my sister and my mom and my awesome buddy Troy and lots and lots of others I should name but won’t, but mostly I’m writing to (and for) God, pouring my heart into this keyboard directly to Him, for Him. 

Apophatic theology/prayer is when the usual forms of expression simply won’t do. One definition says this prayer “has no content.” It’s when the screen stays empty, your mind is empty, when you just rest without words. As you can imagine, this apophatic practice is not my default setting, but last week, it was all I had to give. And, just like anything else, the best we can do is to offer all we have, whatever it is, however inadequate it feels. (I am learning that those inadequacies are often the most valuable, even if we can’t see it this minute.)

Now, this week’s kataphatia (probably not a word, but one of the main perks with not knowing a language is being able to take what you learn and make it fit, with virtually no regard to the accepted rules, like punk rock linguistics;) 

My high school class reunion was on Saturday, and I didn’t go. I didn’t have a particularly wonderful time of school, and by ‘not a particularly wonderful time,’ I mean I hated every day. So, when the rumblings of a reunion began, I couldn’t have cared less. Most of the graduating class had lost touch, the minute we were handed our diplomas was also the minute the relationships we swore would never end, did. I never considered attending, not even for a second. 

Why not? Sure, I didn’t really miss them. I don’t live there anymore. I live here, with this family, an Angel and 2 beautiful boys, a Bridge, and more beautiful friends than I could have dreamed.  Why in the world would I want to go back to a place I ran from 25 years ago? 

I wouldn’t.

Except for one thing, I am a different person than I was in high school. God rescued me from that guy, then, and called me into a new life, overflowing with His blessings. That reunion would have been a celebration, not of me, but of Him. I would have heard 2 separate variations of the same question, over and over, “How/Why did you get to a church?” Either way, the answer is the same, Because Jesus saved my life.

But I didn’t want go. This terrific opportunity to witness to my own transformation never even crossed my mind, I was too comfortable here, self-absorbed and stagnant.

Check this Bible story out, I’ll wait here: (Luke 8:26-37)

*** 

Interesting, right? These Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave. Our first reaction is to feign righteous outrage. Gasp, How could they ask the Son of God, Savior of the world, to leave? How could they be so lost that, face to face with Jesus, they would ask Him to leave? How could I miss yet another sacred moment?

Because, to be brutally honest, we usually choose the pigs. These pigs represent the current economy, the status quo, comfortability. It’s why we don’t apply for the new position, ask the prettiest girl on a date, take up a new hobby. It’s why we don’t go to funerals. It’s why we don’t dance.

The pigs might be, well, pigs, but they’re the pigs we know.

I didn’t go to my reunion because I was busy tending to my herd of pigs. (It’s actually not ‘herd,’ the proper term for young pigs is a drift, drove or litter. Groups of older pigs are called a sounder of swine, a team or passel of hogs or a singular of boars. Ha!) I wanted to stay home, cozy and dry, instead of stepping onto the dance floor.

The big problem is, Jesus made me to dance. All the time. Even at a high school reunion.