Tag Archives: christianity

His Strength Is Mine

2 Mar

It’s funny how life comes back around in cycles. I often find myself in the same place, learning the same lessons over again which I thought I had conquered years ago.

I guess your own history repeats itself. Nothing really changes, but everything does. The universe is more circular than we realize.

And our inner selves are in a continual cycle of growth. Death to self and rebirth. Everything comes back around.

I find myself on the other side of constantly questioning my faith, back into some kind of simplicity of what it means to be a Christian.

I rejected that title for so many years. Not because I ever stopped believing or loving Jesus, but mostly because of the people, the hurt, the reputation.

I spent years rejecting the religious side of church in order to get free. And I did. But it left a void. Jesus was still there, calling me into grace, but often I let the my own cynical voice drown him out.

Now, I feel like I am kind of starting all over. These are the days of simple songs and words. I can’t stomach another blog post on what’s wrong with the church, the same words I used to feed on and write.

I find myself going back to words I used to reject because of the memories connected to them.

Basics, that I come to see aren’t so basic after all.

Love God, Love People. 

Another freeing mantra that became a cliche. (Like all things do eventually.)

And this one, often:

Your strength is made perfect in my weakness. 

It roams in the back of my head, always, leaving tire tracks in the mud of my understanding.

I say it over and over until I believe it and even then, it’s like I can’t fully comprehend it.

But I know I am so weak. 

I feel this lately. Emotionally and physically exhausted. Just tired of feeling life isn’t going the way I thought it would.

I am so ready for a huge shift, a breakthrough, a big change. Something. 

I feel like I am drifting with no focus or direction. I grasp on to something familiar because that’s all I have.

Jesus. 

(Maybe this is the point.)

I think about how in less than 3 months my body will release my son, and we’ll get to meet him for the first time.

I am excited, terrified, in awe, unprepared.

My mind goes back to those scattered moments of my daughter’s birth nearly three years ago.

The intensity and prayer. The feelings so weak and so strong all at once.

Reaching the point of knowing there is no possible way I can do what I have to do, and then doing it. 

And my daughter suddenly being in my arms.

Knowing I don’t think I could have done it without my husband being there as my comfort and my coach.

He never once doubted my ability or our decision to birth naturally free of any interventions.

I think of his words, his love, the pressure of his hands, and how suddenly,  in the middle of my greatest weakness,

His strength became mine.

Then I remember a few days later in the lowest, darkest moment of our lives sitting on a bench outside of Cook’s Children’s hospital, our perfect, brand-new daughter hooked up to so many machines, drugs running through her body trying to help her breathe.

I remember my husband, this pillar of strength and faith in my life being so broken that it was like a physical punch in the face.

I wasn’t sure how I could hold him up in that moment, but somehow I did.

Somehow God’s strength never left me, and in the middle of a crisis,

I was able to lend him my strength. 

And suddenly, I know this truth and it warms and heals me deep down in a place that’s been left bruised and vulnerable:

When one with someone, you borrow each other’s strength

 

strength

Only I am one with the creator of the universe. One who is yesterday and tomorrow, light and love, power and strength.

And I know, all those words I memorized and whispered as a child that became cliche to me over the years are true.

True enough to shake the foundations of the universe and steady my crazy emotions and become real in every moment of my life.

With God, Nothing Is Impossible.

The Same Power That Defeated Death Lives In Me.

I Can Move Mountains.

His strength is mine. 

 

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Sex & Shame (Jesus was a Bastard)

26 Aug

I am going to talk about sex.  And adultery. And abortion.

(Just another fun Tuesday night.)

I don’t do stuff like that on my blog. I am not really a fan of controversy.

But I feel like I need to add my voice to the madness.

We’ve all read the headlines lately.

So many emotions. So many personal opinions. So many people angry and disgusted. Heart-broken.

So many people divided, further.

I don’t have a lot of answers, but I know a few things that are not answers.

I don’t think we (as followers of Jesus) need to preach sin-avoidance to people.

Quit having sex outside marriage.

Quit screwing up.

Quit being imperfect…being human.

I don’t think we do a very good job giving grace to people.

(That’s what Jesus does.)

People suck at it. But we try, bless our hearts.

With the help of a love that won us over, we can love the unlovable.

(Mainly, us.)

Honestly, I don’t think yelling and protesting and signing petitions and using hashtags is going to change much.

I definitely don’t think sheltering our kids, obsessing over “purity,” and making sure abstinence is the only option, works.

I don’t think putting “good, Christian” marriage on a pedestal really helps either.

Real change is harder. It takes a lot of inconvenience and sacrifice and passion.

It’s easy to get angry. It’s a little more difficult to step back and examine the meaning behind the action.

How did our society get here?

When did we stop taking responsibility for our actions?

When did it become ok to rip apart innocent children?

When did we grow so cynical and hard-hearted?

When did I?

I played the perfect Christian girl for a long time. I tried, and I really wanted to do the right thing. But I was sad and broken and feeling unloved, unworthy and guilty. I lost my virginity when I was 15. When I was 18,  I thought I was pregnant. I wasn’t, but it was a scare.

But I wonder how my life would have turned out if I had been.  If I had a child at 18 instead of 30. Outside of marriage instead of inside. With a dysfunctional boy who was even more broken than I was, instead of with my best friend who I trust more than anyone.

Would I have been rejected by my church community?

Would I have stopped loving Jesus because I thought he could never love me after what I did?

Would I ever have been able to forgive myself?

I think about the shroud of guilt and condemnation that the Christian church has historically covered over people who commit sexual sins.

(As if there is a moral hierarchy.)

The red letters placed on women’s chests throughout generations.

Evil.

Bad.

Dirty.

Whores.

I think of all those fatherless children who grow up with an unnecessary shadow of gloom over them.

I think of all the babies who never get to see the light of day because their mother’s couldn’t bear to bring them into the world.

Maybe these almost-mothers were just selfish and calloused, or maybe they carried that deep shame placed on them by some religious stone-throwers.

You know, to put it bluntly, Jesus was an illegitimate child… a bastard.

Imagine the scandal of an unmarried girl becoming pregnant.

It was God.

Right. Until he heard it straight from an angel, the only thing Joseph thought was that his fiance had slept with another man.

Imagine the pride and fear he had to swallow in order to stay with her.

This isn’t my baby.

The very act of God coming to earth was surrounded by so much scandal.

Then Jesus grew up and dared to look the prostitute in the eye and tell her she was worth something.

So why are those who claim to be followers of Him so obsessed with sexual sin?

I know the shame and the pain it can cause. But I also know the redemption available. The freedom and grace we all can walk in.

What if we created an environment where we stopped preaching everything that is wrong with the world and started focusing on what can be redeemed?

(Everything)

What if we taught our kids that instead of focusing on not having sex, just to focus on Jesus?

What if we stopped worshipping marriage and thinking our spouse is going to be our savior and just accept them for the human they are?

What if we celebrated the beauty of a new life, no matter how they were conceived?

What if we focused on grace and love and stopped arguing about what we think sin is and isn’t?

What if every pregnant, single girl was immediately swept up into a loving community, protected by a family dedicated to being by her side through every emotional and physical pain, a village committed to helping raise her precious child?

ptest

Would destroying her baby even cross her mind?

What if we stopped obsessively pointing at what people do in their bedrooms and started obsessively pointing them to Christ?

What if we embraced the worst of the monsters and found that they are just as human as us?

I am not saying it’s easy. Completely the opposite. I don’t have some political plan to see this on a mass scale.

And I am not saying we shouldn’t be angry.

It’s good to feel righteous anger, even rage.

But don’t let it paralyze you. Don’t let it make you bitter and hopeless.

(Trust me, I am speaking to myself)

Turn your heartbreak into action.

Volunteer. Foster. Adopt. Love. Give. Write. Speak.

Do it from a place of humility, knowing:

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

And tomorrow will be better.

Men & Rocks (A Parable)

30 Aug

Two men were walking down an old dusty road called life carrying sacks.

One stopped along the way and picked up a stone called “Addiction,” and put it in his sack. The second man picked up a stone called “Evangelism.”

They walked a little further, when the first man found a rock called “Sexual Sin.” He put it in his sack. Nearby, the second man realized he must be missing something so he found a rock called “Feeding the Poor,” and did the same.

The two men walked on, a little slower this time because of the weight. The first man stopped by a tree and found a large boulder called “Self-Hatred” which he carefully squeezed into his bag. The second man found one just as big called “My Reputation,” and fit it in his bag.

They continued along the road. The first man acquired several more over the miles of travel: “Abuse,” “Dishonesty,” and “Drunkenness.”

The second man also picked up more to add to his load. They were big shiny rocks with long fancy names such as: “Memorizing Scripture,” “Attending Church,” and “Protesting Abortion.”

By this time, both men could barely walk under the load.

Out of nowhere, along came a man with a smile on his face. He stopped and looked at the men, both sweating and straining under their heavy sacks.

“Let me carry them.” He offered, firmly but gently. The first man put down his sack and looked inside. He recognized the rocks were no good. They were jagged and dirty and making his back ache. He closed the sack and handed it to the smiling man, grateful for the relief.

The second man put down his sack and looked in. All his rocks seemed were smooth and shiny, even though they were just as heavy.

“I can’t just let him carry them,” he thought to himself,  “They are my responsibility. Besides, they are not all dirty and jagged like the other man’s rocks.”

So the second man said “No thank you.” He closed his bag, and hoisted it back onto his own aching back. He continued to shuffle down the road, miserable and sweaty, but filled with a sense of self-pride.

The first man joyfully skipped down the road, following his savior, free from all things that had weighed him down.

 

Live Free or Die

1 Jul

This quote sits on the background of my desktop. The more I read it, the more it feels like my own holy mantra. I love the idea of my existence being a rebellion in an un-free world. Not rebellion in a sense of fighting against what is good and true, actually the very opposite.

When I was a kid, I was sort of paranoid. I used to lie awake at night, imagining enemies. They normally weren’t monsters or goblins, these enemies were real people. Burglars, kidnappers, rapist. I was afraid of people. I was also afraid of God, in a sense. I knew He “loved” me because that is what I was told. But, I never thought I was good enough for that love.

I looked in the mirror and found myself achingly different from the girl I wished I was. I remember as young as six making a mental list of the (major) things that would have to change in my life for me to be “normal.” I thought that was all I wanted. Really, I wanted to be free. Free from the nightmares. Free from the unspoken thing that paralyzed my mouth shut when it came to communicating with anyone older then me besides my immediate family. I didn’t know why I was afraid, I just was. I was in bondage to silence.

When I began to get free from my past, it was like I transitioned straight into another sort of bondage- the religious kind. I thought it was my job to decide whether I was a holy person or not, depending on how much time I spent on my knees, what movies or music I would or would not subject myself too. In my harsh judgment of myself, I couldn’t help but judge other people. I couldn’t see their motives, know their full story, or read their heart intent, but I stuck with the idea that “You will know them by their fruit.” I entered into a new kind of paranoia. Instead of writing a list of the things that needed to change in order for me to be normal, I wrote a mental list of things that needed to happen in order for me to be a “Jesus-freak. World-Changer. Not-of-this-world.” I was quick to point out those “hypocrites” who talked about celebrity gossip instead of reaching Muslims for Christ, the ones who claimed to love God and yet spend more money on worldly things like their purebred puppy and nice furniture, while there were starving children dying of AIDS  and worldly teenagers having sex who were going to burn in hell.

How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? (Gal. 1:4 NLT)

As Jesus began to gently lead me into the realm of his grace, at times I have felt my former self back-lashing.

“Do you realize how heretical the things your saying sound right now?”

“People are going to get offended…”

“Are you SURE, you are not just trying to rebel?”

As time goes on, condemnation has gone from being my master to becoming obsolete. It’s scary, almost, because I was so used to it.  I was comfortable seeing morality so stark black and white, I was comfortable being one of the few select, being able to judge the world instead of the condition of my own heart. I was safe in my cage.

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. (Gal 5:1 MSG)

As we are taught through our history, freedom cost something. It is risky, it is rebellious.

But the cost for our freedom was paid for, fully. We get to grab it, walk in it, make it our reality.

We don’t need to live with one foot in the cage and one out of it. We don’t celebrate Independence Day because you are sort of free. Yes, people may be in fear that our nation is losing it’s freedom, but the state of our physical freedom simply cannot touch the freedom that is on the inside of us.

Fear, condemnation, guilt, those things are no longer your masters. If you walk with Jesus, His Spirit is in you, that means FREEDOM.

(Those that say in their hearts “Yes, but that means people think they can do whatever they want, they will use their freedom as an excuse to be selfish and SIN,” don’t really get it anyway. That is not the point.)
Your response to an unfree world doesn’t need to be anger, endless political discussions, great planned-out “battle plans.” It doesn’t have to  mean working in ministry until you are half dead, constant suffering and sorrow for a cause, or playing the martyr.  Sometimes it simply means to live free.

So make every day Independence day.

Enjoy life. Take a risk. Love someone who will never love you back. Make friends with those the church rejects. Go on an adventure. Have a beer, light some fireworks, jump in a lake, laugh.

Live Free.

(I may be biased, but New Hampshire has the best state slogan EVER.)

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