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How do you love someone you don’t trust? What does that look like? 1 Corinthians says that Love always trusts. What does that mean? Does it mean you trust the person who has hurt you in the past not to do it again? Do you trust that they one day might be better? How do you not let the distrust jade you and make you stop loving them? Esp. when they keep doing the same thing over and over again. They might apologize but there is never any real change. The apology comes because they don’t want you mad at them. Or maybe in that moment they are truly sorry but not enough to change so that they don’t hurt you in that way again. Is that really love? I know Jesus loved the people who killed Him but did He trust them? Did he trust Judas? I guess not, because He knew Judas would betray Him. So do I go through life expecting to be betrayed? Is upsetting my emotional stability really worth it? I know life isn’t going to be easy but does it have to feel like a constant uphill battle?

*sigh*

Argument I had with God in the car on the way home:

Me: “Why do you love idiots? Why do you say I have to love them? I’m sick of people and their crap! I’m sick of people who are self-righteous and think they know it all! I’m sick of constantly defending my beliefs! Why?!”

God: “You’re an idiot and I love you. I love you and your crap. I love you even when you’re being self-righteous and you think you know it all. Because I love you, damn it.” (Oddly, God had Rich’s voice there. 😉 )

Me: *pause* “That all ya got?”

God: “Yup.”

Me: “Fine. But I’m blogging this when I get home.”

I am not arguing about my faith anymore.

Life is too short to be spent in circular arguments that get no where. And more often than not, the arguing convinces no one. It only leaves people frustrated and angry with each other.

If you think my faith is stupid and blind, fine.

If you think I have some wrong ideas about life, fine.

If you think that my belief in Jesus makes me a worse person, fine.

If you think I’m wrong about pre-marital sex, heaven, hell, what loving people looks like, the Cannanite genocide, or eating pork, fine.

If you think that I’m unintelligent because I don’t have an answer for every question you pose, fine.

I’m done. Not because anyone has scared me off. Not because they’ve shaken my faith. Not because I can’t handle the pressure. But because I have better things to do than argue with people. That’s not who I am. I have a job and school and friends and a church and my family to worry about. You have your opinions and I have mine and as long as what you do doesn’t effect me, go live your life. Traveling mercies to you!

I will not argue anymore. Ya’ll can argue til you’re blue in the face. I’ll be over here actually living my life and doing the things I was too busy standing up for to do.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about dark nights of the soul recently. Events in my life* have made me reflect on my own journey through it. In some ways, I think I’m still there. But I’m definitely more at peace with it now than I was even a year ago. Even though I blogged a lot about what I was thinking and feeling then, I haven’t ever blogged about what I learned necessarily. So here’s my “deep” blog that I promised. 🙂

1. The journey is not about being “right”.

I remember when we were having that book study about ‘A New Kind of Christian’ and I had been asking some questions but mostly listening. I felt I didn’t really have anything to add because I was *so* new to the conversation. I would occasionally ask questions and one time Shane made me answer a question 🙂 but other than that, I kept silent. After awhile of this, I asked a question that had been bugging me since the beginning. “How do we know that we are right?” I thought that this all sounded good and everything and somewhere in me it was resounding with my soul. But I was in such an upheaval and so distrustful of everything, I didn’t want to get onboard with this only to figure out a few years later that this was a load of BS too. The response that I got? It’s not about being right. It’s about learning and growing and being open to change and realizing that we don’t have God all figured out and we never will, earthly speaking. It’s about realizing that God doesn’t fit into a box and we shouldn’t try to put Him in one. That changed the whole way I was looking at the process. All that time I had been looking for the “right” answer but that wasn’t what it was about. Once I got that through my thick skull, the process became a lot less frustrating for me.

Today Rich** spoke at the Dwelling Place. He put up a quote that was about perfectionism but the last line reminded me of this.

“The sad part is, we never even notice how unpleasant and unbearable we become when we insist we are always right.” – Harold S. Kushner

Later today, Cary posted that quote on the DP blog along with another one that I liked.

“Being right about how wrong someone or something is can be pretty irresistible…..You could probably get a bunch of people to agree with you, and you could all sit on a bench together and revel in your rightness. But then what? While you’re busy being right, your whole life could float on by.” – Gail Blanke

While you’re busy being right, your journey will either float on by or come to a complete standstill. Because, I can’t say this enough, it is not about being right.

2. The journey must be approached with an attitude of humility.

This ties in with not having to be right but I thought it deserved it’s own section. Since this is not about being right, there is no room for pride. Pride comes when you are convinced that you are right and someone else is wrong and they are just refusing to see your obvious wisdom. This has been the downfall of the evangelical church! Why do you think we have so many different denominations? Because someone in the Luthern church thought that they had the right way of looking at a certain scripture and they got a few people to agree with them and when the majority wouldn’t listen, they went off and became the Methodists. Then someone in that church disagreed with something and got some people to agree and they went off and created the Anglicans. And so on and so forth. (Btw, I’m just making this up as I go. I have no idea what denominations were derived from what other denominations.) So now we have a completely devided church over stupid, stupid things. Like how we should baptize people or what kind of music we like or how and when we should take communion. That wasn’t the point of Jesus’ ministry and it wasn’t the point of the early church and it certainly shouldn’t be the point of churches today. Can those be important aspects? Sure! But it’s not worth dividing a church, and in lots of cases families and friends, over. If those groups had simply come together in the spirit of humility, there would be a lot less hurt and anger, even if they had decided that they needed to split the church. If you don’t approach the journey with a spirit of humility, it’s going to be very, very rough. Because, say it with me, it’s not about being right. Besides, to throw a Bible verse in, “Pride cometh before fall.” 😉

3. During the journey, do not make any drastic life decisions.

This is not the time to decide you want to marry someone or to buy a house or to switch to a new laundry detergent. Your life is in an upheaval. It feels like everything you once knew to be the absolute truth has been stripped away and you are left with nothing. In that time, the desperation to cling to something that seems stable is extremely tempting. But going back to something Rich said this morning, it seems that the deeper you get in your spiritual walk, the less peace there is and the more uncertain you are. The closer you are to God, the more it will seem like He has abandoned you.

“The goal of our lives is to break away from the illusion that God is not present.” – Rich

Just because we don’t feel God or can’t sense His presence, it doesn’t necessarily indicate His absence. If God seems far away, it is probably you who has done the moving. The fact that I will probably have less peace the closer I grow to God has disquieted me some. But I guess you can’t expect life to be easy. That’s why we go through things like a dark night of the soul.

4. The inner journey should lead to outward love. (Rich)

That is, overall, the point of this journey. That doesn’t mean that for you to be out of the dark night that you have to have mastered loving people. But the focus will slowly shift itself from yourself and figuring out what you believe to focusing on other people and loving them the way that Jesus would.

“Everything in your life is meant to love God and love others.” – Rich

When I started my journey, I stuck with two very basic principles. Love God and love others. Outside of that, anything else was up for grabs. Now the core of my faith is the Apostle’s Creed.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell. On the third day, He rose again from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Amen.

5. During the journey, someone is more likely to encounter God in community than sitting at home by themself. (Rich)

Yes, this is the time to be reflecting on what you personally believe. That’s not to say that you have to be completely “others focused” or anything like that. In fact, even if you wanted to take a spiritual retreat and just go some place for a weekend or something to think things through, I personally would highly encourage it. The times that I thought of questions to ask and really wrestled with stuff was on my own.

However, Rich is right. We have communities for a reason. They are there to help us learn and grow and to stretch our thinking, as well as surrounding us when we are hurt or in need of help. The early church was created for a reason. If people could do this thing on their own, there would be no need for church or even human relationships really.

6. Did I mention humility? 😉

7. The journey is a time to be asking questions and listening to the people around you.

This was another reason I didn’t speak up very much during those first few months. I knew next to nothing about all of this. I’d been with Shane for awhile and he’d taught us some but never a hardcore, completely new way of looking at life. I didn’t have any answers. If I wasn’t comfortable with an answer someone gave me, I asked more questions. But never once did I try to act like I knew it all. Because I didn’t. That’s part of being a student. You don’t know much, if anything, about the subject. And even if you do, it’s not as much as your teacher knows. This goes back to the whole being right/having humility thing. Questions are fine. Accusations and anger are not. If you don’t like something someone says, either A: calmly and humbly tell them that or B: don’t engage them again.

8. Read and talk to various people. Don’t just stick to one person’s thoughts.

Most people get into trouble in their spiritual walk because they listen to only one or an extremely small group of people. Go to people whom you trust and who have been through this and are further ahead in the journey then you and ask their opinions and advice. Read a wide variety of books too. Don’t just stick to Brian McLaren or Donald Miller. The only way to make informed decisions about what you believe is if you are informed. Look at both sides of an issue and figure out what it is you truly believe about it.

9. When asking questions, not only should one be evaluating the question itself, they should be evaluating themselves to see why it is they are asking the question.

Asking questions is great. To a point. You should be examining your motives for questioning. I realize that it’s very rare that our motives for doing anything are 100% pure. But if that’s the case, then at least be honest that you have mixed motives in asking a question. Example: if you are questioning the church’s stance on drinking and what the Bible *really* has to say about it, if your main motive is that you want to be allowed to go out to the bars every night and get wasted (guilt free), then you probably shouldn’t even be thinking through it. If you ever approach the Bible for the fact that you want to do something and are looking for a loophole to be allowed to do it, you have missed the entire point of the book. It isn’t a set of black and white rules. “They’re more like guidelines.” 😉 Okay, just kidding. But you get what I’m saying.

10. Every journey will look different.

That’s all. Simply keep it in mind.

******************************
Alright, I think I’ve blogged enough for one night. I’m pretty sure I covered everything that’s been floating in my head. Also, let me say that this list isn’t meant to be a set of rules either. As I said, every journey will look different and these aren’t the steps to get out of it. These are simply things I learned as I went along. I know that we rarely learn from other’s mistakes but maybe I can save someone a little grief. The biggest things that probably apply overall are that it’s not about being right and that it needs to be approached in humility. But then Jesus was big on humility and this journey is, after all, about finding Him and living as His disciple.

* As always, any “you” I used in this blog is generic. I never blog at anyone because the definition of blogging at someone is doing so with the hope that they read it and figure out that it’s about them, saving you a face to face confrontation. I don’t blog at people because I don’t care who reads it or who thinks it’s about them.

** I LOVE RICH! 🙂

I’m thankful for my family. Even when they are driving me up a wall and we’re in a two hour long argument about politics, I’m still thankful for them. Deep down, I know that they still love me, even if they think I’m becoming a bleeding heart liberal. 🙂

I’m thankful for my friends. My second family. My brothers and sisters that have no blood ties but are closer to me than most of my real family.

I’m thankful for my church. On Sunday, Shane asked us to give two things that we were grateful for. I said I was grateful for the Dwelling Place. The people there helped me heal and gave me love and acceptance. They restored my faith in God and (I didn’t say this part) in humanity.

I’m thankful for my job. They are so good to me and I love Reegan so much. Even when she’s pitching a fit. 🙂

I’m thankful for all of the children in my life. They remind me that it’s okay to be loud and it’s okay to be joyful and it’s okay to have fun.

I’m thankful for pastors who let me talk with them about everything and nothing and still manage to make me think, no matter the topic.

I’m thankful for INtake stretching me and making me take somewhat of an interest in politics. 🙂

I’m thankful for dancing.

I’m thankful for forgiveness. For myself but also for those who have hurt me. Forgiveness can be very, very hard and I’m thankful that I have been able to forgive the person who has hurt me most. I’m thankful that (I hate this cliche but….) I’ve been able to “let go and let God”.

I’m thankful for books and that I can enjoy them. It’s blessing and a curse.

I’m thankful for school. I’m thankful that I finally found a school that I’m not miserable at and a major that I’m actually enjoying.

I’m thankful for music.

I’m thankful for people who try to make the world a better place instead of contributing to it’s decline. I’m thankful for people who care about the poor and people who are dying of AIDS and who don’t have clean drinking water. I’m thankful for people who stand up for the weak and protect the helpless. I’m thankful for people who want to be more like Jesus, even when they don’t realize that that is Who they are imitating.

I’m thankful for the people who irritate me. (Which is most of you. 😉 ) Every time they get on my nerves or make it hard to love them, I know that it is further shaping me into who I want to be. Jesus never said that loving people was easy so I’m thankful for the people who remind me of that. Even when I want to choke them. 🙂

I’m thankful for slow drivers and people who refuse to be rushed. They remind me that it’s okay to slow down and enjoy life.

I’m thankful for chocolate. No, seriously. 😀

I’m thankful for my journey thus far. It’s been an interesting one but I don’t think I would change any of it. Every bad thing that has happened has helped shape me into who I am today and who I want to become. So I’m thankful for the journey, for the questions, for the tears, and for the fact that He never walked away from me.

And if you’re reading this, I’m probably thankful for you too. 🙂

Blessings and courage, strength and honor!

The Maker – DMB

Oh, Oh Deep water
Black, and cold like the night
I stand with arms wide open
I’ve run a twisted mile
I’m not a stranger
in the eyes of the Maker

I could not see
for fog in my eyes
I could not feel
for the fear in my life
From across the great divide
In the distance i saw a light
John Baptist
walking to me with the Maker

My body is bent and broken
by long and dangerous sleep
I can work the fields of Abraham
and turn my head away
I’m not a stranger
in the hands of the Maker

Brother John
Have you seen the homeless daughters
standing there
with broken wings
I have seen the flaming swords
there over east of eden
burning in the eyes of the Maker
burning in the eyes of the Maker
burning in the eyes of the Maker
burning in the eyes of the Maker

oh river rise from your sleep….

He’s there in the good and the bad.

He’s there when I’m happy.

He’s there when I’m calling out for Him in the dark.

He’s there when I wake up from one of my nightmares, cold and sweating and shaking.

He’s in Reegan’s laugh.

He’s there when I’m bored or tired or alone.

He’s there when I’m asking to sit in His lap or when I’m telling Him to go away.

He’s there when I’m willfully choosing my own path. The one that I know is wrong and stupid.

He’s there when I’m trying to climb out of a fix that I’ve found myself in due to my own stupidity.

He’s there in the hug of a friend.

He’s there when everything seems like too much and I just want to give up.

He’s there when I won’t let myself give up.

He’s in the tears that I cry over my sin.

He’s there’s when I’m frustrated over a paper or irritated with the people in my life.

He’s there when I’m working out how to forgive as I have been forgiven.

He’s there when I feel helpless in the face of the world’s problems.

He’s there when I’m clinging to my faith and being called slimy for not having an answer as to why God does what He does.

He’s there when people are taking my comments personally and think that I’m calling *them* a bad parent.

He’s there when I’m in an argument with my parents over why I’m not voting and why I won’t just pull the Republican lever.

He’s there when I feel like I’m in over my head.

He’s there when I’m stuck in traffic and trying not to cuss out the people around me. (Because, you know, they can obviously hear me. 😉 )

He’s there when I’m saddened by my friends decisions because I know they know better and I know they are capable of making better ones.

He’s there when I’m saddened by my own decisions because I know that I know better and I’m capable of making better ones.

He’s there when I’m scolding myself for not speaking up when I should have.

He’s there when I’m trying to figure out my class schedule.

He’s there when I want it all to be over.

He’s there when I want it to never end.

He’s there when I’m genuinely trying to love the people in my life, even the ones who get on my nerves.

He’s there when I have no words to express what I’m feeling.

He’s there when I want to save the world.

He’s there when I know deep down that I can’t.

He’s there when I want to make the suffering of a friend go away.

He’s there when I wish I was a superhero. 🙂

He’s there. He’s in everything. He’s in the rain. He’s in the sun. He’s in and through and above and below and beside me. He is why I am who I am. May I never forget that.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1:1-5

Lots of Christians think that this verse is refering to the Bible and it isn’t. Yes, the Bible is the word of God. But that isn’t what this verse is refering to. It’s actually Jesus. Jesus is the Word. Jesus was with God and is God. Later on in the text it says “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory. The glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” I don’t know about you but my Bible isn’t made out of flesh. 🙂 (Okay, leather, but that’s different.) It’s all about putting it into context.

In the beginning was the Word
And the Word was with God
And the Word was God

The same was the beginning with God
All things were made by Him
And without Him was not anything made

In Him was Life! And the Life was the Light of men.
And the Light shineth in darkness.
And the darkness comprehended Him not.

He was in the world and the world was made by Him
And the world knew Him not
He came unto His own
And His own received Him not

For behold darkness covers the earth
And the darkness hangs over the people
But the Lord arises upon you
And His glory shall be seen in you

Arise! Shine! For your Light has come!
And the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
(Repeat)
Arise!

Nations will run to the radiant glow of Your Light
Far away kings will awake to the light of Your dawning

Arise! Shine! For your Light has come!
And the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
(Repeat)
Arise!

So I miss cantata. So sue me. 🙂

…..need to learn when to shut up! Sit your ass down, listen to those around you who are older and wiser, and keep quiet. It ain’t your turn to talk. It’s your turn to listen and learn.

You don’t know everything and you don’t have to have the last word and the word after that.

Let. It. Go.

Yeah, I said it. God bless us.

And God bless China.

And God bless Uganda.

And God bless Germany.

And God bless Austria.

And God bless Canada.

And God bless Egypt.

And God bless Afganistan.

And God bless Mexico.

And God bless Australia.

And God bless Ghana.

And God bless Ethiopia.

And God bless Jamaica.

And God bless the United Kingdom.

And God bless France.

And God bless Spain.

And God bless Japan.

And God bless Mozambique.

And God bless Iraq.

I think you get my point. We are *not* the only country that God can or does show favor to. Has He blessed us? Yes. More so than we deserve, I think. But if that’s the case, then we are blessed to be a blessing. Perhaps through us, He will bless these other countries. Maybe not. But even if we aren’t the vessel, that doesn’t excuse our sitting back and doing nothing while there are things like poverty and hunger and AIDS. Things that could be helped by just a little effort on our part. Screw the war on terror. Screw what this politician supposedly did that makes him “unqualified”. Screw the division in the churches over whose way of baptizing is “biblical”. We come together for things like 9/11 and Katrina. Why does it have to take a diaster to make us take action? Why do we have to be the ones who are attacked before we do any good? Maybe if we actually helped these countries instead of adding to their problems, they wouldn’t be so eager to attack in the first place.