Amazed by the kindness of God

I just spent a lovely evening with a friend and her family, and I’m so amazed by the beauty of God’s people.

My friend is a student from Saudia Arabia who has come with her husband, 6-month old baby, and 4 year old daughter to the US. I met her while we were both working (her as a volunteer) to greet new International Students to my campus. Immediately, she has been someone who has been kind to me and very open to receive even botched translations. As we’ve spent time together, I have really enjoyed taking turns holding her baby, interacting with her daughter and asking her about daycare, and talking about the differences between our cultures. She is from the city of Hajj, Saudia Arabia, and they have an enormous mosque there. We spent a lot of time tonight talking about the differences between our faiths (her as a Muslim and me as a Christian), what it means to be modest, what it’s like to go to school and raise a family, and other things.

I just really appreciate her ability to laugh with me about silly cultural details. She is one of few students who understands more of what I say without as many explanations. It is as though she understands what I mean without the specific words. The time I have spent with her, her husband, and their little children has been a blessing. Like many other Muslims from my college, elementary school, and past experiences, not only was she warm and hospitable, but easy to be around. She cooked for me. As we ate rice with meat and potatoes, grapes, soda, Saudia Arabian ginger coffee, cookies, and Mint tea, I really felt free to enjoy her hospitality.

I know that she doesn’t view the world just like me, but I trust God to judge fairly. The more time I spend with people who have different experiences than I do, the more I am amazed by God. I often crave to go back to Chile and China, and I want to see so much of the world. Even if I had bittersweet experiences at different parts of my trips, I miss the people, the food, and the culture. I feel so blessed to be free to love people far from home. The ability to make the best of things and just eat what’s in front of me makes me feel equipped to grow God’s kingdom and be willing to go wherever he calls me. The way he is softening my heart is just awesome.

I spent so much time today receiving love. In kindergarten, I am getting better at discerning what kids need (as in, what they don’t ask for). Being able to spend a lot of quality time with the kids and follow them throughout the day is awesome, because then I learn the art of gentle correction. May God make it even easier for me to care for them. Today, I received a lot of little hugs.

When I spend time in kindergarten, I understand the times I have felt different from my peers. Tutoring at the same elementary school where I was raised, as I try to help them with their work, I remember how I felt doing similar equations. I realize only as an adult (with an external perspective) why I got into trouble, that I probably was fairly smart (to get bored so easily), and BEST OF ALL, how to minister to the kids who are too much like me. I know that often, the arrogance children put on is only a cry for attention. “Bossiness” is basically the desire to do something meaningful. Crying easily over spilled milk and picking fights is like wanting someone to validate how much they care for you (“Do you really see that I’m in pain?”). Being cold and somewhat self-centered is the desire not to be the same (and to not get hurt). If you can recognize it in children, it’s a lot easier to have compassion on adults.

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about what I will and will not settle for in marriage, what it means to have a ministry that most elevates children, and the kindness of God. I believe that if we honor children above a lot of our older members, we can fix nearly everything else. These days, I see a lot of my confidence in God resurrecting. The past two weeks, I have felt so vindicated at church. As I hear a living, breathing Pastor say things that I have thought for years and thought I would die before hearing discussed in daylight, I feel risen. I have more compassion on the people who I still think are wrong. The longer I’ve been alive, the more I’ve held to my convictions. Even before Christ was rooted in my heart strongly, I wanted to know God. I always used to assume that if I let go of who I was (but couldn’t be), life would get easier. Funny thing: the more I hold fast to who God made me and the woman he wants me to become, the more he sets me in a place where others will conform to my example, instead of me having to sacrifice parts of myself. I’m not sorry. This is the depth and the width and the height and length of the love of God. He didn’t make me for no reason, but he made me to live out my purpose. For me, that means living passionately, with boldness, and without much fear. I know that God can purify just about anything, even the things that the Devil tells us are too shameful to make holy. In giving thanks to God, I can make most earthly desires reconciled and sanctified to him, provided he brings fruition about.

Realizing how much people long for love but don’t have it, I have a lot of hope for my ministry. My friend Angela thinks that if she and I end up marrying husbands someday, it will be to show the world how good God is, and to demonstrate his redemption through our own immediate families. I think she’s right. I don’t need to get married, but it would be one helluva testimony of God. As I sit in my Intimate Relationships Psychology course, I am so aware of how many people long for the answers about love and don’t have them. I want to live out a compassionate response that can actually demonstrate why people need Jesus, and how much better my life is because of him. I’m not going to crucify people based on relationship sins because if people sin, they probably don’t know what it feels like to be satisfied. I’m not going to be that person who misrepresents the truth by bringing a spirit of constant judgment. If the Holy spirit convicts, he also corrects, encourages, testifies on behalf of God and intercedes for the rest of us sinners. Why can’t everyday Christians be more like that? I’m going to demonstrate what that means and if the Lord wants it, maybe that will be good for all of us. I’m not going to be afraid of this.

It’s a lukewarm truth if it’s not coming out of love. I really do believe that Jesus has power unlike anything else, and I’m going to live my life as a fulfillment of that love. To love people is to fulfill God’s expectations for my life because how else should I testify? Without love, I am a poor steward. My actions will not invalidate the truth.

 

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Feeling better helped

As I’ve been reading my bible more lately, I notice that I remember to surrender my worries to God.

It’s a precarious time of year for someone so ready to move on. I’m learning to lean on God’s strength when I’m ready for college to be over.

Some life hacks I only would have considered by being reminded of God’s power:

  • I’ve spent four years complaining about the Psychology department. I’ve spent 6 months praying for them, my professors and classmates. Am I a fool or just human to waste so much time? Being a Christian only the last two of those years, it took me a while to surrender my worries to God after I took notice of them. Yes, it can be hard to know how to perform without clear expectations, and more often than not, my professors seem scattered. But I prayed the other night that God would show me how not to hate one of my professors, and guess what happened? This random dude named Terrance spent 10 random minutes filling me in on the fact that our professor is just a space cadet, that the way he acts in class is just his personality, and (go figure), I shouldn’t take it too much to heart. I can pray for my professor all the more now. Problem solved. Thanks, Jesus.
  • When I don’t feel like I have enough strength to invest in friendships (especially with underclassmen who look to me for encouragement/direction), I have the option to call on God, who will give me more than enough stamina to help me be kind and lean in. This year has been the biggest growth year of them all, and God has honored me by helping me lean in, despite it being the last year of college. Now that I have definite plans, it’s so easy to back away from people as a self-protection mechanism. But all of that is bullcrap. I can continue to share people’s burdens. The Lord will give me the strength. My best friends ever are from this year. I’m going to keep casting my burdens upon the Lord and he will give me what I need if I just ask him.
  • My gospel choir has a big concert event coming up, and when our exec board told us to each take a pinch of flyers to pass out, I thought to myself: “Oh Lord have mercy.” Feeling overwhelmed and tired of relying on my own strength, I was annoyed, and concerned that I would have no place to post them. So I prayed about it. I asked God to reveal to me the places where I can put these flyers, or where people might see them. Tomorrow we have rehearsal again. I’m picking up another pinch because by the grace of God, I ran out of flyers. I have at least three more spaces I need to put them (places I’ve steadily been noticing), and like that moment where Christ shows up after the Resurrection after Peter and two others have been fruitlessly fishing and they have to cut the net because it’s so full of fish, I may not have enough flyers to go around.
  • I’m working towards gathering people for an interfaith event in my city, where we will ask local government to commit towards making progress on issues of justice for mental health, childhood trauma, and affordable housing. It’s been an interesting time giving up my Saturday mornings to commit towards furthering the goals of the organization that will host it. I’ve overwhelmed because it’s been hard gathering the amount of people we want to show up. The Lord (through the encouragement of my team and ministry friends) has provided a strategy for me to communicate with everyone who committed to go (my section of people). I’ve prayed that the right people would come and that we’d be able to pack the house. Lo and behold, a couple handfuls of people keep contacting me in order to be put on the list. Watch if we don’t run out of tickets.
  • I have a couple good friends who allow me to talk honestly with as much insight as God has given me in a way that doesn’t make me feel awkward. I can explain why I believe Satan has been able to help prosper a certain sin, trace some of the reasons I believe we as a society are stuck in a certain way, and we can talk through the things we see and find a sense of belonging. I’ve felt unappreciated a lot in the past and basically shunned for not being able to stop noticing the things I notice, or care for the people I care about, or believe the things I believe. For now at least, I don’t have to stay silent. I can be understood, and hope that God uses this sorrow/anger/recognition for a holy reason.
  • There is this boy in my Intimate Relationships psych class that looks at me in a way that is like unwanted attention. Some of his body language and general posture of being makes me think he’s insecure. Today in class, I wanted to put my hair up, but didn’t want to draw any extra attention. That line of reasoning no longer works on me. It’s not up to me to save you. It’s not up to me to make you feel a certain way. My hair is heavy, and I want it off my head. Maybe it’s just because I’m a woman who already has to think about everything, but if I need to pull my hair back, it’s not my responsibility to ruminate over your feelings. There is nothing I can do as a woman to help make you secure, and it’s not up to me to police my behavior to not lead you on. If I have no interest, that is obvious. My hair is freaking heavy. I have heavy hair.
  • It’s becoming very obvious that I have no power to make people accept Christ. I can walk out my Christian walk. I can try to be more like Jesus. I can tell people about Jesus. I can tell people about scripture. At the end of the day though, I make a pretty crappy Jesus. And not even Christ could force people to believe in him. They had to receive him. I can’t receive on your behalf. If you wont take the stupid grace, my hands are more or less tied. I will still walk out what it means to be a Christian. Sometimes though, it’s hard to have this overwhelming sense of truth while overwhelmingly aware that the world lives as though they have no need of it.
  • It’s really weird to have people appreciate you for things you weren’t aware were visible. I’ve been in my own little bubble of just trying to do the right thing for so long that when somebody actually notices or appreciates it I’m not even sure how to react. Yes? Yes, I do that. God is good. I’m still surprised that you see these things. I’m used to being the only one who sees these things.
  • It’s like not understanding people’s sarcasm. I know that the person I’m talking to thinks that they have just made a funny joke. I can follow the reasoning for why they probably think it’s funny. What I’m not aware of is whether they are being “ironic” because of the line of reasoning I’ve guessed, whether they’re just pulling my leg and there’s nothing to see, or whether they are using some extra line of crap joke that I have yet to see. Sometimes when people are sarcastic, they make fools of themselves in ways they don’t even realize that can be funnier than their dumb jokes to begin with. Sometimes when a person is sarcastic and I laugh, their jokes aren’t actually as funny as the context. Is it me who doesn’t get the joke, or is it you?

 

For real though, the joy is out there

I have been spending large quantities of time recently writing privately, and trying to figure out why I’m so regularly happy. While I can’t forget my past history of depression, the joy that I have in Christ seems obscene most days, and it’s lasted long enough that I no longer think it’s temporary.

It feels like a cycle of gratitude. Like the opposite of rumination and unhealthy thinking; like you’re being filled up. I have lived through enough mistakes at this point to understand that a person’s mistakes don’t determine their identity, but lack of health can absolutely distort who we are made to be in Christ. As I get more filled up, I am grateful for having perspective. While I used to despise people who were legitimately happy (including Christians), I now understand that being a few steps ahead of people who are currently suffering has nothing to do with what a jerk I must be (and especially for talking about it), but how I can minister to people in prayer and encouragement.

Honestly, it’s almost better to encourage quietly. While I can sometimes catch the patterns of what God is trying to teach people, it’s only seldom, with hope and guessing. Because I know personally how much mental health problems (or any sort of grief-inducing circumstances) suck, I have the blessed responsibility of interceding for people in prayer. It’s one of those things that is better done discretely because it’s not for your credit anyways. If God saves people from their pain, that is blessing enough.

I always thought the happy people were either “holy than thou” or completely spared from misfortune. Maybe happy people are just lucky, either for a while or a season, and it is just their duty to help intercede for the rest of us. When you live in community, it’s hard not to know when someone else is having a hard time. In my opinion, it’s more effective to ask God to help on the long run than to interject yourself into a person’s friend-zone without getting to know them first. Being kind to people and praying for them can be combined, and you can ask God to give you opportunities to minister to the people who you notice are hurting.

I don’t really know how this joy has come into my life, despite years of working towards it. This kind of joy isn’t something that can be earned, and I’m so grateful that it’s been made available to me in Christ Jesus. As a fairly young Christian, I often wonder if there is any explanation for why some people are willing to encounter this kind of joy, and some people never do. Just like wondering whether there is meaning in suffering, I question whether there is all that much meaning in the joy. Like, is encouraged by self-reflection? Does it have to do with suffering? Is it related to being open to criticism? Is it fair to even talk about joy (because that’s not really a problem)?

If this joy is so rapidly available to all who believe in Jesus, why do so few people follow through long enough to find it? Why is it that there are so few Christians that live truly productive, joyful, and satisfied lives? Do people just not know what they’ve signed up for, or do they just become alien to the Holy Spirit? I don’t really understand. If Christ’s love is the only thing that can heal, and truly heal, how can you be so close to the vine and not crave after it’s fruit? Like, do you even believe it’s there?

I totally didn’t. Part of me still thinks it’s got to be a joke, even if by living it out, I know that it’s real. I thought that perfect happiness was a fad or something Hallmark invented. Every day, I’m a little more sold.

But it’s out there: true love and joy and perfect peace and happiness and the whole shabaang. It looks exactly the opposite of what we all hope it will look like. Which makes living in happiness feel all that more bizarre. I consistently feel like my life is the living joke no one has the guts to believe in. Believing in death/destruction/pain/suffering/war? Those are such plausible renditions of reality. But joy that transcends death, space, time, and betrayal? That one takes a lot of guts to believe in.

The Glow (and the things that I have seen it cast out)

Psalm 34:5 “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (NIV).

About sometime last fall at a women’s event at my church, I heard Psalm 34:5 read aloud for the first time. Having newly arrived at my church, I was looking for a way to connect with other women in our growing body of Christ there and this verse has continued to catch my attention ever sense. Before ever hearing it, this scripture was spoken over my life in a way that slowly transformed my walk with Christ and brought me to the point where I am at today. Like portions of Isaiah that speak to the redemption of Zion, in casting off the chains of depression, in coming to Christ, in taking bold risks with unexpected forms of pay off, I have stumbled across the glow.

The glow is something you can see on a person when they have been especially blessed. Think of it like annointing oil or broken chains. The Bride of Christ, the Church as she stands, is meant to be glorious, like a city on a hill or a light unto the world. For whatever reason, when I examine the lives of women I know who have been blessed and redeemed, the glow has come with it.

The glow is healthy. The glow is giving. It is compassionate, wholesome, good to be around, honest, pure, and simple. It laughs easily, like Proverbs 31:25, laughing at the days to come (which was also woven into the scripture at that women’s event). You see, the glow is something that comes into your life when you have enough to share (think Luke 6:38). Like any spiritual phenomena, the glow isn’t something that we as humans always see, but it exists on the same level with other routine spiritual events that we don’t pick up on unless we’ve seen them in passing. When you get the feeling that a woman gives life to be around, I’m pretty sure you can find it there.

I was petting my dogs just now, and the words that have been echoing in my head steadily as I’ve contemplated what it means to be beloved came back in full force: “I am the one you love.” Those words speak to Christ, but they can be taken up by all of us. Speaking those words in my heart, it was a weird moment. The sense of warmth I get when others have off-handedly noticed the glow in me came out at the expression of those words, and it was a haze of love for a second.

One of best lies people cling to when they disown spiritual truths is that God’s love is impractical, irrational, and fruit loops at best. While a Savior who would die by us for us is certainly fruit loops, spiritual happenings are not inherently unscientific, they aren’t inherently illogical, and they aren’t made up. As a different way of intuiting truths that no one has the cajones to admit we all look for and quietly disown, you can see the fruit of the spirit all around you if you try. No, you cannot prove it. You cannot prove Christ either, which is good, because proof is beside the point. I’m not trying to start any false doctrine here, but if you open your heart to the work of the spirit, you will run into more and more stuff like this. The weird way concepts interweave and conversations echo in a way that answer your questions sometimes immediately. The weird way you were able to strengthen a person in passing without realizing that for them, it was much needed. The weird way that God throws us into “mistakes” or situations we didn’t sign up for just to prove a point. Y’all can think that’s mostly fruit loops, but as for me, embracing the fruit loops was one of the best unwilling, dragged into it by the nudges of the Holy Spirit decision’s I’ve ever made. Some “crazy” is meant to be heard until you accept that it’s not going anywhere, and maybe crazy is a definition we should reconsider. Although I haven’t heard any voices in my head as of today, I think the nudges of the Holy Spirit definitely qualify as a pre-requisite to cast most commonplace conversations into a realm of immediate awkwardness for nearly all people you’re talking to. Which is ironic, since I’ve learned more about health and recovery from depression through learning to trust in all the crazy I can’t explain.

In my psychology classes, I often wonder if we design guidelines for what is and is not clinical to exclude the experiences of people who have been helped spiritually by accepting what others might see as crazy. It’s like casting crooked lines for voting districts sometimes, in what people accept, don’t accept, and only accept if you are paying thousand of dollars for therapy where professionals may or may not address your “problems”. I believe God in Christ is the cure. I don’t accept how conveniently we designate psychologists and psychiatrists to be the definitive and squabbling audience for deciding what counts as crazy. If the vine is the solution, what need is there for so many trained professionals?

For me, depression was an intensely spiritual thing. The amount of willful resistance I had to any kind of treatment, (especially anything that would cast out sin) was fierce. I was not down for other people telling me how to fix my problems. Without being able to remember, without being able to sleep well, with constant chronic body pain, an erratic appetite, chemical dependence that I wasn’t happy about, constant low self-worth and feelings that no one would ever accept me as I am in love, I didn’t really know what there was to live for. Being gradually dragged into faith cast so much of that out. The first major thing to go was sexual sin and thoughts that I would have to compromise unconditionally if I ever wanted anyone to love me. The last thing thus far has been ignorance of what it means to be redeemed (and what a man of character even looks like, through the lens of faith). It took me years to believe that I didn’t need anything to buy me my happiness, whether medication, close friends, male approval, being “smart”, etc. Having peace over the past and how awful living was back then has only come from the blood and the life of Jesus Christ working in my life. Without him, I’d be just as screwed as I was before.

The root of so much sin that capitalized my life was the false belief that no one would ever love me. Given the love I have encountered in Christ, no love could ever replace or come close to that. I know that anything is possible in Christ because I remember. I know that he is capable because years later, he is still just as faithful.

So tell me which is more fruit loops: Striving to seek out healing in academic accomplishment, beauty, the company of others, “success”, money, men, etc., or the all-saving power of grace that I could do literally nothing to earn? Part of the way you know that Christ has the power to heal is that what he gives is free. This is no magical snake oil, because the Son of God has nothing to prove. It has already been proven because it has already been given. What exactly is there to lose but a bunch of sin that was making you sick to begin with? Godspeed.

I don’t need to prove myself because my story and the life I am living now is all the proof I need that my Father heals. It’s a radical faith that is intensely practical, based on having experienced how the spirit moves and knowing for a fact that he is willing to meet us. Above all things, I plan on continuing to invest in the spirit of love and the fruit of peace that God intentionally places in my life in order to minister to others. He is more than capable.

The difference time makes (and how I still have to care for myself)

It’s been a while since I hated being alive, but having clinical depression for an extended period of time will always be part of me in a way that I would no longer sacrifice. I have grown older and come to respect the things I learned during seasons of being miserable, and now that I’ve gotten some distance from it, my lifestyle is still marked by those lessons.

This is the first weekend after the first week of school. While it may seem like the time I’d most want to spend with friends and other people, it’s quite the opposite. You see, I’ve learned that transitions take their toll on me. The same sensitivity that can render me in tears in no short time also lets me see the beauty of this world so deeply. It is part of my brain that I need to be who I am. I don’t always like it, but it’s there, and I’m learning to shelter it. Emotional highs and emotional lows withstanding, I needed a good amount of time for myself this weekend.

If I invest in adjusting to the school year slowly and letting myself process these big changes and challenges, I will have more time to give away later. I will be able to endure without getting sick once my immune system starts to buckle under the pressure. I will ease myself into the self care that accompanies a new semester, and I need no one but the grace of God to get me through the rest; which is the sweetest blessing I could have received after angry years of forced dependence on medication. I don’t have “control” over my life per se, but God does. I hated having to take those pills. I buried the first batch in the backyard when I was just 14, but I eventually became so worn down and bare that I knew no other solution. Now, I will never need them again.

During all that time, I was slowly but inevitably led in a direction that would eventually heal my life wholly: Christ. Like my bones were poking out of my flesh, I searched for his Holy Spirit for what felt like ages before I found a love that sticks, and even a while after before I was able to surrender. But God is good, he forgives, and he guides my steps now. Respecting all that he does in taking care of me is just another reason that I have to prioritize taking care of myself.

If I start to feel like “I need to hide”, I have to respect that feeling. I have to be honest with friends. I have friends who actually listen now, by the grace of God. It hasn’t always been that way, but these blessed companions shelter my life and care for my sanity. They don’t want me to be unhealthy.

I spent the majority of yesterday and today alone, which can be difficult as a most-of-the-time “extrovert” (those labels are flexible, friends). I needed the time, so I forced myself to rest. I napped. I never freaking nap. To me, this is strength: that when I have something that only I can give myself, I can recognize that God would not want to deprive me of the health he intends will be mine. He doesn’t want me to starve my mind for it’s self-regenerative peace. He knows I need to be alone, and he draws me into communion with himself during those resting times so that I can worship instead of being bored stuck in my room. He loves me. It’s not really empty, you know? It’s time with God. Even better than the time I would spend with other people. I don’t resent that I have to self-care anymore. I no longer see the time I have to take to level up to a standardized level of sanity as a curse anymore, because it’s simply more time to spend in worship. This is another way that the weak and brokenhearted may just be the luckiest ones on the earth: that the promises of the Lord specified in the Beatitudes may be especially real and live-able to us. We who seem to need more peace than the rest of them: we can find our fullness in God.

We can view healing and sacrifice as a penalty, or we can remember how God sees us: as more than conquerors. Christ died so that we could prevail over all sorts of mental health, physical illness, and not knowing what it means to savor the life he put in us. We have his strength in our bones because he swapped out his love for our brokenness. Consider it a spiritual transplant. Better than pills, like the rib of Adam in the body and the blood.

I promise you that if you started close to empty, you will have more abundance in Christ than even those who were born “healthy”. I promise it. I know that God loves you. I know that he’s good. In Christ is the true path that leads to a supernatural recovery; not only casting off our physical bodies but the brokenness and fear that traps us within our own minds. We can put on the new self. Christ has made a way for you to be free of this.

You may always have to care for yourself, but the thing is, nothing you can do for yourself will ever compare to all that Christ already did. By that metric, we are all imperfect caretakers, you, your “healthy” friends, everyone. We all die. We all have struggles, let no one deceive you. Christ is the Provider no matter how empty we may appear, or whatever needs we bring to him. It’s gonna be okay; and because of his lack of partiality, he sees us all the same. With love. Lack of health doesn’t disqualify you from receiving the gifts he has for you, it may only make it so you can see him for who he is as a Healer a little more clearly. You are loved. You will live to see the day where you are blessed.

Even if you did something to deserve pain or disease, we are all loved so tremendously that God would forgive even the worst of crimes. You can savor his love over your self-blame. You can allow him space to accommodate your doubt. You can allow him to just sit with you when you are scared and you don’t know. Healing and Salvation doesn’t have to come from you. It can’t. But the health God will bring into your life is just another speck of how greatly he loves you. Even when it feels so enormous that on a baseline level, you know that you could never deserve it.

So, here we are, Internet. One large, WordPress Church family. Your brokenness is enough. It’s gonna be okay. Even if it takes years longer and you just have to keep fighting it. You will not be alone. We’ll all sit here and most likely keep blogging together. And life will go on and get better over time in the light of our Savior. It’s gonna be okay.

Love,

Haley

The process of sanctification and corresponding thoughts

Have you ever wondered why Christians declare war on “death”? I used to wonder as a kid what was so terrible about dying. I may be a little older now, but from what I’ve seen, age has nothing to do with it. Death isn’t just meant to signify the loss of one’s life, but all things that are separated from God’s holy spirit and that lead to death. Squabbling. Anger. Discord. Lies. If it abides outside of the Holy Spirit, no one wants it around.

In terms of good or bad, we are all possessed by some manner of spirit. That isn’t exactly comforting, but it is. If we make room for the Holy Spirit through Christ, we have more room for him in our lives. At that point, a person’s life changes gradually through the continuous until Christ again process of sanctification. The Holy Spirit repels all that is evil in someone and casts it out piece by piece, but we have to be willing to engage with him in faith. You have to have prophecy “in proportion to faith” for that reason.

Weakness isn’t evil, it’s just weakness. You ever get this feeling that the idea of the Holy Spirit filling someone up and transfiguring them absolutely into someone else is what we’ve come to cherish? What if you just get consolation over your dark places? Someone who sees but does not judge? What if you in yourself remain just as imperfect? What if the very same nasty “deficits” remain with you until the day you die, but the difference is that when God sees you (and occasionally others see it to), he sees not only your inequity, but his own greatness? What if this has nothing to do with us? What if we are just lucky to be the beneficiaries?

I have a lot of opinions, but I’m not sure that all are good. One of the things that I do happen to believe though is real worship isn’t necessarily about how weak or strong we are, but how God is unchangingly strong through all of it. He can put his strength on us or not, but the point is, he’s strong. He’s the one we need to be looking to. And if we look to him, we are blessed by knowing him. Not necessarily more strength. But as a mystery, we begin to be able to recognize the things of God by seeing his Holy Spirit elsewhere. God gives all sorts of gifts, and they aren’t always the one’s that make us just like the popular kids or fulfill every last desire we’ve ever had. Sometimes he loves us more than that and well enough to know what would be a better fit. True and enduring joy comes from trusting him in that process. We are never left forgotten, but sometimes he uses periods of waiting for his will.

Love for Writing

You ever had one of those moments where you stop with bricks worth of confusion narrowly balancing all over you, about to teeter to the ground, and you think to yourself, “Better get writing”?

Maybe it’s just me, but it’s a dense feeling that seems to call Ricky Ricardo’s “Lucy, you’ve got some splaining to do” into rememberance. The idea of running around like a chicken with you’re head cut off until you get arrested by the feeling of not knowing what is going on propels us to write. It feels like I’m filled up and needing poured out all over the paper in order to not bubble up and explode.

And so we write. What the hell are we writing about? Life stories, faith, Jesus,  beloved other people? And whatever crazy iteration of character those words want to scream out as they’re birthed out with all typos onto the pretty, dim lit screen.

Are we writing because we believe it will do some good, or because we have a radical belief in waiting to see? Reading other’s writing strengthens me (when I read the positive stuff). I hope it does some good. But writing does me an immense good by organizing and producing all of what would burble out into nonsense. It’s partially coherent this way. I have it as a transcript so that I don’t word vomit it out in passing, which isn’t actually a problem, but this saves time. You grow when you write. You explore what all is worth being written about, because not everything is.

Blogging is like a continuous writers workshop for whatever purpose you make it for, good i.e. bad. Kindred intentions are found online, even when that’s not a good thing. Maybe we write because of the need to feel heard, or maybe it’s to feel like you’ve accomplished something. Maybe it’s just more time with other people. You can use each of those for good within it’s own scale and place.

I feel like so many writers can’t help but write. You don’t always want to, but it’s a need with eating and breathing and everything else. I see writing as a tool, but it would be like the sun falling out of the sky if I couldn’t write anymore. I had a friend ask what would happen if I could no longer write the other day, if God somehow took it away. I told her that I don’t see why he’d do that, since it’s such a tool that can be used for his glory. I didn’t say this, but I’d probably loose my entire mind. How can I explain that it’s not like a simple hobby? This is verbal bloodletting. Words are my self medication.

Are they higher than God? Well, no. They can’t be apart from God; all of creation in and of itself is a word and was spoken by him. Sure, my words have none of that effect, but words can conjure up the idea of the breath of life behind creation. To try to divorce words and language from God and God from them feels a little awkward; like you’re wearing the wrong size bra. It doesn’t really make sense.

If I loved music as the core of what I do instead of just a passing passion, maybe it would seem just as unthinkable to never compose, play, or experience a song again. Each gift is different in nature, and to me writing seems a little more useful (go figure). Maybe the beauty in music is that it isn’t absolutely necessary to eat oew breathe or live but it makes all things more beautiful. In the same way, not ever picking up a pen would be as if the light went out.

I don’t pray or sing or enjoy other’s company as fluently as I write. My prayers are growing, but I’ve written since I was in elementary school. My sister tells me to stop using her as my diary when I talk at her too long. I need this outlet in my life. Maybe I’m blind, but I think if it were an idol, then it wouldn’t matter so much what one writes. Would God take away a tool like this just to teach one of us a lesson? That seems like a waste to me. I don’t know why he would do that. It’s up for debate, but I have no idea what good reason he’d have to take away something so natural. Okay, never mind. That’s a really shoddy argument.

I don’t know. I think that I’d have a lot to learn if I left it, but it is still just a beloved tool of self expression. I think it’s healthy. And maybe it’s one of those things that for some of us just comes as strongly as the need to breathe.