Monday, April 30, 2012


I had been in therapy for over a year when my therapist looked at me and told me I was worthy of love, and that God loved me. The words choked me with discomfort and disbelief, tears welled in my eyes and my emotions where so overwhelming I wanted to leave the room. I was in seminary, I had decided to be a Christian when I was 4, based off the belief that God loved me, I decided again when I was 13, and again when I was 18. I had pretty much decided that responding to God's love was the most important thing in my life, and I had decided it 3 times. These words shouldn't have been hard to hear. I was a chaplain. I told crying girls that God loved them nearly every day. Still, I choked on the words, my eyes welled with tears and I became uncomfortable. I didn't believe I was worthy of love and it felt uncomfortable. I wasn't sure I even wanted it. She repeated these words a few times, and I tried to let them sink in 'I am worthy of love.'

Maybe it is the 4 years I have spent in therapy, the many books/articles I read on self worth or good/bed theology, but while I was once uncomfortable with the idea that I was worthy, I now become uncomfortable when I hear Christians state that we are unworthy of God's love. I  have a hard time because for most of my life I would have agreed with them completely, and I can rattle off about a billion Bible verses that would back up the argument.

When Job questions God, God does a pretty good job letting him know he is small, but still the fact that God is speaking to him at all is a pretty huge statement that God thinks his complaint even warrants a response. David goes to God with the question of 'who am I... that you have brought us this far". David is a man after God's own heart; I am pretty sure that despite his HUGE mistakes, his attitude toward God is generally one I should aspire to imitate. Most of the book of Romans does a pretty good job establishing that as humans we are small. The entire Bible is rampant with sin and shame and terrible choices by humanity, and I am in no way superior to my fellow humans. I could go one for a while making an argument to prove that humanity is unworthy of God's love, but I am still somehow very uncomfortable with the idea.

I guess the conundrum for me is that, I want to say, above all, I believe the Bible is the source of truth, and I believe that the Bible is consistent in its overall message, and I feel that part of overall message is that humanity is loved, and simply by God's choosing to do it we are made worthy of it. I don't think I deserve forgiveness, or that I deserve to have God take on flesh and live and die and be resurrected for me, but I believe that for some reason or another God did deem us worthy of love.

If God has deemed us worthy who are we to disagree with God?

Friday, April 20, 2012

See people

Earlier this week I was on the bus and took my seat near the back. I noticed the man sitting alone in the back row, clearly already drinking despite the fact it was 10 am, but also clearly so far into his alcoholism that his functioning while drunk was pretty high. He was polite and quiet.

He noticed that I noticed him, so I said hello. He seemed surprised that I greeted him, but grateful.

I had planned to read on the bus, so I did. My reading clearly communicated that I wasn't planning to chat, and with that our interaction ended, that is until I got to my stop. As I was getting up to leave he asked if the next stop was the stop was Mission. There were multiple people closer to him, and they were all silent. He wasn't talking to me, he was talking to anyone that would listen, and they were all silent.

Silent. Unwilling to see or hear the man next to them as he asked a simple question.

I turned around and informed him that yes the next stop was Mission. His expression of gratitude was much greater than I deserved, and I am sure it came not from being glad I could offer him direction, but from the fact I was willing to see him.

As I have lived in this city for over 4 years and even as I lived in Dallas, Waco and Mobile, I have seen that one of the saddest elements of poverty is that those of us that are not poor often refuse to see. We look past and are unwilling to hear people.

I will acknowledge that I have been cursed at by many people for not giving them money- but much, much more often, when I look at someone and answer their question, even when my answer is no, they stop and are grateful to be seen.

This past week in context group we were discussing the story of Hagar. She is a slave and yet she is one of the few women in the Bible referred to by name. She is slave and yet when she flees in desperation she is seen by God and that seeing is significant. It is so significant that it is recorded as part of the narrative that gives us a framework for the covenant and the work of God through Abraham.

Furthermore, in response to being seen by God Hagar names God. She gives God a name because God sees her and that name is recorded. This is kind of shocking because as I mentioned twice already she is a slave and slaves don't get to name things, let alone name God. Nonetheless, God sees fit to allow this and to even bless her off spring, because God sees her.

God, the Creator, who has created a covenant with Abram and Sarai, not Hagar, sees a Hagar, despite the fact that she is a slave: a social nobody: the equivalent of a homeless man on a bus.

If God is willing to take the time to see a slave girl that has been discarded and we feel that we are called to follow after God, I feel like maybe we should take more time to see people.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

That kind of writer

"To be a good writer, you not only have to write a great deal but you have to care. You do not have to have a complicated moral philosophy. But a writer always tries, I think, to be a part of the solution, to understand a little about life and to pass this on." ~Anne Lamott~ Bird by Bird

I had the joy of hearing Anne Lamott speak last night. As she spoke I realized why I loved her and so many other authors like her: authors know themselves and are deeply vulnerable without asking us to take their burden. We get to laugh with them as they laugh at themselves, because they know themselves so well and love themselves so well, they can mock their flaws without belittling their own person. It is a level of love that comes only from being deeply vulnerable and honest with who they are.

I long to be that kind of writer and speaker, deeply honest about who I am and all my faults and sharing them with others not to sooth my own ego, but to say it is okay, I get it, I know that half the time you are laughing with me it is the knowing laughter of a fellow control freak and wanna be perfectionist, and having that solidarity makes life so much easier. Until I become that kind of writer, I am simply going to have to keep reading and listening and believing I will get there someday.

Side note I just got The Gifts of Imperfection in the mail. There will be a review soon.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Easter is one of my absolute favorite holidays, because of all of the deeply beautiful things it reminds me of. God became human. Our creator took on skin; skin that gets broken and bruised and dry and bloody, and God did all of that for us. God already knew grief and pain and rejection, but we couldn’t see that. We didn’t have the eyes required to understand God’s pain as he watched us hurt ourselves and live in disobedience; and because we couldn’t see, God chose to walk around among us, showing us how to be who we were created to be.

God took on flesh to live love, and lived love to the point of ultimate sacrifice. God took on physical pain, brutal betrayal, and total rejection. In doing that God joined us in our suffering in a way that we could understand, even as his his pain is still even greater than we can understand, and God did so in a way that challenges all of our views on what a savior ought to look like.

 Than after the bloody mess of the cross God showed us what is possible. God showed us redemption in the form of resurrection. God showed us that even the worst pain can be made right, even the worst rejection can be healed, and in all this, God loves, even as we fail to love.

Celebrating Easter reminds me that God not only understands the pain of being human but has chosen to live in that pain and redeem us through it. These simple truths are often easy to forget and nonetheless the basics of faith.

* I originally wrote this for my church newsletter

If you would like some additional interesting reading for Easter thoughts, I enjoyed Rachel Held Evens blog posts on the women of the Passion, 1, 2, 3, 4

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday Prayer by Henri Nouwen

Source: via Catrina on Pinterest

We closed our Good Friday service with this prayer and it moved my heart. I hope it also moves yours.

Dear Lord Jesus,
You, “the image of the unseen God, the first-born of all creation, for whom all things are created in heaven and on earth, everything visible and everything invisible,” you hang dead on a cross. You have just spoken your last words, “It is fulfilled,” and given up your spirit.
I look at your dead body on the cross. The soldiers, who have broken the legs of the two men crucified with you, do not break your legs, but one of them pierces your side with a lance, and immediately blood and water flow out. Your heart is broken, the heart that did not know hatred, revenge, resentment, jealousy or envy but only love, love so deep and so wide that it embraces your Father in heaven as well as all humanity in time and space. Your broken heart is the source of my salvation, the foundation of my hope, the cause of my love. It is the sacred place where all that was, is and ever shall be is held in unity. There all suffering has been suffered, all anguish lived, all loneliness endured, all abandonment felt and all agony cried out. There, human and divine love have kissed, and there God and all men and women of history are reconciled. All the tears of the human race have been cried there, all pain understood and all despair touched. Together with all people of all times, I look up to you whom they have pierced, and I gradually come to know what it means to be part of your body and your blood, what it means to be human.
As I look, my eyes begin to recognize the anguish and agony of all the people for whom you gave yourself. Your broken heart becomes the heart of all of humanity, the heart of all the world. You carry them all: abandoned children, rejected wives and husbands, broken families, the homeless, refugees, prisoners, the maimed and tortured, and the thousands, yes millions, who are unloved, forgotten and left alone to die. I see their emaciated bodies, their despairing faces, their anguished looks. I see them all there, where your body is pierced and your heart is ripped apart. O compassionate Lord, your heart is broken because of all the love that is not given or received.
Blood and water flowed from your broken heart. Lord Jesus, help me to understand this mystery. So much blood has flowed through the centuries: blood of people who did not even know why they were trampled underfoot, mutilated, tortured, slain, beheaded and left unburied; blood caused by swords, arrows, guns and bombs, tainting the faces of millions of people; blood that comes forth from angry, bitter, jealous, vengeful hearts, and from hearts that are set on hatred, violence and destruction. From the blood of Abel killed by his brother to the blood of the Jews, the Armenians, the Ukrainians, the Irish, the Iranians and Iraqis, the Palestinians, the South Africans and the countless nations and ethnic groups victimized by the evil intentions of their sisters and brothers in the human race, blood has been covering the earth, and cries have gone up to heaven: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?”

Let the blood and water that flow from your heart give me a new heart to live a new life. I know that in this world water and blood will never be separated. There will be peace and anguish, joy and tears, love and agony. They will be there always—together—leading me daily closer to you who give your heart to my heart.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hungry for Change - Reflections on Day 1 & 2

Monday morning, I woke up to heat the beans I needed for my Trade as One Hungry for Change Challenge I am participating in along side 200 people from City Church. I was a day late starting and I had procrastinated too late on Sunday night to get it done, so at 6 am my alarm went off and by 7 I finally drug myself out of bed to my stove to turn the burner on for the beans I soaked over night.

I will confess I grumbled and felt sorry for myself. Poor me. I had to wake up early, and I am not going to eat a full meal until Thursday evening Seder. Nothing but oatmeal, beans, rice, water, and tea for 4 days (like I said I started a day late).

Grumbling over rolling out of my epically comfortable bed to turn on a burner, then immediately climbing back onto my memory foam mattress, I was clearly not thinking about the women and children who walk miles to get water, then create a fire in hopes that they can boil away anything in their water that will kill them or at minimum make them severely ill.

As I am coming to the end of day 2 I am aware of how much I take for granted. Hot water has been my saving grace every time my tummy pleads for more food; hot, clean, easy to access WATER.

Somehow the first time I walked over to the stove to heat up water at my work that reality hit me, and each time since I have been challenged by the fact that although this challenge is intense, it is still so much easier than the realities of half the world. Water is hard to come by and clean safe water even harder.

How is it that I have so much, when the world has so little?

How is it that the hardest work I have to do for 1000 calories is clean up the water that overflowed while I snuck back into bed? And more importantly what am I going to do about it?

I will say, by way of shameless plug: I am excited that Do Good Lab (a non-profit I volunteer with) is raising funds to help projects in the developing world.

I will also say that even with this there has to be more to be done. There has to be a better way for us to live. God created this world with enough resources for everyone. I need to learn the art of taking only my fair share.

Also, if you are interested in a more spiritual take on the challenge please read my roommates reflection on the City Church blog.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I have decided that this book might be one of the bravest books I have ever read. 

I came to this conclusion as I deleted about 10 posts I attempted to write addressing my own experience of grief.

As I have been busily marking off tasks on my to do lists and writing self-indulgent posts, I have also been grieving and at times running away from the experience of grieving.

So, tonight I leave you with this quote and book recommendation.

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."
- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

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