Saturday, May 14, 2016

Making sense of trials

Have you ever been through something difficult?
Of course you have,  that's part of life. 
Break ups
Life is messy and painful.  Period.
And,  often,  in the midst of a struggle,  people want to make sense of it all. Why me? Why this?  Why now?   Somehow,  it seems like it might be more tolerable if we could just understand the reasons.  So we look for explanations and answers.  We want someone to blame.  And when our earthly options fall short (and sometimes even when they don't and are instead staring us right in the face), we often blame God.
It's God's will.  
Everything happens for a reason.
God has a purpose.
God has a plan.
And while those things might be independently true (well,  I'm not sure about the first two, but I do believe the second two...God does have a purpose and God does have a plan) those things may not have any connection to the circumstances of my trials.
It can be tempting to soothe our own wounds or try and soothe someone else's by "helping" to justify what's happening with the notion "everything happens for a reason", but please use this please cautiously...since the reason may (likely) not be God (as you're suggesting) but instead it may be
The consequence of our own actions
The consequence of someone else's actions
Systemic injustice
Learned (bad) behavior
Or maybe (sorry to be so glib)...just because $h1t happens. 
Really,  all kinds of things happen without any real explanation or answer and pretending the answer is God is really not helpful.  Sometimes we just have to sit in the discomfort of the messiness if life. ..without any answers at all.

Letter to my daughter

Dear sweet first-born child of mine,

Over the years,  you will learn more and more about me.  One thing I'd like to give you a heads up about is I'm not actually a morning person. I know that will come as a shock since I've been rising with you at every ungodly hour since you were born,  but it's the truth.  Let's just say I faked it well (oh and it was a lot easier when you were smaller since you just wanted to be in our vicinity,  not have actual conversation). That said, I have a pro-tip for you: mornings will be a lot smoother (maybe even more fun. ..eventually) if you ease me into them instead of cradling into my bed and talking a million miles an hour.

Don't get me wrong I like your taking. it really,  I'll just be a lot more pleasant  (and responsive) if you give me 10-15 minutes to be quiet and gradually wake up. 

I know you won't heed this.  You probably couldn't care less. You won't,  until you're  thirty and have a talkative child yourself.  But hey, it doesn't hurt to try!

Know that I'll love you forever,  no matter what,  including if you rush me into mornings every day for the rest of my life.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Quote of the Day

"Do you know why you can give grace liberally? Because it's not yours to give;  it's God's, so spend it liberally." -Pastor Marty Walker

Church (s)hopping lessons: Seeking refuge

Over the years I've had the privilege of working with a lot of people in ministry. ..thousands of people.  Some i know well after working side by side week in and week or,  others I know more loosely through Bible study or a single hospital visit.  Others I know by face or by name,  but don't really know. And some slide in and out of the worship space,  willing not to be seen or noticed. 

From various encounters,  meetings,  and times of counseling, I've learned why people have come to church. 

The reasons include:
Finding a church home
Returning to "roots"
A physical/health crisis
A relationship struggle/crisis
Looking for safe space
Re-imagining one's self/identity
Because it felt like [I] should
To teach [my] kids faith

The list goes on.

The common denominator is

One of the things that has been the biggest blessing to me in visiting churches is being able do what is most comfortable/necessary for me in any given moment.  I appreciate being able to choose (or at least feeling that freedom since I always have a choice) whether or not to stand,  whether or not I sing, and even entering a space or position for personal prayer.

That freedom creates an extra layer of security to simply be and hopefully to encounter God in the midst of worship.