Archive | September 2012

Fragile: Handle With Care

I watched a member of a moving crew throw boxes from his truck to the ground today, like he knew what was in them wouldn’t break.  I was impressed with how quickly he was getting it all unloaded and didn’t think much of it until I got closer and saw that each of those boxes all read Fragile: Handle With Care.  My perception of him changed as soon as I saw them.  What was he doing?!?  Handle with care, man.  HANDLE WITH CARE!!!  For all you know, that’s somebody’s wedding china!  Just because it doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal to them.  What if you’re shattering their family heirlooms right now. 

Aren’t we just like that with each other?  We throw our words around like the things that we say can’t shatter the other person’s world.  How are we not more affirming to those in our lives?  If we aren’t their biggest cheerleaders, who else is going to do it?

It works the other way too.  We spend a great deal of time acting like our flirty actions won’t lead the other person on if we aren’t interested.  Yet, for all we know, they are falling fast.  If we’re honest, we don’t do such a good job of guarding each other’s hearts.  Just because it doesn’t affect us doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal to them.

Hearts are a fragile thing.  We could stand to stop and remember that when it comes to each other, we need to be sure to handle with care.

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Yes, You May

I never did enjoy playing Mother May I?  How on earth is that game even deemed fair?  One person is chosen to be Mother then basically controls the entire game and the fate of everyone else playing.  Asking one, short player to take three baby steps and the much taller player beside them to take five giant steps—does not give them both a fair shot at reaching the end.  Even when Mother tells you what to do, you still have to respond with “Mother, May I?”  WHAT DO YOU MEAN, “MOTHER, MAY I?!?”  Of course you may!  Mother just told you to!  Why do you now still need permission to advance?  Why do you have to wait for the magical “yes you may” before you can move forward?  I don’t know who invented Mother May I, but I do know that I definitely felt like I was caught in a solid game of it today.

I had tossed and turned all night, wrestling.  And as I sat and told a really good friend what was going on, I could begin to feel my blood just boil!  I was finding myself getting worked up all over again.  I looked at her and said, “Am I being unreasonable?”  As if to say, “Mother, may I?”  Am I allowed to be worked up over this?  It’s like I was seeking permission to follow the directions set out by my own heart.  To which she said, “No, you are not being unreasonable.  You would have every right to be mad.”  As if to say “yes you may” and I was able to move forward in that moment.  She had given me permission to be real.

A little later in the day, I walked up to Honeybaked to join another good friend for lunch.  It had been a couple of weeks since we’d sat down with each other and I felt like there was so much to say, so much to ask.  I sat across from her and she allowed me to just get really honest about where my heart is right now.  I’m pretty sure I dominated our entire conversation, but she let me feel like a really big deal today.  She offered a new perspective and gave me things to consider.  She challenged me to be equally as bold as I moved forward in what’s next.  “I mean, is that even okay to do?”  As if again to ask, “mother, may I?”  She too essentially said, “yes, you may.”  And I was able to move a little further ahead in this day of wrestling.

This evening, I strolled to my car after work, pondering how I was going to approach this whole thing.  I had thrown on the fake smile to everyone I talked to today, outside of these two women.  I drove home; cooked dinner for the family; washed up dishes afterwards; edited the sister’s essay; went to shower before Major Crimes and I stood in my bedroom fighting the tears.  “Lord, I don’t think I’m tough enough for all of this.  Are You sure You meant me?  ‘Cause I’m not sure I can keep holding it all together in the midst of all of this.”  As if to say, “Mother, may I?”  May I just lose it for a minute?  To which, I received the resounding reply:

Yes you may…

This is Discipling

I recently came across the video and it grabbed my attention and matched my heart so much that I thought I would share it with you guys too.  The way we’ve traditionally done “church” doesn’t really work anymore.  In fact, I’m not convinced that it really ever has.  I know the thing about “church” that impacted my life the most was never in the programming; it was always in the people willing to invest in relationship with us.

 

There Are No Words

She bounced through the door just like she always does: all smiles and goofy conversation.  The girl is just one big ball of energy that can sometimes be overwhelming but typically a much welcomed breath of fresh air.  Somewhere in the midst of our laughing, she looked at me and asked “how are you really feeling with all of that?”  A simple question that is usually pretty cathartic to answer.  Today was different though.  Today, there were no words.  Maybe because I’ve thought about it way too many times and expressed it in so many words that I was out of ways to differentiate it.  There are over ten editions to the infamous Webster’s dictionary.  We probably add words to the English language every day.  Yet somehow, today, there were no words.

“How do I feel about it?”

“Yes, as in, really.”

“I don’t know anymore.”

“I thought you were sure.”

“I am!”

“Then how do you not know how you feel about it?”

“Hmm… interesting question. I can define, without question, where I’m at with it all.  There are few things in life that I’m certain of, but this is one of those where I know that I know.  It’s discerning the pieces that have to be brought by someone else but haven’t been that’s the problem.”

“So ask for them.”

“It’s more complicated than that.”

“Why?”

At the time, I wasn’t sure how to respond to that.  I’ve thought about it the rest of the day.  Why does it feel so complicated?  I guess it’s because sometimes, I can’t find the words to ask the question that will give me the answer I’m searching for.  I don’t even have to like the answer; I just want to know what it is.

But how do you know when it’s okay to ask the question?  And if you could decipher the time to ask the question, where do you find the words to ask it when it feels like there are no words?

When God Throws You A Bone

Little Zeva McGee has been staying at our house for the past couple of days.  Normally, that’s something that really excites all of us because she is just so darn cute.  This time was no exception.  Well, until it was time to go to bed that is.  That little dog went to yelping like never before!  She yelped and panted until she couldn’t yelp or pant anymore, then she would catch her breath and get some water just to return to the yelping and panting.  She was longing to be heard, to be seen by one of us.  She may have very well driven herself crazy (we were already there) when footprints were heard in the kitchen.  Someone was willing to admit they heard her, willing to be seen by her.  Maybe it’s because they thought it was best for her, maybe it was because they were just sick of the yelping but that little lady soon found herself outside.  Someone had thrown her a bone and it was there that she found freedom!  She was able to run and play, if she wanted to.  She could opt to curl up and just rest there, if she’d rather. 

Sometimes, I think God does that for me too.  He hears my earnest plea for a glimpse at what He’s doing, sees my unrest and knows I long only to see Him.  Today, He gave me a moment in the day where clarity could not be mistaken.  I had just been asking again that He show me what all of this is supposed to mean, when he walked right into my office and smiled at me.  It was like Christmas morning!  (Those of you who know me understand the gravity of that comparison.)  In that moment, my restless heart found freedom.  I opted to curl up and just rest there. 

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that when God throws you a bone– it’s okay to drop what you’re doing and play catch…

Limited Vulnerability

I’ve been journaling for years, it’s just what I do.   I’m safe to share whatever I want to there.  I don’t risk crossing any lines to just say what I really think, how I really feel.  My vulnerability knows no limits when it’s just me and my pen.  When it’s me and anyone else though—that’s not so much the case.

The truth is, I’m afraid to be vulnerable.  To just sit and spill my heart is completely unnatural for me.  I can count on one hand the number of people who I would say really know me, and even out of those few people there are some pieces of my heart that aren’t shared with them either.  I can sit and listen to someone else’s all day long, but please don’t ask about me.  And if you do, you can expect that I’m not going to share everything, because I tend to doubt how safe I really am to do so.

About three months ago, I was challenged to have enough courage to doubt my doubts.  And I genuinely did that.  And apparently it lasted about three month, because over the past couple of weeks, I’ve gone back to doubting.  I’ve gotten right to the edge of being 100% open, 100% real, 100% transparent, but caught a glimpse at how far down it could be if I fell and instead backed up 100% instead.  I haven’t been as quick to just say what I really think, how I really feel.  I’ve returned to holding back.  My heart’s in an incredibly bizarre place right now, struggling with emotions that I don’t think I could define if I tried.

In the midst of that though, God is still approaching me in ways that I really can’t wrap my mind around.  I’m just ready for when He makes it a little more obvious that this waiting game is worth it…

Live Among the Marginalized?

Eight Crayola crayons were in the box before me, the fat kind.  You remember the ones– they lay flat in their box, not standing up.  Ms. Bailey stood at the front of our classroom with a stack of white pages in her hand.  She held up the picture of an apple, outlined in bold, black lines.  “I want you to find your red crayon and hold it up in the air.”  Arms raised, crayons held high, we were ready.  “When I give you your picture, you may color in the apple with your red crayon.  Try to stay inside the black lines, please.”

Fast forward a couple of years.  We’ve moved from sitting at long tables with all of our friends, to individual desks.  We’re holding our sharpened, number two pencils.  Ms. Williams is standing in front of our class, with a giant piece of laminated notebook paper on the board.  We have graduated from writing on wide lines with dotted lines that run through the middle to regular notebook paper and she is showing us how to use it.  “You want to start on the right hand side of the red line, not out here in the margins,” she says while she points out the red line.  We’re to write on the blue ones, within the red ones.  Got it. 

Fast forward several more years and we’re sitting in youth group at church.  We’re discussing what good friendships look like and what kinds of people to choose as friends at school.  More than anything, we’re hearing about all the folks that we shouldn’t be friends.  Don’t hang out with the “wrong” crowd.  And the list of people who are on the “wrong” list is extensive.  And we go through middle, junior, and senior high school making choices and decisions that are supposed to keep us closer to God and what we tend to do—is send the message to so many of our classmates that we can’t hang out with them.   

And then… we’re released into the world as adults.  And we start reading more of the Bible and we’re finally thinking for ourselves.  And we read about the life of Jesus where He tells us to hang out with the least of these and love the unlovely.  We’re finding that He’s hanging out with the “wrong crowd” and that we’re supposed to follow Him to the same places today.

Whoa!  Live among the marginalized?  Did you forget, Lord?  We’re not supposed to be in the margins!  You can’t possibly want me to go out with those folks.  What would people say?  I mean, be serious.  We aren’t supposed to chill with the wrong crowd. 

Don’t get me wrong—I have had some of the best teachers you could ever ask for.  Ask anyone who ever had Ms. Bailey or Ms. Williams and you will be hard pressed to find anyone who did not adore them!  They define “good teacher” and to color neatly and write normal are god lessons.  My Sunday School and youth group teachers ROCKED, we learned so much from them!  I just think that part of the struggle with knowing how to live out the gospel, how to love on the marginalized, is that we’re taught our whole lives not to be in the margins. 

May God ever so sternly keep us from seeing those lines…