Category: faith!

On flags and opinions

facebook opinionsEvery once in a while, in this social media age when we’ve all become “published writers,” I have to sit back and ask myself whether the “world” really needs to know my public statement on any one particular issue.

When it comes to some issues in particular, I do steer clear of the SYNDROME of posting my opinion. The fact is, many of the issues that incite people are much more nuanced than they are given credit for in statuses or 140-character posts that have become the bumper-sticker theology of our time.
Mostly, I can only take a platform based on who I am:
I believe in Jesus.
I believe in love.
I believe in the Bible as God’s holy word.
I believe most people have mostly pure intentions and don’t set out to hurt others.
I believe humans make mistakes – in interpreting God’s word, in their own behavior, and in how we treat others with whom we disagree.
So when it comes to the confederate flag or gay marriage or gun laws, I do have very strong opinions. I am pigeonholed to some expectations because of the labels assigned to me. I don’t post about my opinions. I do, however, enjoy conversations about them.
I will say this today:
The law of the land and the law of God are two different things. I find it an exercise in futility to expect one to mirror the other.
– The law of God was FULFILLED by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. No man or woman could live up to the law as it was handed down. That is why we need Jesus.
– God is God, and He doesn’t need me or anyone else to “defend” Him. Through His son Jesus, He instructed me to love Him and love my neighbors.
Behind the flags – with blue crisscrosses or rainbows on them – are peopleEach of those flags represents different life experiences. We cannot assume to know the hearts behind a cause or a symbol. To most southern people I know, the confederate flag does not equal hate. And to every gay person I know, the right to be married is not a rebellion or a conspiracy.
I wish before people MADE THEIR OPINIONS KNOWN, they would consider the value and affect of said opinion. Does it show love? Does it help anyone? Indeed, does it matter?
The best way we can affect change in our world, regardless of our opinions, is by our behavior and our treatment of others. Words are words. They can tear down or build up, but at the end of the day, it is our actions that speak.
Let me speak love.

never had a friend like…

robinI have never met Robin Williams.

Or Johnny Cash.

Or Michael Jackson

Or Roger Ebert.

Or Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Brittany Murphy, Natasha Richardson, Whitney Houston…

And don’t even get me started on Patrick Swayze.

You probably haven’t met them either, and if you did, you weren’t friends. You didn’t see them regularly, know their quirks, their scent, their most-worn T-shirt, the things that we observe and mindlessly hold close about our own people.

But when it comes to people – our favorite far-off people – whose faces we see and voices we hear on the screen, we feel connected. And when we lose them, we mourn.

When Whitney Houston died in 2012, I remember having to tune out social media for a few days because of my anger at the reactions. As it happens with any celebrity death in our Facebook Age, we use these times as an opportunity to reminisce: our favorite song. our favorite movie. the thing that touched us, made us dance, made us cry. But some people use this as a time to point out how shallow we are for caring that an entertainer has died. Why don’t we post more pictures and thoughts of soldiers, of martyrs, of victims?

It’s a debate we can’t win. Death itself is too big for us to handle as one piece. We know that every day, people die senselessly, tragically, horribly. And if we acknowledged each one the way we do our own loved ones, our own heroes, or simply our own favorite entertainers, then all we would do is mourn.

Patrick Swayze - I mean!I remember, quite honestly, observing that I cried more tears over the star of Dirty Dancing and the singer of  “Walk the Line” than I did for some distant relatives. It made me feel guilty, and yet…? We cannot measure the depth of our human experience by isolated emotions. I loved that second cousin who died unexpectedly when I was 17, and I will always, always miss those older relatives that were gone before we got to hear all of their stories and learn all of their recipes. But I can’t help it that something in the emotive performances of Patrick Swayze and many things in the life and writings of Johnny Cash captivated me in a personal way.

And without their presence, the world is emptier. That is what happens when we lose artists, when we lose people who happen to make a more public mark than the rest of us.

It doesn’t make them bad for being celebrities, just like it doesn’t make them immune from cancer, old age, addiction, depression. It doesn’t make us shallow for loving them from afar and mourning them for real.

It’s just part of our human experience.

I am not going to spend Memorial Day acknowledging Robin Williams, nor will I tie a yellow ribbon, make a donation in his name, or think of him every day. Those are places we hold close for our soldiers, for our martyrs.

But this week, I will remember how he made me laugh in countless movies… how he was the teacher I wanted to have and wanted to be in Dead Poet’s Society… how Mrs. Doubtfire stands the test of time… the amazing way he made a cartoon genie come to life and made me rewind “You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me” over and over… how I didn’t ever see Good Morning Vietnam or get Jumanji or like Mork & Mindy, but how much my kids love that eccentric Hook.

I will also pray for his family. He was a real person… a husband, a dad, a friend.

I guess it’s a theme for me this week. Let’s edit less. Let’s feel. Let’s reach out. Let’s be the full-hearted, big-hearted, loving creatures God created us to be.

Let’s remember Robin Williams with a smile and a tear.

the trouble with grace

As the days of summer “vacation” dwindle, I find myself looking for a moment to exhale.

The beginning of summer was pretty peaceful, quite possibly because our little darlings were spending three-ish weeks away and I was napping every afternoon in first-trimester lovely exhaustion.

But the weather got hotter and the kids got more restless and the workload of life has gotten crazier, and my second-trimester blissfulness has not yet kicked in. I’m a little crabby, and to be more specific, I am frustrated. Like, with everything.

I sat in a Bible study this morning in which the main topic is grace (this was part of my work day… one of the perks!) I thought about how grace first really captured me, for real, just moments before I found out Miranda was on her way. (full story here).

And tonight, as I dish out heated up pizza to the kids, on the fifth night Daddy is away and the edge of my sanity, I am telling myself in an inward chant that grace is for everyone.grace-by-nathan-furr-free-photo-12440

Grace. Is. For. EVERYONE.

Does that ever just frustrate the crap out of you?

Grace is for whatever neighbor called our out-of-state landlord to complain about our shrubs needing a TRIM.

Grace is for the people who ask questions and then talk over you when you try to answer.

Grace is for the child who asks you for her cup when it is closer to her than it is to you
– or the one who throws her (thankfully, plastic) plate from the living to the kitchen,
– or the one who complains about the spices on the pizza and then about the bread used for her dinner-substitution sandwich
– or the one who repeatedly gets you up at 1:30, 3:30, or 4:30 in the morning.
– or the one who whines for a playdate and then fights with her friend the whole time.
– or the one who is all of the above :)

Grace is for the one who asked you to do something and then doesn’t acknowledge it was done, much less say thanks.

Grace is for the well-meaning person who says all the wrong post-miscarriage things.

Grace is for the toxic personalities who only speak negatively.

Grace is for the ones who complain about what is wrong but refuse to be part of change.

Grace is for the people who forget you, ignore you, or never see you in the first place.

Grace is for the ignorant, the mean, the judgmental, and the selfish.

And you know what else?

Grace is for me – who made every form of bad relationship choices in her teen and young adult years.

Grace is for me – who lied for years to cover those tracks.

Grace is for me – who gets so easily defensive and has difficulty taking criticism.

Grace is for me – who sometimes chews on hurt feelings or righteous indignation like Hubba Bubba until the flavorless lump nearly chokes me.

Grace is for me – who wishes someone would help sometimes but refuses to ask for it.

Grace is for me – who could definitely stand to be a better listener, a better mama, a better soul.

Grace is for me – who sometimes indulges so deeply in loneliness that I am also refusing to see those around me.

Grace is for me – who feels inadequate over frozen pizza dinners, lost patience, and those stupid shrubs.

Grace is for me – who after so much learning and acceptance of grace, still falls into the trap of pursuing perfection so that I will please myself, the people around me, the strangers on the internet, and my Heavenly Father.

Grace is for me – because He is already pleased.

Grace is for you  – whether you identify with pieces of this list or have one of your own.

Grace is for us.

Grace is for everyone.

 

It’s always raining

I remember the day he sang at this church. The call came in the middle of the night, literally. The opportunity was so refreshing. The financial blessing was so needed. We were on the starting edge of the biggest drought and hardest challenge of our lives, even though we were fighting it off and maybe even denying it a little.

I was looking for a different song he’s sang today and came across this one. I had to giggle. This isn’t the same guy, and I am not the same either. November 2011 might as well have been a decade ago instead of two short years for all the ways our lives have changed – and all the ways we have changed.

But the message holds. The rain is coming.

I’d like to hear Rod sing it now, with his long hair and wearing his flip-flops, strumming his guitar, on the beach or the porch. Part of our change has been letting go of religion in all its hidden forms, in the legalism, the formality, the appearances, the parts that build walls instead of shine lights.

Part of our change is a realization that even though we have dry seasons, it never actually stops raining..

Jesus said this:

This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. – Matthew 5: 43-48, The Message

I’m grateful for those who gave us water when our season was dry. I am grateful we have some water to share this year. I’m grateful for the lesson learned that we should always be watching and waiting for a bouty of blessings to come to us.

day 17: donuts and Jesus

hallelujahdonuts

I have a new mantra… a new little daydream…lately…

When I get frustrated with American Christian culture, church drama, or something along those lines, I pose this question:

Can’t we just be brothers and sisters eating donuts at the feet of Jesus?

The first time I asked my friend De this, she told me “Um, no.”  Yep… rain all over my parade, but I knew she was right. We make Jesus and faith and grace and love way too complicated, and yet…

this morning, at church

– both services, all of it together –

well, it’s the closest I’ve experienced to that yet.

Pray in agreement with God.
Trust His Spirit to lead you.
Put aside your own agenda.
Love.
Pass the donuts.