Friday, September 26, 2014


We are the most threatened and defensive when people speak truth into our lives.

I learned this today, when I lovingly offered a dissenting opinion to a friend.  A friend who was looking for people to verify she should be angry, escalate an issue above a person's head, and be generally hurt over something that had happened to her child.

I offered that, maybe giving another chance (because you really don't know what is going on behind the scenes) might be reasonable.  Meeting face-to-face would be in order.  At that meeting, discussing the very issues that made her angry would be smart.  Volunteering to help would be a nice touch, too.

The response was more anger, this time directed at me.  I could read the "How could you be so insensitive?" all over the response.  She didn't have to say it;  you could read it between the lines. 

I propose that this is the very problem we have with people in this world.  When we ask for an honest assessment, we really don't want it;  we want people to clone our emotions and spit them back out at us, along with a "I'm sorry you are being so violated".

Folks, let's put down our first-world, upper-middle class problems and really dig deep here.

Life is fleeting.  It is over in the blink of an eye.  Your present circumstances rarely are worth a second thought, much less an entire diatribe determined to help you gain support and fuel your anger to bonfire proportions.

In moments like this, we are EXACTLY where Satan wants us.  And THAT is the reason we feel threatened and defensive;  we are doing the exact opposite of loving others.  When we walk outside the lines of loving other people, no matter how much they screw up or screw us or screw our friends, we have temporarily lost touch with God.

It isn't until the situation has passed that most people realize their error.  And, by then, they have often left a trail of destructive behavior that is messy and ugly and needs an industrial-size clean-up.

Trust me.  I know.

When life hits you hard, hit your knees.  Forget calling your best friend, unless you count your best friends as Jesus.  Take it to Him.  Lay it at His feet.  Ask His opinion.  And, when He answers, LISTEN and RESPOND ACCORDINGLY.

People most always (read that again: MOST ALWAYS) are going to try to make you feel better about the error of your ways.  They will give you examples of times they faced the same harsh treatment.  They will nod their heads and tell you how awful you've been treated.  But how you respond to the dissenting opinion in the crowd will often point you in a better direction. 

Jesus was a man of controversy.  He didn't look to the world to determine how to handle situations (thank goodness!)  He often made statements that went against the grain and against human logic (turn the other cheek?  really?)  If we are to follow Him, we have to lay down our defensive attitudes, our need to be seen as "right", and our desire to have agreement from Earthly sources.  

Learn to speak truth to others.  Learn to accept truth from others.  Learn to learn from everyone in the moment, where they are, faults and opinions hanging out for others to take or leave, and glean what you can without insult.

Mostly, grab Jesus by the hand when you are unsure.  Allow Him to calm your fears and nerves and anxieties.

If you do that, your worries will become His.
You will walk in the freedom of knowing your wisdom is not from the world.
And, most of your problems will seem trivial.

Because, in the great big scheme of things, they really, really are.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Through the Darkness

Drought. For a year now.  Unquenchable thirst.  Soul hungry.  Yet, unaware.

How did this happen?

Almost to the day, one year ago, Hoo made the transition back to our beloved Shelton School, putting all three boys under one educational roof for the first time.  By all accounts, we were blessed.  We could run carpool once.  Everyone's holiday schedules synced up.  The boys were learning and not struggling with hours upon hours of homework anymore.

Yet, unbeknownst to me at the time, a year-long drought of the soul was beginning.

If you looked at my life back then, you'd think all was good;  I would have told you "It is well".  I planned and attended three Christian retreats with three separate friends in three different parts of Texas.  I was immersed in "good" Christian projects.  I felt the Spirit moving. 

And, yet, I was choking on the sand of the drought raging within myself.

Awake.  Blinders gone.  A stranger in a strange land.  Blinking.  Stumbling into this new life.

When I was drowning, I fell through my days, checking off this and that task and generally patting myself on the back for "doing good".

Now that I'm fully awake, I understand those checklists are heresy.  God fully loves me whether I sit in my pajamas and type until carpool time or run around feeding the homeless or creating lessons for Sunday or making plans to take a missions trip.  These things don't change His love.  They change me, for certain.  But, NOT HIM.  My works do not equal His love.

This was what I didn't understand when I was thirsty:  I am all God wants.  Twenty pounds over the weight I'd like to be.  Tears streaming down my face or joy pouring out of my smile.  Whether I have forgiven my neighbor or am still ranting.  I am imperfect.  God is perfect.  That is the way it is to be.  And it IS GOOD.

The darkness is crazy.  When you are there you hardly know it.  You try to quench a thirst you don't understand with more "Christianity".  Those around you can't put their finger on it.  Your walk seems so straight.  You seem so immersed in the good things.  So, the elephant in the room isn't discussed.  It is simply endured by all.

Awake, you rage.  WHY...Didn't you say anything?  Didn't you try to help?  Didn't you care?

Those who love you don't know the answers.  They, too, were blind, deaf, and dumb to the process.  How do you articulate what you don't understand? 

Coming out of the dark, the bright hurts.  The realization of the change is startling.  The acceptance of the new bends your mind to the point of pain. 

How can you explain that you were a sleep-walker for a year of your life?  That you were checking boxes and driving kids to lessons and cooking meals but NONE OF IT MATTERED?  You can only feebly offer that you have emerged, like a sleep-drunk black bear after a long nap, to a new year of life.

You try to explain the "new" you and reflect on the time lost.  You talk through the worry your lost-state caused.  You apologize for the giant wake left.  But, in the back of your soul, you know there isn't anything to be sorry for.  God took you through this.  It was for purpose.  It was hard.  Necessary.  You barely understood what was happening to you so you can't offer much to those who were collateral damage.

Everyone takes comfort you are "better".  Like life restored after a lingering low-grade fever breaks.  A minute ago you were sick;  all the sudden you are fine.  And you know you have endured the struggle and can move on.  You rise and shower off the old and towel dry yourself and put on clean clothes and think "I'm better now."  And the best part?  It's not just better, it's better than better.  You've survived the dark, found the light, and learned from the process.

You've grown closer to God as you've struggled.  You've relied fully on Him, not even knowing you were being held and given a piggy-back ride through the blahs.  "Praise God for carrying me when I didn't even know I was limping."

I'd love to think this is the last year God is going to need to put me in the desert with a water bottle I perceived as empty.  I'd love to think this is the last stretch of time leading to the maturity He seeks in me.  I'd love to think I can walk a straight line to God.  But I know better.

The desert is His training ground.  The water bottle is full.  When I am sun-drenched and burned, He will lift me and walk while I cry.  He will SHOW ME there is water to be had.  It will be up to me to decide if I will drink.

The maturity is beginning to form.  It is evident in my thinking but not yet all my actions.  The imperfect-perfection He can create in me is only just in its chrysalis stage.  I pray for the growth to be accomplished, even if it means painful change.

Straight lines just aren't a trademark of my life.  Crooked, gnarling, scary rides with ad nauseam loop-de-loops are more my style.  Even that, I know, God can help me overcome.  I wish, instead, for the serenity of the lost lake in the woods of nowhere, but will have to see what is in store.  Again, let God's will with my life be done.

"Come do life with me", He seems to say.  And, for today, I accept His call, lift my hand to cup His, and we walk together.

Come what may.