World events in the last few weeks have given me cause to wonder. In both positive and negative ways. I’m naturally a reflective person, so any time events happen, my heart turns to mulling over ideas and trying to understand. It’s been heartbreaking to see the response to attacks of terror, especially from those who label themselves Christ-followers or Christians. The response of fear, hatred, anger and venom have reflected something that is very Anti-Christ. It’s completely against the Good News that we are supposed to carry. So, this morning, I just wanted to take a moment and wonder what would be different if we chose to live in a place of wonder. To wonder and reflect on those things that we need to be challenged by and work on, and to wonder and reflect on those things that are brilliant and stunning and beautiful and filled with love and goodness.Read More
Many of you probably didn’t even notice, or if you did, didn’t think much of it.
But I’ve been slowly distancing myself from Facebook.
I like to keep up with everyone, but at a certain point, it began to bring a lot of pain and frustration.
There were two main reasons:
1) Shiny, Perfectly Happy Lives
2) Nasty Incendiary Dehumanizing Comments
1) Shiny, Perfectly Happy Lives
I’m incredibly happy for the dozen or so women in my circle of friends who are pregnant right now. I’m excited about their futures, their children, all of it. I love them, so I celebrate with them.
But each post about each stage of their pregnancies – or the pregnancies of their friends, which seem to be shared regularly as well – is quite painful for me. Because we have also been trying, but having no success.
Some of them have done me the courtesy of joining with me in my journey, praying for me, giving me a personal call or message before the glorious announcements on FB. But most of them haven’t.
But what made it worse was some of the comments I received when I shared my hurt with others – “Get over it, be happy for them, it just takes time.” Or “Just because you’re having a hard time doesn’t mean you get to kill their joy.” The general consensus was that if I was hurting, it was because I was selfish and a bad person – that I should just suck it up, and pretend that everything was ok so that the other person wouldn’t feel awkward.
And 85% of the time, I’m content to rejoice with those who rejoice. But what ever happened to the other half of the equation? What happened to mourning with those who mourn?
Why shouldn’t someone feel awkward about making a broad impersonal pregnancy announcement to people, knowing that one in four women has suffered a miscarriage? That’s part of living in a society in which we care for one another, and share in one another’s burdens.
It’s like I’m shamed and guilty because I’m hurting – because it is difficult. Maybe I’m not the most gracious loser, but perhaps there is a space for gracious winners as well.
I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else, posting uber-happy reports without considering how others might find it.
But there is also this shame and stigma – especially around the area of infertility & miscarriage – that we don’t talk about and we don’t even have any language to understand or express what the pain is like. And society as a whole would much rather celebrate little babies than sit in the dust with those of us without. So perhaps those of us in pain need to be more honest about what we are experiencing. Perhaps we need to communicate more clearly our struggles and frustrations.
That’s what I’m trying to do a little bit here.
I know that many of my single friends feel the same way about weddings.
I know that people I know without jobs feel the same way about promotions.
I know that people in financial hardship don’t like seeing the posts about new purchases and vacations.
For every cause to celebrate, we have people in our community who are struggling with the opposite.
For every pregnancy, there is barrenness.
For each promotion, there is someone under the stress of a pink slip.
For those in flourishing, there are those in hardship.
But it is much easier on FB to just shine the happy light all the time. I’m pretty guilty of this as well. But perhaps our dialogue needs to remember that there are humans in our midst online. As a guy said in a video I posted earlier today – “insert a little humanity into our corner of the internet.”
I think it’s important to rejoice with those who rejoice – and I do it about 85% of the time. But I think I’d really appreciate it if sometimes people would remember to mourn with those who mourn. Sometimes, I would really love for my friends to come and sit with me in the dust – recognizing that this season isn’t as easy for me. Some of my friends are amazing at this. And I’m grateful for them.
I just ask that perhaps in the future we consider those things as well. Remember the people behind the posts.
2) Nasty Incendiary Dehumanizing
With the election coming up, it’s gotten worse, but it’s already been horrific. With dozens of different causes or protests or campaigns, the primary language of the people is slander. The things coming out of other people’s mouths are horrific and dehumanizing.
The Pro-Life people dehumanize the Planned Parenthood people, and then the rhetoric comes right back and nobody is really being ‘tolerant’ anymore.
The War on Women dehumanizes women, but then we dehumanize the male lawmakers who are perpetrating the injustice.
Democrats dehumanize the Republicans, and nasty tidbits get flung around like excrement.
My faith gets slandered, but it’s ok, because it’s ok to slander my faith these days. My friends justify it by saying “but it’s not *your* faith we’re criticizing” – but it is, because it’s my community, my tradition.
There are people behind these labels.
We go in nasty little circles, and have completely lost any sense of simply honor, dignity and respect for one another. The way that we say things to one another would never fly in person, but we don’t care, because we have to “win” the argument on Facebook.
I just can’t be part of these discussions anymore. It breaks my heart to see Christians crucifying non-believers online, while my liberal ‘tolerant’ friends crucify my faith. It hurts me to see men and women slinging hatred at each other instead of working together to find a solution. It is tragic that people with different economic ideas cannot work together and try to find common ground instead of demonizing those who disagree.
All in all, both reasons boil down to a recent deterioration of humanity online. And as a peace-builder, a peace-maker, someone who loves peace in all its forms and theological depth and complexity, I just cannot participate in it fully anymore.
I hope, if nothing else, that this can inspire you to think a bit more clearly and regularly about the people behind the posts. The men and women who are diverse and lovely. The ones who have rich lives that deserves our honor and respect – even if we disagree with them.Read More
I have dreams about packing.
Suitcases, boxes, again and again and again.
I take things out, I repack them. I make things fit better. I simplify, I clean, I pack, I sort.
Over and over and over again. And I’ve been having these dreams for the past two years. For one of those years, I was settled in a place that I thought would be home for years. I never thought I’d have to leave. And then things began to change. We began to get a sense that God was calling us away from the ‘home’ that we knew. And now, we’ve been on the road since November.
We’ve been practicing Peregrinatio, or holy wandering, to a certain extent. But mainly, we’ve been going through a process of having everything stripped away from us so that we come even closer to the promises that are being whispered so quietly in our wilderness. We are having to leave things behind in order to press even deeper into the mysteries that are being prepared for us.Read More
Sometimes the world closes in. There’s darkness and despair. A spark of life only seems like a painful burn in the silence. There is so little light and sometimes that light is more like the tracers you see behind your eyelids on a bright day. There one moment, drifting away the next. And you’re left to choose between two horrible things. You can’t see a way of escape.
You want to choose life – but you don’t feel as if you have any life to choose.
And you might not want to right now. Maybe where you are feels safe, it’s known. In your mind, in your heart, you believe that you are precisely where you deserve to be. It’s your very own fault that you stand in the midst of this sea of discontent and unquiet.
Maybe you made bad decisions in the past. You lashed out when you wanted to draw yourself in. Maybe you chased after joy in the small immediate moments, regardless of the cost, because you didn’t believe that the deeper joy was yours to grasp or run to. Maybe you believe deep down that this is the very best that you could hope for.
And it’s not really that bad, after all.
There are moments when you hear your name whispered and it’s like light filtering through the dust and darkness of the closet of your soul. And then there are the fleeting moments of contentment or pleasure that send signals of life through you. And you remember for just a moment what life could be like or have just a moment where everything goes precisely right.
Until it doesn’t…Read More
We live in the idle world of the everyday, praying for something more, something meaningful for which to live. And when those things don’t come, we always hold onto the hope that someday they will appear. But do they? There is always hope, but sometimes that hope seems so distant and so unlikely.
We find something, someone to cling to. They give us hope in this dark, dreary world, where war is always just around the corner and fear is a part of our daily lives. We listen to announcements about curfews and curses. We spend half our lives in pursuit of a goal that will never satisfy. Until we, like the precious money we so covet, are completely spent. We lose our emotions, our willingness, our courage.
And I still want to get hurt.
Because I was willing to be vulnerable and to trust my hope.
Because I was willing to open the floodgates and invite someone else in.
Because I wanted something more.
I knew deep down inside that the pain and anguish that I would inevitably feel would dissipate to be replaced with strength. Nothing loved is ever lost or perished. I will not allow myself to live in fear of pain. I will not allow myself the luxury of regret.
A different translation of this text highlights a particular passage in this chapter by formatting. It’s a passage that the ancient scribe quotes from an even more ancient prophet named Micah. The passage in Micah is actually a bit harsher than the one that Matthew gives. In Micah, the prophet indicates that there is a “rising up against” or actually “despising” or “defying” going on. “Neighborhoods and families are falling to pieces. The closer they are—sons, daughters, in-laws—the worse they can be. Your own family is the enemy…”*
I’ve seen what happens when families fall to pieces. The verse isn’t just about families falling apart. It’s about the call and the cost of discipleship.
Jesus has sent out his twelve apprentices to minister to people. This is part of their commission. Jesus makes it clear that it is no longer simply family relationships that define our identity when we choose to follow the call to Light and Love. It seems that he’s saying, “your first call is to me, not your family. Let go of your creature comforts in order to experience the truly unconditional love of Your Divine Parent in Heaven.”
Jesus tells his followers to speak out into the daylight those things that were revealed in hiddenness. The Spirit saying that things have been revealed to the disciples in the quiet places – their personal revelations – and they are now to go out and shout them from the rooftops. I don’t know about you, but my private times with the Divine have normally been precisely that – private. I may journal about them on my own, but “blogging” them places me in complete vulnerability. I have a really beautiful journal full of hand-written prayers and revelations. To bring them out of the hidden places into the glow of my computer monitor is a bit nerve-wracking. What if people think less of me? What if some of what I say leads people to believe that I’m a bit mental? What if they think I’m wrong? What if they stop being my friend because of what they read? And what if this makes my family angry?