Breathe

Sometimes we need to breathe deeply of our own lives in order to slow down and recover. When we breathe, we allow ourselves to stop and restore a healthy pace of life

Why today is actually a Good Day

Posted on 29 Mar 2013 | 0 comments

Cashel 2The last post I wrote had to do with dust and ashes.

Death.

Sadness.

Grief.

I sat with friends and family who had to say goodbye. And in that saying goodbye, there were so many different kinds of grief. There was the grief of death – that someone had died. But the lingering grief is the one that most people don’t talk about. It’s the grief that comes in a million little deaths. The death of dreams.

I’ve had to watch people I love desperately have to figure out a whole new way to live. The death of the “first call” – you know the call you always make immediately when you want to share some news? Or the death of the summer plans, when you have to start thinking about new things to do with the time you already had requested off.

So every little death adds up and it’s like grief keeps rippling over you in waves. Like the anti-orgasm. Instead of life and joy and love, it’s just pain and sorrow and doubt.

So you move on. And you keep on keeping on.

So when I think about Good Friday, and what it is supposed to symbolize, I have to look at grief all over again. How did God grieve? What about Jesus’ grief? The story is saturated with not only pain and suffering and death, but betrayal and fear and hypocrisy. Blood, sweat, tears. A million other authors have written about the pain and humiliation of the crucifixion. I don’t feel like repeating it. Because it doesn’t sit well with me. I’d like to believe that I’m different, that I wouldn’t have abandoned my best friend, my deepest love, the one I would claim to die to follow… I’d like to believe that I would have loved him. That if it had been Aaron on that cross, I wouldn’t have been afraid.

But I’m really weak. I’m so unbelievably fragile and I don’t always have the strength to stand with those I love. I don’t always even REMEMBER to text or call the people I love and tell them so. Would I have been a John or Mary sitting at the foot of the cross, or would I have been a Peter.

I know that in the past, I’ve even been a Judas. Betraying God even while I kiss Him on the cheek.

How does any of this make sense or even translate remotely to good?

What was God thinking? I mean, how does His grief even begin to become imaginable? Looking at the only perfect person, His only Son, and allowing Jesus the choice of moving into self-sacrificial love. Did He cry when he saw the hands pierced? Remembering the tiny fingers that held onto Mary & Joseph’s fingers when he couldn’t even speak? Did it move Him to see the weight of the world – pain, suffering – resting on His only Son’s shoulders? Did He grieve the million tiny little deaths that followed? All the things that Jesus would never experience – like growing old and having grandchildren?

When my friend died, he spent a number of hours on life support. My husband said something that rattled me to my core

He must have seen something for her that was so glorious that he knew he had to let her go in order to give her the future she deserved.

Was that what happened on that day? Did the Father see something so glorious that He knew that He had to let go in order to give us the future we deserved?

I can’t imagine what it was like to live before that day. Before GRACE. Before self-sacrificial love set the precedent for who God is.

Because the reality of God is self-sacrificial, tender, world-changing LOVE. It’s the kind of thing that changes the world.

It’s the kind of thing that looks at the grief of the cross, and says…

For the glory in front of this action, for the way in which it will change people for the better, for the LOVE that this extends to overcome evil in the world…
For these things, I will let go of my expectations, my plans, my priorities. I will surrender and trust that this death means something.

And because of all of that, today is called “Good Friday.”

And because of all of that, I took the mess of my life, all the disasters, the horrible things I’ve done to people, and the horrible things done to me. And because of all of that, I can let go and say…

For the glory set before me, I will let go of myself and live thoroughly in self-sacrificial love.

It is always worth it.

 

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Dust and Ashes

Posted on 26 Feb 2013 | 0 comments

I’ve spent most of my life trying to make sense of things. Thinking about things, pondering, and getting everything together in my head.

But sometimes things don’t make sense.

Sometimes…

Things crash into you like a comet from the sky and all you can feel is pulverized.

Helpless.

Hopeless.

What does life look like now?

When the fire and the smoke and the dust and ashes clear, what does life look like now?

And just because they’re clearing for me on the outskirts, what about the people at ground zero?

Covered in dust and ashes, groaning under the weight of loss.

I feel like a roadside gawker, transfixed by the accident.

I can’t look away, but I feel so helpless.

Job 2:12-13

When his three friends saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.

I know that the suffering is too great for words now for some of you.

And there are no words that will make any of this make any sense.

Because sometimes things don’t make sense.

Sometimes…

Things crash into you like a comet from the sky and leave you desolate.

So all I can do is journey back to you from where I am, journeying back to join you in the dust and ashes.

No platitudes or empty words or anything else.

But I do promise to sit shiva with you.

To not speak, but to simply be present (in spirit and later in person) and offer the only words I have.

I’m so incredibly sorry.

This is so unfair.

I love you.

Ha-makom yenakhem etkhem b’tokh sh’ar a’vaylay.

May God comfort you among the other mourners.

In loving memory of John Clifford Peters.

You leave a legacy behind that is irrevocable.

You will be deeply and tremendously missed.

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10 Steps to a Better Political Season

Posted on 3 Oct 2012 | 0 comments

Dear friends,

Wordle: Declaration of IndependenceThis letter is primarily addressed to those of my friends who consider themselves biblical Jesus-followers. So if that’s not you, feel free to read or pass this along, but I’m pretty aware that the laws of proper societal etiquette don’t hold you to these statements. That being said, I think that there are some principles in here that apply across the board – “don’t be a jerk” being one of them. But, however, if you do consider yourselves in that category, can I ask you to get to the end before commenting or ranting or otherwise going a bit elemental here?
As a Christian, I am significantly concerned with the way that the Church (big C, universal) in the United States is handling political dialogue. With the election coming up, more and more Christians are beginning to play the world’s game of political dialogue, which is “If I can yell louder and talk nastier about the political candidates, I might make someone angry enough so that they don’t vote for their guy.”*
I’m going to ask some difficult questions, go through some deep thoughts I’ve had recently about what the New Testament text has to say about authority and the way we are to behave, and offer some practical steps for the church in the coming month.
In general, there are about three times as many mentions of the word “love”(or compassion, gentleness, kindness) as there are mentions of concepts regarding “truth.” We as the Church have become far more concerned with loving to speak the truth than we have been with speaking the truth in love.
The next time you question or argue with someone about their political choices (and in this I’m talking to both sides), I encourage you to ask them afterwards “Do you feel loved right now?”

It should be our absolute checkpoint. Our bottom line.

Feel free to skip down to the “10 Steps” practical part, but I encourage you to read it all when you have time.

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Why I Left Facebook…for a little while

Posted on 18 Jun 2012 | 5 comments

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.

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Hiding Your Heart

Posted on 8 Mar 2012 | 0 comments

rights reserved Ryan Hyde

I have dreams about packing.

Unpacking.

Repacking.

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.

Vagabonds.

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.

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Long Day’s Journey Into Night

Posted on 30 Dec 2011 | 2 comments

When I was just out of high school, this play was one of my favorites. It’s dark and dreary and a horrific tale of life and family in the modern age. There’s addiction and suffering and insanity.

All the things I thought I understood – I was convinced that I was living them, after all.

I had friends who smoked! And DRANK! And some who even did unmentionable things in unmentionable places with unmentionable people. I was such a pretentious 18 year old. I can laugh at myself now, recognizing that I was even worse than the guys on Dawson’s Creek who seemed to have everything sorted, yet their lives kept going so horribly, horribly awry. And then something even more amazing happened.

Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer began. And I had a whole new world of dark and dreary and horrific and pretentiousness – and this one written infinitely better. At so many points in time, it seemed as if finally someone understood.

Life wasn’t always sunshine and daffodils and roses and happy joy joy. And it also wasn’t all darkness and depression and insanity. There was this strange symbiosis of life and death and darkness and light.

It’s *both/and*

We’ve been driving across the country. We started in California, stopped in Phoenix and Carlsbad, and arrived in O Fallon, MO. It’s been an incredibly journey. We’ve had heaps to time to spend in reflection and dreaming about the future – the kind of people we want to be, the dreams we want to pursue, the community we want to create and help to thrive. And we’ve met lovely people along the way.

And I guess I feel like this title represents this season really well for us.

We’ve entered a season of “Night.”
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To See the World Anew

Posted on 19 Dec 2011 | 2 comments

I love taking picture of the little ones in my life.

Nieces, nephews, god-children, and friends.

Yes, you can be honest to goodness *friends* with a child without any weirdness. Some of my most clever and insightful friends are 2, or 5, or 7 years old.

And sometimes it makes me sad how suspicious we adults have become. I watch my younger friends and their approach to the world, with wonder and awe and beauty and humor.

They run around freely. Completely.

Unashamed.
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