Five Minute Friday: Plan

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7/14/15: I may have written too hastily. I wish I could say more, but I am in the process of attempting to gather some information. I don’t have the answers to some of my questions at this point. This isn’t an attack on Jen Hatmaker, but I’m no longer sure that I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. I’m leaving this post as-is for now, but may remove it soon.  Sorry for the vagueness.

Gentle Reader,

I didn’t plan to turn on my computer tonight. We’re experiencing a lull in our relationship. I just need a break.

But I also love my FMF tribe.

I planned to lurk.

Instead I quoted Chandler Bing.

Kate. The ladies. We: plan.

Go.

Last week my blogging/Voxer/all things online buddy Rebekah mentioned that Jen Hatmaker was looking for people to be part of the launch team for her new book, For the Love, releasing in August. I’d never even heard of the concept of a launch team, let alone imagined myself being part of one. But because Jen has blessed me with her humor and her straight-shooting, I filled out the form, shrugged my shoulders and went about the day.

I didn’t plan to be chosen.

The notification sneaked into my inbox on Tuesday and my toes curled with excitement. I get to read a book before everyone else does! I get to support someone! I get to help promote the Gospel and some truly witty quips! Sure, it’s a PDF download, a dreaded electronic…thing that this bibliophile has made passionate arguments against. (Patrick, if you’re reading this, I don’t want to hear a SINGLE. WORD).

I can’t stop scrolling. I can’t stop reading.

I didn’t plan to get hooked. I didn’t plan to laugh out loud. I didn’t plan to tell myself, “Just one more chapter.” Two days later and I’ve only got a third of the book left.

For the Love is a something I needed to read right now. I didn’t plan on it. I didn’t even really realize that I needed to be reminded of the richness of grace. But God knew.

God planned.

Stop.

I can’t say much more about this fabulous book until the official launch this summer, but reader – get thee a copy. Request it at your local libraries. Make For the Love part of your plan.

My journey to faith. (15)

Finding My Voice

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Gentle Reader,

Something has clicked for me.

It began on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, referenced in this post. I certainly don’t think that social media is the place to air each and every thought and emotion. I don’t think blogging is the appropriate place for that, either. Nobody likes a constant stream of word-vomit. Discretion and wisdom are necessary in the online life (not to mention the “real” life). It’s important to consider what and how we share. Some things are great for general discussion. Others should be kept between trusted friends and family. Still others are meant to be hashed out with God alone.

So I’m not about to pontificate on every issue under the sun. But neither am I going to go out of my way to avoid voicing an opinion.

I’ve been doing that. Keeping silent. Honestly, part of that is because I think a lot of what passes for urgent these days is just a waste of time. People need to get off the computer and go do something worthwhile. Volunteering at the shelter has really changed my perspective. There are much bigger things going on in the world than what kind of meat to eat or if meat should even be eaten at all.

But it’s more than that. My friendships span a wide spectrum. Vegans and carnivores. Atheists and Christians. Pro-vax and anti-vax. I’ve often been reluctant to “like” or “share” a post because “what if so-and-so sees I did?” I’ve shied away from leaving comments because “what if so-and-so gets angry?”

And then the clicking.

First, I realized that it made no sense whatsoever that I would allow others the freedom to share their views, even views that I highly disagree with or find offensive, while not allowing myself the same freedom. Second, I realized that if a friendship falls apart because of differing takes on such trivial matters then it wasn’t really a friendship to begin with. Third, and perhaps most crucially, I understand the difference between attacking a person and criticism of a stance. No longer do I tolerate someone who chooses to be insulting on a consistent basis but I don’t at all mind someone who challenges my way of thinking. If I can be challenged, then I can challenge others. That’s healthy discourse.

All of these thoughts were subconscious. I haven’t been able to articulate them until today.

The third point in the above stirs me. We as a society have conflated personal attack and ideological criticism. We assume that anyone who holds a different position is saying something nasty and personal. We don’t know how to handle relationships that aren’t 100% square in all things. All too often we run away from anyone who dares to disagree. That bothers me a great deal. I don’t want to live in a world where everyone thinks exactly the same as I do. Heaven forbid I ever start to think that I can’t learn anything from anyone, that my way is the only right way. (Obviously I’m not talking about Jesus here, so don’t even start to think that I’m saying something about all religions being equal).

Disagreement is normal. It’s fine. It doesn’t have to be vicious.

I’ve chosen to step out and share my thoughts about some controversial things on my Facebook page. I said the Affordable Health Care Act is a joke because it’s not true reform at all, though I hardly place all the blame for that on the shoulders of the President. I said that I’m tired of articles that talk about how much the Church sucks because the people who write them are largely of my whiny, lazy, self-centered, entitled generation; a generation who, as a general rule, refuses to acknowledge its own responsibility in anything. I came out as a pro-vaxxer. (This last one may actually lose me some friends and I seriously don’t get it. I don’t understand why this is such a heated topic. Or even a topic for debate at all. But again, I fully support everyone’s right to think that they want).

You know what?

It felt good.

So, so good.

I didn’t call anyone names. Just said what I thought. It’s fine with me if other people disagree. We can talk. If they don’t want to talk, if they want to walk away, that’s fine, too. Sad, but fine. I have no control over anyone’s response.

Maybe it’s because I’m 30. Maybe it’s because I had a tumor. I don’t know. I’m just done with being scared. I’m so, so, so tired of letting other people have that much influence over me. I’m disgusted with the stupid, ridiculous fights I see over minute, ultimately meaningless details when there’s a lost, broken world dying for truth. I’m over all of it. Sure, I’ll tell you what I think and I find a new sense of freedom in that, but I’m not going to fight about it. I have better things to do.

Frankly, so does everyone else.

My journey to faith. (15)

The Wall and the Wave and the Whole

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Gentle Reader.

A negative state of mind can only change if it is consistently flooded with truth. A cynical person can learn to see the bright side only by regular exposure to that which is positive. An anxious, fretful woman banned from using medication must turn to truth and positivitiy the second she begins to stew and worry. To that end, I am participating in the 2015 edition of the Siesta Scripture Memory Team. I’ve got to put good stuff into my soul to drive out the bad that so naturally and easily arises.

Little did I know that the first two verses I chose to memorize would have such depth.

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” – John 15:9 (NKJV)

Usually we focus on the “abide” part. We wonder what it means, what it looks like. Truly, the definition is fabulous: “accept or act in accordance with.” So abiding in Jesus’ love means to accept it. To live in it.

I’ve read this verse more times than I know, and this go-around pricked me with something new. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you.” Jesus is telling His people, His disciples, His friends, that He loves them exactly how the Father loves Him. By extension, He loves us exactly as the Father loves Him. We can further surmise that He loves His people just as the He loves the Father, just as the Spirit loves Him, and so on. Dwell on that for a minute. The Holy Trinity has existed in perfect, never-disjointed relationship for all eternity past and will exist in perfect, never-disjointed relationship for all eternity future. The love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit never ends. There is no limit to it. There is no reaching the bottom.

So much beauty. So much comfort.

There is also confrontation.

God’s love isn’t about smoothing things over. It’s not about maintaining the status quo. Jesus walked into the lives of His disciples and turned them completely upside down and inside out. He challenged how they thought, how they acted, how they felt. He’s still doing that today. The constant, unending love of God is first like hitting a brick wall then drowning in a fathomless sea. We go through the wall first. We see the gore of the Cross, the most loving act in history, and we are crushed.

Then the waves rush in. Instead of washing us away, they somehow rebuild.

“He must increase, but I must decrease. ‘ – John 3:30 (NKJV)

I believe that John the Baptist fully embraced the meaning of these words. He knew that Christ was the star of center stage. He knew that his mission was about pointing people to the only Savior. John knew precisely who he was and who he wasn’t.

And that’s because of the Lord.

When we accept and act in accordance with the love of God, we come to understand who we are. There is so much freedom to be had in that understanding. We can walk in confidence. We can speak the truth. We can create healthy boundaries. We can love others without an agenda.

We – I – need the wall and the wave in order to be whole. Love confronts and love comforts. There are times when the most loving thing that God can do is bring us face-to-face with our nastiness. And when we take a good look in that mirror, God never fails to hold us close.

Broken by the wall, rebuilt by the wave.

Made whole.

My journey to faith. (15)