No Filter Friday {Random Thoughts about Football, Church, and Authenticity}

To begin with, a little sports update: 

It’s no secret I’m a Seahawks fan. #gohawks! There’s a very interesting off-the-field development surrounding Marshawn Lynch and his ongoing refusal to talk with the media. I find it befuddling that we flaunt our societal value of authenticity yet criticize Lynch for his silence.  Why does anyone care what the dude has to say? He’s not a politician or a professor–he’s an {introverted} football player. I wonder how many of us would want to give an exit interview after a long day at the office…every day.

And to the surly butcher at the market who practically wielded a knife at me yesterday–I’m truly sorry your Chargers aren’t in the Super Bowl and I know you had more short ribs in the back for someone who isn’t a Seahawks fan. #calmdown

How do you respond to failure? If like me it undoes and flattens you, you must go watch this video of Clayton Kershaw accepting his MVP and Cy Young awards and wait for the very last line. There is much to learn in this speech about vulnerability, honor, humility, team, and the measure of true greatness. Show it to your kids. Tear a page out of his manual for your own life.

Church-y stuff: 

This week I have been in many conversations with my church peeps and a common thread is running through the words–God is at work. The work is deep, sometimes painful, and terribly discomforting. These conversations have helped me to see how quick we are to bandage up wounds that need a deeper healer. God’s work of binding up the brokenhearted is something much more profound than a conciliatory bandaid and a quick kiss on the forehead. He is not about a simple fix but lasting transformation. Stay with Him, friends. I know the work hurts. On the other side of the pain there is healing…there is a Healer.

I read this interview of Erin Lane and was stirred by this quote of hers:

I worry, though, about whether we’re doing enough to interact with people who don’t inhabit our particular lifestyle enclaves. I don’t see many examples of rich involvement in public spaces that are open to strangers and friends alike. That’s one of the unique features of the church, at least right now, that it offers a common space between your private friends and the larger community. I think we’re losing some of those rich public spaces where anyone can show up, regardless of fitness or food preferences or economic status and ability to work.

I see this at work in my own life and it’s giving me considerable pause. What can be done to create more common space and how can we invite people into it in such a way that it offers true welcome and acceptance? I wonder what would happen if we would all just calm down about our differences and be secure enough in our convictions to allow for divergency of preference. Friendship is sterilized when we objectify and classify one another according to camps, shared interests, and common allegiance to the same opinion.

I know it’s the spirit of the age to scrutinize and critique, but suspicion and cynicism do not exactly communicate, “Come on in! We welcome you!” Possibly before we are able to create common space we will have to do the hard work of ridding ourselves of the judgments that shoo away hospitality. It will maybe feel a little risky, unsafe…vulnerable–but we can do this.

That leads me back to my first thought about authenticity. We love authentic people, so long as they look just like us. That kind of authenticity requires no patience, no kindness; no love. If we are compelled at all by the words of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you” then it might help us if we rephrased this command, “Go find an enemy and make them a friend.” Because after all, that IS how he loved us.

Some Thoughts on Learning {For when you don’t feel good enough}

Gallery

There’s nothing like a little intellectual working over to put things in perspective. The class I’m taking, “Jonathan Edwards and C.S. Lewis,” is pretty much killing brain cells. I’m being dramatic, but I leave that class every single time feeling … Continue reading

Unless: Remembering There are Worse Things than Failure

He gave up 11 runs in the first inning.  When the coaches moved him to the outfield, he dropped a ball and somehow managed to kick the ball behind him.  It might have been the worst outing of baseball I’ve witnessed in a long time.

For a parent, sitting in the stands and watching your child fail…publicly…is excruciating.  You want to rescue.  Find a good excuse.  Twinkle your nose and make yourself…and your child…disappear.

Unless…

You woke up that morning with uncertainty about the state of that same child’s health.  On Monday, my energetic sixteen year old sent me a text from school that read, “My heart is really hurting.”  I wanted to write back, “Mine just stopped.”  Three hours later we had good reports from the doctor about his tests, but a visit with the Cardiologist was needed.  Having a family history including a heart disorder and a cousin who died at a young age, the two-day wait for the next appointment seemed like eternity.  Aren’t these the kinds of things that are supposed to happen to other people?  Can’t we just go back to yelling at him about missed homework and a messy bedroom?

Sitting in the baseball stands today after more good news from the Cardiologist (although we’ll still need to wait for the genetic testing to be completely sure), I realized failure is a beautiful gift.  If you’re out on the field playing the game it’s because you’re still living.  You have life in you.  “Thank you, Lord, that my son has the ability to not throw hardly a single strike–but he can throw.”  “Thank you, Lord, that he has the ability to try to yet miss catching that ball.”  “And yes, Lord, thank you for giving him the ability and the encouragement to smack that last at bat into the outfield for a good solid hit.”  “Thank you, Lord, for his life.”

Sometimes you need a week like this to put everything in perspective.  Failure is not the worst thing that can happen.  Being unable to try; unable to risk failure…that is far worse.

Go live.  Fail.  Give thanks that you can.

There Are Days…

Do you ever find that there are days that seemed filled with more than your share of allowable errors? 

Yesterday I was more mistake-prone than usual.  I overslept.  I had an editing fail.  I spoke some careless words.   I forgot to pick up my boy at baseball…causing the hubs to miss a business dinner.  I arrived home to a messy house filled with grumpiness.  It was an epic fail day.

Instead of going from “strength to strength,” I seemed to be on one slow ride swirling around the drain of humanity.

Humans fail.  It’s a reality we try so hard to avoid. 

I don’t know why we are so reality-resistant about our humanity.  Pride.  Insecurity.  Fear of others.    Maybe the need to measure up gives us a false sense of security that we won’t be swallowed up…by other’s expectations or criticisms, or overlooked, or worst of all, found unworthy. 

There are days when I think we’re all just trying too hard.  Doing too many things to prove we’ve got what it takes. 

There are days when the failures–be they big or small–are just reminders that I haven’t yet surrendered to humility.  I haven’t yet embraced the virtue of being poor in spirit.  No, the poor in spirit have nothing of their own accounting.  They have reached into the depths of their performance pockets and pulled out nothing.  They are desperately dependant on the riches of another.  They’ve come to the end of themselves–and their own kingdom building–and have surrendered to One whose riches are not conditioned on their perfected accomplishments.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God”  Matthew 5:3.

There are days when that has to be enough. 

What will you need to surrender today in order to let it be enough for you?

Thankfulness: Imperfections & the People Who Give us Grace

Today was not a perfect day.

Neither was the day before that.  I’ve yet to live a perfect day.

I keep finding myself in what is called ‘today’–and so imperfection inevitably chases at the heels of every attempt to do things right.

I hate my imperfections–and if I had a wand to wave them away, I would–but, I am thankful for them.

I know it’s a weird thing for which to be thankful. Yet when you live in a constant state of never-quite-right, you discover the people who love you for who you really are…and not just for what you do. I am so thankful for those who laugh along with my randomness.  I’m thankful for those who let joy fill up the spaces where my intensity has made a crack.  For their patience with my mistakes, forgetfulness (Family, sorry I lost the Christmas names…again.), and clumsiness. I am thankful for those who remind me that grace is way of seeing past the moment of failure into the future of growth and restoration.

I’m grateful for those who love my less-than-best self.

Last night I heard an interview on Sunday Night Football with Tony Dungy about his relationship with Michael Vick.  He was asked why he got involved with Vick in the midst of his criminal failures.  Dungy replied, “It’s what I do.  It’s who I am.” It really struck me that Dungy understands the impact of there being one person in your life who stands by you…no matter what.  We all need that one person.  We all need to become that one person!

Do you find that you discover who your real friends are by how they treat you in your messing-up mode?  Have you stopped to tell them how thankful you are for their grace?  Have you paused to give thanks that you have people in your life who love you because they see your best potential even when you’re stumbling all over yourself?

Thankfulness: Unlimited Grace

Today came on the heels of a very bad, no good, horrible day.  Yesterday had few, if any, moments of which I am proud.  I yelled at the husband.  I freaked out at the kids.  I served Macaroni and Cheese for dinner.  I didn’t call my mom.   It was a most ungraceful day.

Today I woke up knowing that I would have to drag my sorry, loser, sinning self out of bed to talk  to the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) ladies about grace.  Please pause and let the irony of that settle for a moment.

I happen to LOVE to talk…and to teach…and so an invitation to speak is always something I am enthusiastic about.  Except for today.

I’m pretty sure I bombed up the place with a real stinker, half of what I had intended to say, I didn’t.  But somehow, it doesn’t matter. The immediate need I had to hear the truth spoken from my lips led to a profound sense of my need for Jesus and His grace.   More so, knowing that I could go from such a bad yesterday to a new today stirred up incredible humility and gratitude.   Humility that God keeps inviting me to the table of His acceptance.  Grateful for the reminder that I’ve not lost my need for the gospel.  I still need grace…every minute.

We fall short of the grace when we fail to submit to the terms of the gospel in every area of our lives.

“The terms of the gospel are repugnant to the natural man:  they are distasteful to his carnal lusts, they are humbling to his pride…to fail the grace of God is to be satisfied with anything short of divine grace ruling in our hearts.  How many have been deceived by a kind of godliness who know nothing of its power…How many substitute outward forms and ceremonies for an experimental acquaintance with the substance of them.” (Arthur Pink)

In the messy place of yesterday, I was reminded afresh of the power I need for today.  I am thankful that I have a Savior! I am thankful He is still entering the messy places of my life just as He did for the woman at the well, the woman in tears at His feet, and the woman in need of healing.  I am thankful He doesn’t just offer me a a “better version” of me; but a new me.  I am thankful His grace is sufficient for my yesterdays and my tomorrows.  I am thankful His grace is unlimited.

How about you?  Are you living on the new graces of today? If so, give thanks that your Savior sees you in the rhythms, rituals, and relationships of your life…and He loves you.

Freaking Out

Why is it that we are always tested privately for the things we commend to others publicly?

Wednesday night I taught a class on Daniel 3 and made the statement, “Freaking out is not allowed.  Faith doesn’t freak out.”  So of course, last night, in the middle of a meeting, I completely freaked out.  Mind you, in the meeting, I didn’t let anyone see it.  I let the racing pulse and sweaty palms fester until I got into my car.  Once there, I let myself be terrorized by thoughts and projections. 

How does that happen?  I’ve walked with the Lord for so many years and I am acutely aware of His faithfulness in my life.  Not once has He abandoned me.  Not once has my hope in Him failed.  Yet here I am on the precipe of greater trust, and I am terrified.  I know all the Scriptures–“be strong and courageous…”  “do not be terrified…”  “the Lord your God is with you…”  I know these truths with my head.

And maybe that’s why I’m so completely disappointed.  My heart is still sprinting to catch up to and embrace what I know to be true.  I trust only in part what I know in whole.  This is what the writer of Hebrews described as “throwing away your confidence” (Heb. 10:35).    There, within stating the problem, I find the solution:  My only confidence is Christ.  How do I throw Him away?  By trusting in myself, more than I trust in Him.  Just like the disciples who ran and hid at the crucifiction of Jesus–forgetting all that He had said to them–I am running away. 

And the thought of running away from Jesus really makes me freak out.  There is only one direction for me to run to find any comfort and peace:  Toward Him.  Yes, I will have to trust Him more than I ever have before.  But isn’t that the point?