The Short List

I haven’t written in a while.  It’s not because I haven’t had anything to say.  In actuality, I’ve had too much to say about the events of this last week.  However, to have spoken of them out loud, would have been of no benefit to the speaker or the listener.

One thing common to all the things I’ve wanted to comment about in the last week is that they make me weary–tired, discouraged, impatient, dissatisfied, crumbling, diminished.  The world I’m living in–you are living in–has a diminishing affect on the people I am fully convinced we were created to be.  Glorifying God and enjoying Him is no simple purpose in a world marked by the insidiousness of sin.

So what I am weary about?   Here’s my short list:

1. Anne Rice left Christianity…and we’re all making a very big deal about it because her reasons resonate deeply with so many of the things with which any honest Christian struggles.

2. There are far too few visible evidences given for others to join Christianity.  I fear Christ has become so diminished in many churches that those who are wanting to know about Him will have to look beyond His Church to find Him.

3. Iran will stone a woman.  Stone a woman!  What year is this?  How can we let this happen?   Who among us will be Jesus to this woman and write a message of freedom in the dirt to release her life from this kind of oppressive religion?  Are we all really that calloused to the grace by which we have been set free?

4. I am a woman.  Yes, being a woman makes me weary.  Not that it has be this way, but I find the things I’m told I can do and the things I cannot do by men “speaking on behalf of God” leaves me trying to fit God’s image in me into a box not suited to its size and shape.

5. The reports of what “trusted friends” have said about me, but not to me, has reached my ears.  The only reason trusting others is so hard is because we’ve all made faithfulness too casual a virtue.

6. Many of my friends and those with whom I counsel have been betrayed by someone they should have been able to trust and their healing is slow and their pain is profound and every time I think about them or pray for them, my heart takes a labored breath.

7. My nephew is in Afghanistan.  His letter this week describes how he and his troop will most likely not have a real meal for a year, but only MREs.  They have no running water, no toothpaste, and limited electricity.  He’s 19 years old and I can’t help but think that he is the poster child of our nation’s abandoned youth.  (…and I hope my sister doesn’t read this, because I know it will make her cry.)

8. The fiction I read sounds more and more like the biographies of people in my life.  I read the first two fiction books of the year while on vacation this week.  Fiction used to be my escape to places and people I didn’t know…but I knew all the places and persons in these stories, just by different names.

9. Fathers abandoning their daughters is a commonplace reality.  Both my sons are dating girls whose fathers have failed them and now at 16 and 18–when they should be living care-free– these two young men are trying to be a bright spot in two saddened hearts.

10. Prop 8 has been repealed.  The Californian courts have declared Prop 8 to be unconstitutional and so men and women of the same sex will be free to marry.  Yes, this grieves me…but not as much as the Christians who decry it based on the sanctity of marriage, all the while marriages within the Christian community crack and crumble.  Before *we* throw rocks at other’s ideas of marriage I wish *we* would paint a better picture of a Christ-centered marriage…then *we* will have a legitimate battle cry.

I know I’m not the first to be weary.  Maybe today as you read this, you too, are weary.  May we all take comfort and courage from the apostle Paul,

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” Galatians 6:9.

A greater reward awaits us.

The cross of Christ beckons us to come and hope again.  To long for the redemption and restoration of all people–women, children, men.  For those who find themselves on the other side of small and big stones, Christ’s resurrection speaks with hope, “There can be life again!”

What are you weary about today?  Speak it aloud and dethrone its power by adding to the end of your sentence, “…but, do not lose heart, for in due time…”

“be yourself”

Jason Young wrote a great post on “What Unhealthy Leaders Taught Me.”  You can read it here

I admit, I think he and I might have learned some of the same lessons from the same bad leaders.  I would go so far as to say I’ve learned more from bad leaders than I have from good ones. 

However, I think there is one lesson omitted from the list. 

One lesson I have learned: If you want to be an unhealthy leader, pretend to be someone else to make others happy. 

There is nothing worse than trying to follow someone who is trying to be someone they are not.  There is no conviction or confidence.  Everything is hand-me-down PR images.

As a woman in ministry, being myself is a real struggle every single day of my existence.   There are so many expectations placed upon women–we’re expected to be strong emotionally, but weak positionally.  We’re supposed to direct our responsibilities faithfully, but eagerly defer to men when they are ready to lead.  We’re expected to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, but not show up anyone in the process.  It’s confusing.

Personally, I’m worn out from the confusion.  I need to be who I was created to be…it honors God to bear the image He intended me to wear.   Too much posturing around the opinion of humans is crippling.  In the end, I just become the knock-off version of someone else and not the ‘me’ who has been called “for a time such as this.”

My mom had it right when she said, “Just be yourself.  If others don’t like you, that’s between them and God.”

“beyond labels”

This last week I have been called “brave,” “liberal,” “feminist,” and a “coward.”  These were all very interesting responses to my announcing I have applied to attend seminary.  I suppose these labels are to be expected for a woman who treasures her calling and is still trying to work out the framework of Biblical femininity within a community of people who are also trying to figure it out.  Honestly, none of the responses or labels surprised me.

However, my response has taken me by surprise.  I’d like to say that the way in which I am labeled by others does not bother me, but I’d be lying.  I enjoy the affirmation of others.  In the absence of affirmation, I camp out in  fear. 

Reading Franis Chan’s “Forgotten God” this morning has made me consider if I enjoy the affirmation of others more than the affirmation of God.  Do I fear other’s disapproval more than I long for the approval of God?   Chan says, “It means refusing to let your fears of what others think, your fears of rejection, keep you from pursuing the truth about the Holy Spirit and whatever else God is teaching you and calling you to do” (p. 46).

So why would a woman go to seminary?  What is it that God is teaching me and calling me to do? I am positive that God is calling me to be all that I can be in the image of God, for His glory (2 Cor. 3:17-18).  For whatever reason, seminary is a part of my becoming.  

Today I am moving beyond the labels to be affirmed by the Counselor and Great Affirmer.   There is truth in His affirmation.  There is confidence in His leading.  I’m refusing to let the labels or fear convince me otherwise.