after a bout of crying in the car

WHAT I KNOW NOW:

  • The coming together of two individuals in marriage is just one — crucial, but — relatively small facet of two families coming together.
  • Even when you’re just the catalyst for a storm, you can get caught up in the middle and get quite hurt, tossed to and fro in the fray.
  • When you’re feeling that distance from your people — impermeable, imperceptible — press in bravely and they just might surprise you with their reaching-out in kind. And remind you that you’re among family indeed.

THINGS I’M LEARNING, STILL:

  • The impulse to pull away and be cold toward the one I love most when I am hurting comes from a darker place that I’ve been willing to imagine. As God brings us togetherer, so Satan works to separate. Don’t let him win. (“Choose each other. Always choose each other,” she said.)
  • It doesn’t do any good to tell yourself the victim’s narrative over and over — in fact, it will only make you cry more, probably in public. That song of self-pity is a tempting one to hum sadly to oneself (though loudly enough for people to hear), but it’s not healthy or productive. Or fair.
  • Speaking of fair: Past hurts, built-up issues, personal sensitivities are not fair. They blow up at inopportune moments and burn innocent victims. If you’ve been hissed at, the only thing you can do is propagation prevention. Make sure the hurt doesn’t go forth and make more victims.

PRAYERS I AM PRAYING:

  • God, teach us how to be closer to each other through difficulties and hurts. Use these times to teach us what it means to “have each other’s backs” and to “be on the same team.”
  • God, let my heart be more like yours — in undeserved offenses, let me see the hurting heart. In unfair circumstances, remind me of the grace that you lavish on me. In those dark and stormy corners of my heart that I like to sit in sometimes, back to the world, humming that song of self-pity, show me hope and teach me peace.
  • God, help us to continue to press into this community you have us in. Let us not miss out on the present for fear or shyness or laziness; let us be open, and give us opportunities to learn from that openness. Keep teaching me about community, God, it’s a fascinating gift you’ve given us on this side of heaven.
  • Thank you for surprise interventions and people who love us through treats. Thank you for places that are private enough to cry in, public enough to hold hands in. Thank you for being greater, more merciful, more gracious — more light and hope and everything good — than all of my grievances and fears.

pensive corridor meetings with my boss’s boss

In certain situations, there are certain adjectives that are just not preferable, no matter how accurate you feel they are.

In the situation of a girl without make-up: “tired,” “worn-out,” “haggard” are clear no-no’s.

In the situation of a girl on her period: “sensitive,” “hungry?” “cranky.” Nope.

In the situation of a girl having a crisis of faith, however small: “sad,” “dejected,” “so downcast o my soul.” Stop.

It takes a person of some wisdom to instead ask such a girl why she’s looking so…”pensive.” Instead of what she probably really looked like, which was probably something like “too apparently sad. and at work, at that. because she has no emotion filter.” or something like that.

It takes a person of some deep care to ask such a girl a few days later about how’s she’s doin’, still. call her “miss,” probably not even knowing how nice that sounds to her unattuned ears.

Cause then, that girl might just respond openly (albeit…pensively) and share with you her thoughts of late — about how there’s no archaeological evidence of the Jewish slaves’ exodus out of Egypt, about how she can’t remember those salient times when God seemed to have been real in her life, about how she’s still believin’, but how it’s just confusing and hard sometimes, but how she’s just trying to be honest about all that, instead of trying to be a preemie-wise sage, for once.

And then you might just proceed to have a conversation in a quiet corridor tucked away in the building next door, weirdly next to a mothers’ lactation room and a bunch of vending machines by which she keeps getting distracted. A place in this building that you’d never been to before, though you have worked at this place for 30-some years. You might just try your hardest to get through to this stubborn girl who isn’t even a nonbeliever but keeps asking you those nonbelievers’ questions — “how can you say this is divine appointment” “what if everything is just random” “what if I don’t believe in this whole construct so none of this makes any sense to me” — just because her heart feels hard and empty. You might still keep trying. You might remind her:

  • there’s something innate in us that causes us to have faith in a whole bunch of things that may or may not be reliable. such as other drivers on the road. and a whole lot of food servers in the course of a lifetime.
  • there’s something innate in us that rebels against death. it seems unnatural and wrong to us and we wish for some more time and we wish for more than just this life. (because we are eternal beings. we were meant for eternity, Ecclesiastes 3:11 “he has put eternity into man’s heart.”)
  • feelings are unreliable. they can shift about and make you feel so sure one moment, then so uncertain the next. so how can you base your faith on such a thing. how can you even trust that certainty in the moment. faith is not a feeling.
  • when God feels far away, it’s not He who has moved, but you. He’s holding ya in his hands.

Which are probably things she already knows, has learned before. But still, the reminders are good. They just might hit home and break the crackly veneer of hardness that was starting to choke.

And then, you know, she just might burst into tears right there in front of that lactation room and all those vending machines — so private yet so public — and you might have to offer her a hug and a prayer. Both of which she will gratefully and unresistantly accept, for the first time in a long time.

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With answers to questions she may have been searching for in her old journals or something.

Sunday Morning Notes, 8.17.14

“The Spirit-Formed Community” –Portico’s Holy Spirit series

  • when the Holy Spirit is in charge:
    • people get saved. numbers are added.
    • we’re in AWE of God. (this replaces our awe of the world.)
    • we share — of our space, self, stuff.
  • Acts 2:41-47: this is a PRESCRIPTIVE picture of the church, not just descriptive!
    • Acts 2:38: “…repent and be baptized…” — the Jews had had a history of baptism, but one that turned GENTILES into JEWS. this was a new concept! this instance was one of declaring oneself OUTSIDE the Jewish community!
    • “For the promise is in you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
  • [koinonia], the Greek term for [fellowship], was a new concept for the early church!
    • [koina (spelling dubious)] means “common”… always in the context of SHARING.
    • this term was first used in this kind of Biblical context post-Pentecost!! it’s a spirit-empowered kind of connecting to one another.
    • the emphasis is on contribution, giving, sharing.
    • 2 Cor. 13:14 fellowship as the Trinity has had it since the beginning of alllll the things.
  • in this light, the most basic definition of “fellowship” = a community with which you freely share, to which you freely and lovingly contribute, as if you truly were ONE BODY. crazy how christianese waters down such intense concepts.
    • so leaving a church because your “needs were not being met” is, sorta, pretty, unbiblical in the sense of this “fellowship” term. you’re supposed to be CONTRIBUTING to your fellowship. not just looking to get fed all the time.
  • now expand it out: in the presence of the Holy Spirit, we:
    • love the word
    • are in AWE of the LIVING God!
    • are apparently fascinated with the daily things — the sunsets, the delicious food, the beautiful scenery, the nice weather, creation, technology, etc etc everything. simply, and easily pleased and grateful.
    • share the gospel with conviction and power

but most of all, we

EAT and SHARE and ENJOY together!

  • break bread/drink wine together, in reminder of Christ’s LOVING SACRIFICE (woah) for us all!! there’s something satisfying, something theologically sound, something magical about the banquet table of Christ
    • merging together of SERVICE and INTIMACY. (woah)
  • something about letting yo hair down, letting people in, sharing of your self and your space and your stuff… it’s a back-and-forth of serving, sharing, self-giving.
  • loving!

these are the symbols of Christian koinonia:

  • the pick-up truck, with which you volunteer to help people move
  • the soup pot, from which everyone can scoop a ladle and join in the block party, free-flowing
  • the banquet table (the buffet table)
  • the “how are you REALLY doing?”

what are we doing with what we are given?? am I generous? am I a steward, or an owner?

  • “if you can’t share it, you can’t afford it.”
  • “if you can’t tip well, you can’t afford to go out well”

Lord, would you give me a heart of generosity. one of overflowing love, and one that knows the joy of sharing. as I begin this new chapter of my life, with more things “mine” than ever before, remind me constantly of my stewardship, and thus, let me hold everything loosely but preciously. of how I am but a short-term holder of blessings from you. so let me live, hands outstretched and heart open wide, swaying in your sea of the free-flowing grace, just a particle, part, part of it all.

amen!

in which I wax not-so-poetical: [the Charlottesville edition]

right now is a moment of BLEH BLEHHHH boehfabjeo I LURV CHARLOTTESVILLE SO MUCH RIGHT NOW now now

and on.

Dear God, thank you so much for this time I’ve had in a place I can say, with surprising decisiveness and certainty of passion, is my favorite, in the whole world, ever, BLEH. And thank you for all the different kinds of seasons I’ve had here. And thank you for the friendships that have blossomed here (ohhh man that flower-friendship imagery) and for the nourishing alone hours The University calendar allows here. Thank you, for its thriving, but un-overwhelming, thrift shops and craiglist forums. Thank you, because my family is here. Thank you, from this cozy corner of a favorite coffee shop I’ve only been to twice. You’re the Father of good and perfect gifts indeed, and I know that this is true all the time, but I want to take these particular moments to praise you (to Thank You) in the specifics of my emotions. And run-ons. And on, and on, and ons.

This place shapes me, teaches me, lets me figure out all its windy roads, slowly but surely. My stubborn brain and heart are learning the ways of themselves as I find these skinny trails I love best; remember the nooks and crannies where memories got made and lessons got learned.

and now, a review of cville, 2014 in all its random glory:

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I LOVE YOU, you city of hipster coffee-lovers, well-educated polo tee wearers, city market go-ers, local art supporters, self-acclaimed RealFood appreciators, pretty-sky gazers! Thank you for your forgiving little roads full of life lessons and u-turnables, for your secret meadows full of magic star-light nights, for the not-so-secret neighboring neighborhoods full of sweet coffee and Mexican food, for your mountains and nearby farms and hiking trails [appreciated from afar, yes], for your simple, 1-road layout that makes me realize I am not cut out for city life, maybe. And those arms generous enough to withstand the onslaught of my unabashed and embarrassingly LOUD. LOVE.

You are my favorite.

For now, anyway 😉