Category: reflections on the journey (page 1 of 39)

Ponderings about moments from my everyday life.
Moments that have caused me to think about who God is, how He is active in the world, or who He made me to be.

On Not Doing It All (or, why I haven’t been writing)

notdoingitall

I sometimes get the impression that we humans are embarrassed that we are finite creatures.

We are constantly apologizing for things we have not gotten done, or trying to improve our weaknesses, or hiding the parts of ourselves we feel are inadequate. We feel like we should have infinite capacities to improve and accomplish and create.

But there is only one Being who is Infinite. It’s not us. And friends, that’s not something to feel bad about. That’s something to receive as a gift.

We weren’t made to do it all. {Thanks be to God.}

———-

I haven’t written in this space for awhile.

I have wanted to write. I have felt like I should write. I have felt guilty that I wasn’t writing. But none of those feelings led to actually writing.

Why?

Because I didn’t have it in me.

Life in these months has been the way it is for most of us: full. Full of family and work and emotions and thoughts and friendships and tasks. Margin has been thin and something had to give.

Here’s what I want to say out loud, though: I could have done it. I’m certain I would be embarrassed if I actually summed up the  time I spent playing Candy Crush and watching Netflix and scrolling Facebook. It’s not like I was using all my spare moments to do things that improved my mind or supported my family or added goodness to the world.

I could have done more. And yet, I couldn’t.  Because I am finite. I sometimes run out of brain power or emotional capacity or time management skills, and that is okay.

It is okay when we reach a limit.

———-

I once heard someone challenge us to rethink how we perceive the word balance when we talk about how to find it in our lives.

He pointed out that we often think about life balance like the scales in our elementary school science class. It feels like putting weights on one side and then the other until the sides are even and the teetering slows and the whole thing settles into a peaceful state of rest.

Often, we can’t actually find that restful balance when we think this way. Life feels more like running back and forth figuring out where to place each weight so we can keep our precarious lives from tipping over.

It’s exhausting and impossible.

But if we visualize instead a teeter-totter, there are actually two ways to achieve balance. One is to put equal weight on each side. The other is to move the fulcrum point towards whichever side is heavier.

The fulcrum point moves to different places in different seasons of our lives. We can neither control what life throws our way nor the weight those things carry. But we can move towards whatever requires more of us and find balance there.

We weren’t made to do it all. {Thanks be to God.}

———-

I debated about whether to write about not writing. It’s not something I’m supposed to do according to blogging rules.

And yet, it feels right. In a world where we’ve gotten so good at embracing authentic conversation about our hopes and emotions and dreams and fears, I also hope we can embrace authentic conversation about our humanity and limits and finite capacities.

Saying out loud that we can’t do it all is a gift we can give to others and to ourselves.

Let’s say it more often.

When Grief and Joy Collide

photo (8)

This is a picture of the lovely bunch of roses given to me by my husband yesterday, in celebration of our fourteenth wedding anniversary.

As children across the world were fleeing violence, as race riots were happening over the death of yet another black teenager, and as we were having a national discussion about depression and suicide, it was my anniversary. It was a day of joy and gratitude standing in stark contrast to the day of lament for so many others. Also? I was sick.

Life is never experienced one feeling at a time.

We give birth to babies while others struggle with infertility. We hate our jobs or lose our jobs while others get exciting promotions. We join a friend at a birthday parties after going to visit another in the hospital.

What do we do with all that?

There is so much of it that is out of our control. We cannot will the good to rain down on us instead of the bad. We cannot manufacture easy answers to why some prayers seem to get answers and some do not. We cannot ensure that days of celebration do not crash against times of disaster.

So what do we do? How do we handle the collision of grief and joy that greets us each day of our lives?

Lately I’ve been thinking about the importance of the word with.

With is used over 1300 times in the New Testament. The first time is in Matthew chapter 1, as Mary is described as being with child. The second is when that child is described as being God with us.

With is the word of the incarnation.

With pushes us to feel the presence of God in our midst, through every high and low moment of our lives. With knows that comfort is found less in the search for answers and more in the manifestation of grace.

God with us was Jesus in perfect love coming into a world of broken love, showing us that the two are held together in Him.

We are raised with Christ and indwelled with the Spirit, so that we might follow in the legacy of incarnation. To bear with one another in love, to sit with one another in grief, to join with one another in celebration.

God with us can give us the courage to be present with it all. Present with those we love, even when it’s hard. Present with the news, even when it makes us cry. Present with our kids, even when something else needs to get done. Present with our feelings, even when avoiding them would be so much easier. Present with our experiences, even when they conflict with what is going on all around us.

God with us allows us to be present with God in prayer with it all, whether lament, gratitude, praise, anger, clarity, or confusion.

With is not an answer, yet somehow, it feels like exactly what we need to know.

Seeing Women in the Scriptures

Photo Credit: http://mrg.bz/ni3LFz

Photo Credit: http://mrg.bz/ni3LFz

“In the Scriptures, it is often the women who are the first to see.”

She says this as a side note in our conversation, and it is a thought that won’t let me go. It is a piece of wisdom a rabbi has passed along to her, and she is now passing along to me.

Without even doing research, I can think of so many stories in which this is the case. It is the women who are first to see the risen Christ. It is the midwives, mother, and sister of Moses who are first to see that God is on the move to rescue his people. It is Rahab who is first to see the identity of God’s people. It is Mary who is first to see that a Messiah is coming. It is Ruth who is first to see her right to be received into Israel. It is Timothy’s mother and grandmother who are first to see his potential for leadership.

Even in times of failure, the women are still seeing. Eve sees the serpent and the pleasing nature of the fruit. Yet it is not the seeing but the action she takes as a result of it that sets forth the chain reaction of sin. Rebekah sees that Jacob is the one who should receive the blessing. Once again, it is not the seeing but the action she takes as a result of it that causes the turmoil.


“In the Scriptures, it is often the women who are the first to see.”

We hear a lot of messages about what it means to be a woman. We are told to be beautiful, successful, compassionate, supportive, feminine, and more. 

I have never been told to be a seer.

Mother Teresa was first to see the value of living with the lowest of the low in society. Rosa Parks was first to see that she didn’t have to switch seats on the bus just because someone told her she should. Brené Brown was first to see how it is embracing our vulnerability that allows us to embrace our humanity.

It has been a countless number of mothers, grandmothers, teachers, bosses, and friends, women whose names we may not even remember, who have been the first to see the potential in us and cheer us into our full identities.


“In the Scriptures, it is often the women who are the first to see.”

What if this is part of what God has created beautiful and unique about women: an ability to see things first?  What would it look like if more of us embraced that gift? How might the world be different?


“In the Scriptures, it is often the women who are the first to see.”

She says this as a side note in our conversation, and it is a thought that won’t let me go.

How Authenticity Falls Short

Authenticity is a gigantic buzzword these days.

We are all trying to be authentic all the time, and we are all judging everyone else for how well they are doing at it. For some of us, authenticity comes naturally. For others, it is a learned skill, and one that we struggle to put into practice.

It is a worthwhile pursuit. Authenticity holds hands with vulnerability and walks us down the path towards our true selves.

But I wonder if it is enough.

We treat authenticity like we are pirates on a quest for treasure. Like the pursuit of finding it and spending it is ultimate purpose of our personhood.

I am coming to believe that authenticity is only one a portion of our longing. It is not the treasure, but the map. It is the thing that can lead us to what we are really searching for, deep down in the pit of our souls.

Intimacy.

There’s an important distinction between authenticity and intimacy. Authenticity is about me. Intimacy is about us.

authenticity and intimacy

They are connected, to be sure. True intimacy cannot come without authenticity. But intimacy also requires more than that.

Intimacy asks not only that I trust you with my authentic self, but that I provide space for you to trust me with your authentic self. Which means I will sometimes be the one put my stuff out for you to see, and other times, I will put out empty hands so I can hold onto your offering.

Intimacy requires not only authenticity, but also humility, love, and sacrifice.

Intimacy does not come easily. It is cultivated by energy over a long period of time. It involves failures and frustration as we engage in the messiness of life together.

Yet isn’t intimacy what love looks like? To know and be known? To lay down our lives for each other? To push away fear with compassion? To be truly with one another? To trust and forgive and encourage, over and over and over again?

People will fail us and we will get hurt. The cultivation of intimacy will not be easy. But let’s have the courage to try.

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