Category: reflections on the journey (page 1 of 38)

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.

When Grief and Joy Collide

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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.

Opening my heart to hear what I know

you are loved

Photo Credit: Weird Beard on Flickr Creative Commons

 

Stop fighting with yourself, child.

There is grace for you when your head knows what your heart does not.

You are loved.

I know that you know that. But I also know you need to hear it.

You are loved.

Let me repeat it to you as often as I chose. It sometimes can take a few slices of those words to get through the thick skin of your heart.

You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.

Not only that, you are enough.

Right now, in your struggles, you are enough.

You are loved. You are enough.

Is there anything else your heart needs to hear today?

Instead of using your strength to beat it up with attacks about how you should know better, how about simply opening it up to Me?

Receive My grace for you in this moment. I AM here. Holding your hand.

Can you feel it?

Let go of your desire to solve and fix and do something to change. Sometimes you need to simply be. And receive.

Receive My love.

It is unconditional. And it is yours for the taking.

This is not a lesson you have to be done learning. I don’t mind repeating Myself. I will tell you as many times as you need it.

You are loved.

 

 

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