Take chances. Abandon all the rules. Ditch the recipe. Color outside the lines.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Midnight Love Letter

My most loved one,

I know that right now you are sitting alone in your room plagued by sleeplessness.  I know that your heart is heavy and your emotions are astir and you feel like no one can understand the chasm that seems ever widening in your heart.  People you love have hurt you, people you trust have forsaken you, and people you respect have fallen short (as humans so often do).  You feel alone and unwanted and so you lie awake as silent tears fall unheard down your cheeks.  I am so sorry that you have to hurt; that the brokenness of this world has caused you pain.  I’m afraid that it may be causing you to believe that you are something you are not.  Tonight, you have been rejected by people who once accepted you.  Tonight, you feel as if your words are meaningless.  Tonight, you tell yourself that it would be better if you just gave everyone what they seem so desperately to want—for you to shut up and go away.  Tonight, you are believing lies. 

I will not sit by and be silent as these lies weave their way into the shadowed corners of your mind.  I have pursued you even in your most unlovely of moments, don’t you know I would never leave you alone?  I am faithful even when others are not and I will never forsake you to face the lies alone.  Have you forgotten so quickly the price I paid to make you mine?  Do you not remember how valuable you are to me?  Let me remind you once more. 

I have called you for a glorious purpose, one that you cannot even fully dream or imagine.  I, myself, have given you those words you seem to despise so much right now, even in your silence you speak for me.  I see you, for all that you are, and have not only accepted you but have adopted you.  Not only are you not alone as I am with you always, but I also stand before you as your defender and stand fortified as your refuge.  I champion your cause and lead heavenly legions to fight for your dreams.  Even when your faith in me falters, my faith in you is relentless and unwavering.  You are unfathomably and immeasurably loved.  You are more beautiful and more precious to me than the wonders of galaxies. 

Hey, look at me.  Lift your eyes, darling.  You are strong, stronger than you even know, and you have NO reason to hang your head.  I cannot promise you that the pain will go away.  I cannot say that the heartbreak of rejection and the agony of aloneness will cease. 


But I will promise you this—my grace is enough for you.  And you are enough for me.  That’s right, the you right now with red eyes and tear stained pillow cases.  The you at 1:37 AM who can’t seem to turn the hurt off long enough to quiet the exhausted cries for rest from your brain.  You.  Right here.  Right now. Are enough. 

Clear your eyes, dear, and let me be enough for you.



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Relationship Series- The S Word

Congratulations, you made it past the title! *high five*

Here’s the thing, sex is one of those things that we just don’t talk about in church like… ever.  Even when we read through a passage in the Bible where it talks about a man “knowing” his wife (if you know what I mean) we totally gloss over that part and hurry towards the end of the passage that I’m sure says something about the evils of some sin or another.  I know pastors, PASTORS, who won’t even say the word “sex” in church.  They skirt around the word, the issue, and quickly move on to other “more important” issues. 

The worst part about the church’s squeamishness towards sex is that the only time it is actually mentioned in church is with such negativity.  Oh sure, we talk about sex, but it’s with warning and guilt and threats of destruction for engaging in it.  We talk with disgust about sexual immorality and impurity with cautionary counsel to steer far FAR from it.  Some say, “We don’t need to talk about sex, you shouldn't be having it anyway! Just stay celibate and pure until marriage, it’s that simple!”  Right, yeah, let’s treat the world as we want it to be and not as it is. 

See the problem is that the world talks about sex.  The world inundates us with nakedness and one night stands and friends who spend casual nights together between the sheets.  Sex is literally everywhere.  In just a few days a movie ABOUT SEX is coming to the big screen.  A movie whose book has sold over 70 MILLION copies (that’s just in the US by the way).  People will be lined up around the block to see the movie on opening night, and I have no doubt that hundreds of theaters across the country will sell out.  Why?  Because people like sex.  Duh. 

So here’s what happens when we don’t talk about sex; we become irrelevant to our world.  We choose to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that sex isn't an issue worth discussing (while we engage in it with the shades drawn) and we become unconnected with the very people who need us.  Worse even still, if we do talk about sex but only with negativity.  If the only time we discuss sex in church is to condemn those outside its Biblical lines what do you think happens then?

What happens is that the people outside those lines think that their sexual sin is worse than all other sin.  They begin to believe that if they’re having sex or living with their partner or looking at porn that they are unacceptable; not only to the church but to God.  They live their lives in bondage, alone, hidden away in secret because there is nowhere they can go for help.  It drives them to depression and destruction and I can’t help but think we share some of the blame for that. 

Jesus didn't seem to have this problem.  He didn't cover His eyes when half naked prostitutes caught in the act were thrust in front of Him.  He didn't use euphemism and carefully skirt around the issue when speaking scandalously to a woman at a well about her loose life with multiple lovers.  I can’t help but wonder if there was some sermon on some mount somewhere when Jesus spoke on sex and Matthew was just a little too uncomfortable to include it in his book. 

Now, I've spent 600 words just ranting from my soap box about the need for sex talks in church and I haven’t actually done any sex talking myself.  So here you go:

Sex is a beautiful thing and it’s also a binding thing.  The moment you give that part of yourself to another person you are forever fused with that person.  Forever.  It doesn't matter if you walk away, if they walk away, if it’s “mutual,” you are forever fused.  That part, that insanely intimate part of yourself, forever belongs to that other person.  Which, I think, is probably why God warns us to save it for marriage.  Not because He will think differently of us if we don’t, but because He knows that we will think differently of ourselves if we don’t.

There is no sin, no failure, nothing “too different” about you that can separate you from God.  Just because you are not accepted by others does not mean you are unacceptable.  Gay or straight, male or female, porn star or celibate priest, living with your boyfriend or still never had a girlfriend—you are loved completely, accepted fully, pursued intimately, and favored in totality by the God who grips galaxies.

May you have the courage to say the “S” word.  May you fearlessly stand before those you influence and talk unashamedly about the tough stuff.  May you create a space of freedom and safety for those struggling around you to be authentic.  And if you are in the midst of the struggle yourself; may you know, intimately know, that you are accepted and loved more than you can imagine EXACTLY as you are.    

Helpful link for those struggling with porn addiction-- XXX Church 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Relationship Series- All My Single Ladies (and Men)

I’ve been working on this ongoing piece about relationships/marriage/singleness that started out as a small article and turned into about 3 pages worth of my thoughts and feelings.  Basically, it’s 3 pages of me writing from atop my soap box as reoccurring reminders of why I climbed up there are tossed my way.  So, since the need for these things to be written shows no sign of ceasing, I thought I would do a little mini blog series about relationships.   Each week of the month of February I will be posting a new blog covering a relationship related topic. 

This week, I want to start out by talking about singleness.  That’s where it all starts after all, singly.  It’s February which means talk of love and dating fills the air.  It’s impossible to walk into any store anywhere without the smell of packaged chocolate and cheap flowers assaulting your nostrils and the brightness of red and pink d├ęcor overtaking your view.  The commercial pounce on love began shortly after Christmas ended, and for all us single people out there, seems to drag on far too long to endure.

I’ve been rocking the single life for about 2 years now after the man who I was ready to give up my dreams for broke my heart.  And I’m glad he did.  I’m glad he did because he was not worth that sacrifice.  I’ve refrained for so long from writing anything about relationships simply because I feel like I just really suck at them and I’m definitely not qualified to be giving anyone any kind of advice regarding them.  More on that later in the series, but for now I want to talk about something I’m better at than being in a relationship—being single.

At first, being single was difficult.  Really, really, difficult.  I spent YEARS being in a relationship, it became my comfort zone.  The first year of being single was filled with nights crying myself to sleep and checking my phone at 2am to see if he’d texted me and holding on to old pictures of us hoping he’d come back to me and being torn apart by empty seats at holidays and breaking down hearing love songs that use to make my heart soar.  The latter part of that year was spent being angry and throwing out everything that reminded me of us and wishing I could fill that gaping hole he left in my heart the day he walked away.  Basically my life was a Taylor Swift album.  I use to be ashamed to admit that I had let so much of myself depend on another person, but I know now that I am stronger for making that mistake. 

All that struggle and hurt and anger all led me to this place of valuing my singleness.  People do this thing where they make the ultimate goal in life marriage or, you know, finding “the one.”  That elusive “one” who will somehow solve the insecurities of being alone.  So they say things like, “one day you’ll find that person” or “there’s someone out there for everyone” or my personal favorite, “God has someone special set aside for you.”  All these are well intentioned sentiments, but end up sounding to me like what you’re really saying is, “One day you’ll find another human being to complete you.” 

Well, what if I don’t and why is that such a bad thing?  What if some of us are called to singleness?  What if it’s possible to be content without another human being tethered to our sides?  The problem when we make a relationship or marriage our ultimate goal in life is that we end up expecting the other person to complete us.  We strive and hope for and work hard to get to this final destination of oneness with another person and then quickly discover that they are just as insecure and broken as we are.  It’s no wonder that so many marriages shatter!

Over these past couple of years I’ve learned the joy of singleness and I honestly treasure it.  Being alone has taught me that I am by no means lonely.  I find happiness and excitement in the wonderful friendships that I am blessed with.  I have had the ability and delight to chase my dreams and ignite new passions as I pursue the beautiful mess of ministry that God has lassoed me into.  I’ve experienced a depth of personal growth and discovery that I could have never imagined and was never possible while my energy and focus was spent on another person.

The most enticing thing about life lived singly is how truly intimate my relationship with Christ has become.  All those nights spent weeping into my pillow over love lost were also the nights when I felt almost tangibly held by the same arms that cradle the universe.  All those late nights spent squinting at my phone hoping for a word of love were also the nights the lips that breathed life into dust whispered words of His delight in me into my ear.  All those days spent in anger and pain when I didn’t feel like moving forward were the same days that I was carried by the calloused hands that carried my cross. 

I know that all may sound crazy and weirdly ethereal but it was so real for me.  It IS so real for me.  I’ve spent 2 years falling madly in love with a God who has always been madly in love with me.  I’ve had the divine privilege of getting to catch glimpses of myself through His eyes.  Glimpses that make me treasure this time spent being alone but not lonely. 

My friends joke about the coffee loving tattooed man that may be awaiting me in the future and I can’t help but laugh and say, “It will have to be one hell of a man to woo me away from this life!”  Who knows what the future may hold for any of us, but I am content living solo. 

To wrap this whole mess up I’ll leave you with this:  May you find confidence and security in just being solely you.  May you embrace life alone but not lonely.  May you find completion and satisfaction in a God who became nothing so that you could have everything.  May that completion ignite in you new passion and desire for others to experience it too.  And may you find the joy in being single.