to be real

It has been along time. And my excuses are not that impressive:

I forgot.

I don’t write if I don’t have anything noteworthy to say. Which is a bad habit for any writer. Brilliance doesn’t come when you’re sitting around waiting for it.

I learned that depression is real and not made up by overly dramatic people. One result of continuous bummed-outness is a downward plunge in the desire to be social or communicative…even on blogs.

It’s not necessarily healthy to indulge my tendencies to seclusion; but being depressed doesn’t make it any easier to transform my introvertedness into something social…ish.

I hate admitting my struggle with depression. It’s far from the horrors it could be, and I feel guilty knowing my sadness can’t even compare to degree others suffer from it. Things in my life are actually pretty swell too so it feels like I’m overreacting to nothing. If anything I should be overjoyed with life right now.

But there’s no doubt it’s real. There’s clear moments where I know I’m not being silly, emotional, or exaggerating my feelings. My heart rate goes up, irrational fear fills me, and it feels like I’m watching myself do normal life from a dark dirty corner. Literally.

For years I firmly believed that depression was sin. Black and white. A person saved by Jesus should be constantly ecstatic. He has saved me, loved me, showed me mercy, grace and forgiveness literally without measure. He is so much bigger than my pain or problems. If sadness hits…it seems only true that God’s goodness in me should so dwarf my pain that dwelling on it would be wrong.

And maybe so…

But what about all those times in the Bible where Yahweh himself is sad:

Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the LORD. And he was grieved by their misery.    Judges 10.16

Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland.    Psalm 78.40

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.     Ephesians 4.30

Then Jesus wept.     John 11.35

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it.     Luke 19.41

And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.     Luke 22.44

Jesus was in such emotional turmoil about what his circumstances that he even asked the Father if there was another way. Jesus was perfect.

God himself is sad and upset by the messed-upness of this world. The people he made in his very own likeness whom he dearly loves and adores live in a chaotic horrific world that leaves them broken at every turn. Not to mention the way we have relentlessly hurt his heart and abused his love many times over.

God knows better than anyone how well things will end. How at the end of it all, his church will be saved, and the world will be as it was supposed to be when it was made. He does not doubt his own plan, goodness, and love. But he’s still sad. The reality of goodness doesn’t mean we have to deny the reality of pain. Both are equally true.

And as far as my own little crying heart goes…that’s pretty much all it has figured out. To not deny the realness of the pain. And to recognize that there are legitimate reasons for sadness and even depression.

Still, joy is a learning curve. It takes practice, choice, and guts. And this I don’t have figured out. I can choose joy…but I squash the sad. Or I give into the sad and can’t choose joy. Both are wrong.

But I realize…I’m excited to learn. It may take years and years. But my Savior will not leave me treading water. He will teach me how to balance grief and joy and I will know him better for experiencing both.

IMG_1474

…cody still holds true to his promise to never let me go a day without flowers . it’s 2 1/2 years…

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God’s will…???

The battle to figure out God’s will. Honestly, I’ve never sweated about the whole thing that much.

For the most part I think God wants you to live the same way He would live your life if He were you. I mean, He was a carpenter. He was probably fair to customers and did his job well and showed love to everyone he met. So that’s been my goal: do what’s in front of me well and love people. And when it came to big stuff I made the best decision I could and expected if that wasn’t where God wanted me, he’d stop me.

But recently it’s been nagging at me. I suddenly realize I have choices. Choices that are all good. I could follow any path and live like Jesus. There’s the logical and wise way. There’s the comfortable way; and the scary, adventurous, sacrificial way, that could be downright unwise.

But suddenly questions are popping into my brain. And with them comes a fear of doing the wrong thing.

If I choose the adventure I could probably never go back to the logical. The comfortable really doesn’t make much sense but it’d do the job and is versatile. My heart keeps going back to the adventure, but would that choice be stupid? Has God called me to the adventure? I could take that path later…but should I now? I had planned for the logical way. And most people would probably advise me to stay safe.

At the end of the questions, a few tears, and an extra sleepless hour in bed…the end question is: where does God want me?

And I have no idea.

So I pray. I talk to people, gather information, pray some more. And then I’ll pick one and go for it. And if it’s not where God wants me…then it won’t work out.

hosea

‘How can I give you up, O Ephraim?

How can I hand you over, O Israel?

How can I make you like Admah?

How can I treat you like Zeboiim?

My heart recoils within me;

my compassion grows warm and tender.

I will not execute my burning anger;

for I will not again destroy Ephraim;

for I am God and not a man,

the Holy One in your midst,

and I will not come in wrath.’

Hosea 10.8-9

So often I think of Yahweh as a justice first God. Zapping people with wrath. And when he does choose mercy it’s only because his nice side is required to show itself every so often. Not so much because he has real compassion in his heart.

In short…I assume he’s me. Someone messes with how I want life to work and…bam…I’m upset. Then I talk myself down and make up 5 reasons to excuse the behavior. The anger isn’t true justice. And getting myself over it isn’t true mercy.

God’s not me. His wrath is just and deserved, and often dealt after mercy. And his mercy is genuine. It’s born out of his compassion broken heart–which is his default.

grace:

the lavish, opulent, raw, untamed, scandalous blessing of God  unearned, undeserved, illogical, disproportionate blessing of God – poured out through Christ, over every facet of your life; and the living presence of the Creator God deep inside you, poured out through the Spirit, in a flood of euphoric joy, transcendent peace, and limitless power, to be and do, and live up to God’s calling in your life.

John Mark Comer

 

hosea

“Come, let us return to the Lord;

for he has torn us, that he may heal us;

he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.

After two days he will revive us;

on the third day he will raise us up,

that we may live before him.

Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;

his going out is sure as the dawn;

he will come to us as the showers,

as the spring rains that water the earth.”

hosea 6.1-3

motherly wisdom

very possibly the wisest wisdom ever given me was this:

‘god loves his children so much that he will stop at nothing to make sure they know that. he let his only son die so we would know that. how much less is my marriage, and our family than that?’

spoken by my mother after things fell apart. from there i first began to understand the incredibly different, vast, jealous love of god.

i began to understand how furiously hurtful that love is. how it will cut and take away and bend…mercilessly.

it is not like our love. we love by giving admiration, respect, affection, and affirmation. because we don’t know what is best in the ultimate end of time. we love for the necessity of companionship. to get each other through life.

but god knows what we need. he knows what is best in the ultimate end of time. and his love cannot let us stay who we are when he knows he can make us so much more.

it’s like a doctor allowing someone close to live under an ailment, knowing full well that some surgery and pain will bring complete new life to that person.

and so god crushes us. he crushed himself first. he knows that at the end we will be able to understand a bit more how great his love is for us.

and there is nothing better than to know the love of god.

just to be controversial for a minute….

The other day Cody and I were having our 673rd discussion on roles of men and women: Biblical verses American culture.

This subject really frustrates me. I have a hard time defining what really bothers me about our culture’s view of women. But something clicked for me during that last conversation.

Culture and feminism tell us that women can, and should, be successful and driven. We can become great leaders in politics and business and anything else. We can be strong, accomplished, confident, independent, and respected. However, being emotional, nurturing, sweet, humble, and gentle is weak and can be a detriment your success and fulfilling your potential. This mindset urges women to adopt masculine characteristics of strength, power and success, and suppress soft feminine traits.

Feminism’s message is cleverly disguised as inspirational. Behind the motivational: “You are woman, you can do anything”s, is the degrading message: “Men are more important. If you want your life to count, be a man.”

The problem with that is…we aren’t.

I realized that the world’s message is not in reality, “you are strong and successful, you are woman!” It’s actually, “you, woman, are worthless and cannot be influential when you are held down by an excess of emotions and compassion…so be like man. They are strong, successful, powerful, and influential. Strive for that.”

Feminism shames women’s true role in the world. It views our femininity as weakness…not difference. This was not God’s intention. He purposefully created women to be compassionate, nurturing, sensitive, and sweet.

1 Peter 3:1 & 4 “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands…let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…”

God made us equals. He does not value men and women differently. But He made us different. He values our emotional and gentle qualities. We are ‘quiet and gentle in spirit’ because we were  purposefully made that way; not because we just ended up with the secondary package of human qualities.

When God gives women the command to be subject to their husbands it does not mean we are in reality less or lower in value or skill. It means we are called to purposefully make ourselves less. To act in complete humility and put ourselves under our husbands authority and the authority of men in general.

“Subject” is not a word that describes what we are…it describes an action that God calls us to do.

The problem is, we women have issues with pride. We know that we can do many, if not most, things a man can do. We’ve proved it in history. We really can be strong, independent, and powerful. Not only are we confident in that, but we hold major pride in the fact that we can grow a person at the same time.

Because of that pride, submission, humility, and being the backstage helper of my husband’s life sounds like a drag. It seems lame, boring, and definitely not fair to my own passionate and talented self.

But fulfilling my grand dreams to prove I’m as valuable as a guy is not what God has called me to do. In fact, I think He’s called me to give up alot of those things, or at very least put them on the back burner. God has called me to be humble, allowing my husband the authority; to put his calling and dreams before mine; and to be compassionate and gentle and kind…because these qualities are precious to Him. In fact, He displayed them best when He died for us:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

So…to be clear…I’m not trying to tell girls out there what they should or shouldn’t be doing with their lives. I’m not advocating ‘stay-at-home’ as the best thing for all women. I’m not saying don’t follow your dreams, never do anything for yourself, and don’t take advantage of your talents and passion. I pretty much don’t care what you do. It’s your life and your decision.

I’ve just realized for myself, how totally screwed up our culture’s view of women is, and how sneakily it messes with me and my decisions.

I have no agenda. Just my brain of thoughts…which i hope is helpful to someone besides myself.

Lewis

“I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus* (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, miners, cars, government etc exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? As Dr. Johnson said, “To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour”. (1st to be happy to prepare for being happy in our own real home hereafter: 2nd in the meantime to be happy in our houses.) We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist…”

C.S. Lewis

from Letter of C.S. Lewis

 

*Sisyphus was the king of Greek Mythology who was given as punishment the task of rolling a large stone up a hill only to have it fall down again.