Growth

Car Clings and Commmitment

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So I Attached a cling to my car yesterday. Only the 3rd that I have put on any car in dozens of years.

I typically don’t put them on because it’s rare that I find one creative enough to be appealing for me. (However, I do have a “We will We Will WOK you” one that I plan to put on in honor of my crazy Asian Shmexy because I think it’s hysterically funny given the context of life with Jun-Jun!)

I also don’t put them on because, to me, they are a commitment. Placing a cling on your car is making a very public statement that you are committed to the cause of whatever is displayed on your vehicle…. and you will, therefore be judged according to those things.

For instance: I have never put a “Jesus fish” on my car because 1. Jesus was not a fish. 2. I have never, ever, been persecuted like the Christ-followers of old who used this symbol as a way to find one another. And 3. Although I find honking long and loudly, middle fingers, cursing/yelling at others, and other immature displays of aggressive road rage ridiculous, I have been known to look at someone with THAT look and shake my head in derision while muttering loudly about their incompetent driving and such in my not-so-far-in-the-past mild road rage days. Wouldn’t have represented the “Jesus fish” very well now, would it?

And I’ve never put a “save the tatas” cling on NOT because I don’t support breast cancer awareness – and not because I am not proud that there is a movement towards a cure – but because I participate in absolutely nothing breast-cancer-awareness related except to have that compassion for sufferers and survivors in my own heart. So why advertise as if I am passionately involved in finding a cure, running the annual race, and furiously donating money to the cause? (Put down your judgment gavel, please. And no, I don’t judge others who have all these cause-related clings because I don’t know their life. This is a PERSONAL random conviction – not one that I apply to every soul that breathes.)

Plus – even the window clings are hard to get off after a while.

Anyway – the point…
I put a cling on (No, not a Klingon) yesterday because 1. I was given it and 2. I am cautiously optimistic about being part of a place where my husband is excited to be, learning about forgiveness/character/grace, and growing. ¬†I see him growing through scripture, teachings, and the recent joining of a small group of people who talk about the realities of walking with Christ (in spite of his insecurities regarding people getting to know him and vice versa). And I’m beyond thrilled that HE is motivated to be a part. So, with his blessing, I took the plunge and attached the cling to the rear window of my car. Bam! There’s a commitment sticker on my window. Just like that.

An artistically creative cat face, an asian “punny” tribute to Queen, and an Elevation cling. Pretty strange combo for a pretty eclectic mix of a family. Well… we’re nothing if not real. ūüôā

PS – I’ll probably find a cling, one day, that honestly articulates being a real follower of Christ who is authentic, faulty, flawed, and doing their dang best but liable to make many a mistake along the way. (Contrary to all the “Christian kitschy” that is out there now.) And that one I’ll grab up and stick on there too…. and probably give away like candy.

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My Last 2.5 Years as a Teacher at Y.A.L.E.

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Today marked the end of one often frustrating, yet fulfilling, leg of this journey called life. Today marked the official end of the Y.A.L.E. program (Young Adult Life Enhancement) where I have worked since October 2012.

For the last 2.5 years I have worked with 18-21 year olds, most of whom were considered “youthful offenders” or “at risk youth” when they were underage. I was their Leadership and Lifeskills Teacher. I was their Case Manager. I was their “don’t come to me with the same problems over and over… CHANGE things” advisor. ¬†I was their encourager. I was their “mama”. ¬†I was their friend.

“But you can’t be a friend to your clients”, the age-old mantra says. ¬†Really? ¬†You can’t? ¬†Oh but, there are times when you must.

You see, a friend loves in spite of………. They’re not a “yes man”, agreeing with everything that you do or say in order to stay in your good graces, but a friend will tell the truth, and often disagree, even when it’s most painful to hear. ¬†A friend sees through the bravado and posturing, listens past the words, and reaches in to get to the heart of an issue. A friend lays down his/her life for others. ¬†And a¬†true friend sticks closer than a brother.

Many of¬†the students that I spent the last few seasons with had no brother. ¬†Many had lost family at the hands of another through street or domestic violence. Some had lost family due to their own mishandling of life and they had shoved them away with their anger, violence, or drug use. ¬†Others had lost family to mental health issues – whether the family member’s or their own – it didn’t matter, they were lost. ¬†And then there were those who still lived at home with family. ¬†Or perhaps I should restate that… there were those who still inhabited the same four walls as those who have borne the same blood yet were not safe, nurtured, or appreciated there. ¬†They had no brother. ¬†They had no real “home”.

These were the lives of our students.  And so we, the staff, became their friends who stuck closer than a brother.

There were the days when we got to celebrate with a student who passed a portion of their GED – or that all important final test was completed with a pass. Days when one (or several)¬†completed a training certification, graduated from high school, or enrolled in college or trade school – and really attended. Perhaps it was that a student handled their anger in a more appropriate way, or approached a conflict with calm but direct words instead of weapons of flesh and steel. ¬†Or when one of our students got a job, drivers license, first car, or the keys to the first place of their own. ¬† Oh the celebration! ¬†Some students would quietly stand holding evidence of their accomplishment, but the grin that was spread across their face spoke so very loudly. ¬†Other would march proudly in the door, yelling loudly for all to hear “I passed!” or “I did it!” ¬†There were always high fives, “I KNEW you could do it”s, and hugs all around. We did know they could do it. ¬†Sometimes they didn’t know.

There were also the days when we cried with our students. ¬†Like when one¬†had to bury her¬†child and she was¬†but a 21-year old mother. ¬†But more often there were the days that we cried FOR our students. ¬†When a student¬†told us – after a few days with us – that he had been sleeping in a slide outside at a local park when he left orientation each afternoon. ¬†Or when another was a victim of domestic violence yet would not let us help for fear of being “alone again”. ¬†And I won’t soon forget the 6-foot tall, strong-in-body, young man who¬†told us he was “lost” and had no idea where to even start to change his life, tears ran down his face, and ours ran unchecked as well as we talked about options for the taking, possible¬†solutions, and hope.

There were oh-so-fascinating days when we were able to take our students outside of a staunch and stifling setting and get them out into the world, where many of them had never been.  We laughed belly laughs when a student saw a real live cow for the first time and referenced a Wrong Turn movie when we took him to the country.  We huffed and puffed and then watched faces light up in wonder when we hiked The Cascades.  We walked and talked about futures and dreams when we took them to RU and VT campuses Рplaces many had only heard tale of.  We played basketball, served the community, saw the Globetrotters.  Our students shone like stars with their talents and service at a local Black History celebration.  And we whooped and hollered, with shouts and cheers, when some conquered their fears on ziplines, high ropes, and even in canoes.

But the most heart-gripping of all were those¬†days – and sometimes¬†nights – that¬†were¬†consumed with reading and watching the news, listening to the “street gossip”, making phone call after phone call, and waiting with baited breath to see/hear if any of our students was¬†involved in a¬†local news stories about youth who were perpetrators of violence or wounded¬†victims of the same. ¬†Despite every effort made, pretty regularly, we would get the word that “one of ours” was making headlines in the news, or sick, or homeless on the streets.

It was always a heartbreaking thing when these reports came. Hard to hear. Often hard to understand. ¬†Because when you pour your life into someone, you want them to grab hold of the truth¬†that – regardless of what they’ve done, or been, in the past – there is hope for something different. ¬†Something better. ¬†You desperately want them to “get it”. ¬†You want them to understand, without question, that there is at least one “someone” who believes in them, loves them, hopes for them. ¬†And you want that understanding to empower them to change… to choose a better course¬†that may be difficult due to unfamiliarity, yet knowing that they¬†can handle it because they are strong.

I’ve witnessed many a changed course while working with Y.A.L.E.. ¬†Many causes for grand celebration. ¬†I can list every success with absolute joy and pride for the young men and young ladies who did, indeed, “get it” and squared their shoulders and determined they were worth – and capable of – so much more than their past.

And I’ve witnessed many who, it seems, don’t have the strength to shake off the iron grip¬†that holds them,¬†like the hands of a captor covering their eyes and strangling the life out of them,¬†pulling them back into their past. ¬†It’s life and comfort for them. ¬†It’s all that they’ve known.

One of my students shot another of my students last night. ¬†He’s one who can’t quite summon the courage to escape¬†the fingers of the grip of his past to break free into something better. ¬†Something different. ¬†For some like this young man – although the consequences will be, ultimately, much harder to live with – the security of living what they know is much easier than risking ridicule and retribution with change.

So there’s a glimpse into my season with Y.A.L.E.. ¬†Celebrations and heart-breaks. Conversations and consternations. Graduations and GEDs. Adventures and awards. Courtrooms, jail cells, and funerals.

Given the chance I might do things differently. ¬†I would¬†be more firm – or more gentle – with some. ¬†I’d try one more¬†home-visit in an effort to¬†get through to someone. ¬†I’d push for more outings and adventures where our students could experience things they hadn’t before. ¬†But one thing that I couldn’t change is how much I love and believe in each and every one of those 100 that crossed my path through this job.

Did it change things for them?  Some it did.  Others, I may never know.  But what I DO know is that love never fails.  And sometime, somewhere down the road, that love that was shown will come back to mind and maybe, just maybe, it will spark something in them where they can begin to fully recognize that they are valuable, capable, believed in, and loved.

2.5 years of my life as a teacher. ¬†I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

Pardon my cynicism, but can we please stop talking and do something?

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“Love God, love people”.

Seems to be the catchphrase of churches today. ¬†Looks great on a billboard or t-shirt. ¬†Sounds like a great mantra. ¬†Excellent quote for a bumper sticker. ¬†Blogs and books are written about it quite a lot these days. ¬†I see/hear/read that phrase everywhere of late. ¬†It’s an inspiring, healthy, scripture-based phrase. ¬†Can’t argue with that. Right?

Oh, but I can.

Last week, my daughter and I were out in our community and we pulled up to a red light. ¬†In front of us was a church with a large yard banner that read… you guessed it… “Loving God. Loving People.” I sighed and said “It’d be nice if churches did more than just post that quote everywhere”, which prompted a conversation with my daughter about the importance of doing versus simply saying something so powerful.

Church-folk, we need to have the same conversation.  Can we talk?

Can we! ¬†Churches, and church-folk, can talk a good talk. ¬†We can talk for hours on end…all about church.

We talk about inviting people to church. ¬†What the church is doing this week. What the church has challenged us to do. ¬†How much we give to the church. How the church is doing this or that this week and you¬†must come. ¬†How well the church is doing because we had this many or that many on any given day. ¬†We church-folk can¬†talk about “our” church.

And we can talk about our church leaders.

How much we don’t agree with this leader. ¬†Or how that leader is “not in their place of giftedness” (which, in non-church vernacular means that they should quit – or be removed from their position – and do something else because we think that they suck at what they’re doing). ¬†We talk about this one that’s controlling. ¬†This one’s “falling away”, or “in sin”, “not hooked up anymore”, or “struggling with something”, because they’re not doing as many things inside the four walls of the church (building) as they used to. ¬†OR we talk about our poor, pitiful, pastor and his wife. ¬†They’re so misunderstood and unsupported. ¬†Life is so difficult for them. ¬†They don’t have good “armor-bearers” and there is too much demand placed on them. ¬†They’ve got such a hard calling to minister/serve the people in the church, it’s a wonder that they stay. (Don’t get me wrong. ¬†I’ve served¬†in church leadership for over 20-some years and it’s no ball of fun at times, can be very difficult, and is – most definitely – not for the faint of heart. However, the pity parties don’t accomplish anything except division.)

We can also talk about each other.  Like. Dogs.

She doesn’t live up to¬†our standards for her life. ¬†He isn’t doing what¬†we think he should be doing (because, you know¬†we know better than he/she does regarding what God has spoken to them or intended for them). How dare they leave our church? ¬†“They’re not following God they’re following a man.” ¬†“They left us abandoned”. ¬†“Their heart isn’t right” because they left, so let’s talk about them to everyone we know that they know and see if we can’t damage their heart even more by our gossip and hurtful words.

We can talk.

We can also talk about those who don’t attend any church. Those who believe differently from us. ¬†Those who don’t WANT anything to do with church – or Christ – for whatever reason. ¬†“Those people”… “Them”… “Non-believers”… “Seekers”… “Sinners” (which, last time I checked defined every single one of us who breathes. ¬†But I digress.)… “Un-churched”. ¬†We talk about how they need to come to our church. ¬†How they need to “get connected” with¬†our groups. ¬†How “they” are going to hell. ¬†How God hates “them” and what they do.¬†¬†How “they” are wrong and we’re right. ¬†How “they” don’t act/speak/live in a way that meets our approval because¬†we “talk the talk and walk the walk”, meanwhile “they” do not even know what the heck we are¬†talking¬†about.

We talk and we talk and we talk. ¬†All while our little church logos, bumper stickers, and banners wave in the wind crying “We love God and we love people!”

It looks real nice on that church sign. ¬†And we¬†wear it proudly on our pre-washed bright colored t-shirt. ¬†But here’s a “solid” for you: Words. Mean. Nothing. Without. Actions.

Scripture says: “You shall love the Lord, Your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself. ¬†There is no greater commandment than these.” – Mark 12:30-31

And in James 2:14-26 we’re admonished not to just wish a “God bless you” on people in faith, but to do something to meet their practical needs.

And there’s the ever popular 1 Corinthians 13. ¬†“The love chapter”. ¬†Part of which – verses 4-8 – people quote in marriage ceremonies, public speeches, and more. ¬†However, the first 3 verses aren’t very well known. ¬†They’re a little more challenging. ¬†A little more of a “truth slap” to those of us who claim to follow Christ. ¬†Here’s a paraphrase from a recent sermon I heard about these 3 verses:

It doesn’t matter how “in tune with the Spirit” I believe that I am, if I do not love others – graciously and without expecting something in return – then I am nothing but a lot of loud noise, according to God. (- 1 Cor 13:1 para) Spiritual gifts, “experiences”, knowledge is not ultimately the point. Without love it means nothing. (- 1 Cor 13:2 para) Even if I do the most extravagant thing that I can, to show how spiritual I am, but do it for any other reason but love, it doesn’t matter. (- 1 Cor 13:3 para)

So, churches and church-folk, how about we stop talking and do something about loving God and loving people?

How about instead of expecting people to come to our fabulous, exciting, well-done, sometimes spirit-filled, church service (all of which I, personally, love attending myself, btw), we GO into all the world and share the gospel by loving others practically and meeting their needs?

How about instead of using the money that people have given – because pastors have taught them “do not mock God, but bring 10% of everything you make¬†to church first” (another post, another day) – to pad¬†a “rainy day” bank account¬†like a hoarder who doesn’t want to let the smallest thing go… how about we use some of that money to do things for the community that we are planted in and the people – both in our church and without – who have real needs? ¬†Wouldn’t that demonstrate Christ a little better than money in the bank?

Or what if, instead of starting our own “helping” organizations – that compete with the ones already proven and serving in the community – so that we can proudly boast about how we have a “Christian” soup kitchen, food pantry, clothing bank, homeless shelter, serving organization to exalt our name… what if we pooled our resources, time, and energy to come alongside those already established places¬†and “make a name for ourselves” as the church that truly gets involved by working¬†with our community organizations by providing love, support, and volunteer hours?

What if, instead of having to advertise that we “love God and love people” with printed chotchkes, stickers, and signs, it was simply known that¬†that group of people who attend¬†that church really love God and care about people, all because it was demonstrated instead of talked about?

The bottom line… Christ didn’t just talk about serving others, loving others, dying for others. ¬†He DID SOMETHING. ¬†His hands and feet were always extended to give, serve, love, help, touch, do, and provide the ultimate sacrifice for each and every one of us.

Talk is cheap. Doing something that demonstrates Christ to others is what matters. ¬†Otherwise, we’re just making noise… unpleasant, undesirable, unheeded noise with our ever-moving lips.

Again, pardon my cynicism, but can we please stop talking and actually DO something?

CATALYST 2014 – Strengthen Your Core

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Core

Reviewing notes from the 2nd session of Catalyst, with Christine Caine, and my mind and heart are, again, challenged and convicted. ¬†Following is a cursory summary of things my spirit – and pen – “caught” from her passionate fire. (Direct quotes are in italics)

Christine Caine:

Christine shared her own recent and personal battle with cancer, surgery, and recovery. She talked about how, in order for her body to be strengthened following surgery, it was necessary for her to strengthen her core before proceeding with¬†more strenuous exercises. ¬†She had been warned that, if she didn’t re-strengthen her core – and resumed running too early – her body would, eventually, collapse. She likened this to our spiritual life.

“If we haven’t strengthened our spiritual core, eventually our world will collapse.”

Matthew 22:34-40:¬†34¬†But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35¬†And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36¬†‚ÄúTeacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?‚ÄĚ 37¬†And he said to him, ‚ÄúYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38¬†This is the great and first commandment. 39¬†And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40¬†On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

“The typical ‘Christian’ is trying to serve God with a toxic heart, a wounded soul, and a tormented mind.” ¬†If we don’t allow His presence into these, the deepest places where we have been hurt and damaged [our core], then we cannot be capable¬†leaders.

“We are a bunch of Christians running around wanting to change the world but not willing to be changed. ¬†Until we change ourselves we will never change the world.”

“My gift wouldn’t have taken me where my character couldn’t have kept me without a strong spiritual core.” ¬†In other words, character has to be developed, and God must be granted full access¬†to the darkest places in our¬†heart, soul, and mind, in order to be effective with the gifts that He has given.

Addressing the heart:

“You do what you¬†want when it’s a passion. ¬†You do what you have to when it’s an obligation. ¬†Remember when serving God was a passion?”

If¬†our leadership is about us and our satisfaction, our ego, and/or our self-fulfillment, then how does God fit into this? “If your heart is so full of yourself then there’s no room for Him.”

As Christ-followers, if we aren’t seeking Him passionately….¬†“If Jesus is not enough for His church then why would he be enough for the world?”

“Get off of Facebook and in the face of God!”

“Skinny jeans and tattoos do not make you a powerful leader for God. ¬†Being filled with the presence and power of God makes you a powerful leader!”

In reference to the soul:

When we prayed to receive Christ, our soul wasn’t instantly changed and all of the damage completely healed. ¬†Our soul was saved… redeemed… yet still needed (or needs) to be healed and restored. But many of us have locked God out of the very place that – when healed – can be stronger and so much more powerful.

“The pain of recovery is often more powerful than the pain of injury.”

“If we don’t allow God to ‘go in deep’ and heal the wounded places in our soul it will become infected and seep out, like [disgusting and oozing] pus, into your leadership.”

We go to church on Sundays and yet don’t allow God to change the deepest part of us. ¬†We don’t allow Him into our lives the rest of the week, so our souls are gasping for breath and life. “If we could stop surviving on church as if it’s life support then we could be the powerful and prophetic people we were called to be!”

And what about the mind?:

Romans 12:2 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Be ruthless about what goes into your mind! ¬†“Don’t ‘jump on the enemy’s train of thoughts of worry, negativity… fear.” ¬†2 Timothy 1:7 says¬†7¬†for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

We often lie awake at night with our mind filled with worry and fear. ¬†We forget that “My God never sleeps or slumbers! ¬†He’s always working in every situation so God’s got this. I’m gonna get some sleep!”

And when we allow the All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Never Sleeping God access to the damaged places of our heart, soul, and mind then we become the called leaders that we were intended to be.

“The degree to which we are healed and free is the degree to which we can lead others to freedom. ¬†We reproduce who we are.”

Christine shared a story about her youngest daughter and how her husband is always telling their daughter that she is beautiful, smart, and called by God. ¬†Recently, she began attending school and a little boy was picking on her. ¬†He grabbed her “wubby” from her and said to her:”You’re ugly and you’re stupid!” ¬†To which she replied: “I am NOT! ¬†My Daddy says that I am……”

Whenever the enemy comes against us – whether in our mind, or through the words/actions of others – we remind ourselves of who God says we are. ¬†And we remind the enemy… “‘My DADDY says…..’ and we rebuke the lies of the enemy with what The Father says about us!”

Are there parts of your own heart, soul, and/or mind that you have not allowed God full access to? ¬†Pray. ¬†Ask Him. ¬†Listen for His response. ¬†And then take some “J.A.M. time” (Jesus-And-Me) and allow Him to peel back the layers of pain, and even shame, to discover the powerful core of you which yearns and longs for Him!

Religion IS A Crutch

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Ever heard someone lash out with the words “Religion is a crutch!” ¬†Most of us have heard it more than once. ¬†Many who say they have a faith in Christ get offended, or highly defensive, when they hear this popular criticism. ¬†They tend to argue about doctrines, scriptures, and beliefs in an attempt to convince others that their religion is anything¬†but a crutch.

Well, hold on to your pantyhose.  This Christ-follower fully agrees.  Religion IS a crutch.

Now before you throw those blasphemy stones you’ve got clenched in your raised fists, read on….

 

A crutch is defined as: “anything¬†that¬†serves¬†as¬†a¬†temporary¬†and¬†often¬†inappropriate¬†support,¬†supplement,¬†or¬†substitute; a prop”

Perfectly defines religion. ¬†Temporary. ¬†Unable to truly support. ¬†A poor substitute. ¬†Something that props you up… which, by the way, when removed will trigger a fall.

The definition of religion is “the¬†practice¬†of¬†religious¬†beliefs and/or¬†ritual¬†observances¬†of faith”. ¬†

In scripture, Christ and those who mechanically practiced religion were not fans of one another.

The religious measured others according to their index of proper acts, acceptable behaviors, respectable lifestyles, and appreciable knowledge. ¬†If one didn’t conform to their preconceived notions of tolerable conduct, the religious would judge them as unworthy, unfaithful, even deplorable.

Christ measured others according to His Father, Whose heart knew of every decent and scandalous act ahead of their committal. Whose eyes saw every righteous and unrighteous behavior before they came to pass.  Whose ears heard every respectful and shameful word before they were spoken.  Who knew the measure of every lifestyle, deemed successful or unsuccessful by the fellow man, prior to the first breath of life.  Yet His Father continued to love them, understanding their humanity, yet knowing that He created them with incredible potential and giftings for good.

Christ demonstrated what true faith should resemble, and those who counted on religion were considered inferior and judged harshly by Him for their false teachings and man-centered standards.

Sadly this seems to have been forgotten today.  Today it seems so many still boost themselves up by bracing their lives on pompous practices and spiritually-superficial rites.

Obeying a list of “holy behaviors” will¬†prop one up on a self-righteous and ego-aggrandizing pedestal. ¬†The problem is that¬†this narcissistic truss will only provide a deceiving facade of support. ¬†With the first stumble, or deviation from the tally of rights and wrongs – like an injured man whose crutch is yanked from under him on a slippery surface – ¬†the pseudo-holy foundation tumbles, taking the soul bound by religion with it.

Unfortunately, those who have allowed themselves to be crippled¬†by the demanding and unrealistic checklist, tend to reach for that same list of do’s/dont’s ¬†– making excuses for their own fallings, and holding others hostage to their deformed expectations of virtue. ¬†They find a strange sort of comfort in their religious list.

After all, adhering to a series of hallowed intentions takes less faith and diligence than building a relationship that is truthfully spiritual and real.  The rules, regulations, and human-ordained practices of religion are a poor substitute for living with an honest and faith-filled relationship with the agape loving, grace-permeated Christ.

Religion is a crutch.  It is an inappropriate prop for the self-righteous.  Religion provides a false sense of support and stability and is a temporary aid to bolster the ego.  It is a weak, ugly, foolish crutch that Christ would snatch away in a second to prompt our reliance on Him instead of ritualistic nonsense.

Stand up. Allow Christ to strengthen you as you choose to follow¬†Him… Listening for His voice, obeying His promptings, and walking – unaided by man-made rules of legalism¬†–¬†with Him. ¬†Drop the crutch.

 

Oh… and drop¬†your stones now also, please and thank you.

 

 

 

 

Me, Myself, and My Messiah Complex

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I’ve got it and I’ve got it bad.

No, it’s not¬†split personality disorder. ¬†Not a sad case of the blues. ¬†I’m not madly in love with someone other than my husband… well,¬†except for¬†myself sometimes.

I’ve got a messiah complex. ¬†A ridiculously inaccurate messiah complex.

It’s my responsibility to save things and fix people. Every. Single. Day.

The world can’t survive without me. ¬†At least that seems to be what I subconsciously tell myself at times.

My students and co-workers will be lost if I take a day off. ¬†Things at church might not go smoothly if I miss a Sunday… or a leaders meeting. ¬†If I say no to an invitation with family it might upset things. My input is important in most any situation. My opinion valid. My perspective pretty awesome and¬†accurate. ¬†My way, quite often, the most reasonable and practical – the wisest way.

See?  I have placed myself on an imaginary pedestal without even realizing it.  I unconsciously believe that I am the all-knowing, troubleshooter of the totality of what is wrong in life.  The ever-wise moderator of relationships and conflicting conversations.  The oracle who sees the errors of ways.  The prophet who speaks the hard-hearing truth.

I have set myself in a high place in my own mind. ¬†I have assumed the position of savior of the world. … again.

There have been several times, in my life, when I have climbed up to this high and lofty mental place of honor. ¬†Times when I wouldn’t – couldn’t – say no for fear of the world stopping if I did so. ¬†Times when I had to be ever-present for everyone or things would forever be marred and scarred (at least in my own mind).

And each time I have gotten soundly, profoundly, and squarely, knocked off that pedestal and painfully back onto my reality-recognizing butt.

My mind, my emotions, my body, or all three at once, take control and say “enough is enough” and they forcefully set me off my feet and onto my kiester, or my back. ¬†This is where I am forced to recognize that the world will continue to spin – tasks will still be completed – life will go on – friends, family, loved ones, students, and co-workers will survive… and possibly even thrive –¬†¬†all without my influence or interference.

Although I do not believe God is the author of sickness, fatigue, breakdowns, or anything that is evil, I do believe that He allows us to crash and burn at times as a natural consequence of our own ignorance or sin.  And when I have fanned both ends of the candle flame for an endless amount of time, and there is no light left in me because I have been an improper steward of the gifts/talents that He HAS given me, then He allows me to become as a scorched and melted puddle of wax.

At that point I have a choice. ¬†Refuse to acknowledge that I am not the end-all, be-all, messiah without which the world cannot flourish – and thus grow cold and hard as His glow extinguishes and I continue to believe I, alone, can save. ¬†Or remain pliable, willing to be reshaped and reused by submitting to the heat of His character-molding, mind-renewing fire and the blaze of His Spirit. ¬†Allowing myself to be¬†ignited with the His love-shaped, grace-filled Zippo –¬†recognizing that without Him¬†I am nothing. And even with Him,¬†I am simply a broken vessel of light that He has chosen to carry His spark… not to pervert His standing as Messiah and Savior of the world.

Scripture admonishes that man not think more highly of himself than he ought.  Proverbs advises that pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Me, Myself, and my Messiah complex struggle with this at times and forget.  Ever been there?

 

 

Rated M for Mature

Posted on

M is for maturity. Sincerity. Integrity.Image

Time to really show up for life and choose to grow up

Man up. Woman up. Pull your big girl panties up.

Rise up. Stand up. Go-on and lift your hands up

And say “I’m in”. “Here I am.¬†

Ready to really be a man… or woman who is getting rid

of things that I did as a kid.

Like gossiping, back-stabbing, in-your-face ugly jabbing

calling names, putting down, pushing others to the ground

by elevating, lifting, raising my me-centered self 

higher and higher upon a shelf 

of arrogance and ego, pride and ‘follow me’ so

you can feel

lesser than, lower than, just a little slower than

I believe I am¬†’cause I’m the great I am

in my own eyes

When really I am nothing more than insecure and small.”

Maturity puts these things away and recognizes that every day

is one great opportunity to build, lift, uphold, and raise

another God-crafted human being emotionally,

mentally, give them a sense of dignity

instead of expecting them to measure up to

my self-serving standards that really do

have absolutely, positively, nothing to do with their true worth

or value.

M is for seeing, treating, viewing, greeting others with maturity.  

It is Not. About. “Me”.