I have gotten in fights before.
Thats just who I am. I’ve come light years on patience and calm.
But, yes, I have gotten in fights before. Physical and verbal. A long time ago.
However, this one opponent and I have been beating the crap out of each other for years.
Beauty and I have been fighting forever.
We have been intense sparing partners for many rounds. Beauty has taken me straight to the mat before. Knocked out with one punch. Other times, I manage to duck the jabs. Dodged the hits on the ropes. A few times, I have even heard the bell ding in my favor. Not many, but a few.
This does not make me unique. It makes me completely relatable. Everybody knows those moments. Those times when you just hate it.
You don’t understand how it can still be true, that you aren’t beautiful. Or don’t measure up.That you just aren’t what you hoped you’d be. Those moments when you feel like reality smacks you in the face that you aren’t as perfect as you want.
Like when I was in second grade I pretended I didn’t like dance class so I made my mother take me out because I really was embarrassed about how i looked in the leotard. I loved dance.
Or when in middle school a girl told me that I needed bra sooner than the other girls because I was fat.
Or in high school when the child I babysat asked why I had so many dark spots on my face.
Or in college when a guy felt the need to yell at me and tell me I was “Fat as F—k”
Or when a guy stopped asking me out when his friends gave him a hard time about how I looked.
Those are the times I can close my eyes. And remember. That nope, I’m not beautiful. Nope. Im not the standard that the world wants.
But here is the thing, those are just fleeting moments. Really and truly, I think I’m beautiful.
But seriously y’all, I am actually quite pretty.
I have really pretty blonde hair. Like I love how long it is and the way it catches the light.
I have big boobs. I like that I have big boobs. I think they’re neat. (Im seriously sorry if this weirds you out, but if you’re new around here, Im kinda blunt)
I have really great legs. My calves are really nice even though I don’t work out. (But like, I hate moving)
My wrists are really pretty.
I like the color of my eyes.
I can tan really easily.
And me listing all of those is where a lot of women get uncomfortable. They start to not relate to me anymore.
They feel like I shouldn’t being saying those things. I am not supposed to think I’m pretty. We would never say that out loud. But the thats the truth, any girl, especially a girl like me, is supposed to look in the mirror and not be happy. It really makes us uncomfortable if thats not the status quo.
But, guys. Most days I wake up and I feel really pretty.
And everything in the world tells me, subtly and sometimes not so subtly, that I shouldn’t.
Because its not that weird for me to say I’m smart. Or that I’m funny.
But its not really okay for me to tell people that I think I’m beautiful.
This post is not about me being humble. Its about me being obedient. And thats what so awesome about Jesus. He made me. So I happy sharing what God made. He made a girl thats funny, smart and beautiful. I love that is offensive to the world. Its supposed to be.
Its not logical that I should feel beautiful. I have literally been told many times that I am not beautiful. That I am not what guys want.
But still, buried deep within me is the horrible,awful,secret that I feel like I am actually really quite beautiful.
I feel like the biggest type of rebel when I walk around knowing that everything tells me I shouldn’t feel this way. But I do anyway.
How did I get here? How did I go from that second grade girl who quit dancing?
I realized that beauty was taking up way too much space in my life. I like laughing. I like Wendy’s. I like being goofy. I like wearing fun clothes. And really tall high heels even though it makes me look awkward.
I realized that the world was telling me the only thing I needed to know about myself was about my beauty.
I realized that the every Christian women’s conference I went to spent the whole time telling me I am beautiful and all that made me think was that beauty was all that mattered.
I never heard that Jesus thought I was smart. Or that Jesus thought I was creative. or kind. or funny.
I realized that beauty was such a big issue in my life simply because it was such a big issue.
I realized that there will always be a more beautiful woman in the room. Always. I will never get to the top. None of us will.
And I realized that I really liked dancing even if look fat in leotards.
I am not saying that there are not times when I don’t feel devastated about my looks, of course there is. Just like when I get answer wrong in Contracts and I think I am so stupid that I’ll fail law school miserably and have to work at the Holiday Inn for the rest of my life.
But then, I realize thats unreasonable. I will do fine in law school.Similarly, even though I have days when my jeans are too tight or in horror I realize that there is pool party on my calendar, I really am a beautiful person.
And i know that this hurdle is way harder for some people to jump. And I don’t make light of that. But I promise you, I had a long way to go.
Like an unbelievably long way to go. But that’s why I love HIm.
He just sorta got in my heart and said
"Sarah, this is your life. You either sit there and navel gaze about how ugly you are or live it. Live it obediently and be my vessel.Stop looking at yourself, and look at the world. They need me. Honor me with your beauty"
So i freaking did. I did my hair, bought a cute outfit, held my head up and just lived like I believed I was beautiful. And over time, I wasn’t pretending anymore. I really felt that I was beautiful. It really wasn’t harder than that.
I loved Jesus enough to love myself. And to be honest with myself. It was the least I could do for him.
So I am really pretty. I am beautiful. And I like the fact that I am beautiful.
I have bad days. But i know that if I don’t get married one day its not because I didn’t make the cut. I just lived the life God had for me. Wendy’s and all.
So I guess me and Beauty are frenemies. But whatever, she can still come to my pool party.
I really don’t want to write this.
One, because I don’t have time to write this.(Here’s looking at you Premise Liability Memo)
Two, because people are probably going to immediately be defensive about it and blow up the comment stream on my Facebook.
Which makes me think I should write this.
Not because tension is a good thing, but because when we are defensive it makes us realize what is important to us. We get defensive about things that we don’t want taken from us.
We get defensive about our idols.
Statements that may have some truth are always scary when they don’t line up with what we want. That could change our comfort.
What is a Christian’s response to people who are sick and cant afford healthcare?
But like seriously.
Not a republicans response.
Not a democrats response.
Dont think about government. Federalism vs. State’s rights. The commerce clause. MSNBC and Fox news aren’t in this discussion.
What does the church do about the chronically ill child that can’t afford to go the doctor?
What is our response to a single mom with kids who needs help paying for her insulin?
An openly gay may who needs his Aids medication?
What about a 25 year old guy who has naked women tattooed all over his body that directs porn videos who needs an expensive procedure to save his life and he doesn’t have insurance?
A paroled sexual abuser or child murderer thats dying of stomach cancer?
Should we help them? Do we help them differently?
I think if we are answering things in with our handy dandy sunday school answers we say yes!Jesus likes when help people!!
But thats not really what we believe. And thats not the way we live.
We don’t like social welfare. We don’t like our tax money going places.
And if we do help people, we certainly don’t help them the same.
We want that chicken noodle soup for the soul kinda headline.
And if you want to argue that it shouldn’t be the government in charge of helping these people, I can see some merit in that. But this isn’t about the government. This is about us.
Our government has to interfere because we haven’t been doing our jobs. Plain and simple. So we shouldn’t be angry. We should be ashamed.
Why is the government taking your money to help people? Because we don’t want to give it to them voluntarily.
Because we don’t help them either. We can sit there and deny it but the plain truth of the matter is we don’t like giving to people that we deem don’t deserve it.
Our money wont go to evil people. Lazy people. Illegal Immigrants. Gang bangers. Muslims. Atheists. Convicted criminals.
Love God and love
others, people who have earned it, as yourself.
We have forgotten we were Prodigal sons and live the life of the Prodigal’s brother. We want people to stay in the slop with the pigs, cause they sure don’t deserve the party.
All of my non christian friends who are waiters say that Sunday is their least favorite day of the week, because Christians tip the worst.We don’t tip people who are slow. Who are rude. Who have bad service.
They haven’t earned it.
We love helping people. Who
need deserve it.
The next argument I can hear is but God values hard work! Righteousness! So we should too!
You are right, God does value those things. I love Proverbs.
But here is my issue. If we only give to people we deem deserve it, people who make the cut on our list, then those are the only people who will ever know what God values.
You want people to live more like God thinks they should? Then love them. until they meet Jesus through your love.
And guess what God values most? Grace. Redemption. And Love. because those things bring him Glory.
And does the grace that God show you make you want to turn from him and do horrible things? No, it makes you want to know Him and worship Him. He has shown us the formula, but we think we know better. We say we shouldn’t be gracious to people who are “evil” because that will just encourage their behavior.
Do you want to tell Jesus that the Church thinks he does things the wrong way, or should I?
Guess who I think should get a free dinner on me? The doctor who performs abortions.
yep. that guy.
why? because Jesus has a plan for him. And knows he doesn’t deserve it.
What if I said porn director had recently found Jesus? We’d help him then right?
Do you think Jesus love’s him more now?Does he love you more than him?
Nope. He doesnt.
What about the single mom and child molester? Who should win?
The single mom, right?
Cause one is bad and the other is good. But thats the problem with Jesus. Thats the frustrating part about the gospel.
He wants everyone in the world to be loved. And nobody deserves it.
Thats why the gospel is so offensive. The Pharisees don’t come out on top.The rule followers. The people who deserve it.
He sits with the prostitutes.
Jesus weeps over Trayvon Martin.
And George Zimmerman.
And thats why we love Him. But some how that love isn’t reflected in our lives. People need to earn our money. Our time.
Why do I want pay for the sex abusers chemo? Because Jesus loved me when I didn’t deserve it.
And I think Jesus is tired of our excuses. Lets be honest. with ourselves. with Him.
We worship America.
We idolize Conservatism.
We love Politics.
We lust after governmental power.
And those things come before helping people.
Stop using my Lord as vehicle for your power. Lets love Him enough to be honest with ourselves that politics isn’t about Jesus and we know it. Stop pretending. I worked on capital hill, trust me when I say, politicians know that they can use the word Jesus to get your vote. Because they know were aren’t really looking for manifestations of Him, we are okay with all pretending that this about God as long as my tax bracket stays in check.
Too many people have made a quick buck blaspheming the name of my Savior. And I am tired of it.
Political gain is not worth the value of your witness.
We are taught politics. And we need to highlight the bible until it fits whatever political agenda we where raised on.
We love people who we think deserve it.
We forgive the forgivable.
I want to value Jesus more than I value my government. To value others more than I value my money. I value truth more than politics.
I want the Church to be real with ourselves. To understand that our love needs to be offensive. It needs to be opposite of how the world thinks. It needs to be supernatural. It’s not based on who deserves it.
Is posting that Facebook status about how much you hate people who get food stamps more important than people knowing how much you value them?
Is that extra dollar more important than tipping a waiter who doesn’t deserve it?
Is yelling about Obama or John Boehner important enough to you that you are willing to alienate people who don’t share your views from Jesus?
Because the real answer is actually yes.
We want the world we want in the way we want it. Whether it keeps people from Heaven or not.
But guess what? That’s not what they deserve.
The world is hard. It is messy.
It scars your soul. It takes your heart it rips to shreds. It tells you are worthless. It mocks. It tortures. It abuses.
Recently, someone made me feel worthless. Like I was less than nothing.A waste of space.
A body unmoored from a soul.
He saw nothing of value. And deemed nothing of worth.
It crushed me.Demeaned me. For a thousand reasons. And a million questions.
Why did he treat me like that?
Why did I let someone treat me like that, why was I so weak?
Was his opinion of me fact? Or it was it just his opinion?
Why did his opinion matter to me at all?
And I guess most devastatingly of all:
How do I stop hurting this bad?
The confusion is overwhelming. I can’t wrap my head around any of it. Everything is fuzzy. My life is happening in the same pattern it always has been but I can’t seem to fit the pieces.
And thats what a hurt that deep does. It makes the world we knew and twists it inside out.
You cant breathe. You can’t comprehend the evil. You start to drown in the pain.
its quiet. its small. its still.
But its there.
Jesus tenderly, compassionately and perfectly loves.
The oxygen finds its way back into your lungs. You breathe. Once. Then again.
We sing about it as toddlers. We put it on bracelets. We memorize it for VBS. We gloss over it.
We say it till we don’t hear the words. We don’t walk in the magnitude.
Just stop reading and think about that.
Jesus loves us, Forever.Unconditionally. He loves.
And that is the most beautiful,simple,devastating,powerful statement to ever been spoken on this planet.
He does a thousand things. He is a million more.
But at the core. The thread of the story. His character is love.
In those moments when we believe everything is lost and unbearably confusing, we couldn’t be more wrong.
It is hopeful and it is simple. He loves.
We have not been beaten. Because He loves.
We keep fighting. Because He loves.
We are guaranteed victory. All because He loves.
I know many of my friends who read my blog don’t know Him. And I know many of you have been told what you should know about him. So instead, I will tell you what I know.Let my pain have a purpose.
Hear me say that at the core of my soul- amidst my doubts, my poor choices, the unanswered questions and the evil around me- I know that Jesus is real and that He loves me. And that is absolutely all I have right now. But it is all I need.
His love is hard to accept sometimes, shame works to cloud out His glory. But our refusal to accept His love doesn’t negate its existence. Its power.
For everything horrible that was shown to me, Jesus restores tenfold with His tender love. Every place that person has devastated, Jesus brings life.
Every mistake I made, he teaches me. He redeems. And the most awe inspiring thing about His love? He loves that guy as much as He loves me. And He wants him to be whole.
I will survive because He loves.
I will fight because He loves.
I will heal because He loves.
I live because He loves.
Jesus. Loves me.
This I know.
I remember the first time I snuck out of my house.
I was 13.
When we first moved into my house,my parents wisely put me in the room right next to their’s, however, it had a window that opened to the roof over the porch. As with most things I attempted as a teenager, the distance between the porch and the roof was just enough to scare me and encourage my rebellion with equal measure.
I kept looking at this distance for over a year, and then one night, after my parents had had locked up, I made my break.
This breakout wasn’t to meet a boy or to go to some clandestine party hosted by a high schooler with naiive parents.
It was because I needed to know it was possible to make it off the roof.
I didn’t even really do anything of consequence with this risky freedom. I took a walk. I skinny dipped in the neighborhood pool. Sat on the dock of our lake. Laid on the grass of our yard and just giggled with glee.
I had done it. I was free.
I had made the jump.
And as pack up my apartment and get ready to snag a diploma, I realize I am that thirteen year old girl again with a heart full trepidation, fear, excitement and determination. I don’t really want to leave the safety of what I have known, but I just have to know. I have to take the jump.
But that’s what college is I guess. Its the coaxing out on the roof.
Its more dangerous out there, but it definitely changes your view from your bedroom window. It lets you take a breath of that night sky. You feel that summer breeze. The stars are just brighter than you realized.
And my stars have been absolutely stunning.
They are the friends that I never thought I would have. The ones who loved me. The ones who have challenged me. Encouraged. Inspired. The ones that have seen me at rock bottom and cared enough to stick around.
The ones who feel impossible to part with.
My stars are the moments of spontaneous joy. Of dance parties and pranks in Church Hall. Of living room worship nights. Of snow-apocalypses. Of days on the porch. Of a perfect week in Hawaii. Game Days. Road Trips. Food runs. Snellebrations. Movie Nights.
My moon is full of heartbreak, love, and growth.
I loved every minute on my rooftop. But it is not the peak of my life.
Because as you stand out there on that roof, you see a lot farther than you could before. The scenery entices you. And you start to eye the distance between the roof and the ground. And just have to know. If you can make the jump. Leave the ledge. Get your life.
A lot of people, mostly lawyers, tell me law school is an awful idea. Nobody is hiring they say. Its too damn expensive. You will never see anyone outside of school. Ever. Its a toxic environment. The economy.You will be depressed. Likely an alcoholic. Your life will not be one you like.
Or maybe,just maybe, I have what it takes to make the jump. That I will live a life that chooses joy. Seeks love. And runs after God.
That seeking happiness won’t be a chase but a surprise. A consequence of just living out who I am.
It will probably hurt though. To make that distance. And I am sure the landing will be anything but graceful.
But imagine. Imagine the person you are after you take the jump. The business woman. The husband. The artist. The missionary. The mom.
You know that the life you had was one you sought after. Nobody pushed you. And you can go skinny dipping if you want. Swim in the lake. Explore the woods. It might be unknown and fraught with danger, but for the rest of your life, you’ll at least know you didn’t stay on the ledge.
That what you wanted was enough to make the risk. The world was just too big to sit on the roof watching it go by. You just had to know. You had to get your life. Make the jump.
So lets jump.
“It’s not that she doesn’t like you, its just that she thinks you try too hard to be so ‘un-churchy’, like you have to let everyone know you are so against everything. You know, you have to be the rebel and offensive or whatever”
I have heard a lot of bad things said about me. I have been called every horrible name in the book. I have brushed a lot of them off since, to be fair, I did my fair share in earning them. A few I had to work a while to get out.
Recently however, I hearing this evaluation of me has really set me thinking. Not really because it felt mean, but because it caused me to worry about lot of things.
Is this my impression? Have I become one of those people? The useless kind that does nothing but point fingers?
I don’t think I have. Or at least, I hope I haven’t. I promise this has never been my intention for my life or this blog. I love the church. The church saved my life. It helped me find the One who saved my soul. My home church is the closest I will ever get to heaven on Earth.
But, I also don’t think I have adequately explained why I am sometimes critical of the church. Why I am fired up so much.My purpose for this blog. For everything. And I think that’s important. So here it is:
In high school, I had a best friend. His name was Matt*,(Not his real name). We were an inseparable pair. We talked every day about everything. I made him laugh and he tried to remind me to think before I did things. Once, he punched a boy that called me fat. I pretended his girlfriends weren’t stupid. Dream team.
My senior year of high school, Matt’s dad stabbed himself to death in a drug induced hysteria.
Matt’s parents were divorced, so a few days after the funeral and in her typical insensitive manner, Matt’s mom sent him over to dad’s house to feed the fish.
When walked in the house, we were both well aware that the last time the house had been inhabited was when the coroner was removing his father’s body. It was eerie. It was sad. It was disturbing.
Throughout the entire time, however, Matt seemed fine. As he had during the funeral, he was almost robotic. Picked up the mail. Fed the fish. Watered the plants.
And then he saw his dad’s bed, still unmade from the day he died, and he lost it. He fell into my arms and began sobbing. Deep guttural sobs. The most heartbreaking sounds I have heard come from another human being. I could tell he was mourning much more than his father. It was everything. The consequences of being born into such a hateful,evil world. It was the incarnation of the worst kind of unimaginable pain.
There, as I let that broken boy weep into my arms, something changed deep within me. All I wanted was to take away his pain.To love him in the way he deserved. To show him Jesus loved him in the way he didn’t.
Facing that hurt was a game changer. Seeing that pain is something that can’t be erased. It devastates you. It takes your priorities and twists them inside out.
It makes you start to realize why God would die to set us free. Because it becomes impossible to just live while others are enslaved.
You become more than empathic, you become compelled.
So thats my dream for the Church. Thats what makes me cry. Thats what makes me angry. That’s what makes me frustrated.
I refuse to accept the excuses that we put up about why we don’t love people who don’t know Jesus.
We don’t love these broken souls because we don’t know them, we only know of them. And if we used to know them, we don’t anymore cause we can’t fit them in between our ministry schedules. We begin to only know each other and thats good enough for us.
We know social media trends. We know hash tags and profile pictures. We know mass movements that make us feel better.
Our love is a sham barely covering our agenda. They are not real people to us, but boxes on a checklist.
The world is dying of thirst and we have infinite supply of water that we are just regurgitating to each other.
I know these statements are generalizations as well as a mirror for myself, but I truly believe the truth in them.
Salt is not made to preserve itself. A Light in a fully lit room is pretty useless.
Getting to know the horrific and broken parts of the world, will inevitably lead you back to Jesus. Mother Teresa said that every time she looked into a dying leper she felt as she was looking into the eyes of Christ himself. That she was touching His broken,bruised, suffering body and it was a privilege to be there. Actually living in the world grows our faith. It lets you know how strong your faith actually is.How much the Christian community has become a crutch for you. I have found that when someone tells you why they want to hang themselves, you can’t feed them a line off of your favorite church group flyer.
I give rides home from downtown. Clean up vomit. Buy pregnancy tests. Watch bad movies. I talk about sex. And abortions. I know what trak marks on arms look like. I go to house parties. I don’t go to get drunk. I go because thats where non-Christians hang out. Its their version of “fellowship”.
And I genuinely like people who don’t know Jesus. Not because I want to add to my salvation tally, but because the reality they live in is often more honest. I have found the greatest irony is that those who don’t know the Truth are usually the most truthful. They wouldn’t even begin to know what Sunday school answers are.
You realize what is Jesus about Christianity and what is the culture we have deluded ourselves into thinking is biblical.
If all you have ever heard and experienced are opinions and lives like yours, you don’t really have much to stake your beliefs in.
Knowing hurting people is hard. Its not insular. I feel pain. I feel the urgency. I get scared. I stay awake. I worry I haven’t done enough. I get angry. I become lazy and apathetic.
I have to be careful to be in the world but not influenced by it. And I’ll be the first to admit that I need to work on that. I need to see the world a little more black and white than grey.
And loving people who are incapable of caring for you in the same way and refusing to listen to you has been one of the most painful and hurtful experiences of my life.
But, every time I want to shut it out,pretend I that I don’t care, I see Matt.
I see Matt crying. Hurting. Needing a solution that the world couldn’t give him. And feeling the pain that the world did give him. And I cannot stop trying.
So I am sorry if I have come across as offensive,critical or bitter. Or that I keep repeating myself. But the the real pain of those people I love has forever lit a fire underneath me. I am compelled.
But then again, do we really want that to be the definition of un-churchy?
This is a hard Christmas on America.
A tragedy that seems unthinkable. People struggling to understand. How? Why? What is to be done?
I found my mother, a kindergarten teacher, crying at our dinner table telling me that she would have died for her babies too. I think thats why it hurts so much, we all would have.
We don’t understand the evil. The absolute non-sensical pain.
Little girls get cancer. Moms die in car accidents. Dad’s die at war.
20 precious babies have Christmas in Heaven.
Nothing goes to plan.Its all simply too broken to fix.Its too much.
For those parents running to the school waiting for their children, waiting for children that would never come,
This is their Hell.
This wasn’t the plan. Order is now chaos. Our world is being overtaken by darkness.Evil isn’t supposed to be winning. Jesus is supposed to be here.
But thats what Christmas means.Evil doesn’t.He is.
Christmas means He came for shootings. He came for beatings and miscarriages. For the abandoned and abused. The prideful and adulterous. The religious and the pious.
So if He came, why the violence?
We cry out its because: “no prayer in school” “Immorality in the media” “Christians are discriminated against” “The liberal agenda has pushed Jesus out of America” “Modern America is more evil than its ever been” “The manger scene is missing!”
Alright, lets be more holy like the days of yesteryear shall we?
Like during the 1800 when half of america was enslaved by God fearing Bible lovers.
Or the 1950’s when smut was away from our children and everyone went to Church, while African Americans were being burned for the color of their skin.
What about the conservative revolution of the 1980s? When America was infected with the horrible tragedy of Aids.
Christians, Depravity is not new. Neither is Redemption.
Yes, the bible shows that if culture turns from the Lord that horrible things happen. My argument is that we have are so naive to believe we have been ever been a “Godly” nation. We have been deluded into thinking that Conservatives, mandated Christianity and christmas carols reflect a culture with Him.
We are satisfied to put a band aid over a disease and walk away.
Are we really asserting that the reason a crazy man with too easy access to guns did so because we no longer say a cursory prayer at football games? That before when children were forced to pray at lunch, they had a better knowledge of the character of the Holy One?
That when all Americans went to church, even if many were just there under social pressure and had no desire for the Lord, we were all better off?
Couldn’t it be now that people who were simply just going through the motions have given up the charade. Perhaps they are realizing what the Parisees struggled with. Rules are nothing without Him. Why would you follow moral boundaries if you had no knowledge of the One who created them?
I guess we would rather everyone pretend to be a Christian than to have to deal with reality that they were not.
I don’t want a Religious land. I want a Holy one.
China is run by a communist government that openly denies Jesus. The explosion of the Spirit and the desire for God there is unlike America has ever seen.
Jesus is in Newton, Ct. His spirit is comforting. He is more burdened by this than anyone. He is not weakened by our disbelief. He has not lost his power because of the loss of our faith. He works despite our selfishness. He restores even in hate. Heals in death. He mourns with us.
Jesus is the same. He is never diminished. He is not defeated by CNN.
Perhaps, what really scares us is not what immorality in America says about Jesus, or even non believers, but what it says about us.
We look at the world and we see crime, poverty, hunger, hate, abuse,immorality. We cry to God asking Him why He let this happen. I think, His answer is ask us the same question.
We see evil and we begin pointing fingers. The Liberal agenda! The atheist morality erosion! The Media! Homosexuals! Muslims! They took away Christmas!
But what if its us?
Have we loved? Have we Served? Have we given? Do we know anyone but ourselves? Are we too comfortable?
Christ lives in us. If we claim that there isn’t Christ in Christmas, isn’t that because we aren’t in the world?
We are telling the world that they are evil and they are doomed without providing the second half. We are the ones not telling the Christmas story.
Christ in Christmas is not a plastic manager scene in the middle of the town square. Christ in Christmas is rescuing girls from brothels and volunteering at a gay Aids clinic. Its teaching someone about the message of the Lord through genuine love.
What did Jesus want us to do to honor him? Was it making sure we never shunned people who said Happy Holidays or was it do unto the least of these?
Christ in Christmas is radical, life changing, sacrificial and absolutely devastating. You ready for that Mike Hukabee?
You want people to stop killing each other? Give them some Hope to live for.
Because Jesus is the answer to the world. He is its creator and savior. But we are His chosen method. We are supposed to heal and love in His name. To take time and actually cultivate relationships. To speak truth with compassion. Jesus has the power to do whatever he wants but the wisdom do it through us.
So why doesn’t America thirst for Jesus? Because we don’t thirst for Him ourselves.
Our world feels like Hell right now. But Jesus said on earth as it is in Heaven. So why not? Why can’t this place feel more like heaven? I, for one, want to be a conduit for His will to be done.
This Christmas, let us deeply grieve over the children we have lost and learn from their awful deaths. But also, let us not forget to rejoice over the Child we have been given and live a servant life like His.
That, to me, is Christ in Christmas.
One summer, I nannied the most precious boys. Max,4, and Sam, 9 months, were some of the sweetest children I have ever been in charge of.
Also, I have an admittedly weird hobby of being fascinated with the different personalities of people on this planet. A collector of glimpses of Jesus. And Max was beyond precocious.Because of this, he always had funny and insightful sayings that I treasured.
I usually nannied them only during the day, but on this particular occasion I was caring for them while their parents had a night out.
“Sarah! We get to do night games this time! You’d make a great Spiderman bad guy!”
After Max had his fill of webbing me to save Sam from my evil grips, I suggested we catch lightning bugs in some mason jars. (note, if you call them fireflies, you are the reason some of my relatives still want to secede from the Union ).
As I cut holes in the tops so the lightning bugs would be able to extend their already minute existence, Max informed that me Sam would probably need my help catching them and I readily agreed- Sam’s favorite part of this activity seemed to be uninhibited drooling.
As dusk filtered out through the yard, Max became enamored with the galaxy of lightning bugs floating through his play set. I decided to keep Sam entertained by catching as many lightning bugs I could in the jar, so he could just stare at them at an easy distance.
Max seemed to have an entirely different approach to the whole endeavor, he didn’t really preoccupy himself with the catching part. He was simply dancing through the lightning bugs. Laughing and giggling, he wove his tiny body through their flickering lights simply waving his hand through the glow. Unaware of anything I was doing.He was a boy completely taking in the wonder of it all.
I envied the ease of his awe. His gleeful freedom. Joy.
After I called to him that it was time to go in, he ran over to me simply ecstatic with what he had experienced. That was, until he saw my jar.
He looked at my jar and then immediately held up his bug-less jar. And promptly burst into tears.
Oh the anguish! He realized he done it all wrong, its seemed dancing through lightning bugs leaves you with less bugs than catching them.
He continued to cry while I put him in his pjs. Finally the tears stopped, and with the most pitiful face he could muster, he sighed:
“I am just not a bug catcher”
And though I assured him that wasn’t the case, I completely understood what he meant.
I am not as beautiful.
I am not as organized.
I am not as dateable
I am too brash.
I am too offensive.
I am too sarcastic.
I don’t do things the normal way and then I look around and I realize I have an empty jar.
I am just not a bug catcher.
I act differently than most of the girls I know. I do some pretty ridiculous things, usually without thinking. I say everything I shouldn’t and never say things I should. Looking it at objectively, I am a pretty weird gal.
Don’t believe me? Once, completely unprompted, I stole a mini burger off someones plate and shoved the entire thing into my mouth because I had been wondering if it would fit .(In case you are curious, there isn’t a mini burger mention in Proverbs 31)
So yeah, my whole holding your tongue, gentile,frilly gene seems to be struggling. And that causes me to have a lot of comparison issues.
Somedays, I want to be like the rest of those girls. So badly.
I want to blend in. I want to be like them. To be different, just hurts too much. Different is single, it isn’t wanted. It isn’t loved.
My Comparison steals my Joy. I see nothing but what I am not.
But recently I have began to understand.
Jesus knows what He is doing.
He is confident in His creation. Who am I to doubt what He has made? Am I so arrogant that I choose to tell Him he has messed up? Surely, not.
The thing is, I will never be a bug catcher.
At least, not in the same way. I will often be doing things my own method. On paper, my jar might not like quite right. And not because I am so unique. But because He is.
I am made in the Father’s image. He is the complex ,immense and infinitely multifaceted un-created One. And He has chosen to represent a few facets in creating me.
I am passionate
I love laughter
I am loyal
I am loving
I am creative
I look in and realize He is in me.
And I am Humbled.
I am His witness to my world. He has a purpose and a plan with me being where I am. Who I am. Am I selfish enough to deny a specific glimpse of Jesus to those around me because I choose to be someone I was never created to be? Would I really deny the Lord’s plan just so I get my “fair share” of lighting bugs compared to other people?
Would I rather my life go the way I have planned or the way He has? In those terms, the choice seems pretty clear.
Of course, there are many areas that I need to grow in and get rid of. Those that cloud His glory and don’t produce fruit. Those that feed my sinful nature. I am clay to the Potter. I have to submit myself to the pursuit of becoming more like Christ with every day.
But the core of who I am? Its time to make Peace with that. To choose Joy. Seek purpose.
I want my soul to feel like that sweet, ecstatic,barefooted boy on his lawn that summer night.
I want to rejoice. I want to dance in awe of world’s lightning bugs. I want giggle with uncontrollable glee at the beauty of how I have been chosen. In absolute wonder that this is my life.
Unconcerned that there may be another way to go about things.
I want to lay on down on those blades of grass and look up at the cascade of beauty and realize that its okay to do life a little differently.
And then spread my arms wide and let my shout echo unabashed to the night sky, that I am, in fact, just not a bug catcher.
So recently, I have been throwing myself the world’s most pathetic pity party. Seriously.
I have had one of the most unbelievable summers of my life, yet I have managed to come up with some major poor me soap boxes. I have even tried to invite other people to attend this most depressing soiree.
So to pull myself out of the major Taylor Swifting happening in my head, I read a letter I wrote to myself.
Now that sounds weird. It is. I am a weird person.
But, about a year ago I realized a few things. That the things were breaking my heart were cyclical. I was re-learning lessons unnecessarily. I was believing the same lies. over and over again.Everything I would learn about life, about God, about who I was, seemed to evaporate as soon I was hurt again.
So I wrote myself a letter. To remind myself about what was true. What was real. Who I was. I thought I’d share it, it applies to everyone. It actually somewhat inspired this blog.
Life is going to be hard. Its going to be painfully, terribly difficult. You will experience deep loss. Tragedy. Things you want will pass you by. People will hurt you.
Life is going to be beautiful. Its going to unbelievably, awe inspiringly glorious. You will experience love like you can’t imagine. Grace. Things you thought could never have you will get. People will amaze you.
But in both scenarios, you will get to choose the person you want to be. You get to wake up every day and make a choice about who you are. Of how you love. The mistakes you are willing to make.
Choose wisely. And foolishly.
Here are somethings you have already learned. Things you are learning. remember them.
Those are just few but remember these. Keep adding to the list. Editing the list. Editing to your life.
But above all those things know, at the core of who you are, that He is glorious. That He is trust worthy. That to love Him, will be your greatest adventure.
Love Him.Never stop hungering to know Him. Learn about every moment you can. Make huge offensive mistakes. Understand that will do a lot of stupid shit. And try out a lot of the wrong paths.
But also understand that happiness is a choice. Who you are is the sum of your decisions.
So do it Sarah. Choose happiness. Choose a life that you want. A life you were created to have. Its worth it.
Because of some people’s desire for Chicken sandwiches and other people’s desire for controversy, the waring cultural landscape of our nation has been on bright display.
Don’t worry, this post is not really about that.
Anyway, because of this a lot of my DC friends have been discussing Christianity. Most of them aren’t religious and few are outspoken atheists. All of them are awesome. And much smarter than me.
One my friends asked me about being a Christian and if being in DC was difficult for me. I was confused by what he meant. He elaborated:
" I just mean, Christian culture isn’t here. Its not like the south ya know? The Christian expectation isn’t around."
And that just broke my heart. Devastated me.
Not because he was right, but because what he associated me with was a culture. A breed of people. A commitment. An exclusive society. An expectation.
Not why I breathe every day. Not the feeling I get when I commune with Him. Not salvation. Not joy. Not love. Not healing. Not even a religion.
Even as I type this right I now tears are streaming down my face. It hurts me so much.
Because, that is the most frustrating thing to me about what Christianity in America. Especially in the south.
Being a Christian has become all about us. Protecting “our family values”. Making a safe haven for us to huddle against the unbelieving masses. Holding on till we get to heaven. Where we can have all the Chicken sandwiches we want.
We have our politics, our way of life, our station in life, our money. Our culture. And used Christianity as front to protect them.
We have decided Mike Huckabee will save our world better than Jesus. If all the people in the America praying that Obama would leave office prayed for the neighbors who are hurting, I would like this place a lot better.
Not only are we fighting a heavenly battle using worldly avenues, we are simply fighting the wrong battles.
Chick-fil-a will do just fine. But even if it doesn’t, who cares? Dan Cathy said what he believed. And the world might hate him for that. Thats kinda the deal though right? Why are we freaking out about this?
Why are we so offended when the world doesn’t like us when instead of loving people like we should, we are blatantly hating them?
Jesus was always hated for what he said. Hated for loving. That was the expectation. He was spit on. He was flogged. He was beaten. He never even got to eat a chicken biscuit.
But he came to serve, to lose all of his friends. To serve those who hated them. To love those who were broken.
He gave his kingdom for slavery.
He never came for a culture. He didn’t die for you to have a great group of Christian friends. He died to set you free. So you in turn could set others free.
But we want to be the ones on top. The ones in the majority. Running the show. The world needs to be run by Christians who play nothing but 104.7 the Fish right?
The world will never be saved by Christians who make “christian laws”. Nobody gets to heaven that way. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.
We need to stop advertising to people because we want more people in the world like us. We need to love people until there are more people in the world like Him.
Here is the plain truth: If you aren’t willing to even make friends with someone who isn’t a Christian and thinks differently than you, you are not sharing Jesus’ heart for the broken. If being around people who share your Christian culture is more important than the salvation of others, you have a lot of priority issues.
You get to be in heaven one day and live with Jesus forever. There are so many beautiful, wonderful, sweet, caring, loving people who are drowning in the darkness of this earth. they are are begging to know Him. To be healed by Him. To know someone is listening. To have their soul come alive.They are fighting everyday just to keep going.
And instead of fighting for them, we are fighting for our right to have waffle fries.
Thats not a culture that I want.
I received the biggest compliment I have ever received. It was like everything I have ever wanted in life and it came out of one woman’s mouth.
So let me tell you a story.
I am currently in Washington DC interning for a senator. I work in the capital building. I have a badge to get me by capital police. I go to important meetings and scribble unimportant things for important people. I wear suits.
Anyway. I have a cool job. Some would say an impressive job. Around impressive people.And people like to congratulate me on it because it feels like the right thing to do.
But this life fulfilling compliment came from woman who didn’t know anything about my job. Or me.
It came from a old homeless woman.
I was taking a break in the shade from the 107 degree heat . As I dipped my feet into the WWII memorial, (which is apparently illegal, BAMF status here) a disheveled black woman sat next to me.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, usually when crazy homeless people with tons of garbage bags approach me, I don’t do a very good Mother Teresa impersonation. But today was different, I was too freaking hot to start my long spiel about how I don’t ever carry cash. And she didn’t say anything, she just sat there. So for a while, we both just sat there, silently gazing at the Lincoln memorial. Finally, I made some comment about how I am pretty sure I had sweat through my underwear. (Admittedly, not my best ice breaker)
Laughing, she told me that the heat was always better than the cold. “Live like me and ya knowed hot times are always better” Bag lady-1, Sarah-0.
So we started talking. About everything. About nothing. She told me about her ex husband. I have found with any woman on the earth, men is always an easy sharable topic. “Dees black asshole men, they will hurt ya heart, baby.” I assured her that was not a trait exclusive to black men. Her dating advice was some of the best I’d heard in a while. I might just get her to speak at the next christian women’s conference, it might help.
Anyway, I got up to go do the things that were super important, and she said, “Now Miss sally, (the name thing was a bit of a struggle) let me tell ya what I know. You is a funny lady. You got guts that feel.”
And there it was.
In that moment.
That was everything I had ever wanted to be. Internships. Law school. Suits. LSAT. Badges. Those were things that I enjoyed. Blessings the Lord had given me.
But who I was?
I wanted to be guts that feel.
To have courage and empathy. To really say what I think to others and really think about what others say to me. Understand who they were. Why they are.
I want the strength to love people the way Jesus did because I actually feel His heart for them. To the be a person who uses her influence with acute awareness of how those around me are affected by it.
To be unafraid to get in the messy parts of people’s pain.
Guts that feel.
To me, the rest is details.
Not that this amazing opportunity doesn’t matter. It does. It’s an incredible opportunity that I believe is completely God ordained. I have always pushed myself to achieve because I believe we must be good stewards of the opportunities other people aren’t blessed to have. God has placed us everywhere for a reason. Don’t lose your chance because you are too lazy to study. But the resume we accumulate, has no value outside this life.
If you have ever graduated from anything, you have heard the verse that begins:“For I know the plans I have for you……”
Its a great verse. But I think we distort what plans He is talking about.
I personally believe that the plans He has for us are more about the moments with bag ladies and less than the moments with senators.
“…..plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Because in the end, our life’s hope and future reside in eternal things. Worried about your future? Stop stressing about your major and think about your soul.
Find what you want to do, but more importantly find how you want to do them.
Bag lady and Intern. Garbage bags and Heels. Black and White. Teacher and Student.
Thats what made that moment so special.
In that moment, that gum covered bench became a Cathedral. A communion with the Lord. A silent reminder of whose I was. Of who I was.
I wish the bag lady had some contact info, because I would love to put her down for a reference. I can hear it now:
"Miss sally, yeah I know her, I aint know anything ‘bout her skills, but damn-she got guts that feel"
Now that would be a resume.