Monday, October 5, 2015

When God is an Asshole

A few weeks ago, I posted something on Facebook about the belief in a benevolent God colliding with the reality of a sick and fallen world. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this. Some dear, dear friends are stumbling through the impossibly shitty situation of child abuse within their family-- and it just feels so damn wrong and raw and unjust. These people love Jesus, they have devoted their lives to His service, and "hey, here's your thank you gift-- a giant steaming serving of child abuse!" Freaking CHILD ABUSE.

And you know these people, too. You've met them. Hell, you ARE them:

Maybe it's child abuse.

Maybe it's rape.

Maybe it's infertility.

Maybe it's a natural disaster.

Maybe it's a failed adoption.

Maybe it's a drug addiction.

Maybe it's a car accident that kills your child.

Maybe it's cancer that kills your wife.

Maybe it's infidelity that kills your spirit.

And it's tough, isn't it? When you grow up in a cute little Baptist church, and you kissed dating goodbye, and you saved your pennies for the missionaries on the bulletin board, and wielded your purity ring like a shiny trophy straight from the Lord Jesus Christ directly to your sanctified loins. You have this weird works-based faith, this unspoken rhetoric of "You scratch my back, I'll scratch Yours", this whole twisted idea of repaying God; "You show up for me, I promise I won't go past 2nd base until I am wedded in holy, God-ordained matrimony. And maybe I'll do a puppet show for some orphans in Haiti." God is like your personal life plastic surgeon-- shaving off the parts you don't like and highlighting the parts that you do.

But then your spouse cheats. Your partner dies. Your child is broken by sexual abuse. The baby that you have loved and planned for and was supposed to be yours, is gone. And all of a sudden, it's like the big JC doesn't seem to be holding up His end of the bargain. What happened to our DEAL here, God?!

That's where I am at right now, if I am really honest with you. I see so much brokenness, so much hurt, so much wrongdoing.

Of course I fall back on what I have always been taught: Jesus loves me this I know.

But Jesus...I sorta feel like you're being an asshole right now.

Now hear me- the holiness of God is legit. Scripture admonishes us to fear His name. So I understand why some of you might think I am being too glib here, too casual with the name of the Lord. You're probably right.

But here's the conclusion I have drawn: I think Jesus can take our questions. I think He can take our doubts and our anger and our fear and our accusations and our confusion and our lack of of faith. He's not threatened by our humanity. Our intellect was designed BY HIM, and He is not afraid of it.

I think he sees my rage at this injustice, and I think He gets it. He is far more broken by child abuse and rape and infertility and natural disasters and failed adoptions and drug addiction and car accidents and cancer and infidelity than I am. He weeps for these things. I truly believe He does.

Someone skilled in hermeneutics could argue the theology of this far more clearly and effectively than I ever could. The world is fallen--but it wasn't one single, solitary little stumble that required a band aid and some kisses. The fall is active. The fall is still falling.

And that really, super sucks.

Somewhere along the line, I adopted this precious Western view of the Gospel. Oh, how I love the parts about joy and peace and the ever-present help of God! But I forget that He is not just an ever-present help; He is an ever-present help in trouble. I forget that contrary to what my pretty ideologies attest, Jesus promised that there would be suffering. He promised that we would be HATED because of Him. You'll understand why I would be shocked and offended by this, but it would seem that the purpose of Jesus saving me isn't only to make me beautiful, rich, and comfortable.


The purpose of Jesus saving me is that He would be glorified. And sometimes that glory shines brightest in the fire.

Remember the story from Sunday School about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego? They refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar's idols, even after the threat of death. So Nebuchadnezzar infamously throws them into a fiery furnace, to be burned alive. (The Bible- not all love and rainbows, folks.) Remember what they said? "Our God will save us from this fire, but even if He does not, we will never bow to your idol."


This is where I have landed for now. I see all this devastation, the cracks and holes in the people I love, the pain in my own life. And oh, God! I wish You'd save us from this. I wish You would intervene. I wish You would send Your angels and make things right and fix this injustice and pull us out of this fire. I know You could.

But even if You do not.

We have seen the affliction.
We have walked in darkness rather than light.
We have been besieged and surrounded with bitterness and hardship.
We have dwelled in darkness.
We have been weighed down with chains.
Our paths have been crooked and barred with stone.
Our hearts have been pierced.
Our soul is downcast within us.

"Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him. No one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone."

(Lamentations 3)

I'm Yours, God. I believe that You are good. Even if You do not.

May we suffer well, and may our heartache ever drive us into Your arms, and never away from them.

And sorry about that time I called You an asshole. I'm still trying to figure this all out.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Beauty full

Yesterday I bought the cutest waterfall vanity set for my bedroom. I typically get ready in the only bathroom in our little home, but since we have more people getting out the door in the morning these days, I needed to find another space to pluck the rogue chin hairs that keep cropping up since I turned 30. Errr, I mean... do my makeup.

I was excited about this vanity. I love old stuff. I love the nicks and bruises and imperfections, and I love to think about the stories they tell. I can imagine another woman sitting in front of the mirror and setting her pin curls or dabbing the insides of her wrists with the Chanel her husband gifted her for their 15th anniversary. Old stuff has history, and it makes me smile to welcome it into my home.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I sat down at my sweet vanity this morning, and was immediately and utterly disgusted. The bench seat is low, and the mirror is huge-- so it forces my body into the most unflattering position imaginable. AND IT’S ALL REFLECTED. Over my jeans, my muffin top puffed out past my saggy boobs. My thighs spread out like softened butter on a slice of toast and filled the bench and the mirror with their sheer girth.

Come, Lord Jesus.

I was immediately filled with a sense of shame and regret. How have I let myself go so much? Why am I so fat? I am only 32; why do I have wrinkles? Um, hello. Rogue chin hairs.

Let me just be honest here. Usually when I start to have these thoughts, it’s a giant rabbit hole. Pretty soon, I am convinced that not only am I fat and wrinkly, I am also a horrible, impatient mom... a nagging, unsupportive wife, a bad homemaker, a wretched Christian, a self-absorbed, narcisscistic friend. Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, let me go eat some worms.

But something stopped me from falling down that rabbit hole today. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit. Maybe it was the sweet grace of confidence that maturity brings. Maybe it was the coffee in the cute cup on my cute vanity. I don’t really know. But I was immediately convicted of the lies I was entertaining in my morning-haired head.

As women, as moms, we always feel the need to perform, to be beautiful, to be ENOUGH.

But hear me--what if we don’t have to BE enough, what if we just ARE enough?

I’ve decided all the women in the kindergarten drop off lines are actually supermodels. As in, they drop off their kids (Titan, Jeweleona, or Pandora-- these are actual real live kids in the kindergarten class), and then immediately go and strip down to a metallic bikini and pose for Victoria’s Secret. They are tan, toned, trim, and their highlights are impeccable. As if I didn’t already feel fragile about depositing the fruit of my loins into the gaping, ravenous mouth of public education, now I have to stare at your perfect body while I am doing it. Thanks for that.

I also follow this amazingly talented designer on social media. She’s creative, cute, Christian-- the whole package of adorableness. But then she started doing Crossfit. Oh, Crossfit. How quickly you make me hate myself! You guys, this girl is BUFF. She goes to all these Crossfit competitions and can contort her body into odd shapes and do walking handstands across the length of 16 football fields.

Or, you know, something like that.

And I see these images, and I am quickly convinced that I am doing life all wrong. I need to join Crossfit. I need to look like that. I need to do a walking handstand (ha) and compete in Crossfit games (ha ha) and have a six pack like this girl (HA HA HA HA HA!!!).

But what if that’s not the point? What if God makes us all uniquely ON PURPOSE and we aren’t all supposed to do the same things and look the same way and have the same abilities? Who gets to decide that their beauty or their abilities are superior to mine? Who decides what’s valuable in a woman? Society? Well hey, listen. Society is about to elect Donald Trump as the next president of the United States. It’s made shrines to Kim Kardashian’s ass, and it’s murdered 60 million babies in the last 30 years. It once spent like four weeks dedicating media time to a deflated football. It’s not a reputable source. Society is full of shit.

I am reading the book “For the Love” by Jen Hatmaker with my book club. Ok fine, it’s not really a book club. I mean, we bring our books with us. But mostly we just eat ice cream and bitch about our children. We’re working on it. Progressive sanctification, y’all.

One of the things I am taking away from this book is this sweet, glorious freedom to JUST BE WHO GOD MADE ME. “God created an entire package. It all counts. There are no throwaway qualities. You are good at something for a reason. God designed you this way, on purpose. It isn’t fake or a fluke or small. These are the mind and heart and hands and voice you’ve been given, so use them.”

The mind and heart and hands and voice I’VE been given. Not someone else. Trying to fit into someone else’s “entire package” is exhausting, depressing, and completely pointless. There are the crafty, Pinteresty moms, the dedicated PTO moms, the badass working moms, the Crossfit moms, and yes...the hot moms at kindergarten dropoff. None of us is all of these, and none is intrinsically more valuable than the other. We are all cast in different roles in this messy story of redemption, but nobody can follow the plot when we are all stepping over each other's lines. Someone else’s beauty or accomplishments or intelligence does not mitigate my own. We all have a place at the table.

But just so we're clear, I'm gonna eat more at that table than the Crossfit mom. Because OBVIOUSLY.

Can I encourage you today to pursue truth? In general, but specifically in how it applies to how you feel about your body and your worth? Cause here’s the thing, friend. You wouldn’t be really pretty only if you lost 20 pounds. You are really pretty now. You are not worthy because of what you have accomplished, because of how much you weigh, or how you look in a bikini. When your muffin top squeezes past your saggy boobs, when your thighs spread out like butter, and your chin hairs need to be WEED WHACKED, you are beautiful.

You can spend your life comparing, and wishing you had the body/job/husband/abilities of some hipster woman you follow on Instagram, but just so you know-- it’s all filtered. As for me, I will celebrate what other women accomplish and admire their hot bods and be their biggest cheerleaders. But I am not going to waste my life anymore trying to be them. I am making a decision to love MY body/MY job/MY husband/MY abilities.

We are worthy because we are human beings, fearfully and wonderfully made, and TREASURED by our Creator. There is no thigh dimple or fat roll that can make us less worthy. None. These are our nicks and bruises and imperfections that make us interesting stories to read; I will smile as I welcome them into my home. We are not arbitrary. Our abilities are legitimate, and we are valuable. We are full of beauty, of grace, of wonder.

Really. We are.