Forgive my angry words…

Months ago, I wrote a post that I have not yet published on my blog about the affair with ourselves against the church. I wrote about how the church is a living and breathing thing that we not only take for granted, but also treat as a second rate relationship. My words, I believe wholeheartedly. My heart aches for the bride that we have abused. However, I have not been able to bring myself to share that specific post because I have entered into my own selfish realm. My negative feelings that I am about to share are not geared towards our God or the bride of Christ that he desires for us to love. Although I’m sure she will feel the pain of my angst.

In an effort to not be a hypocrite, here are my most recent and truest thoughts. Forgive me if I offend you. I am not quite happy with my own self at this point. I will understand if you share in that.

So here it goes…

I despise going to church. There are hundreds of places I’d rather be.

These intense feelings began around the fall after a long and wonderful summer of camps and weekly house church. All of a sudden, I lost all energy and desire to be apart of church.

When I force my body through the doors, the hairs on the back of my neck begin to rise. My skin begins to crawl, forcing my hands to remain clasped within my 2 young sons hands, guiding them to Bible class, with a forced smile on my face. Under my breath I pray for the Lord to protect them from ever feeling this same anger that boils within me.

Every time I enter my car, I immediately turn on the noise because I am afraid of hearing God’s voice calling me. Its quite a paradox; I feel lost, but I refuse to use the tools in front of me to get to where I know I should go. I am avoiding the sea, as to not get swallowed up by the whale. I know the prayer to pray. I know that my Father loves me. But now, I am having a hard time finding him, I’m not doing a good job searching either.

Over time, this anger has exhausted me. The energy I expound in forcing myself through the doors is about to deplete. When that energy and willingness is gone, so is my desire to care. As you can imagine, this is not a good place to dwell.

Some of my most wisest counselors challenged me to figure out what is behind this anger. I have come up with a few. What I wish is that the church would not be afraid to speak about anger. To talk about how it’s okay to not be emotionally moved during worship. That we should really stop caring about minute traditional details, and talk about how to love our unchurched brothers and sisters. About how exhausting it is to be expected there multiple times a week when those nights, on occasion, could be spent loving on family and friends outside the church. We are the church, are we not?

However, I am fearful that I am the only one. The odd sinner out, who doesn’t love going to church anymore. Who, after getting my boys dressed and ready with bottoms in the pew, has little left over to get myself there too. I find myself looking around the large deep room, voices singing, eyes closed, hearts open…everyone looks joyful. Everyone looks put together. Everyone says, “I’m great! And you…” as we both continue cross before ending the sentence with an inflection. All you moms, how do you get to the building on time, with children fed, hair combed, Bible in hand, smiles of contentment on your faces. Really? Are you really that happy? Am I the only one who feels like a zookeeper on Sunday mornings? Oh how I would just love to join in as the grumpy grizzly mama bear and throw a few tantrums to show how I truly felt. Toddlers have it good sometimes; they are expected to not have emotional discipline.

It’s obvious that much of my emotion comes out of bitterness that can ensue in a mother of young children. Church has become a place that I go because I need to, and I want my kids to be at too. Im tired of being a people pleaser. I’m feeling church-commitment remorse at having chosen to place membership at the church of my childhood where I allow fear to dictate what I don’t say rather than having faith the church will have open hearts. When I cry during the service, Its not tears of joy, its not a deep wound that wont heal, its not a dark hidden secret, its the grieving of the, hopefully temporary, loss of yearning to be there.

I have faith in the only prayer I can pray right now,

“Father continue to reveal yourself to me. Dont forsake me. Give me the energy to pursue you.”

I know he will remain. Because of this I am not scared. This anger is not darkness. This anger will fuel me to be a greater confessor of my brokenness and acknowledgment of my dire need for His grace.

I am not sure where my feelings toward the church will lead me. I have grown an even deeper love for my parents and kind and unfaltering husband who won’t let me dwell in this emotion forever. Because of this, I will continue to attend, and continue to pray for energy to do so.

Allow me to leave you with words from Solomon that bring me continual peace and needed restlessness:

For everything there is a season;

a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.

A time to plant and time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

a time to tear down and time to build up.

A time to cry and time to laugh.

A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and time to gather stones.

A time to embrace and time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching

A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.

A time for war and a time for peace. (Eccl 3:1-8)

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Regarding my rights

I was born, now I breath, therefore I deserve to live.

What I’ve worked for is mine, therefore what I’ve earned is mine to spend.

I nurtured them within me, therefore whenever they are hurt, I will rescue them and find someone to blame.

I am God’s child. If someone hurts me, I will bring them to justice. He didn’t create me to only live life in pain.

Within our culture, all of that seems to make sense. Even within the Church, our nature is to fight, to put our dooks up when we are challenged. This passion and intensity can protect the vulnerable. Jesus calls us to protect the widows and orphans, those who lack the ability to take care of themselves. But something bothers me about the statements above. It errs on the side of self-entitlement.

Irony lies within the fact that if we got what we deserved, we would have nothing.

God did not promise us a life without pain. Just the opposite, we come to rely on Him more when we suffer. In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis says:

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

If we try to avoid pain, we are robbing ourselves of growing in His wisdom. As painful as it may be. The pains of childbirth cloud the expectance of the joy that will be felt within the moments that follow. After the pain is gone, no question remains that all that misery was well worth the fight, now that I finally hold my child in my tired hands.

I have been struggling with reminding myself that the things of this world are fleeting. That my hope does not belong in anything of this world, no matter how much I adore or depend on it.

It is a DAILY struggle to not look at myself in the mirror and groan at the reminders of the ebb and flow of my curves. To not envy the family who lives in that part of town that would seemingly make me content. To not want to eat the head off the kid who pushes my kid in the playground ( let’s ignore the fact that my oldest growls at people on a daily basis, especially the elderly). To imagine the future of my family, not wanting to consider the possibility of me not in it. The reality that I could cease to exist, that another woman may take my place beside my boys. That in 100 years, I will not be remembered. That I wasted my life worried about the years to come, instead of blessing His name for every morning I breath in a new day.

Will I defend my child if he is hurt? Yes. Do I want to protect my widowed grandmother from people who take advantage of her? Yes. Would I advise my friend in an abusive relationship to just sit back and take it? No. I believe God calls us to defend the weak and the broken. But how He calls us to do it is vastly different from how the world expects us to.

Realizing this world is not my home, relieves me from the pressures of defending it for my own sake.

Because nothing is mine to begin with, I can be more thankful for what I have been given. Like Hannah, my sons were not mine to begin with, only to be raised to love their Creator. My hope is that instead of seeing through the eyes of my selfishness, the scales will be wiped away and I will see through the eyes of a servant.

Because I sin, I deserve to die.

Thank you God, I will not get what I deserve.

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I wished I was a Unicorn

As a round-faced little girl, I wore large hair accessories, oversized bugs bunny t-shirts, multi-colored glasses, and neon wind shorts that hiked up a little too far in the middle (a Little Miss Sunshine look-alike). This was one of my favorite outfits…

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My biggest dream was to be a unicorn. (Don’t tell me you haven’t ever thought of the awesomeness of being a mystical creature.) There were 2 reasons why I loved unicorns. First, I wanted to live in the universe that was printed on my Lisa Frank folder. Second, I saw the unicorn as the essence of perfection. It was the most beautiful creature I could imagine.

I wanted to be a beautiful creature.

I was already aware of the comparison between my roundness and that other skinny atheletic girl. I already knew how to see her as pretty, and me, as not. I knew how much my family adored me. But even then, I wanted to hide my 8 year old body with big t-shirts. How, at such a young age, was my body already a source of insecurity? Seems so shocking to me as an adult to put into words what I was feeling. I had already labeled myself as ‘not good enough’. 20 years later, that label is still with me.

So the next thing to say is that the media is at fault.

That the women on the magazine covers showed me a near impossible standard. That the Disney movie love story was only a half truth (When the Beast changed into a prince, I bet his temper didn’t). That every ad geared towards women is to make any and every aspect of our lives better because we don’t measure up. All of these things, I do think, could be to blame. But media is a fairly new develpment, in terms of how long humans have been on this planet. I think that something else has been going on much longer.

Brokenness.

There doesn’t seem to be an age in which women stop feeling insecurities. There doesn’t seem to be a weight in which I say to myself, “Now this will do.” From times when I’m at my thinnest to glowing with child, I still viewmyself as that little round faced girl, awkward in her own skin. But what if this all comes with the territory of following in the footsteps of Eve?

Instead of telling ourselves we’ll be content when we get to that certain weight, that certain age, that boyfriend, that husband, postchildren, postdiet, we instead tell ourselves that we may never be content because this body is not our own. Our own imperfections are really reminders that this world is not our home. What was imperfect will one day be made whole again.

What a crazy thought, that every time I see my childbearing stretch marks, I remember the hope that I have in Jesus’ return.

The disclaimer with this is, as creatures made in God’s own image, of course we should strive to view ourselves as lovely as He sees us.

But for those times, when we are standing naked and helpless, dear sisters, remember that we will never be whole on this earth. For one day, through God’s grace, we will be made complete. Humiliation will have no room to breath.

When words heal

I begin this with a disclaimer…

my husband told me to do this…

end of disclaimer.

There are nights when I feel alone, all I can do is write. As the words go from my mind to the paper, it’s been let go. I am beyond thankful because I know where that peace can only come from. And He is my only constant.

As a product of the Disney princess 90’s , I believed that marriage was the answer to feelings of loneliness and heartache. I just knew, that when I found a sweet man to marry, I would finally find someone who could fill my empty void.

Reality: I found a sweet man who will never completely fill my empty void.

Because he’s not God. I can’t blame him.

God never promised that to me. Instead, He has anointed me as His child, given me a deposit of the great Advocate, that will help me better understand that God’s creation is not yet healed. This is the answer to brokenness. But one day, He will make amends.

I want to share a song that I recently wrote during one of those empty-hearted nights. I see this song as a representation of any woman’s hurt when she and her sweet man see each others brokenness and for a night, cannot find the energy to make amends.

Here I am, once again. The rage within me burns

I feel like a monster emerging from depths below

But its only a frightened girl wandering

Angry at your pride your eyes turn to haze

You are overwhelmed so you look away

Your emptiness and confusion is tangible

The fears and doubts I hold too dear

They multiply with each dropping tear

I fight the urge to run away, to test and

see if you would come follow me anywhere, any way

Amidst the sorrow, amidst the pain

What can keep us safe

He said His grace is sufficient for thee

God, please heal me

Face to face, man to woman

We see the battle wounds we have each afflicted

Be careful little mouth what you say

His heart you are holding in your hand

Amidst the sorrow, amidst the pain

How can we keep ourselves safe

He said His grace would be sufficient for thee

God, please show me

Father, come heal me

I pray that you are blessed by my words and that you will depend on our Heavenly Provider because His grace is sufficient for thee.

(There is a song by Sara Groves entitled It’s Me that inspired my own writing. check it out.)

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Oh be careful little fingers what you type…

I have caught my sweet little 3 year old’s eyes looking up at me amidst conversations, soaking in every word and breath that is exhaled from me. It’s endearing, except when I realize what has just come out of my mouth…

“Oh yes, he is very much still in his terrible 3’s. Whining and complaining ALL the time.” (said with a roll in my eyes).

That’s when I look down and see his precious face.

He can already feel shame.

Lord, forgive me.

Social media has been like a fast food restaurant. It is fun, quick, and easy to do. It feels like we are treating ourselves with something special and junk foodie (because we deserve it after a long hard day). But late in the day, we begin to feel the effects of the ‘unfooded’ food that we ate. And we feel empty, hungry and sick, all at the same time. The next day, we’ll want more.

Social media has also become a dumping grounds for all things ‘high’ and all things ‘low’. All things ‘hurtful’ and all things ‘truthful’.

I have observed a few within a precious group of people. What I have read baffles me.

Teachers, do you really hate your job? And do I want you teaching my children if you do?

Before I go on, I must say that I have seen many men and women adore their job and students. ‘Teachers’ is not meant as a generalization.

I have full understanding of how exhausting it must be. To be in charge of the education of a child, including the pressure of parents, administration, family life.

I have been saddened by many posts from teachers whom I adore and respect. My heart would break even more if I were to see my own sons teacher speak of how much she dreads the week and only looks forward to the summertime. Why would I want that person to remain my son’s teacher? 

Now, with that said, my first response to someone asking me about being a mother, tends to be a complaint…”oh, I’m tired; the boys are exhausting; i’m sick of cooking; I need a vacation”.

While all of these things may be true at the time, they are not ALL the time. However, even if they were, ALL the time, it IS where I am. 

There is in deed a time for expression of hurt and tire. It is important for our sanity. This is why I enjoy writing this now. It’s freeing.

But where is the line between complaining for complaining sake, and seeking truth. I hope I’m the latter.

I pray that I will wake up tomorrow with immense joy. I pray that you do, as well.

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Just Serve Him

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Serving is easy…if you like the person at that time.

Whenever I was younger and lived at home, I watched the relationship between my mother and father. They never yelled, except if it was from across the house, requesting for brownie batter. I’m sure they must have had disagreements, but by the way my mom served my dad and my dad respected my mom, you would’ve never known.

When I was a new wife, I had difficulty with expectations. These were not reasonable expectations thus the reason for them not being met. After all, I’m quite sure that I have not met expectations placed on me. After a long week of what felt like a tsunami of emotion, fine one day then outraged the next, I called my mother on the phone. Through whelps of tears, she heard my cry for a longing to love and to be loved, despite the imperfections. At the end of our conversation, I was retold wisdom that, 5 years later, chants in my head daily: “Serve him”. Such simple words. Such a powerful act. So healing.

Now it really isn’t that hard to serve my husband, even when I’m downright mad at him. It’s quite simple: He’s adorable. But for some reason, even though my children are adorable, it seems much harder to serve them with a joyful heart.

I often feel guilt and shame for not liking my children at times. There are so many women that long for a child of their own. I find myself praying for a reminder of what a joy it is to be mother. And God consistently answers those prayers with times with an overabundance of laughter and sweet little boy kisses.

Because of my children, I grieve the loss of myself.

Because of my children, I have found something much more important than myself…serving them.

As I write, the needy “Mooom!” yells from the other room remind me that I am now called to a higher calling. To serve and adore more of God’s creation that He began within me. A blessing indeed.

There is much joy found in serving others. You tend to forgive and adore the other for being human, just like yourself.

I’m beginning to slowly understand the humble Servant who came before me, and only within Him I find complete peace.

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Words of Stone

Stones hurt whenever you get hit by one…It doesn’t take much to throw them.

I recently saw a bumper sticker that read “Eve was framed”. My first reaction was laughter. But the more it sank in, I felt called-out. 

Ever since women justly fought and rightfully won the privilege to vote, it seems that we, meaning women, have also “earned” the right to degrade. I’m sure this has been happening for generations. Maybe I’m more keen to it because I now consider myself one.

It is rare to meet with women to talk bodly and lovingly about their husbands. Why is it that we expect our husbands to respect us, all the while, we castrate them with our words. Overflowing them with put downs and comparisons to other seemingly better husbands. Why is it okay for us, but not for them?

Husbands are not the only target. 

I have seen a pattern in myself. When I am down, envious, expectations unmet, it feels good to wish the same upon others who seem to have it better. How awful sin is. 

But, I have also found, that if the same happens with the other, my heart hurts for them. The goodness of the Spirit breaking through my sinfulness. 

I am tired of women being unkind. I am tired of receiving and being apart of gossip. I am tired of blaming others for what I knowingly choose to do. I will take ownership of my sin. I will continually pray for a peaceful tongue.

Dearest Eves, we were not framed. That was ours to claim. But more importantly, God has overcome.

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