I’m sitting here this morning drinking my coffee.  Billie Eilish is playing on Spotify and the dogs are getting settled in for their first morning nap.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Rachel Held Evans.  She was a writer and speaker in the Christian community and she recently passed away at 37 years old.  I really was only vaguely familiar with her writings…honestly, I was just familiar enough with her to decide I didn’t really care to hear much of what she had to say.  Depending on which direction you lean, she could be quite controversial.  She was very outspoken in the areas of racism and feminism, as well as a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community.

And I had no doubt that she and I would not see eye to eye on anything.  Ever.

I decided though to start reading one of Rachel’s book this week called Searching for Sunday.  I bought it a while back around the time that I first left my church, but for whatever reason, I never did read it.  Actually, I’d completely forgotten I had it until I went online to buy it and realized I already owned it.

What’s funny is that this morning, upon scrolling Facebook, it showed me a status that I’d posted five years ago today.  It went like this:

You can call me conservative, close-minded, or backwards.  You can call me intolerant, lame, or stupid.  Call me whatever you want…it makes no difference.  The only thing that matters is that HE calls me daughter, and really He’s the only One I’m living to please.

Boy.  I knew then what I believed and why I believed it and I didn’t have a whole lot of space in my brain for anything else.  (insert strong fist pound on table here)

Five years later, I’d like to think that I’ve changed and grown.  I know in some ways, I have.  I’d also like to think that I’m still so sure of myself, but the reality is that I’m not.

Honestly, my first reaction sometimes is still to bristle at things that go against those beliefs I’ve always held dear.  That thing in me that wants to stand up and fight for what’s right is most certainly still there.  I still have very little tolerance for the misuse of God’s word and for allowing “feelings” to trump what I know to be truth.  But over time,  I’ve also come to realize that sometimes there can be a bit of a gray area where truth is concerned because it’s very easy to confuse God’s truth with my own.

As I’ve been reading Rachel’s book, I’m realizing that she and I weren’t so different in our thought processes.  It made me a little sad that I hadn’t picked her book up sooner.  But then, maybe if I’d read it sooner, before I’d started my own “search for Sunday,” then I likely wouldn’t have heard what she had to say.  Timing is everything I guess.  And while I don’t necessarily I agree with her in every aspect, I have seen a new perspective…a kinder one.  Toward others and towards myself.

I’ve been in a processing mode for the last few years.  Going back and forth between a soft and a hard heart, between anger and sadness, between listening and being closed off.  Trying to be more loving, more welcoming, more willing to hear, but not knowing exactly how to go about that without what I felt was a betrayal to myself and what I knew to be right and true.  Blanket accusations made me angry, but then I’ve realized that I’ve gotten pretty cynical with my own accusatory glares.

So here I’ve landed.  Wrestling somewhere between trying to stay the course while also getting over myself.  It’s been a good and awful trip getting here.  And I know there’s more road to be traveled.

On a side note, we left our church again.  I mean, I guess you could call it that.  I don’t know that I was ever completely convinced we were supposed to go back when we did.  We went there because it seemed like the natural place to go because it’s the place we left to begin with, but deep down it just didn’t feel like home anymore.  We aren’t really going anywhere right now, although we do watch different churches online here and there, but none I’d call home.

Right now church for me looks like conversations with a dear friend waiting in the carpool line or at the coffee shop.  Or Thursday night Bible study with some of the sweetest souls I’ve ever known.  Or laughing with my out-of-town sister-friend at the salon while she gets her hair done during a quick visit home.  Or poking through my little garden in the backyard in wonder at the beginnings of things growing in the sun.  God’s in all those places.

And right now, I’m trying to put aside all my own notions and just listen to Him.  And be more honest with myself.  And make some space for different perspectives.

And so my own search for Sunday continues…

********************

How about you?  Are you feeling out of place or a little off center?  Are there things you’re seeing differently or completely new right now?

 

Also, if you have a moment, say a prayer for Rachel’s family.  Her death was sudden and she leaves behind a husband and two children and many others who loved her dearly.

Lord, y’all.  Last week was spring break and let me tell ya.  It was super nice to not have to be anywhere at the crack of dawn.  That already makes the day more calm.  Of course, I had double the work though with my doctor and another doctor because I was covering for one of the other girls.  Yes, I actually do have a job in case you didn’t know that.  I am a medical transcriptionist and I type for an ENT doctor.  So it’s mucus and ear wax and tonsils all the live long day.  Been doing that for about ten years now.

In addition to being a work-at-home transcriptionist, I am also a habitual procrastinator with “throw in the towel” tendencies.  I have great ideas, but that’s usually all they end up being.  What I mean is that I often put things off because either I don’t have the time to concentrate enough to finish the whole thing at once or else the task seems beyond overwhelming, so I will eventually very likely give up on the thing completely.  It’s like, the moment has passed and whatever I had in my head has just kinda fizzled.

This is the case with a lot of current events.  I’ll see something on the news or online and immediately start to write about it in my head.  But then by the time I actually sit down at the computer, the media (and the attention of the public) is already on something new.  Of course, I guess in reality that might not be such a bad thing.  I have a big mouth and big opinions and so maybe that’s God’s way of keeping me from spouting off and saying something stupid or offending someone (which isn’t really hard to do anymore).  Unfortunately, sometimes I find a work-around and throw an angry or frustrated thought up on Facebook.  That’s ended badly more than once.

I’m planning though on trying a new creativity tactic.  On this last episode of Jane the Virgin…P.S. if you don’t watch that show, you should.  It is stinking hilarious and one of my favorites!  Anyhow, in this last episode, Jane immediately wrote her thoughts down right when a thing happened.  She wrote on scrap paper, napkins, or whatever she had, but she wrote in the moment right in the middle of feeling what she was feeling.  Maybe I should give that a go for a few days and see what happens.  Maybe I’d have more things to write about that way.  (I also have the attention span of a gnat and the memory of….of a…….I don’t know.  Whatever thing has a short memory.   I probably should be on medication.  Maybe I’d actually get something done.)

Anyway.  That’s all I’ve got for today.  At least for now.  And obviously my brain is all over the place.  I just re-read what I wrote and sheesh.  If you’ve read this far, then good on you.  You probably got further than I would have if I weren’t the one typing.  But I’m hoping to get in a habit of writing more, so in the meantime, please forgive my nonsense drivel.

Happy Monday!

J

I watched a message yesterday by Amir Tsarfati about Jesus and the Passover.  It was so good y’all!  I’m including the link for it because I hope you’ll go watch it too.

One of the things Amir mentioned has been tumbling around in my head since yesterday. It came from this bit of scripture about Jesus’ trial before he was crucified:

Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.  At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas.  So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”  For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.  While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”  But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.  “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered.  “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”  – Matthew 27:15-22

I’m not sure I ever really thought a whole lot about it before that Barabbas’ name was actually Jesus Barabbas.  (Jesus was a fairly common Hebrew name.)  It’s why when Pilate asked the people who to release, he had to specify between which Jesus…Jesus Barabbas or Jesus, who is called the Christ.  (Depending on what version of scripture you’re reading, it may say Jesus Barabbas or just Barabbas.  Some leave the Jesus off, I guess to be less confusing.)

But what Amir said, that I don’t know that I’ve ever  realized before, is the meaning of Barabbas is “son of the father.”  In Hebrew, “bar” means “son” and “abba” means “father.”  So Jesus Barabbas was Jesus, son of the father.  And this gave me pause.  Son of the father?

I looked up a little about Barabbas because honestly I couldn’t remember what his crimes were, and what I found was that he was said to be a murder.  A taker of life.

The people chose one who takes life over one who gives it.

And why?  Because it made them feel better.  Because that other Jesus was too controversial.  He was too uncomfortable.  He did things weird and different from what they’d become accustomed to.  He said things that didn’t line up with their manmade assumptions about God.  He didn’t follow their rules.  He couldn’t be coerced or forced into their mold of godliness.

So they picked Jesus, son of the father over Jesus, Son of God the Father because it felt better.  And yet even though they chose wrong and Jesus Barabbas ran free, Jesus the Christ went to the cross anyway.

Do you see it?  The Father of Lies gave the people a counterfeit son hoping that when it came time to decide, they’d pick the one that makes them feel better.  And they did.  And Jesus went to the cross anyway.  He didn’t have to.  But he did.

Lord, how many times in a day do I pick the thing that makes me feel better?  The thing that doesn’t cause me to have to change much.  The thing that seems right in my own eyes (Prov. 21:2).  I shudder to think.

But the breathtaking part is that even when I choose wrong, the cross was still for me.  The sacrifice Jesus made there is still for me.  Even knowing we would choose wrong so many times, Jesus went to the cross anyway.   And even when we royally mess up, even when we think that we’ve totally blown it, the cross is still for us.

The cross is for all who choose it.

But it doesn’t stop there.  Jesus overcame death on the cross and rose from the grave.  He did all that so that we didn’t have to.  He offers life to all who will receive it, and none of us deserve it.

We all choose wrong sometimes.  Some of us, most of the time, Lord help me.  We pick the counterfeit because it feels good or fits into our box better.  But thanks be to God for his grace, because in all our wrong choosing, Jesus still paid it all for us.

The Giver of Life still chose us.


 

Be sure to go and watch Amir’s message!

 

 

Sometimes the hardest part of writing is finding an end.  In school, you learn to write proper stories with an introduction, a body, and a nice clean conclusion that ties it all in a nice bow.  Except for that in real life, sometimes there’s not a nice conclusion.  Sometimes there’s no conclusion at all.  Things just happen and tomorrow comes and nothing changes and the problem doesn’t get solved.  Sometimes there’s just another day of the same.

We don’t like having to fill in the blanks.  Like those movies that end sometimes and you’re staring at the end credits with all these questions still lingering.  Or the TV shows that end a season with a cliffhanger so your heart’s in your throat and then you find out the show has been cancelled and it’s like, but what happens now???  Is disaster averted?  Does your favorite couple get married?  Is the villain of the story eventually stopped?  HOW DOES IT ALL END?

Life feels like that a lot.  Like I keep waiting for things to get tied up in a nice neat bow, and then tomorrow comes and nothing’s solved.  The problems from yesterday have followed me into today and tomorrow’s not looking too good either.  I hesitate to write and have a big wall in my mind sometimes because the reality is, for the most part I have no conclusions yet for many of the things I could write about.  You want to be encouraging and say, this is what’s going on with me, or this is something that’s been bothering me, or whatever, but I’m still feeling pretty crappy about it and I have no encouragement to offer anyone, least of all myself.  I mean, really.  Who wants to hear about your heartaches when you don’t have the “and this is how I overcame it all” ending?

But then I guess, we’re all in those places somewhere in our lives.  We’ve all got things we’re walking through, fires we’re standing right smack in the middle of and there’s no good ending yet and no moral of the story with which to encourage anyone else.

Sometimes life just momentarily sucks and there’s no good reason and no good ending.

So what do we do when we find ourselves in places like that?

Well, if I knew that, I’ve have my conclusion then, now wouldn’t I?

J

I co-led a class this morning on the Biblical Feasts.  This is one of my favorite subjects to talk about because it’s usually not taught in depth in church and is a great way to help Christians connect deeper with the Jewish roots of their faith.  After all, Jesus was Jewish, and he kept the feasts just like any good Jew would do.

Christianity was founded on Christ, but before Christianity was Christianity, Jesus was the Jewish Messiah come to fulfill God’s plan.  Now I realize we tend to think that the Jews don’t recognize Jesus as their Messiah, and while that’s probably true generally, it’s also true that there’s a considerable number of believing Jews out there.  It’s also true that the first followers of Jesus were Jewish.  But then we can tend to forget that.

And that’s no surprise.  For a long time now, the Church has made efforts to separate itself from the Jews.  We learned this morning that early on as far back as 325 AD during the Council of Nicea, the church was already trying to break any connection with Judaism and by the time the Council concluded, we no longer had a Passover in relation to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, but instead celebrated what we know as Easter (which interestingly enough sounds a lot the name of the Roman goddess of spring).

As time has gone on, more and more, the Jews who were believers in Christ were required to renounce their roots.  We even saw this morning when at one point, Jews were required not only to renounce their heritage, but to eat pork in front of witnesses in order to prove they were Christian enough.  Can you imagine?

You find anti-semitism staining the history of the Church to the point that even Hitler himself used Martin Luther’s sentiments again the Jews to justify the horrors of the Holocaust.  And here we are in 2019 and we still see anti-Semitism around the world.

Don Finto says this in his book Your People Shall Be My People,

None of Jesus’ hearers could have imagined what would transpire over the next years: that Gentiles would take control of the books of Moses and the Prophets – so much so that the Bible, God’s inspired Word, would be appropriated by Gentiles for themselves to the extent that it is now known primarily as a Gentile book; that this Man in whom they now believed, this Messiah, this Christ, would become so “Gentilized” that even His own people would fail to recognize Him as one of their own; that millions of Jews in the twentieth century would be killed at the hands of those who gave lip service to their Messiah.”

A Gentilized Jesus.

No wonder we don’t hear too much taught in the Western church about the Jewishness of Jesus.  Because going back centuries, there’s been an under current that says the Jews rejected and killed Jesus and God’s done with them.  It’s usually referred to as replacement theology…where the Church has replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people.

But a word of caution…the Bible speaks about a time of the Jews being blinded so that the Gentiles could be brought into the family of God.  Romans 11:25-26 says this:

For I do not want you, brothers and sisters, to be ignorant of this mystery—lest you be wise in your own eyes—that a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, 

“The Deliverer shall come out of Zion.  He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”

 

In other words, Christian, don’t go being haughty about your place in the family tree of God.  Don’t forget, we – the Gentiles – were grafted into the vine and we have no business boasting against the branches (Romans 11:18).

Now I’m not saying all this to say that the Church is bad.  Only that at this point, the Church is just ignorant and that’s a shame.  When you see God’s plan of redemption being hinted at all the way back to even in the way he laid out these times of remembering for the Jews (Leviticus 23), it can only deepen your faith.

And rather than separating from God’s chosen people, we should be praying for them and for Israel and finding ways to connect.  God’s not done with the Jewish people.  Not by a long shot.

I’d also encourage you to spend some time looking into the Jewish roots of your faith.  You’ll understand the Bible in ways you never have before and the teachings of Jesus will take on even deeper meaning.

J

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Old Testament here lately, mostly because of prepping for my trip to Israel.  (I still can’t even believe I get to type that ya’ll!)  I just finished up watching a series about the Feasts of Israel and I’m currently reading a book by Daniel Juster called “Jewish Roots.”

I was reading last night before bed and in this bit, Dr. Juster was giving kind of an overview of the Feasts.  At one point he was talking about the Passover, which is a time of remembering when God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.  (That whole saga plays out in the first twelve or so chapters of Exodus.)

Have you ever noticed though that the freeing of the Israelites from slavery was kind of a two-part thing?

See, it wasn’t just that God was trying to get his people free from years and years of being held in bondage in a foreign land.  I mean, that part was important for sure and God sent all kinds of crazy plagues to see that it happened.  But that wasn’t the end of it.  God wasn’t just trying to lead them out of slavery.  He was also trying to lead the to the Promised Land.

It wasn’t enough for God that His people would be set free from their bondage.  He wanted them free AND He wanted them living in a place of abundance.

So after all the plagues, the Pharaoh tells the Israelites to get the heck out of Egypt and so off they go, but then the Pharaoh changes his mind and gives chase after them (Ex. 14:5).  And this is the part where God splits the Red Sea and sends His people across the dry land to safety, closing the waters over the Egyptian army in pursuit behind them.

But even after watching God send all those plagues to free them and then watching Him part the Red Sea to save them, the Israelites still complain, they still don’t fully trust in God, they still don’t believe He will provide for them.  And so they wind up wandering around the desert for the next 40 years instead of entering the Promised Land right away.

I’m wondering if you’re picking up on a pattern here in your own life like I’m picking up on one in mine?

I’ve heard the word repent also has a two part meaning.  That it’s not just the idea of turning from sin, but also then turning to God.  To turn your face from the thing that keeps you tied down, and turn it toward the God who moves heaven and earth to free you.  God doesn’t just want us free from our sin, but He wants us living like we’re free.  You’ve probably heard it put like this before – even though Jesus broke the bonds of sin, we’re still carrying the chains around like we own them.

Yes Lord, and my arms are exhausted from the weight.

Jesus didn’t come to free us from sin just so we could schlep around in the desert.  He came to set us free so that we could live free.

Do you really believe you’re free?  I can’t say I’ve honestly believed it.  I’ve stood on the edge of the Red Sea a hundred times.  I’ve seen the enemy approaching and instead of walking away on the dry land, I let satan carry me right back into bondage even though God has already carved my path to freedom right there in front of me.  I just don’t believe it.  I don’t trust in His provision.  I don’t step out in faith onto the dry land.

Nope.  I just follow the Pharaoh right back to Egypt even though the truth is that the Pharaoh doesn’t own me anymore.

I’ve got to start living like I’m free.  Like I believe that I am no longer satan’s property, but that I belong to God.  Maybe you’re right there with me too?

And look, it’s still going to be a process.  Even if the Israelites hadn’t been stubborn, they still would have had to travel the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land…it just would have probably been a lot shorter and a lot easier.

The same holds true for us.  When we decide to leave our Egypts and follow the Messiah, we are free.  John 8:36 says it this way:

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

There’s no question about it.  You.  Are.  Free.

But that doesn’t mean the enemy isn’t going to come after you.  Of course, he is.  And that doesn’t mean that you’re going to follow Jesus today and be the perfect Christian after that.  The enemy will still always give chase and sanctification is still a process.

But we’ve got to stop…I’ve got to stop…letting my doubts and my fears lead me back to Egypt.  We’ve got to…I’ve got to…fix my eyes on Jesus and follow Him to freedom.  His blood paid for that freedom.  And it’s yours and it’s mine to receive.

Receive it, soul.  Receive it and own it.  You don’t belong to the enemy anymore.

I have a friend who for a few years has been coming over on Tuesday nights.  It started out mostly because her cable was out and there was a TV show that we both watched, so she just came to my house to watch it with me and the routine stuck.  During the times when the show was on a break, we started putting puzzles together and well, that routine pretty much stuck too.  So now we watch shows and put puzzles together every Tuesday night.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time that my table didn’t have a puzzle on it.

We usually do 1000 piece puzzles and in all this time, we’ve gotten pretty good at putting them together.  We have often finished a whole puzzle in one night with the TV going in the background.  We always start by sorting through to find the outside edges.   Then once they are all together, we sort the inside pieces – by color or by what they are – and then we start working on the inside.  Sometimes the sorting is easy because the pieces are distinct enough to know which section of the puzzle they probably go, but other times when there are a lot of similar colors, it’s a lot harder to tell.

But even when a piece is obviously part of the house or the dog or whatever’s in the picture, you still don’t know exactly where to put it until there are some other pieces in place around where it goes.  You have a general idea, but not an exact one.

Our walk with God is so much like this.  We try to sort out situations we find ourselves in and sometimes we kinda have an idea of where God’s going with the thing.  We can see about where all of it fits in.  Other times, we haven’t got a clue…we know it has purpose and fits in somewhere, but where is so unclear.  It’s not unusual to end up having to wait for God to put a few more pieces in place before we can get a clear picture of where He’s going.

And in our waiting, it’s not hard to get distracted by glancing around at other people’s lives.  We see all the pieces of their puzzle seeming to fall right into place and here we are with all these piles of pieces and no idea where to put them.  It’s easy to get discouraged when we focus on what God is doing in everybody else’s life and forget to pay attention to what’s happening in ours.  We get envious and covet what someone else has instead of being patient and waiting for our own picture to become clear.

And I mean, let’s just be honest.  Waiting stinks.  It’s hard, especially when the thing we are waiting for is something that’s a deep desire of our heart.  But when God is in charge of our timeline, we can find rest while we wait.  We can trust His timing even when we can’t understand it.

We can be fully assured that all the pieces of our puzzle will come together and make something beautiful.

Lamentations 3:22-24 says this:

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.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; 

therefore I will wait for him.”

Our God is merciful and good.  He loves with un unending love that is so hard for us in our finite minds to grasp.  And He is faithful…remember that.  Even when you don’t see anything falling into place, remember that He’s still at the table. He hasn’t given up on you and left.  He’s still there sorting all your pieces and He’s still working to put together something beautiful for you.

He’s a master at putting your puzzle together.  And He won’t quit until it’s completed.

“…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion

until the day of Christ Jesus.”  ~ Philippians 1:6

Ya’ll.

I wonder how many posts I’ve started with “Ya’ll.”  Anyhow.

Ya’ll.  I have been about to bust to write about this one!  Several years ago my sweet friend, Tati, had a chance to go to Israel.  I was super excited for her…and honestly a little jealous.  Can you imagine?  Going to the places where Jesus was born and did miracles and ministry and died and rose again?  It’s like a once in a lifetime trip.  And one I figured I’d probably never get to go on.  For one, I was (and still kinda am) scared out of my mind to fly across the ocean.

Anyhow, so bless her – Tati offered to take a prayer and put it in the Western Wall for me while she was there. I mean, that was the next best thing, right?  And oh, how I hemmed and hawed about what in the world kinda prayer to write on my paper and send with her.  I mean, I might not ever get another chance to put a prayer in the Wall, right?

Now just in case you aren’t sure what this wall is that I’m talking about, the Western Wall (also called the Wailing Wall) is the last remaining piece of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Romans destroyed it in 70 AD.  From what I’ve read, it’s a small western part of the outer wall that surrounded the Holy Temple.  The.  Holy.  Temple.  Like where sacrifices were made.  Like where the priests served.  Like where the presence of God dwelled in the Holy of Holies.  Oh my lands.  I can’t even.

What’s visible is only about half of the actual wall itself…the rest is underground, but the Wall, or HaKotel in Hebrew, is a very sacred and holy place of prayer for Jews and Christians.

So long story short, I thought it over and thought it over, but just couldn’t come up with a prayer to send with Tati.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to pray for.  I guess it was just that it was such a special thing and I wanted to get it right, you know?

And then God gave me my answer.

In my mind, I saw this piece of paper folded in half and then in half again.  As it started opening up, I saw that the paper was completely blank.  And I knew exactly what I was supposed to do.  It was like God was saying, you send the willing canvas, and I’ll fill in the blank.  So that’s what I did.  I sent a blank paper with Tati to the Wall.

I had no idea going forward that one of the things that God would write on my paper for me was that He would give me the chance to actually go there myself.

Wait, WHAT???

That’s right ya’ll!  I’m going to Israel!!  I’m super excited and nervous, but mostly excited! I’m going with my mom and my aunt in September for ten days.  I can hardly believe it.

I was looking at the itinerary last night and researching some of the places we are going.  So I was looking at pictures on Google maps that people have posted and I totally got overwhelmed.  Looking at these places and realizing that I’m going to be there…right there where Jesus stood.  Right there where He was born, where He performed miracles, where He was baptized, where all the things happened.  It was too much.  Like for a second I almost called my mom and said I can’t go.  It’s just too holy and I have no business going, no right to stand in any of those places.  I had to just move away from the computer for a bit and get myself together.

Lordy, I can already see I am going to be an uber emotional mess while we’re there.  My poor mama.  Ya’ll pray for her.

Anyhow, I’m asking for your help!  If you’ve been to Israel, I’d love to hear your travel tips.  What things did you bring that you didn’t really need?  What things did you wish you’d brought, but didn’t?  What was your favorite thing you saw or did while you were there?  And of course, will my cell phone internet and messaging work over there if I have a wireless connection?   These are things I need to know!

Also, I’d love it so much if you be praying for us as we prepare for the trip and then in September while we’re there.

Ya’ll!  I’m going to Israel!!!

There’s considerably more to me than I give way to out loud.  There’s a whole underneath layer that sits just below the surface, out of view.  Because the hidden parts are often in contradiction to the life I desire to portray.

See, you build your house with the beautiful parts of yourself and display all the lovely things on the lawn.  The ugly and the odd stays inside in the dark with the curtains drawn, only rarely, if ever, daring a quick glance between the blinds.  But even the quickest of glances offers glorious visions of the neighborhood, leaving me seeing spots, and it is quite painfully clear that the world…at least my piece of it…is not ready for the ugly and the odd.

Honestly, it is much easier to hide it all.  To just answer “fine.”  There’s less to have to explain.  Less to have to find words for.  The constant battle that rages on the inside – the fight between light and dark – is better left stuffed down inside.  There’s the fear that to let it all out in the open – to give it words – would set it free forever and I’d never get it all back in the bottle.

In case you’re wondering, we’ve more or less stopped looking for a church and honestly I’m not all that sad about it.  I don’t think what my heart deeply desires actually exists, so I’m just going to push pause.  And I’m actually somewhat relieved about it.

Because the facade is exhausting.

What I mean is that I’m just not good.  I am a sinner, buried in the mire and sometimes I don’t care if I ever get out.  Sometimes I quite revel in the mire.  The smell of it.  The way it feels smeared on my skin.  The honesty of it all.  There is no pretending to be done when you are covered from head to toe in muck.  And truth be told, I am raw from all the attempts at scrubbing it off.  Of trying to be different.  Trying to be better.  Trying to overcome.  Trying to live like I’m free when I know bloody well I’m not.  Trying to live like I’m head over heels in love with a God that I hardly hear from anymore when in reality, aside from the few prayers offered up for others, we barely speak.

A couple of months have passed since my last post and what I thought was a turning point turned out to be the same as every other time I think maybe I’m beginning to get somewhere.  Nothing changes.  I’m still the same.  Still a prisoner to anxiety and depression, food addiction, self hate, fear.  All of it.

I found myself wandering around Barnes & Noble today scrutinizing this book and that book, trying to find the one that might finally give me the answer.  Looking for that person who might have it all figured out and can tell me how the hell to fix myself.  And it’s all the same.  Pray this prayer.  Learn this scripture.  Do these steps.  These people with their all “God moments” and I wonder to myself if I’m just not fixable.

Maybe that’s it.  Maybe I’m just completely and utterly beyond fixing.

I know one thing though.  I’m tired.  Tired of the anticipation of changes that just don’t come.

Please Jesus.  Please.  I just want to be better.

Who are you, Soul?

Are you the one never quite at home?  Never quite finding the real belonging place?

You are, aren’t you?

The one who even among the dearest friends sits in self-imposed aloneness, owned by the fear of rejection and equally by the fear of acceptance.

Drawn to darkness, you find more comfort there than in the light you deem undeserved…undesired even sometimes.  Living in a minor key, as notes of comfortable melancholy map out your history, the same chords play over and over on repeat as if to prove that while the depths of your desires may be colored in the beauty of great and mighty things, your mind and your body will always betray you with feet dug in the ground, refusing to go one single step further away from same ol’ same ol’.

Yes, Brokenness is my name and I am broken.

I am the one always seeking and not finding.  The one who resides in a constant place of not enough-ness.  The one who needs desperately to believe that there is more here than meets the eye…because there’s more to me than meets the eye.  Please let there be more to me than meets the eye.  This can’t be all there is.

Because I’m drowning on a daily basis underneath the doldrums of the day-to-day.  Always falling short takes it toll.  Being broken drains clarity and sometimes I can’t even remember my last coherent thought.

My dreaming mind sees a place where things are slower.  A place where I can breathe. Where all the right words flow clear like water and all the wrong-said things go unsaid. A place where twirling whirling hoop skirts dance and there is laughter and rose gardens and I imagine myself as an artist standing under a shade tree spreading lines of color on canvas.  Or I see a field of flowers bringing solitude and rest as I stare up at the night sky where little stars punch holes of light in the dark…much like the darkness of you, Soul.  Where are the little holes of light punched into the darkness that is you?  Because sometimes they are hard to see.  And sometimes there are no stars at all.

My name is Brokenness and I am broken.  But I hear there is One who changes names.  He gives new names written on white stones and heals up all the hurts.  He is the Light that punches holes in the dark.

Hold onto Him, Soul.  He is good.

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