Category Archives: God

the ministry of authenticity.

I love Sundays. I work at the church in the morning and then take my sleepy, almost two-year-old son (who already thinks he’s two, thankyouverymuch) home for his nap. He still takes teenager-long naps, usually four hours, which gives me time to either keep working or tidy the house (ha) or enjoy a little quiet “me” time. And although our cool but perpetually gooey white tiled floor is begging for a sweep and a mop (after, of course, all the toys and clothes are removed) I am here, painfully aware of the time that has passed since I last blogged, feeling guilty and ashamed.

What better place to be raw and exposed than in front of my blog/the entire Internet?

Being authentic has been a sacred echo in my life lately. Because I work at a church, most of my interactions and friends have been born out of that building, and many of my friends in the church have explained to me that they struggle with being their full selves all the time. They have separated their personalities into little compartments — the “church” self against the “social” self, the “intellectual” self, the “vocational” self, etc. People feel like they can’t be the same person they are around their pastor that they are around their friends and I don’t like that.

I remember when I first moved here, I told someone what my favorite movie was, and they were shocked that I had the courage to admit that fact about myself in public because it’s “so inappropriate”. (It’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, by the way.)

A few weeks after that interaction, a dear friend of mine was upset at church. When I asked her what was wrong, she choked back her tears and said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m just going to hold it all in and pretend I’m okay like we’re supposed to do.” I basically blew up at her.

“NO!” I shouted. “You can’t do that! You have to be okay being upset right now, because when the time comes that I need to be upset, I need to know that this is a place where it is okay for me to be upset!” (For the record, we miscarried a month later and I let the whole world have it.)

It was in that moment that my eyes opened up to this idea of dividing ourselves into different people and the danger it poses to us as Christians because, by falsifying our testimonies we dilute our ministry. 

I’m not entirely sure why but I’ve never been able to be more than one person. I literally can NOT be someone I’m not, despite the pressures put on me by other Christians. Like it or not, I’m all me all the time. I’m a Christian who also has the mouth of a sailor. I’m a Christian who gets angry and frustrated. I’m a Christian who (thankfully!) has friends who aren’t Christians. I’m a Christian who, by the grace of God alone battled (and overcame!) an eating disorder. I’m a Christian who likes admittedly bad Jim Carrey movies. I’m a Christian and there are dark parts of me that are dirty and messy and need to be washed clean every freaking day. And I’m sure I’m not alone, but so many people are afraid to admit it.

Why does this happen? Why do we Christians (or people in general, honestly) feel so much pressure to be perfect all the time? Why does the world end if we are seen with a beer, or seen walking out of a counselor’s office, or seen angry at the world for a minute because — gasp! — life sucks sometimes?

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Maybe I’m reading the wrong translation, but that doesn’t look like Jesus said, “You know what? Make sure you’re burden-free before you come to me. Make sure you’re smiling 24/7. Only come to me when you are in the best mood ever with no desperation or fault. Check your baggage at the door before you come chill with me.” So where do we get this crap from?

How can we fully expect to lead other people to Christ when we put on this unrelatable show of perfection? How can we expect anyone to buy into our faith when they can’t even buy into our own bullshit?

Let me be real. In about two weeks, we’ll celebrate our one-year anniversary of leaving the brown baby hills and crunchy sorta-dead grass of Tallahassee to live/do ministry/perpetually sweat in the ever-paradisical Naples. Moving here completely wrecked me. Much like ripping the bandage off of an infected wound, the pain was big and fierce. I feel like if I had felt comfortable enough to be authentic about my pain, I might have healed more quickly. But that took a long while.

But the good news is that healing has definitely happened. Scars remain, but the blood flow has ceased as I’ve done my best to bring people into my realm of authenticity. And I am grateful for the little changes I’m seeing: the tears shed on my own shoulder, the angry text messages, and the willingness to accept grace and love amidst it all. And just like that, both feet are inside the door. I am here, planted, ready to continue this life in this place with these people. My shoes no longer straddle the metaphorical threshold, the outside foot ready to bolt and drag the rest of me with it at the first chance. We are here. We are living. We are doing authentic life together and each day it becomes more beautiful.

That’s what Jesus came for, guys. In Luke 5:31-32 he says, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Amen.

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Filed under God, life, personal, transformation

a christian’s open apology to gay people.

Dear gay people,

Yesterday World Vision, a Christian organization that sponsors needy and hungry children all around the world, announced that they were lifting a ban they’d previously had in place on hiring people who were married to/in love with someone of the same sex. And I, a Christian, was elated.

“Oh, this is going to be huge!” I told my youth pastor husband when I got home from work. “Finally, we’re turning a corner!”

When I went to bed last night, I thanked God for this public proclamation and I also thanked him for making you, each and every one of you, just the way you are. And I thanked him because in that moment, I felt like you might actually know that you are really loved by Jesus. Because you are

This morning my son woke me up at 5:30 (he’d had a bad dream, I think) and after I snuggled him back to sleep I found myself having a hard time drifting back myself. So I mindlessly checked my Twitter feed, hoping the methodical scrolling through tweets would make my eyes heavy enough.

What a huge mistake.

I tumbled down a black hole of tweets from fundamentalist Christians and Christian organizations who were withdrawing their support from World Vision. Unfortunately, it seems that these people/organizations hold doctrine over love and serving the poor. And I got angry. And very awake.

I tossed and turned in my bed, fighting the anger, and then thought there was only one way to go about this. So I got out of bed and opened my laptop just to say one thing:

Gay people, on behalf of all Christians everywhere (including the ones who treat you this way) I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you’re consistently battling against a group of people whose entire platform is love. I’m sorry that you are made to feel like you’re broken by a group of people who are called to lay their own brokenness at the foot of the cross. I’m sorry that you’re made to feel like the “least of these” by a group of people who are called to serve and love the least of these and who also somehow ignore that call when it refers to you. I’m sorry that you’ve been told that your marriage is any less God-honoring than a heterosexual one, even if that heterosexual marriage ends in divorce.

Please know that you’re not alone, gay people. While I’m not gay and have never had to endure the pain you have endured from Christians, I’ve been hurt by them, too. And I grew up in the church!

When I was nine years old (a baby!) I was brought into a meeting with the children’s director and the lead pastor of the church I was attending. They sobbed as they told me that I was too outspoken and too loud and that, “God didn’t like that.” Being an opinionated kid without a shy bone in my body, I furrowed my brow.

“But didn’t he make me this way? And doesn’t he love me? Why would he make me be a certain way if he didn’t like it?”

They didn’t have an answer for me.

This was the first of many encounters like this; I’ve always had Christians wag their fingers at me for the way I talk, behave, or think. And as a Christian, sure, I believe that God does call me to be one of his priests. I do believe that he calls me to a higher standard of living. But he also calls me to be an ambassador for Christ, the one who dined with sinners and threw parties with tax collectors. And above all else, he calls me to love him and love his people. (Mark 12:30-31)

People have told me that I have a low view of scripture because of my love and affection for gay people. Maybe I do. But if loving others regardless of their sexual identity (and, you know, also occasionally sporting a polyester cotton blend) means I have a low view of scripture, then fine. I’ll concede that argument.

One last thing, gay people: if it makes you feel any better, my marriage isn’t any more biblical than yours. Sure, I may be a woman who is married to a man, but last I checked, my husband isn’t splitting his time between four other wives and 700 concubines. So fret not. You and your “unbiblical marriage” are in good company.

I love you. Each and every one of you. And Jesus does, too.

And once more, I’m so very sorry. Please forgive us/them. We know not what we do. (Someone said that once.)

Love,

Lindsay

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Filed under God, personal, rants, the media

naked and unashamed.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you might know that I was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2007 and have since made it my mission to figure out how to love myself — inside and out — relentlessly. My blog has been instrumental on this journey. I’ve blogged my way through all sorts of self-love hangups, from navigating self-imposed pressures to be the perfect wife to finding my sexy.

I’m thankful to report that, in the past year, I haven’t had many reasons to turn to Ye Olde Blogue in order to make myself feel better about my self or my body. With God’s help (along with the assistance of my sweet husband and faithful mentors) I think that it’s safe to say that I’ve finally made peace with my own body and any chance of ED relapse is behind me.

However, regardless of my own personal growth, a recent chain of unsettling events has made me realize that this world is still, if I may be so bold as to say, effed sideways concerning the ways we women view ourselves:

+ My mom hasn’t had a nice picture of her taken in a while, so a few weeks ago she requested that I take one of her with my SLR. As soon as I was done she pleaded with me to Photoshop away some lines from her face.

+ During prayer requests at my bible study a week ago, a girl asked for a way for her to use her body to get ahead in life.

+ There are hundreds of leaders (male, of course) in the church community that have come out recently speaking against women for what they wear for being the cause of men to lust after them and even cheat on their wives. (Yes, read that again. The women are at fault for the men who cheat.)

+ Someone told me that of course I’m happy with my body because I’m beautiful. And there’s no way they can be happy because they’re not.

You know me — I can’t just sit back and not blog about how much these events (particularly the last one) infuriate me.

I’m currently fumbling my way through the book of Esther and trying to make sense of it; a story about a Jew girl who was integral to saving God’s chosen people because, quite frankly, some batshit crazy pseudo-king thought she was hot and, for that reason alone, wanted to “know” her. (This is, of course, the New Lindsay Translation of the story. I suggest you read it for your own context, even if you aren’t a believer.)

The other day, I hopped in the shower ever-so-quickly while my son was napping and gave myself the New-Mom-Speedy-Scrubdown, my ears tuned to the static sounds coming from the baby monitor in my bedroom. When I finished actually washing and found that, surprisingly, my child was still asleep, I stood very still and watched the streams of water race each other down my body.

For a while, I just stared blankly, sure my child would rouse any minute. But each second that passed with no sounds from the monitor, I would turn the COLD knob just a bit more toward the OFF position to allow the stream to increase in heat. As soon as my skin adjusted to the temperature change, I’d turn the knob just a little bit more.

I did this until the COLD knob was completely off and, though the water was scalding, my skin was comfortable (albeit considerably more pink).

Under the stream, my eyes surveyed my exterior and — as bizarre as it sounds — I marveled. I couldn’t believe that this vessel at which I was staring had done so much in its 27 years of life — danced its 10,000 hours, learned scales on the piano, grew and sustained another human life — and, yet, took the brunt of my own abuse for the better part of two decades. And then I thought about Esther.

And my mom.

And that girl from my bible study.

And men who blame their missteps on their victims.

And all the girls in this society that think their bodies are as deep as their worth goes.

And I got mad. Like. Really mad.

I think the main reason I got so mad is because I feel like I can’t do anything. I’m just one person in this giant effed up world and, as these recent events have pointed out, this issue is much bigger than me.

I said what I could say in bible study in order to encourage that girl. Ultimately I don’t know if anything I said made one bit of difference; I left feeling like something had been stolen from me. Perhaps that something was the notion that this problem is suddenly gone just because I’m not suffering from it anymore.

You know that played-out Goo Goo Dolls song from the 90s? You know, from the City of Angels soundtrack? Meg Ryan and that other dude? I can’t remember the name of it, but there is one line that sticks out to me:

“And you bleed just to know you’re alive.”

I think these events have served their purpose to cut me open and remind me that there is still work left to be done and that lots of people are still bleeding. And we’ve got to speak the truth to those people.

Because God knows no one else is going to.

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Filed under God, life, psychology, rants, the media, transformation

introducing nineveh.

At the moment, it’s 4:02PM on a Tuesday afternoon. I’m sitting on my couch — not inside a cubicle — while my baby peacefully naps in his crib and one of my cats does so behind my head.

Friday was my last day at my job and Sunday was our last day at our church. Many tears have already been shed and more are coming, no doubt, as the final pages of this chapter of our lives turn.

I suppose that, at this point in time, it’s safe to go ahead and blog publicly about what’s next for our family and to give Nineveh a proper introduction. And so — here goes.

We are moving to Naples! (Florida, not Italy — though the culture is so different down there it’s almost as if we are moving to a different country.)

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. Lindsay, you must have failed Geography because Naples is not central Florida and that’s where you originally said you were headed.

First of all, that’s mean. I never failed Geography. I managed to slightly pass it thankyouverymuch. Second of all, yes, we realize that Naples is not central Florida. So here’s the Reader’s Digest (does anyone still get Reader’s Digest?) version of why we’re headed to So Fla:

Once Dan and I came to the realization that we had to move in order to build a better family life — ideally including me being the primary caregiver for Dax as opposed to him being in full time childcare — we chose central Florida because that’s where my family is. Dan and I were pretty pessimistic about finding a situation in which I would be able to stay at home with Dax, but we wanted to give it a shot. If we didn’t find anything, we knew we could at least count on someone in my family to care for Dax during the day. So Dan blanketed the central Florida area with his resume and we waited.

We had a few churches contact us for interviews and we even visited some. All of the churches we looked into were great, but none of them offered a situation in which our family dynamic would change to be more what we envisioned. I was getting pretty discouraged by this until Dan got an email from a man named Don using a nondescript email address.

In the email, Don said he saw Dan’s resume online and asked if he’d be interested in an opening for a youth pastor. Dan said yes, and the two continued to discuss the position. After a few emails, Dan finally asked Don where he was from. When he said that he was the Director of Ministry at a church in Naples, both of our hearts sank.

Don requested a lunch meeting with us and we agreed to go even though we both thought there was no way we’d end up taking a job in south Florida. It’s good practice, we thought.

But then, the lunch meeting went really well. Which led to a Skype interview with a handful of staff members that also went really well. Which led to an onsite visit and interview that went extremely well…

What came out of all of this is nothing short of amazing, providential, and praiseworthy. Not only was Dan offered the position, but I was also offered a job coordinating the church’s online campus — simulcasts, social media, and BLOGGING!!!! — that is set to launch this summer.

The best part of all of this? The, like, super-duper God part?

Apart from staff meetings on Tuesdays and church on Sundays, I get to do this job completely from home. And, those times I have to be onsite, Dax gets to come with me and hang out in a fully staffed nursery at the church so I can still be near him.

As you can see, there is no way we could have been any more blessed. God has provided for us in a way I (maybe we) never thought possible. And we are stoked.

We have applied to live in a condo down there; once that’s approved, we’ll move in and then start working!

This does not make the pain of us leaving Tallahassee and the community we have here any less real, but it does give us peace about the God we serve and the callings He has for our family.

So. Now I need your help.

What the heck do we do in Naples? Besides go to the beach, I mean?

Ready, GO!

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Filed under faith, God, gushes, life, motherhood

things (people) i love thursday! (april 25, 2013)

This week is our last week at our church so I’ve done a lot of crying. I don’t really have any other words to say about this week (it really has kind of sucked) so this TILT will be kind of short. But also kind of personal.

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PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE ME SMILE AT SOME POINT BUT WILL LIKELY ALSO MAKE ME CRY THIS WEEK:

  • Dan.
  • Dax.
  • Eric.
  • Emily.
  • Shana.
  • Levi.
  • Lori.
  • Savannah.
  • Beka.
  • Ashley.
  • Evan.
  • Suzanne.
  • Libby.
  • Rori.
  • Sydney.
  • Sarah(s).
  • Zack(s).
  • Sammie.
  • Kelby.
  • Kyle.
  • Liz.
  • Hannah.
  • Karen.
  • Mary.
  • Lindsey.
  • Hookers.
  • Caleb.
  • Nora.
  • All the students/leaders in E3SM.
  • All the kids in E3Kids.
  • Everyone else at E3.

And I have to stop because I’m crying in my cubicle. See you all Sunday. One last time.

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Filed under faith, God, gushes, life, things i love thursday

exile, nineveh, and the promised land.

Dan and I both have been offered jobs somewhere. And we have accepted them. In a couple weeks, we are leaving Tallahassee. I’m sorry for the vagueness but my compulsion to blog is way too strong to ignore, despite still being in that weird limbo state of Am I allowed to say anything? Do all the right people know yet? Is it okay for me to put this on the Internet without offending someone or, worse, getting someone fired? 

Since I don’t know the answers to all of those questions yet, I’ll be brief about the details for now. But what I will say is this:

  • Where we are going is somewhere neither of us ever dreamed we’d go. It’s also not central Florida like we’d originally planned.
  • The jobs we have taken are not jobs we could have secured ourselves. They are jobs that, without getting too spiritual on you, were definitely divinely gifted to us.
  • The place we’re going starts with the same letter as Nineveh which makes me LOL because I’m still 100% Jonah. (Side note: this place, however, is NOTHING LIKE NINEVEH. I REPEAT. NOTHING. At least, not as far as I could tell when we visited. There may be big fish, though, within an uncomfortable proximity.)

Yesterday at church — a community in which I’ve served, grown, and transformed over the past nine years — I sat, surrounded by a handful of my friends, and listened as my pastor (and dear, dear friend) gave a simultaneously hope-filled and despairing message on what it means to be in exile. That is, what it means to have everything you know about life completely change in an instant. 

In just a couple weeks, that’s us. Everything we know about life is going to change in an instant. (Or, rather, in one long day of driving and unpacking.)

As Eric spoke, the walls started closing in on me. My chest tightened with unrelenting grief and, before he even hit his first point, the tears were flowing. I couldn’t help it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a mom now so I’m biologically wired to uncontrollably sob at anything, or if it’s because the reality that we are moving away was just too heavy, or if it was because hearing Eric’s voice in that building reminded me that soon I won’t be able to hear his voice in that building, or if it was because I’m Jonah, or if it was a combination of it all. But once the first tear fell, I couldn’t stop the rest of them from following. I just sat in that chair and cried for the better (worse?) part of an hour, mourning the loss of everything I know and trembling at the impending gain of exile.

But this “exile” isn’t bad. Dan and I wouldn’t have accepted these jobs if it were. It’s a HUGE blessing. I’ve no doubt that the manna will spring up in abundance while we are in this “wilderness”. But it is wilderness none the less. It is an unfamiliar place, devoid of the support network I’ve built up over the past decade.

And I am in mourning. Bad. 

The thing about exile, though, is that (again — sorry about the spiritual stuff) when you read the bible, both the Israelites and Jesus experienced exile before blessings. The first thing Jesus did after getting baptized was peace out for 40 days and listen to Satan say terrible things to him. And don’t get me started on the row the Israelites have hoed. Oy. I feel like the biggest toolbox for even trying to draw a connection to what they’ve been through.

All that to say, I bet if you could Google Maps it, or ask Siri how to get there, you’d find that you’ve got to go through the wilderness to get to the promised land.

So, bring it on, exile. And Nineveh. We’ve got work to do. (Also, bring it on Kleenex. You’ve got your work cut out for you.)

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i am jonah.

If you’re like me and you grew up reading and listening to stories in the bible, you’re probably aware of the story of Jonah. And by “aware of” I mean you know that it vaguely involves a dude named Jonah and some giant fish-whale-thing that eats him for a couple days then spits him out and God is praised or whatever.

On the surface of this short, four-chapter book in the bible, that is essentially what happens. But there is so much more to the story than that.

In a bible study I’m doing with a couple friends, we recently read it in its entirety, our Sunday-school understandings notwithstanding.

For all of you who grew up understanding Jonah like I did, and for all of you who have no idea who/what Jonah is, Here’s the New Lindsay Translation of the book of Jonah in the bible:

God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh, a place that’s filled with all sorts of debauchery and horror, to tell the people there something like, “Hey! You! Stop being jerks because God is real and it’s, like, annoying!” But Jonah’s all, “No, God, not me, I don’t want to do that. That sounds scary. I’m going to run away instead.” So he goes and jumps on this boat with a bunch of people and is all, “SAYONARA SUCKAAAA” but God’s all, “Not so fast, Jonah, I’m God and I can still see you.” So God causes a huge storm to happen, and the people on the boat are like, “Dude, who pissed off their god and made this happen?” So Jonah’s like, “Oops, my bad, that was me, y’all. Just throw me overboard and the storm will stop.” So they do. And it does. So the people immediately begin to praise God. But after Jonah gets tossed overboard a huge fish is like, “NOM” and swallows Jonah. Jonah hangs out in there, not exactly knowing what God’s plan is or what he wants, but he prays and praises God anyway. Finally, God gets the fish to upchuck Jonah and so Jonah’s like, “FIIIINE GOD OKAY I’ll go to Nineveh.” So he does. And he tells the people that they should, like, rethink their life choices and stuff. And they actually hear him and listen. And they mourn. And they repent. And God forgives them and saves them. But then Jonah pouts because he doesn’t believe the people of Nineveh deserve forgiveness. But God gently tells Jonah that he knows those people and loves them and that he wants to keep them. 

After reading this story, it became clear that Jonah is actually a big brat. Also, I realized that I am Jonah. 

jonah

In recent months, my husband and I have done a lot of praying and talking about our current financial situation and the care our baby boy gets as a result. It’s lackluster, to say the least, and something had to change. Finally, after a lot of prayer and consideration, we both agreed that what was best for our family (our son, in particular, and his future siblings) is for us to move to central Florida to be closer to my family.

And I am sad about this. Very heartbroken.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my family and am so excited to be closer to them. But I have created a life here in the last nine years that is going to be so hard to leave behind. (My TILT list from last week probably makes more sense now.)

But here’s the crazy part — our lease is up April 30th. Neither of us have jobs lined up. If we don’t get jobs in central Florida by the time our lease is up, we’ll just move in with my mom until something materializes.

Yep. That’s right. We quit our jobs in an economy that is, um, less than stable. And we have a little mouth to feed. Everything about this just screams, “WHY IN THE F-WORD WOULD YOU DO THIS?”

I don’t know. It’s just what people with faith do, I guess.

And here’s how I’m Jonah. Without getting too spiritual, I know God is calling us to go. That is undeniable. But I don’t want to. I’d much rather scoop my husband and baby up and run away to find the nearest boat out of this place and hope God doesn’t see.

After coming to the realization that I am Jonah and, therefore, a big brat, I spent a couple days moping about it. I was mad at myself for doubting God and for throwing random tantrums whenever my husband tried to get me to have logistical conversations about our upcoming upheaval. (“I DON’T KNOW IF WE SHOULD SELL ONE OF OUR CARS TO HAVE MONEY TO MOVE OKAY WHERE’S THE BOOZE I JUST CAN’T DO THIS SOB SOB SOB.”)

Not my finest hour for sure.

But now, as the news of our departure is public, I am starting to look for the redemption in my story. Just like Jonah was redeemed.

Even though Jonah ran away, the sailors on that boat came to know God as a result. And even though Jonah went to Nineveh unwillingly, he still helped to save a nation of people.

There is a lot of hurt in this move, for sure. Hurt for us because we’re leaving, and hurt for the ones who we are leaving. But there will be light and redemption, too. Even if we don’t see it now.

I’m excited to look back on this in a few months and be able to point to all the ways we were blessed by this. I anxiously await the clarity that will come once this big-ass bandaid is finally ripped off.

But until then, sorry if I smell a little weird. I’m currently sitting in the belly of a giant fish. I don’t know when I’ll be spit out or where I’ll land. But I know that, during this time, I will praise. I will pray. I will trust.

Here’s your chance to throw all your central Florida connections at me.

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