Tag Archives: Jesus

joy.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. – John 10:10

“As soon as we pay off our student loans, then we can really enjoy life.”

“As soon as my son passes the ‘terrible twos’ and stops throwing tantrums over dinner, we’ll be in good shape.”

“As soon as I learn how to master every chore in the most efficient way possible, then I can really relax on weekends.”

These are just a handful of “if, then” statements I’ve muttered to myself over the past few years. There are plenty more, but they are all essentially the same in that they don’t allow me to experience joy until certain stars align. I get myself so focused on the THEN, that I feel like I can’t possibly enjoy the NOW.

I was thinking about that this week as I was preparing the discussion for our monthly small group and the above scripture jumped out at me. It is Jesus speaking and, in most teachings, the “thief” he refers to Satan. And certainly I think this still applies. But there are plenty of other thieves that Satan employs in our lives that come to kill and destroy the abundant life that God has promised:

  • work stress
  • financial woes
  • health issues
  • comparison
  • mean people
  • and many more.

The thing about that scripture is that there isn’t a waiting period. It’s not like, “As soon as Lindsay gets back from vacation, then the thief will steal her joy with a pile of demanding emails.” Or, “As soon as Lindsay’s paid off all her student loans, then the thief will attack her with a four-digit hospital bill.” The thief doesn’t play that game.

But thankfully, neither does the Savior. He doesn’t say in that verse, “As soon as Lindsay goes on vacation, then I will give her an abundant life.” Or “As soon as Lindsay can figure out how to tithe on the regular, then I will rain money on her head.”

It is automatic. Abundant life is automatic.

Joy is automatic.

We just have to quit waiting for it to show up.

Sure I haven’t paid off all my student loans yet; but I can afford my rent and I can buy groceries at Publix.

And sure my kid is in his terrible twos; but being his mama, I’m also his absolute #1 favorite person in the whole entire world.

And the scoreboard of my life is currently LAUNDRY-49, LINDSAY-0, but I have clothes on my back to keep me warm (regardless of their state of cleanliness and/or wrinkledness).

Joy abounds RIGHT NOW. Be glad in it.

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community.

“We’ve always done it that way” has never been an effective argument for me. Ever since I can remember, I have questioned the status quo (and have usually been overly dramatic about it — *flashback to me making a scene about the interpretation of my semi-progressive bible illustrations in 3rd grade by climbing a kumquat tree and refusing to come down*).

I truly believe that we humans were created by and in the image of a communal God, one whose strongest desire is to connect to each and every one of us and then watch us foster relationships among each other that emulate that kind of connection.

I’ve found as I’ve gotten older that it is both harder and easier to make those kinds of relationships work. It is more difficult because we are an overcommitted group of beings, we humans, having jobs and hobbies and obligations and whatnot, that suck up the majority of the 24 hours we are allotted each day. However, it is easier because, thanks to smartphones and tablets and computers and other gadgetry, we are always connected to everyone.

Like, almost literally everyone.

So why not capitalize on that connection we have? Why not embrace it? Why not try and use something modern to build relationships we’ve always been created to engage in?

Yesterday I wrote about how doing life on the internet can be a bad thing. Today, I’m going to do the opposite.

Because we ARE so overcommitted with everything, building relationships tends to be something that people just don’t have the time for. This goes for both friendships and romantic relationships and I’m here to say that, hey, don’t knock it till you try it. I mean, seriously. I’ve heard people dog on online dating, but several of my close friends have pretty great marriages thanks only to the internet.

(Okay, guys, I know that SOME people are creepers on the internet, but to push back on that, I’ve gone on enough dates with creepers who asked me out IN PERSON, soooo maybe the internet isn’t the cause of the creeps?)

Over the past year and a half I’ve been working at my church as the online campus coordinator, which basically means I’ve been tasked with creating a church community that isn’t confined to the four walls of a traditional brick-and-mortar church, but can be experienced on the WWW.

Tonight I saw some fruits of this past year’s labor when three people (who had never MET each other) and myself willingly got onto a Google Hangout while also simultaneously watching a church service online and, despite being nowhere near each other geographically and not ever being acquainted in person, we engaged in fun dialogue (both via webcam and chat), sang some songs, ate some snacks, and went to church.

Together.

Because internet.

Like, how cool is that?

Was it different from going to church in a building? Of course. Was that kind of the point? A little bit, yeah. Does that make it any less of a community than an in-person one?

I’d argue no.

So what if we’ve always done church one way? Can it not be done another way? Can it not be done in a way that transcends societal norms and also honors tradition?

Uh, yeah! And it’s awesome!

Feel free to comment below if you’re interested in this kind of gig. Because guess what — this is the internet. And, just like at church, everyone’s invited.

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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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what sorrow. oh, but what joy.

So, we’re knee-deep into the season of Advent and I have yet to acknowledge that on my blog. While I do mention my faith on here from time to time, I try not to blog exclusively about it because I’m a bloody coward and don’t want to lose my Atheist followers. (SHOUT OUT! Love y’all!) But, as a woman of faith, sometimes there are things about my life that are totally, completely, 100% wrecked by Jesus and, at the same time, super bloggable.

This post is about one of those times. Sorry if it offends you or whatever. I don’t mean to do that.

We cool? Cool. [Atheist/Christian approved fist bump]

Being a non-denominational gal, I typically shy away from stuff like Advent. But I have been actively participating in Lent the past few years, so I figured why the H not, because Lent is a lot harder than Advent, in my opinion. If I can refrain from straightening my hair for 40 days and learn something about God, I can probably learn something about God in the days leading up to a holiday where I know I’m gonna get a butt load of presents. #winning

My daily devotional time (that’s just a fancy-pants Christian-ese way of saying, “reading the Bible and praying and journaling every day”) has been through a guided set of scriptures put together by a friend in my bible study. Typically we start out in the Psalms, either crying out to or praising God for pain or for joy. Then we read some Old Testament major/minor prophet goodness, then hit the Gospels, then call it a day.

Monday’s chunk out of Isaiah is all about Judah’s guilt and judgment by God. Without getting into too much detail, Judah is a little brat. And God is tired of it.

A lot of the time when I read these stories, I find it hard to connect with them. After all, I’m not a drunkard, I’m not an adultress, and I’m not a murderer. I’m a good little Christian girl, trying my hardest to stay under the judgment radar. But when I read this excerpt, it clawed its way into my heart and hasn’t left since.

What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them
with ropes made of lies,
who drag wickedness behind them like a cart!

– Isaiah 5:18

While I’ve never killed anyone or had an affair, I felt as though the writer was speaking directly to me.

In recent days, some interesting things have developed in my personal life. (No, before you ask, I’m not having marital problems and my child is completely healthy.) I can’t, in good faith, blog about these things so candidly because I wish to protect the other parties involved. But I will say this — going through what I’m going through right now has made me realize that, like the sinful Judah, I tend to drag my past hurts, failures, and sins behind me, tethered to my weary ankles by the deepest, darkest lies I’ve ever heard told.

You have failed at relationships. You have failed at a lot of things. You are a mess and everyone around you is about to find out. 

Advent is a time of “active waiting” — that is, actively seeking the savior that is bound to somehow be born to a virgin (which, side note, after giving birth I’d like to say that it’s completely unfair of Mary to have to go through the BS that is childbirth without at least getting some action first) and allowing His grace to be enough.

For me in this moment, active waiting looks like this:

  • Allowing those who love me to actually love me 
  • Allowing those who know me to actually know me and still actually love me
  • Basking in the grace I receive everyday, not because of anything I’ve done, but because of what He has done
  • Not giving a f___ what others think about me, as my good friend Nora, the self-proclaimed monk, has told me.

What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them. What joy for those who die to them and rise to Grace!

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