give me dove’s eyes.

I want to put away my cynicism. I want a simple faith, a simple love. 

Earlier tonight I was preparing to drive home after having dinner with a friend. I was thumbing through some old CD’s I stash in my car (in case of emergencies, you know.) Bullet to Binary (hardcore mix), nah. Glee (season 2, of course), nah. Dance Mix, nah. Johnny Cash favs, nah. 

And then there it was. No title. Just lyrics written in blue sharpie covering the whole front of the CD. I had completely forgotten about this one. I popped it in and started to drive. Jonathan David Helser’s gravelly tenor was pure nostalgia, though the memories are only a few years old. 

Abba, I belong to You,” he sings. It’s tattooed onto my skin and yet I had forgotten where it came from. And suddenly I felt this deep longing to have the last two years erased from my life, to return to that place of complete simplicity and healing. I have very different views about Abba than I did then but I have gained a cynicism that is toxic. 

In my attempt to free myself from the chains of religion, yes I have found the raw and genuine Jesus, but I lost the beautiful Abba that used to hold me and cry with me and tell me how precious I am to him. Oh, must I always lose something in these life lessons? 

There are terrible parts of the bible, things I cannot believe. But there are beautiful, gentle, healing parts of the bible that take my hand and give me precious gifts of faith. 

I miss the simplicity. I miss the way I would ease into conversation with him. I miss the feathers dropped on the ground, a sort of inside joke with us. I miss the tears of joy and the tears of pain.

He, abba, was always solidly present to me that it didn’t matter that I couldn’t see him or hear him. felt him. I always will. 

“here is the deepest secret nobody knows 
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)” e.e. cummings

 

hold me near

Boy, I never thought I’d be here. I never thought that my twenty-sixth year would bring so much…muchness. Heart-thoughts come in waves lately. A hurricane of questions overwhelm me and I just barely grasp a few long enough to look at them in confusion and then release them to the wind. I keep telling myself that it’s okay to feel these things, it’s so very natural for me to gather my thoughts like wool. The only problem is that I keep putting off the carding and spinning of this wool. It’s always so much work and I’m worried I’ll do it all wrong and end up with yarn that breaks apart at the first sign of tension. 

I know what kind of life I want- one of love and servanthood, one of fearless adventure, one of daring and ferocity, one of grace and humility. I know these things are essential to who God is. But what about the other things we have all heard about God? What about the rules, the behaviour expectations, the parts of the Bible that aren’t so shiny? Am I just supposed to read, accept, and move on? Because I can’t. I’ve been trying for 22 years in this weird love-affair, and I can’t do it anymore.

There are things about the God of the Bible that I do not want to accept. I don’t think they nullify the beauty, the effortless love. But what, then, shall I do? This is a particularly stubborn tuft of wool, but perhaps the most important. 

There are things about The Church that I think are completely ridiculous. What we’ve clung to in the past, the words we put on our signs, the things we’ve decided are important. You can scream it from the steeple all you want, “Relationship, not religion!” but don’t be surprised when people mistake your gospel for a list of bylaws. Before you love your neighbor find out their sexual orientation/preference, views on abortion, and who they voted for in the last election. If they meet most of your standards, invite them to church, get them in the door, then bombard them with changes they need to make in order to fit in with what your church views as the ideal christian life. Truly, that is the gospel in action!

I used to take solace in the church, as a group and as a building. What can I do now but grieve the loss of such a place of peace and reassurance? It holds little for me but questions and sarcasm. If there is beauty I can’t seem to muster the enthusiasm to look for it.

I understand that I have the opportunity to affect change in my own church circles. Frankly, I don’t relish this responsibility. Those of you who have taken on this task, I applaud you and I thank you and I will support you in any way possible. But please, be patient with me as I gain courage to join your ranks. 

The Jesus I cannot abandon is full of love. There is light and life in his presence. Whatever hesitation I might have about God, whatever criticisms I offer about the Church, I can’t let go of Jesus. He is what I crave about this faith of mine. His reactions to the world are what I cling to and hope to emulate. And for all my kicking and screaming…I’m still very much in love with him. And I really believe I always will be. 

So that is the odd path I find myself taking this year. If it has hurt- I’m sorry, I love you, and I hope to do better. If it has helped- I’m grateful, I love you, and let’s all do better. 

 

you have a way of stirring up my soul.

It was 2001. I was an awkward freshman in high school, completely self aware and yet wholly apathetic as to how the world operated. I was just coming into a thirst for knowledge (of which I have yet to be cured). The years ahead were vast and innumerable, filled with the hopes and dreams of the little girl who gazed up at the moon each night in wonder. 

That was the year I joined the youth group at church. That was the year I felt God hold my hand. That was the year I learned what it was He expected of me. That was the year all of my hopes and dreams changed into some kind of list of expectations and requirements. Things became complicated and difficult and many weeks were spent anguishing over His silence. Tears, bitterness, heartfelt longing for a simplicity I did not know existed. Why, God? What do you want me to do? Where are you? How have I failed you?

My 14 year old brain, frontal lobe still vastly underdeveloped, was not able to reason with God. So much of my teens was spent learning and adopting other people’s opinions while letting go of my own. They shaped how I interacted with God, how I thought about Him on a practical level. It was unavoidable yet deeply regrettable. Shadows and blurred lines and gray shapes in the distance of my worldview were not allowed; everything had to be black and white, starkly contrasting at every level.  

This is 2013. And I am still fairly awkward, but hopefully less self-involved and more mindful of other humans. And this year of turmoil that I have yet to summit has brought to light much of what I have, until now, held as truth. 

I can kill spiders without sobbing for hours afterward. I can say words that would make my grandmother scowl and I don’t think twice about it. I drive with my knee sometimes and have yet to get into an accident.

The point is, some of the things I believed when I was 14 cannot follow me into my late 20’s. The expectations I placed on myself that pertain to my “Christian Faith” have not stood the proverbial test of time. I love Jesus without all the rules I thought were necessary to our relationship. Such excess, superfluity. And for what? To make all of us look/act/dress/speak/think the same? Unnecessary. I have my own ideas and dreams and desires that Jesus knows and I believe He loves my individuality. Without the rules and expectations there is a freedom of feeling without having to filter my emotions. What I experience doesn’t go through some sort of checklist of right/wrong, godly/ungodly. Saying that I belong to Him isn’t some way of lashing myself to a cause or a doctrine. I belong to Him because it is the only freedom my soul has ever known. 

Ten years from now, when I look back on what I believe at this moment, maybe I’ll cringe with regret. But at the very least I will have a better understanding of the fluidity of faith and the effects of true freedom on the soul. 

they say that the captain stays fast with the ship

Lack of motivation has always been a problem for me. I can be so inspired one day and so apathetic the next. It’s incredible. It also doesn’t help that I have to blog from my mobile phone instead of the computation machine that I don’t have yet. Do you know how frustrating autocorrect can be?
But I digress.

There are things I want to say, but don’t because I have the very exasperating impulse to make everyone think I’m Switzerland. If I do take a stand it seems that it has become the new sport to try to shoot me down with as much complex wit as possible. I can handle my sarcasm, almost as much as I can handle flying an airplane.
I have always felt a bit overwhelmed and disgusted with sarcastic wit, at least the kind that degrades and objectifies others. But it has become vogue to put people down. The conversational style of selfish abandon has become a hindrance to compassion and selfless love. Do we really value our opinions to such a degree that we are willing to sacrifice the friendships of those around us?

It is a mark of how careless we have become with our lives. Hilarious as it might be, I just don’t understand the mentality of destruction. And please take me at my word when I say destructive.

I am not plucking specks out of your eyes. I am looking in the mirror at my own glaring plank and asking myself how it even got there in the first place. Humility. What on earth does this look like? Real, honest, from-the-heart humility. I do not have this within myself. I need it, welcome it. I am at the end of myself. There is nothing good within me. So here is Jesus. And I am sorry for the harm and destruction my tongue has caused. I am sorry. And I love you.

Now I am become Death: destroyer of worlds.

J Robert Oppenheimer; creator of the atomic bomb.

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