The Call

A friend of mine posted on Facebook today: 

Ive been wanting to ask my fellow Christians an important political question today. As Christians we know that all of the troubles facing our society today are a result of our sinful brokenness. Poverty, oppression, the broken family structure, drug addiction, violence, these all stem from our sinful appetites. 
My question is: why do we look to the government to solve problem that humans by their own nature cannot fix? If the church truly is the body of Christ in this world, why do we look to others to fix the problems that Christ himself addressed. He didn’t condemn Herod or Caesar for not ending slavery or for not caring for the poor. He didn’t demand a minimum wage or free healthcare. He didn’t criticize the Romans violence and oppression. He didn’t come to say those things, and discussion of those topics are for another time. My point is that Christ came to call us to repentance and to a new life of true freedom. Freedom in spite of the brokenness of our world. We can be poor yet rich, broken yet whole, and return good for evil. Why do we expect a politician to do the work of the Holy Spirit? Republican or Democrat if you expect a bunch of men on a hill to accomplish the societal change that can only start with inner revival then you’re out of touch with reality. The Holy Spirit cant just be on Capitol Hill, or in the White House, or written in the law. It must be in the Church. It starts in our homes, on our streets, in our communities, in our hearts.

I suppose I have more questions than answers about this issue he describes prior to asking his point. 

Should we exclusively as churches deal with this issue or should we as Christians vote in candidates who will help steer the government in a direction to take care of people on a mass scale? Which does the most good? Can that even be quantified? I don’t know what the “most good” can even look like in a social climate prone to corruption and destruction. 

In our broken state, and even with the Holy Spirit, doesn’t the same kind of broken affect the Church as well? Wouldn’t that also mean that there is a possibility for corruptibility and if so would it do more harm in the sight of the world and “cause our brothers and sisters to stumble” if the Church to have a slip up? Would that be effective to the cause? Is such a slip up inevitable? Look at the issues of the Catholic Church and all those molestation accusations they had. How many people ran in shame and disappointment then? In counterpoint, those who stayed in the Church, how many forgave the kind of people who committed such atrocities? How does all that reflect on the record? 

In addition, would we run into the problem of the Church being a commodity instead of a spiritual and communal relationship? How does that affect the cause? 

How much has present government influence tied the Church’s hands? 
It’s such a big hot topic issue with so many scenarios and a lot of factors. None of which I think have a definitive or even correct answer. I still wonder if perhaps our fear of these questions and their potential results is what stops the Church from living up to its full potential. 
1 John 4:18 tells us “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 
We have forgotten this. We have forgotten that throwing money at people and actually loving them are two different things. Can we even come back from going so far? Has the revival halted? As Christians, what is stopping us from using the full power of the Holy Spirit? 

People Suck

Why can’t people just be happy for her?

It was her third marriage. People kept reminding her and anyone else who would listen to their mouth flap. Yes, it was her third, not that the number counted toward or against anything, though for them it did. They used it as a quantifier in which to judge her, instead of as a fact. Yes, she had been married three times before. They didn’t want to know the rest of the story, only that at one point, she had two other husbands. 

The first one died tragically of cancer. It was painful for her. He was older, and of course they judged her on that too. Even then, they didn’t care that she was stable, happy, and loved. Only that he was so much older than she was. When he died she was alone in the loneliest of ways. Three children who could barely understand where their father had gone. People pretended to mourn with her, but they didn’t really care. They judged. As they always do. Thus, she pulled away as she always did when she sensed toxicity and resentment.

She tried to love again, but the toxicity of others brought someone into her life that was fueled by their toxicity. It turned him against her. He manipulated her, threatened her, convinced her to marry him or else he would say, but the else would change. He’d find her, he’d hurt her, he’d hurt the kids, he’d hurt himself. He was desperate, and it made her desperate. So she married him to protect herself and her children, besides she could handle it she thought, and of course they judged her for that too. For trying to love. For letting his threats get to her. For ultimately marring someone else betraying her first marriage like her late husband was still alive. 

Nothing she did was good enough for them, and as the poison of their presence in her life seeped in, she began to believe that she would never be good enough ever. They all would find reason to talk. 

After having enough, and deciding to ask for her worth and being refused, she left him. They judged her once again, but this time for leaving. She decided not to listen to it. She took her children and moved away. Started going to church. Started learning to love herself again. Her children felt more free to be creative. She felt more free to be creative. Finally, she was ready to love again, and she did. They got married and are happier than ever! Of course they judged her again. They still do. But this time she shut the door on their words and made a home of love and safety for her family. They live happily and functionally. She finally feels that kind of safety and love she once had felt. Yet, they still judge. Out of ignorance. Out of malice. Out of loving to hear their own voices. They say the children must be emotionally torn apart, as if she had never spoken to them or gotten their input about it prior. Like she was being selfish. Like she hadn’t sat on my couch for several hours pouring out her soul about how the kids would feel and if they would let her get married again. Because she needed their permission. Not that those who judged her knew, and not that they cared. They just wanted to pretend to have empathy. 

I was so angry to hear how many people so openly talked about her in front of me. So willingly thought that I’d agree with them. So openly shamed her. So I spoke up, knowing that I too Would be judged, merely asking if they knew all these accusations for certain. Asking if they were living her life for her and felt as if they could come along and have a say in it. Asking if they enjoyed talking about her more than talking to her. So they stopped speaking to me. 

Neither she nor I have felt loss at their absence. 

I’m just getting so sick and tired of ignorant people talking about things they know nothing about. Especially when it has nothing to do with their lives. She’s not a relative. Her life has zero impact on theirs. Why open your mouth at all? LET HER LIVE HER FREAKING LIFE WITHOUT BEING AN OBJECT OF YOUR JUDGMENT! But, of course, we all judge. It’s our nature to want to. To gauge our lives against the lives of others and assure ourselves that we are doing the right thing. As if there is even a definition for that. I do it too. I catch myself being that person all the time, and realizing that I’ve got my own problems too. People ignore the fact that life is messy because people are messy, and a mess is a mess no matter how big or small it seems to be. 

If it isn’t your mess, just don’t worry about it. 

Linear 

Every one says

Push forward

Keep going

Don’t look back

That’s not where you’re headed

As if life is linear

They never tell you

That sometimes

You just end up

Working backwards

Or looping back

Or you bring that past

To the future

And make a

Complete circle 

They never tell you that

They lead you to believe

It’s all linear

Finally…

After several months of waiting and waiting, I had thought the ship had sailed. I was convinced and disappointed. It was a great position. Only five minutes from my house. What are the odds of that? Finding a corporate graphic design job only five minutes from my house in a tiny lakeside town very few people in the world had heard of? I thought it was impossible. Still, I waited. Nothing. I waited longer. Nothing. I e-mailed asking how things were going. I got a generic response of noncommittal and affirmation that they were still interviewing. I waited more.

Eventually my wedding came and went. Still nothing. I had given them the dates I would be “away” on my honeymoon, so part of me still hoped that  they were considering me and not counting me out. Still, there was that other part of me whispering that it wouldn’t happen. Not to me. It was too big of a step. Too much for me. There were so many other talents and people asking for less from them financially. Every doubt encircled my heart, and I became discouraged. Still, I was tired from looking for other jobs. I stopped looking. Kept going to work at retail, praying hard that God would open a door somewhere.

“We need another hand in the gift shop, and obviously we thought of you right away. It’d only be short hour, but it would give you a better financial situation.”

I was flattered that the Director of the museum wanted me to switch from volunteer to paid associate. I wanted to say yes, but he inquired about the interviews I had for the design position. I told him honestly that I hadn’t heard anything back, but I wasn’t sure what to expect really.

“There is a part of me that says I ought to wait on this.”

He nodded knowingly. Kindred spirit to my own.

“We can play it by ear, but by saying this, I have a feeling that I’m going to lose you to them. You’re talented and very special.”

I was so encouraged. A fellow designer, professional, and creative twice my senior thought I had what it took. I held on a little while longer to that little glimmer of hope. There was also a bit of relief knowing that even if I didn’t get the design job, money was going to come from somewhere. I wasn’t being left out here, trapped in a position in retail that wasn’t doing anything for me. I had options that would be supplemental, fulfilling, and use my expertise. I thanked God for listening to me, even if it was for a moment.

“Have you heard back from them babe?” My husband asked the evening he came home from his first day at his new job.

“No. The ship has sailed I think. It’s been nearly a month since I last heard anything.”

“You never know though.”

“I do know.”

I didn’t know.

That same evening my iPad told me I had an e-mail notification. It was them.

I got the job.

Thoughts on 9 Days of Marriage

I really don’t want this to sound cold, because marriage is a very significant commitment to so many people, including myself. However, I understand now why people don’t seem to feel like marriage is as big of a deal as others. Sure, you have the ceremony. Sure you have the reception and party a bit. Sure you have the honeymoon and in my case, lose your virginity. However, none of these things seem to make you “feel” any different. At least in my case it doesn’t. I love my husband just as much as the day I married him. I love him just as much as when we would only see each other every few months. I love him just as much as when we spoke every night on the phone. I love him the same when I wake up and when I go to sleep, if he’s next to me or not. Nothing really changes. You just kinda go from being together…to being together forever.

There is of course a knowledge there that you’ve made the commitment, but there really isn’t much of an indicator that gives you a “feeling” of being married. I was speaking to my husband about it just the other night. While I sat on the toilet, door wide open (as usual) as he finished the dishes I asked him if he felt like we were playing house. He said he did.

“It just doesn’t feel real. I feel like I’m going to wake up and be back at my old house.”

For him it feels a little more real though than what I describe, he admitted. He had to move away from his old home. A place he had been all his life and travel to another state. I didn’t. I’ve been in this house for seven months. I moved in my own stuff. He moved in his. Things just kinda happened around me. I felt somewhat detached from the situation, while somehow still feeling attached to him. Empathizing with the transitions he’s experiencing, but not really feeling the transitions myself.  While he had to move across state lines, I was just coming back to the place I had prepared for us.

Maybe that’s why it doesn’t feel like it’s that big a deal? Because while he was starting a new adventure, somehow, subtly, I had already crossed the threshold. It all felt really normal to me. Like this was how it was supposed to be. No big sense of feeling or emotion attached to it, just….it happening. Finally happening. Even still, you would think I would have this big sense of emotion, or relief. Not to say there is none though. Every so often I find myself looking at my husband and saying “I don’t have to send you back. You get to stay here.” With those big blue eyes of his smiling back at me he’ll nod, affirming my discovery. Though it only twinges at my heart in those moments. It’s not like my heart settles into the fact. It’s almost like it hasn’t quite realized that there is a hat to hang on the hook of that reality.

A friend of mine warned me this would happen. She told me that after it’s all over: the ceremony, the reception, the paperwork, the sex, the honeymoon, you just kind of wonder why people make such a big deal out of it. I guess I’m one of those people. The next natural step is just that….the next step. Maybe that’s why people have the parties? Huge ceremonious extravaganzas that make things a big deal, because innately, it really isn’t that big of a deal. They want to experience something. A feeling. An excitement. Something that pushes them over the edge of being a couple to being a married couple. I can get that. I can respect that too. I just wasn’t the kind of person who really needed it, because the work I put into my wedding really didn’t do anything to give me a sense of what was really going to happen. Which was just the happening part. The slight adjustment to the new normal. Which doesn’t really feel like much. The love is the same. The life part doesn’t change much either. You just kinda, move in and get things rolling.

Busy Week

I’ve been out with people nearly every night this week. Which is odd for me. As an introvert I’m almost always isolating myself to give me plenty of time to recharge, especially since I work in customer service and spend … Continue reading

Adam Lambert Concert

Adam Lambert was playing in Milwaukee and a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go. I had never been to a Pop concert before. It would be my very first one. To be honest I hadn’t really listened to Adam Lambert too much. I never got into American Idol. Then again, this was kind of how I did everything. I said yes to the concert, not being at all familiar with him. I downloaded his newest album. After several weeks of preparation and plenty of time familiarizing myself with his music, I was ready.

I had taken some paid vacation time and proceeded to have a fun day. After the few weeks I had gone through prior, adjusting to our new store manager and spending a lot of time on entire department moves, I was ready for some fun. We visited the History Museum in Milwaukee. Spent the evening at Rockbottom Brewery. Then we went to The Riverside Theater to pick up our VIP Level 2 complementary merchandise and find our seats.

The show started off with Alex Newell, the Trans actor from Glee, and very talented singer. I was so impressed with his vocal range and loved his sound that I went home that night and downloaded his music on iTunes. Not to mention, how much fun his drummer, Bruno, looked like he was having. Even as I stood in the longest bathroom line of my life between sets, I pondered the voice and found myself impressed. That is, until the two older ladies in front of me started talking about how disappointed they were with him. How they expected someone more “flamboyant” and “fun” to open and entertain them.

They were referring to the lack of costuming as part of the problem. “She only wore a shirt and jeans.” One commented. “I expected more.” Agreed the other. Having heard enough I turned around and commented “With a talent like that, who needs to be more?” The women shut up immediately, as if they suddenly realized that they were being overheard and not isolated in a line of women who needed to pee. I was grateful, since my full bladder was making me particularly ornery, and I had no patients for people who were haters. More likely, very ignorant ones, as I could assume from their ages. They probably didn’t know he was an actor from Glee. They probably didn’t even know he was actually born a male. I wondered if their children dragged them to this?

When Adam performed I was blown away. His stage presence was astounding. His interaction with his audience was fun. He looked like he was actually having a good time. Like he was born to do this. He looked like he had found his calling, and wanted to entertain people for his life.

Then I really thought about it…

As I stood/danced in the crowed I wondered if there was something really fulfilling about being an entertainer? Did he miss his family? Were there nights he just wasn’t feeling it? Was this all a carefully constructed personality? An act? Was this guy for real or was he just a talented dude with an awesome fashion crew and great branding who got a lucky break? I assumed at certain points in his life, he probably dealt with all these realizations and emotions. I supposed there were moments where when he was looking at the crowd, he was probably thinking of his mom and missing her, or wondering how long it had been since he talked to his dad. I couldn’t help but wonder what really kept him doing all this?

Then I saw it.

As I observed the crowed I understood it completely. People had shirts with his face on them. Some people were super-fans who practically cosplayed as him. People were crying. Dancing. Drinking and laughing. Some even putting their hands up on the crowed…prayerfully.

I had heard of things like this. This was talked about extensively in our theology classes back in college. The drinking and sex that happened in temples. The iconography that lined walls of spaces of worship. The personal identification with the idol. The American Idol. It became so clear that these people were seeking refuge from a harsh and painful world by treating another human being as if he was God. They were identifying with him, and finding affirmation. They were literally worshiping him, and probably didn’t even know it.

After a while he addressed the crowd. He started just goofing off and after a while got serious “I’m about to get preachy for a moment…” Which made perfect sense after I made the observations I did. He continued to talk about how it was so cool to see so many different backgrounds and faiths and diversity in general at his concert, but he wanted people to remember, that though all this was worth celebrating, that we are all still human, and that we are all meant and made to seek happiness.

I stood dead still and silent as everyone cheered.

If you’ve read my thoughts before, you would know that I do not believe happiness is the meaning of life. To quote an Adam Lambert song title “There I Said It.” I have come to this conclusion not because I am a fatalist, but because in life I believe everything has reason. I suffer from depression, and in my desire for understanding why, I have discovered that if life was actually about being happy, humans would be satisfied by happiness alone. But happiness is finite. We have to CONSTANTLY seek it because the previous thing that made us happy…lost it’s charm. It faded. It was just temporary.

I do not put my hope and desires in temporary things.

Another thing I had pondered was Adam’s comment about being different and celebrating those differences, but recognizing that we all need happiness. I found myself thinking about that a lot on the way home, because in my mind, out of nowhere and seemingly outside of myself I heard a question:

If our differences are worth celebrating, then why is it that humans can only relate to each other on common ground?

I have this joke at work that’s partly morbid. When we have a fixture that is not like the other fixtures in a department, I tell my managers “Kill it because it’s different.” It’s my humorous and less than politically correct way of saying “We need consistency in this department for it to look good. Switch out the fixture.” Humans do this with people too. It’s a part of our imperfect nature. We are about the “way things look” and when something doesn’t look consistent or comfortable there is a part of our brain that literally feels like “kill it because it’s different.” Of course it doesn’t always show it’s self so harshly. Sometimes it shows it’s self like feeling uncomfortable when you see and Arab man in the same cafe as you. Or if you see a man who looks like a gun slinging cowboy who wants to build a wall on the boarder of your mother country and his. Or the feeling of your brain dying when you listen to Donald Trump speak in general.

I don’t have an answer to that question, but I do recognize that there seems to be a kind of desire for an absolute. The absolute being that we are to recognize we are all human. We are all imperfect. But, if we are imperfect, how do we know we are imperfect if there is “no such thing as perfect?” This is the question that brought me to Christianity.

Still, I enjoyed the show tremendously. If he felt compelled to live his life serving as an entertainer for the world, that was entirely his choice. I was gratified in my own way having seen him perform live. In a way entertainers exist for their audience’s amusement. As long as he was okay with that, I was allowed to be okay with that too.

 

Foolish Kings and Heartbroken Queens

My last few days at work have been stressful. So stressful that I’ve come to the point of considering a change in employment. Though admittedly I was discouraged to find anything else I qualified for in the area. Unless I … Continue reading

Windstorm

The wind caused the roof to shudder and creak. I could feel the draft from the door cut like a razor across my exposed shoulders. I pulled the blanket tighter around me, knowing full well I would be a casualty. … Continue reading

Poster Child

“I just got my Newsletter from Hamilton. I saw your picture in it. I didn’t know you were still in the area! I though you had moved out to Cali or something and were living the dream.” I had completely … Continue reading