Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It's Not My Problem

Earlier today, I was talking to a friend who was feeling a little down, and he told me it's not my problem. I know I've done that before too when I've been in a depression - I've told friends not to worry about it... it's not their problem.

I've heard people say (and probably even thought it myself), when seeing someone else having issues, "It's not my problem." I think most of us have, at least once or twice, thought this. We don't want to jump in and help. Or, we don't think we have any help to offer.

It dawned on me today, as I was talking to this friend, that yes... yes it is my problem. He is someone in need of a friend. He is someone in need. And isn't that our job? Isn't that what following Christ is all about?

Imagine how different life would be if we start recognizing the hardships and sorrows of other people as our problem. As a community, Church, family... we should be noticing the struggles of others and doing something about those struggles - even if that simply means supporting the person emotionally. And, we individuals having these difficulties, we shouldn't be saying "It's my problem", we should be willing to ask for help.

We're all in the same boat - let's all chip in to stay afloat.

God bless!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Random Thoughts from the Edge of the Cliff

Snow once again covers the ground, and the wind is relentless. Yesterday, we saw no reprieve from the rain. A few days ago, the sun peaked out, offering us a small bit of warmth. This spring weather has been more chaotic than my mind and moods, twisting and turning and never quite sure what season it's supposed to be.

I sit on the edge of the cliff, looking down, wondering. Lost in my own thoughts, in my own dreams. The biting wind promises to push me over that edge into freedom. Into a place where there are no more storm clouds on the horizon.

Earlier today, I read something regarding the meaning of life - that there is no real meaning of it; but rather that we were created by God so He would have someone to share His love with. Such a warm thought, and yet disguising the rain and bitter cold which soon will come.

Is it wrong to not feel that love being shared? To doubt it is there, or that it is meant for me as well? Everywhere we look, we see tears and coldness - hearts hardened and/or broken. How can we say this world is for God to share His love - that this is why we're here?

How can we say there is light in this world when darkness always seems to prevail?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

When the Voices Won't Shut Up

All day, the voices rang out loud and clear. All day, they refused to be silenced. All day, they reminded me of who I am. And then, as soon as I sat down in front of this blank canvas, they hushed. They told me to be silent. They don't want the words they have been uttering to pour out onto this page. They don't want anyone to know the truths they want me to remember.

Last week's sermon was about the choices we make (and how they are not always such good choices). Today's MOPS meeting was about forgiving others, and forgiving ourselves, and about accepting the forgiveness of others. Oh such wonderful topics to discuss - topics the voices want to speak about, but want me to keep their secrets.

Choices. Oh yes, I have made some horrible choices. I chose to sit on his lap. I chose to not speak out. I chose to leave. I chose to go for that bike ride. I chose to make bad choices in my marriage. I chose to drink and smoke and otherwise try to hurt myself. I chose to add another brick to the wall, another layer of wall around myself.

How do you forgive yourself when you know you do not deserve such forgiveness? When you know that you have made such grave mistakes? When you know you have consistently hurt others? Instead, you add another brick, and take another drink, and wish the voices would leave you in the peace you do not deserve, for just a moment. Instead, you wish just once the voices would lie and tell you you're worthy of forgiveness and love.

Those outside your head tell you that you're already forgiven by God. But how? Why? You have done nothing to deserve such mercy. You have done nothing to deserve such love.

If man was created in God's image, doesn't it seem logical that God would react as man does? You reach out for help out of the darkness, and are turned away, told he has nothing to say to you. If created in God's image, and responding like this, would it not mean that this, too, would be God's response? Is this not confirmation of your unworthiness?

I cry tears I am not worthy of crying. The voices tell me I am not allowed to cry. I don't have that right. But I cannot stop them from falling. I plead for comfort which I have no right to ask for. I beg for peace in my mind, but the voices just yell louder. I pray for love and mercy, while knowing these concepts are not for me. If our God truly is loving and merciful, if His forgiveness and grace are for me, then why can I not believe it is true? Why can I not accept these gifts. Why can I not accept that regardless of my unworthiness, these gifts are still for me?

And why won't these voices just stop tormenting me? 

Monday, May 11, 2015

You can Shatter the Darkness

TRIGGER WARNING: This post is about child abuse - more specifically, child sexual abuse. 

Before I begin this post, I want to apologize if it ends up being rather disjointed. So many thoughts are flying through my head this morning, and it is impossible for me to organize them.

I've been involved in many debates regarding same-sex marriage. It seems to be one of the forerunners in hot button topics for Christians. A common argument for why homosexuality isn't a sin is that it is believed by many that homosexuals are born that way. The counter argument - and the one which angers me the most - it's believed pedophiles are born that way too. Do we just allow them to marry/have sex with children because it's in their genes?

There is such an enormous difference between two consenting same-sex adults engaged in a monogamous relationship, and an adult and a child engaged in a "relationship." Besides the fact that the child cannot consent, it is so insanely detrimental to the child's emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental development.

Imagine being a four year old, forced to sit on a man's lap as he slides his hand inside your pants. Imagine him touching you, fondling you. Imagine the confusion in your mind and the physical pain as he enters you. Imagine the guilt and shame and just plain dirtiness. Imagine the isolation and loneliness and destitution when you know you cannot tell anyone, or you do and no one believes you, or no one stops it. Imagine being a helpless child, at the mercy of someone several times larger and stronger than you. Imagine it being someone who is supposed to care for you and love you and protect you.

I've seen the reactions on people's faces when the topic of child sexual abuse comes up. I've seen them want to crawl into a hole and ignore that this kind of horror happens. I've heard them mutter something about God being with these children - that God will take care of them and comfort them.

How can a child ever believe such a thing when even the adults in his/her life don't show any care or comfort towards him/her?

How can we all sit idly by, arguing over all these other things (things which, ultimately, do not hurt anyone) and ignore the pain and darkness which lurk in the eyes of these children?

A couple years ago, our youth group participated in a fundraiser to provide pajamas and blankets to abused children. As an abuse survivor, this is one project I encourage fully (and wish we'd continue - openly and aggressively - in our community). But, unless you've been there - unless you've had that trust and innocence shattered - you cannot understand.You'll want to be one who would prefer to ignore that this horror exists. You'll want to just shove it under a rug. And so as a society, we do just that. We don't talk about it. We don't look at it. We don't address it.

God will take care of these children and comfort them. How exactly will He do this? It is through the Body of Christ that God helps the helpless, comforts the saddened, strengthens the frightened, provides a light in the darkness. We are that Body. We are the ones who are supposed to be reaching out. We are the ones who are supposed to be protecting the innocent, the oppressed, those without a voice.

Only together can we shatter the darkness.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Church of Misfit Toys (pt 3)

A few nights ago, I was visiting with a friend. This friend brought up some old blog posts I'd written about starting my own church. Yes, that's right... a couple years ago, I had decided to start my own church - the Church of Misfit Toys.

To read my prior posts about this church:
Church of Misfit Toys
Church of Misfit Toys (pt 2)

Half-jokingly, this friend and I decided that this idea should be revisited. He and his family are just as much misfits as my family and I are.

Now, I'm not going to say that the Church I currently belong to marginalizes (ignores, pushes away, doesn't care) about the misfits in our community. However, I will say that it is a common problem within many churches. And within many communities.

We see someone who is too poor, black, female, homosexual, old, young, religious, sinner, etc - whatever the reason, this person doesn't belong in our church. This person should be outcast. I've heard people tell me that our pastor should either a) publicly speak to a person who is living with and has two children with a man but isn't married, or b) should kick that family out of the church. I have overheard people talking about how I cannot afford to send my children to camps and such. I have had someone outright tell me that I don't put enough in the offering plate.

I have had people speak to me about how poor another family is, and how they need to work harder so their kids have a good life. I've heard talk about families who have too many kids they can't afford. I've seen children of these poor families (including my own) treated as if they have nothing of value to provide the church, the community, or the world in general.

And it angers me.

This is not how a church is supposed to be. This is not how Christ was or is. Jesus ate and spoke and loved all - especially the marginalized. Especially the poor. Especially those who could not repay.

And this is how we are told to be. We are supposed to always be reaching out to those who cannot repay us. We are supposed to always be reaching out to others in love and kindness and generosity, in whatever way we're able. No, I don't have the money to go out and buy clothes for you. But I will give the shirt off my back to you if you need it. I can't afford to invite your family to dinner, but I can afford to watch your children for free so you can go out with your spouse, friends, etc. I can't afford to buy everything your child is selling for fundraising, but I can help that child provide services to earn a little money so she can enjoy a much deserved trip/event/etc.

That's what the Church of Misfit Toys is about. No, it's not a real church (yet... ). It's an ideal. It's an understanding of what Jesus wants from us. It's for all of us who often feel like we're outcasts because we aren't perfect. It's a group of sinners/saints who are simply trying to follow Christ and have a close relationship with Him. It's about love.

And it's a church all of us can and should belong to.

I hope you all have a glorious day, finding ways to serve each other to the best of your abilities, and serving God.

God bless!