April 27, 2015

Twenty-Somethings


We are the twenty-somethings of a new generation. 

The post-grads who don't know what to do with their lives. The generation that wants something better but battles with student debt. The kids who put on their Sunday best and pretend it's business casual. 

We are the twenty-somethings of a connected world. 

Privileged enough to travel just enough to never be satisfied. Bound by home and struggling with the desire to make a difference. Discouraged by logistics but still willing to pursue dreams.


We are the twenty-somethings of the western world.

We work Monday-Friday 8-5 and go home at night wondering if this is what the next 45 years will be like. We go home at night and hope that we're loving people enough, working hard enough, being enough. We go home at night and hope we have another 45 years, because cancer has touched us all and we're old enough to know that life is short.


We are the twenty-somethings who are uncomfortable with average, raised to believe that we're something special and we can do big things. We are the twenty-somethings who don't want to be selfish, but we still want to be somebody. We're the Millennials, the Generation Y'ers, the haters of all labels. 

We are the twenty-somethings of a broken world. 

Our eyes are connected to the misfortunes of others, ears listening to the cries of the hungry, and hearts torn by the images we see on our screens. We are learning how to embrace being uncomfortable in this life because maybe this discomfort will push us in the right direction.

We don a faux-confidence and pretend to know where we're going. When asked, "What do you want to do with your life?", we give answers... all the while we toss and turn at night and ask ourselves the same question, settling into a heavy knowledge that we really don't know.


We are the twenty-somethings of a new world. 

We can listen to more new music in a day than our parents listened to in the decade of their twenty-something navigations. Our own neighborhoods are now a patchwork of ethnicities, sexualities, and languages...a sign of old barriers being broken down and a new type of community being formed.  

We are the twenty-somethings standing on the edge of a precipice and we are so tempted to jump


Jump into a bigger story. 
Jump into a world where we can love with abandon. 
Jump into new stories, new cultures, new ideas. 
Jump into the lives of people with whom we have nothing in common.
Jump into the pictures we would have never taken before. 

And we are standing still, watching everything spin around us in forward motion, unsure of our footing. 


We are the twenty-somethings. 

The dreamers, the artists, the mathematicians. The kids who feel so disconnected from what we want to do because we see the world, we see all of its aches and pains and discomforts, we see it all from our iPhone screens...and we've reached a point where giving $20 to a Go Fund Me account or taking a 2 week trip to Africa just isn't enough. 

We want to pour our lives into meaning, into loving, into aching for the hungry...but instead, we sip our lattes and brainstorm ideas on how to actually make a difference.


We are the twenty-somethings bound to debts that must be repaid. We are the adults budding from the cocoons of childhood, ten steps behind our older peers and trying to find the air to breath. We want to be better, work harder, love deeper...but the world keeps whispering, "Be selfish." And somewhere is the grey area between what we want to do, what we have to do, and what the world expects us to do...we have to decide where we stand. 

We are the twenty-somethings in a new world, a changing world, an uncomfortable world...and our eyes are wide open to the challenges that lie ahead...but we want to jump. 


We want to be the kind hearts that keep being kind when it isn't easy.
We want to be the successful kids who aren't enslaved to financial bondage. 
We want to be the adventurers who explore foreign countries. 
We want to be the lovers who drink deeply of life and embrace simple joys. 
We want to be the leaders, willing to risk it all for our fellow humans.
We want to be the fathers who stick around.
We want to be the mothers who follow our dreams.
We want to be the kids who make our parents proud.
We want to look at this world and know that we will leave it better than we found it. 

We are the twenty-somethings. 



April 6, 2015

Good Friday - Our Broken Hallelujah




On the night our Lord was betrayed
Betrayed by us, you and me
For all the hurt we feel and pin on Him.

Betrayed.

For letting us down
For not saving us in our time
For not being who we thought He was supposed to be. 

On the night our Lord was betrayed
For lust, for money, for fear
For harbored bitterness and anger

Betrayed.

For not healing all the wounds
And curing all the sicknesses
The way we thought they should be healed

On the night we shoved all of our anger, our disappointment, our failure
Across his body
And our hearts were hardened to his love

Betrayed.


For being the Healer, the Redeemer 
The son of the Most High 
The Savior we never know how much we need 

On the night sin thought it won 
As it mocked the cross 
And heaven weeped 

Betrayed.

For being willing to die to save us 
For having a heart that loved the unlovable
For humbling himself from the throne of heaven 

 - 

On the night our Lord was betrayed 
We sing our broken hallelujah 
And remember the cross 






March 19, 2015

Lent - Static and Change


The journey of faith reminds me of an old radio. There are periods of silence, a quiet stillness, and a deafening lack of noise. Are you there, God? Can you hear me? Is this thing on?

Then there is the static. Turn the station, wrong channel, white noise static. Where are you God? Why am I here? Can you hear me?

Then at last,  just like the channel that finally clicks into place, there is the music. Soothing, calm, clear. Perfect harmony. Perfect faith. The mountaintops of our Christian walks and the melodies we try to remember when all we hear is static. This is beautiful, God. I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.


I live in the static more than anything else. The noise, the clutter, the constant knowledge that I’m not there yet. A frustrating place of trying to find the perfect channel, trying to hear God clearly, and knowing that I’m botching up the whole process again and again…and again.

When my pastor approached me and asked if I would write a few posts for the season of Lent, I was thrilled. Followed shortly by the massive knowledge that I don’t know what to say. Living in the static is a hard place to hear God. Living in the static is a hard place to want to worship, want to sacrifice, want to say something worthwhile.

For those who know me well, I am a closet poetry junkie. I devour old English like it’s my lifeblood. With that being said, John Donne is one of my literary heroes. He wrote a poem called “Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward”, which, if you’ll indulge me, ends with these words: 

Oh Saviour, as thou hang’st upon the tree;
I turne my back to Thee, but to receive
Corrections, till Thy mercies bid thee leave
O thinke me worth Thine anger; punish mee,
Burne off my rusts and my deformity,
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou may’st know me, and I’ll turn my face    

Over 400 years ago a man wrote words that resonate with my heart and with my faith to this very day. I pray and cry for change, “I’ll take the pain, God, if only to look more like you.” I long for the old me to be so burned away that only the image of Jesus reflects off my face. There are periods of my faith, in the static, when I feel the rust burning and instead of feeling a euphoric sense of relief… it is so painful. I cry out, “God, where are you? This hurts! This is terrible. Maybe I don’t want this after all.”



This is my static. This is my Lent. This is why the words come rough and my heart aches as I type away on this keyboard. Because how do I have something to say when I don’t want to hear what Jesus is saying to me? How can I teach when I don’t want to learn? How can I grow when I refuse to change the radio station?

Static.

Is change possible when we live in the static? Through the lens of marriage, I see where I need to change to better my relationship with my husband. Through the lens of faith, I see just how desperately I need to change to better glorify God.

But God, it’s hard.

My entire life has been a culmination of events, set patterns, habits, and moments that have created the person I am today. The triggers, the pet peeves, the less-than-Instagram worthy fits of frustration. How do I push those aside? How do I become the best version of me when I am so comfortable in this skin I wear. How do I change, when I can’t even commit to 40 days without sugar?

If Lent is a short-term change, one I struggle with; do I really believe that God can change me for the long-term?

Even more convicting: do I really believe that God can change other people for the long-term? The abuser. The addict. The gossip. The bully. The people I hold at a distance because it hurts too much to let them too close. I give God a lot of credit, He can do great things, but when it comes to people…I’ll take a moment to be real and say, “Ehhh, the track record isn’t the best.” Because people fail. They choose not to be changed. They reject the promises of God and choose harder roads. And we blame God when people fail. Doubt creeps into the picture when humanity stumbles and with all honesty, we question, “Can God really redeem a picture like this?”


_

Sometimes, in writing, I dig holes I don’t know how to get out of. For three days now I have come back to this question over and over again. Can God really redeem a picture like this? My heart says yes, but I have no words to sooth over the message. I have no idea how or why. I want to say no.

Static.

Can God really redeem a picture like this?

The sin, the depravity of mankind, the crime, the heartache, the violence. We live in a world of social unjustness, racism, sexism, impurity, and utter darkness. Why would anyone want to save a picture like this?

In the static, I cry out over and over again, “Change this channel, God. Let us hear You better.”

Through the static, it is clear to anyone who listens: God has created the music if only we have the ears to hear. He renews the tired hearts. He comforts those who mourn. He transforms humanity by the renewing of their minds. God redeems, over and over again, He redeems.

We all know that one person who has changed dramatically. The bully who now asks for forgiveness. The substance abuser who now leads groups in recovery. That one person who broke your heart time and time again...but now they’re trying to heal it. The before and after’s we often get to witness are enough for me to say, “God can redeem.” It is painful, it can take a long time, but it is not impossible. I have seen the goodness of the Lord, and it is incomprehensible.

I used to think that I could never understand why people don’t change. Why the abuser keeps abusing. Why the addict never stops. Why mankind doesn’t get their act together. Why God doesn’t fix it right here, right now. But then I think of myself, and the painfully slow process of transformation. We have been offered redemption, but we have to choose it. This journey is not a one-sided process on the behalf of God. He requires us to die to our old selves to live in Christ. Change is possible, but it is a daily commitment.

The static cuts in and out. This journey is stuttered, fragmented, and frustrating. This growth is painful. I don’t want to be more patient, forgiving, or more understanding.  But the music is playing, just one station over. A few notes cut through the chaos of the static, “Be kind. Forgive. Be understanding.”

So I try, and for a minute, I hear music.

The static may begin again, but for a brief moment in time, the music of Heaven cut through and my heart changed. Soon, the moments will stack on top of each other one by one. Until one day, I will wake up to a new station, a new test of faith, and new static. Even then, when I will have come so far from who I am now, I know that softly, gently, the process will continue, “Change.” 

We worship a God who does not change. We worship a God who transforms his people and equips us to become who we were created to be.


It is safe to be faithful to a faithful God. It is safe to change.