We think we know people. We have no other alternative than to go on what we see and hear. When times are good we think that’s who a person really is and then when times are tough it can cause us to question -which person is she really? The answer is yes.
We are all capable of good and evil. We can all love and hate. We can all be bold and courageous, but we can also be paralyzed with fear. I have been all of the above. Some choose to see one side of me and ignore the rest, but it’s all there.
Genesis 4 opens with Adam “knowing” his wife. The English translation of that Hebrew really hit me this morning. Adam knew Eve in deeply intimate ways. He knew her good, her bad and her ugly. I mean this is the woman who “caused” him to sin (actually he willingly chose it so it’s not her fault),
There is a meme that I have loved for a long time: Love says I’ve seen the ugly parts of you and I’m staying. It means you’ve seen the good and bad and it doesn’t make you want to run away or hide. You can handle it and you can love me still.
We suck at that. I read an article posted by a Christian MP that pleaded for mercy and grace for post abortive women and there we so many angry and hateful responses- from christians. “Sorry I can’t do that”. These people don’t even know the stories or reasons behind these decisions. I’m not calling for justification for the end of a life, but for empathy and understanding for what has brought someone to that point. There is still a life of value – the mothers, yet these christians don’t see it.
Some people are so good at hiding their weaknesses and keep up a good appearance. I know it’s why some people don’t like me. I own my good and my bad. If that scares you then we don’t need to be friends.
I serve El Roi: the God who sees me. He not only sees me when I am doing well, but also when I am lost and hiding in a desert having made choices that have hurt others. Hagar had had enough and she ran. In doing so, she and her son were about to die. God saw her as said I’m staying. Your bad choices don’t scare me.
Even if there is no one else, there is a God who sees you and He’s staying.
Nakuona (Swahili, I see you)
The fact that the Bible does not make sense is proof that it was written by God and not man. Now, I know I have already offended a lot of Christians by saying the Bible doesn’t make sense and what I mean is that it isn’t black and white (though so many wish it was, pretend it is, and quote their favorite portions as such). People want formulas – how many “seven steps to xxxx” are best sellers?? We want hard constructs so we can see precise measurements that we can compare: do I measure up, or the more common – do they measure up?
There is only one grading rubric and that’s Jesus – so newsflash everyone, we all fail. How we live out our faith depends on what we read in the Bible and if the Bible were perfectly clear then we would not be so divided over it. I know that I was taught that the Bible is clear. I was offended the first time this concept of grey was presented to me, but once I moved away from my Sunday school stories and actually dug into the real stories of hurting men and women who constantly failed and God continued to forgive and love the more I saw the complexities of scripture.
People wouldn’t write that. We would write nice formulas and exact guidelines. I know the next argument will be that God gave us exact guidelines in the Bible – but did He? Sure we have the Ten Commandments and Leviticus but if those are our guidelines for today as well then why are we wearing clothes that blend fabrics like wool and linen? Why are you eating seafood? Jesus came and said he was the fulfillment of the law. God told Peter – kill and eat. The rules changed. The standard didn’t.
What that means is that Jesus was and still is the standard. Living like Jesus looked different in the Old Testament than the new, and today. People wouldn’t write that. We are not that forward thinking. Governments everywhere are having to make new laws as things change and remove old laws. People make these laws and demand punishment – God made a standard and said I know you won’t choose to live up to this so I’ll make the way for you. I’ll die so you can come home. People prefer punishments of prison and the death penalty. I know because I feel that way.
People would never write the way God wrote the Bible. That is comforting to me, but still uncomfortable because it leaves me wrestling with this letter from God to me. I have recently been reading to my kids a book by Rachel Held Evans called Inspired. We just read about her faith journey with the Bible and she talks about Jacob. It got my heart when she reminded us that when we wrestle with God we are not only given a limp but a blessing.
So if you see Christians who walk around perfectly straight, then you can conclude that they have not spent time wrestling with God. I don’t know how happy Jacob was initially about the limp but it’s significant and the blessing came hand in hand. He’s not a God who only keeps us humble but He is also a God of goodness.
So much has happened in my life that a black and white God and scripture actually won’t cut it. My life have been thousands of colors. He is in them all and He is giving me both a limp and a blessing. As I wrestle Lord, keep me humble and blessed.
Scrooge was visited by three ghosts. His past, his present, and his future. They are all interconnected. I am wrestling with all of this so please do not read this with any anticipation that I have arrived at the answers or solution. This is my wrestling.
The past can not be changed. It will always be. I can change, how I view the past can be changed, and its impact on me can be changed. In science, they had to open up dead bodies so they could figure out how things worked. I feel like that is our past. We have to open it up, dig through the guts, and come face to face with it in order to have it release us to where we need to go. It is much better to process things through as they happen but most of us have never been taught that skill. Most of our parents were raised in days when you did not talk about things, you put on a happy face and pretended everything was ok even if the sky was falling. It is important to be honest (especially to ourselves) about how things made us feel so those feelings can no longer own us.
I wrote before about how my feelings are like a box and my sad box has so many things I need to unpack. Each time I open the box and unpack something it gets smaller. I mentioned there are some things in there that will never go away and that’s true, but they can get smaller and have a less negative impact on me. Our past will always be connected to who we are. It is part of my story but I don’t have to live in those chapters anymore. Maybe that’s why I am writing everything out. Maybe that is helping me move to the next chapters.
I watched a two minute video by Gary John Bishop (I love his accent!). They asked him how to move past your past and he had stong words that I mostly agreed with. The most impactful thing he said was, “you are defined by what you are about to do.” I’m mulling that over as I start 2019 and look at the blank canvas that lays before me and imagine all the colors I want to paint. I am writing my definition of myself by how I live my future. It means we can’t stall out, we have to keep going. The answers are not in the past, though the past is important. The answers are in the future as we understand our past and put it behind so that we can move forward.
The past wants to entangle us and hold us back. That’s not an option if we don’t choose it to be. The past is familiar and comfortable though it can be very unhealthy. It takes work and honesty to move ahead. It is difficult and usually painful but it’s worth it. Ken Dyck used to say “the only way through the pain is through the pain.” I love that because it’s true. The only way to get through it is to get through it
The future is uncertain, but what is certain is that I am heading into the future. I may not know all I am about to face, but I can know who I am as I am about to face it. I haven’t really been lost. I’ve been here the whole time. I’ve just needed to unpack.
The first day of the year everyone looks to the future. Such pregnant expectant questions like what will the year bring? I started by looking back. October 2017 to December 2018 has been hard. Harder than I every anticipated it to be, and it knocked me on my ass. We are all human and we all have our limits, I hit my wall.
I have felt like a car in a smash up derby that would keep getting hit but was of no consequence because its one tire was bashed in and the motor was barely running, but as long as you are in the arena and show some signs of life, they will still come for you. There has been new pain and old pain, because some pain never goes away fully, it just stays quiet for a while. I have just tried to hold on for dear life, clenching my teeth and every muscle in my body to make it to the end of the roller coaster. But something changed.
I wish I knew exactly what happened. I wish I knew a magic formula but something broke. Christmas eve I had a major anxiety attack and ended up back in bed in the morning. I laid there and could not figure out how I would get through Christmas. I processed for a while and then my daughter asked if she could do my makeup. We then had a dance party to Don’t Stop Believing by Journey in my bathroom. And something changed. I dont know if it was the makeup, the music, or just Christmas magic (and I really don’t like Christmas at all) but there was a shift. It’s like pistons started firing properly under my hood again. I knew I was going to make it.
Here I am on the other side of Christmas and it was not all good, but I made it and some parts were really awesome. Twice more anxiety tried to take me down and I looked that jerk in the face and said, “not now!” This is not to say that I’m cured or it won’t happen again but it’s like God is standing with Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones and my bones have started to come together. Next will be the tendons, then flesh, and finally spirit. All that matters is that it has started. The process of reclaiming me has started.
I often talk to my Upendo about One Day. Its a hopeful look into the future of what I want to come. Most people do this as a passive action, but that has never been me. I have never sat back and waited for life to happen, I went and happened to life. That is my plan for 2019. I am going to happen to the year. It’s my year to win. One day isn’t going to come because I am going to wait for it. One day is going to come because I will race to it, grab it by the throat, and make it kneel in front of me. I can not control everything and I know there are going to be incredibly difficult times to come, but I am ready to face it all head on because I am amazing, I am God’s child, I am Amanda.
Hello 2019, I got your number. It’s time for One Day.