Wednesday, September 21, 2011

pondering Justin


Meet Justin.  He has been interviewed on Rachel Held Evan's blog, and it's something I sincerely wish everyone would read. What a gift we are given when someone shares their story with us.

pondering indigo montoya

In honor of Dr. Beck's comment below, I couldn't help myself.  (I include myself in the "you")

pondering neighbor love

How do I want to be loved by my neighbors?

Do to others as you would have them do unto you, Jesus said ...

how would I have you do unto me?

Desire me, not a version of me.
Desire truth, vulnerability, and authenticity.
Value that over any way you may benefit from me being false.
Rejoice when I rejoice.
Mourn when I mourn.
Look me in the eye.
Embrace me and mean it.
Stay connected to me even when we disagree.
Show me I matter more than agreement.
Prove to me that whether I ever come over to your "side", our connection is forever. 
Want the best for me.
Be open to that best not looking like you thought it would.
Say so, when I come to mind.
Say so, when the thought of me makes you smile.
Say, "I love you" and mean it.

Shine your light for me.
Show your true self.
Share your life with me.  
Share your challenges and your victories.
Let your story point me to our Good God who Loves us both.
Serve me, with no thought of return.
Stop everything to help me when I need it.
Don't wait for me to ask if you know I do need it.
Be inconvenienced.
Accept my help when I offer it to you.
Thank me even if it wasn't all that helpful.
Appreciate my heart's attempt.

Believe my intentions are good even when you don't understand my action.
Give me grace when I forget to love you well or how to.
Forgive me before I ask you to.
Slap me across the face if I'm hysterical.
Pin me to the ground if I try to run away.
Cuss me out if I'm rebellious and arrogant.
Then forgive me.
And never bring those things up again.
Especially not to others.
Keep my secrets. 
Speak well of me to others or do not speak of me at all.
Speak hard words to me when I need to hear them, but to me only.
Never.  Ever.  Lie to me.
Don't side with those whose approval you desire, but who cut me down.
Don't stand silent when I am falsely accused.
Don't let others speak for you when my character is called into question.
Don’t idly allow others to use my weaknesses as weapons.
Don't act in a way that benefits you but harms me.

Love my husband.
Love my children.
Love who I love.
But don’t ask me to hate who you hate.

Pray for me.
Let me know you're praying for me.
Spur me on toward good works.
Help me figure out what those even are.
Point me to God.
Expect God to speak to me in a unique way through the Spirit and through His Word.
Teach me to listen, to surrender, to obey what I'm shown there.
Remind me of Light when I see only darkness.
Remind me of Peace when my soul is downcast.
Remind me of Truth when I'm assaulted with lies.
Trust that the Holy Spirit is guiding me.
Encourage me to walk in that Spirit.
Challenge me to a life of surrender.
Gently pry open my clenched fists, teach me the way of open hands & an open heart.
Don't expect the wisdom I need to be shown to you,
but ask for it to be shown to me and trust it, when it is.
Lift up to our God anything and everything you do not understand
but don't keep those things between us.
Don't try to be my justifier
Or my condoner
Or my conscience
Or my convict-er.
Point me to the One who IS all those things.

Motivate me.
Inspire me.
Make me uncomfortable where I am
but content with what I have.
Breathe fresh life into me.
Don't suck the air out of me.
With me.

That is the neighbor love I'm talking about.  This is how I desire to be loved.  This is what I would have done unto me.

How about you?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

pondering my gay neighbor

The repeal of DADT is official.  California schools will begin highlighting the contributions of gays and lesbians in their history curriculum.  And a "defense of marriage" amendment will be voted on in May, here in my home state of NC (in case you're wondering, I'm voting NO).

I don't know about yours, but my world is a buzz with "gay" right now.  Gay has gotten even bigger than hell (and that's saying something!)

What do I think?

I don't think the question is (or ever was) whether gay people should be allowed to get married, or whether students should learn about their contributions, or whether they should be allowed to serve in the military.  I'm convinced that the question is whether or not we will acknowledge that gay people exist (and I'm not even touching transgender, that's a completely different issue - though I'm inspired to tears by the way others have modeled grace to these children of God).

My point is singularly focused:  will we acknowledge that gay people exist? 

They are here.  They aren't going anywhere.  Gay simply is.  Don't believe it?  I wasn't sure what to believe, either.  Then I got to know some gay people.  Gracious people who let me ask them hard, personal questions.  That is the single biggest problem I see with folks who are so certain of their ideological views:  they've removed the other from the equation.  They don't intimately know or love anyone who happens to be gay.  Often, the ones they do know well are "ex-gay".  Well, I have a supposition for you.

Has it ever occurred to you that the reason you only know ex-gay people is because those who don't ex-the-gay aren't comfortable around you?  

 If one more christian tells me they know all there is to know about homosexuality because they have this one token ex-gay friend ... (sigh)

Reality is what is.  We are called to live in reality.  And gay is.  Gay people are.  Christian gay people are.  And while some will choose live a celibate life (just like some straight people do), and others will be promiscuous (as many straight people are), most hope to fall in love and live happily ever after (just like most straight people do).  Whether or not you or I can reconcile that with what we understand the Bible to teach, the fact remains:  they are.  We can legislate and amend and litigate and censor and exclude and require people to lie all day long, but in the meantime, gay people will continue to be living in this world all around us.

Which begs the question... is the gay person my neighbor?  Jesus used the Samaritan to answer the "who is my neighbor?" question for a bunch of Jews.  Samaritan and Jew might as well have been gay and straight back then.  (the answer is yes, by the way)

Love your neighbor as yourself.  That's a directive I understand.  That's a command of Jesus that my flesh butts up against every day.  There's plenty for me to sit with my chin in my hand and ponder about, but not this.  This is not a mystery.  Sin is not Love.  Love is not sin.

This gets clouded, though, when we are hung up on "but homosexuality is a sin".  I get that.  I do.

Homosexuality is supposed to be a sin.  Black and white, nothing to pray about or wonder about - no conversation, no debate.  Gay people are supposed to be God-less perverts bound for hell.  They aren't supposed to be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control

When you get to know some who unmistakably are, it can really throw you back on your heels.

When that happened to me, I got to thinking... well, the earth was supposed to be the center of the universe.  That wasn't a fun process to go through, reconciling what is with what was supposed to be.  People of God are supposed to be circumcised, but a good part of the New Testament is about how that turns out not to be the case after all.   Women aren't supposed to be gifted in ways reserved only for men, but it turns out they totally are - what fun it's been for men to figure out what to do with that one!  The list goes on... God actually seems rather fond of this pattern; Jesus sure was

I can't debate the issue, I'd totally lose.  I just know what I see.  Gay people can lust and sin just like straight people can lust and sin.  And they can Love with lay-down-my-life-for-you-committed-to-your-good-before-my-own-sacrificial-Love just like straight people can Love.  And I believe that Love comes from the same place.

I won't look at Love and call it sin.  I can't.

I don't understand (yet) how all this informs - or is informed by -  my exegesis of scripture, my theology, my doctrine.  And those are things I'd really like to have squared up.  I like answered questions a lot better than unanswered ones.  Still, I cannot allow what I don't understand to keep me from what I do, and I understand this:  if in this world I am to be like Jesus, I am to Love my neighbor.

And my gay neighbor ... is

we're featured

That's fun to say, no matter what it means. :)

My friend Meredith (who keeps a MUCH higher quality, MUCH more active blog than I do) has us as her feature family today. Enjoy here!  You may learn something you never knew about us. :)

Her feature families have been fascinating, scroll through - I enjoy the variety.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

pondering God songs

Do you have a God song?

I'm talking about a go-to song for when darkness comes banging on your door.  A song that resonates within you, "This is Truth. This is my Maker's heart toward me. This is how Loved I am."

I was challenged to find a God-song back when I went through what I call the "brokenness years".  I was challenged to dismiss the "obvious", and instead find the real.  It's easy to say, "Oh yes, such and such hymn" or whatever... and don't get me wrong, I love the old hymns.  Most of them, anyway.   But I was challenged to find a song that was all mine.  And I did.  When darkness threatens to cloud my mind and heart, I run to this song - I set it to "repeat" and I literally sink myself into it.  I force myself to focus on God singing these words to me.

I'm sort of lucky in that my God-song even has my name in it.  But I challenge you to insert your own name and ask yourself... is this how you view God's heart toward you?  If not, why not?

Michlle ma belle
These are words that go together well,
My Michelle.
I love you, I love you, I love you,
That's all I want to say,
Until I find a way,
I will say the only words I know that you'll understand.
I need to, I need to, I need to,
I need to make you see,
Oh what you mean to me,
Until I do I'm hoping you will
know what I mean.
I love you.
I want you, I want you, I want you,
I think you know by now,
I'll get you somehow,
Until I do I'm telling you so you'll understand.
Michelle ma belle,
Sont les Mots qui vont tres bien ensemble
Tres bien ensemble.
I will say the only words I know that you'll understand,
My Michelle.

(this is the version I have on my ipod)

Did you put your name in?  What did it feel like?  Does something about that concept bother you?  Why?  Is He as good as we tell our children He is?  Are we ever supposed to grow out of that, or maybe... is that our "first love"?

Discovering that God's heart is Love - Pure and True - changed my life.  I invite you taste and see for yourself.

If that song doesn't work for you, try one of these ... I think they echo God's heart too.

"I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue... to make you feel My Love" 

"nothing you confess could make me love you less..."

Corny?  Maybe.  Probably, even.  I don't care.  If these don't do anything for you, find your own God-song.  It will mean more that way, anyhow.  But do find it!  I was challenged to push through my awkward resistance, my religious barriers, to arrive at the place where I literally wallow in God's crazy-for-me Love.  I am paying that challenge forward tonight.

Taste and see.

Friday, September 16, 2011

what am I pondering?

I haven't posted in over 2 weeks.

In that time, I've written nine posts that I either haven't "finished" or haven't published.

Why is that?

That's what I'm pondering today.