Outside

Outside

Having a blog is weird. You’re writing and you’re putting it on the internet for anyone to read, but unless your blog really breaks out (which this one has not) it’s mostly just your friends and family reading it, and since you’re writing about things that happen to you, you’re writing about your friends and family… and that can be awkward. So when writable things happen, I usually try to wait an appropriate amount of time and mask enough of the details to shield all guilty parties. And to dull the edges a bit. But recently, the hits just seem to keep on coming, so I’m failing big time at the whole “give it some time” style of writing.

And today will be no exception.

A good friend sent me an S.O.S. the other day. She was having one of those I-just-realized-I’m-going-to-be-a-40-something-mom-with-young-kids moments, which is a treat all on its own, but it was topped with and-my-mom-has-been-saying-some-unhelpful-shit-lately (language mine). And as I read her text, I knew immediately how I was going to respond, but I was mad. Not at her, but at God. Because seriously, G?! You’re going to have me encourage someone else as I’m facing THE EXACT SAME THING?! I mean, I can do it. And I will, but come on… it’s just a little on the nose, no?

But the more I thought about it, the more thankful I was for the timing of it all. Because it was a fantastic reminder that I’m not as special as I think. And neither are my problems.

When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:21

Do you know who the “his/him/he” referenced in that verse is? It’s Jesus. As in Jesus Christ. And in THE Jesus. He’s out and about, living his life, doing his thing and his family is hearing about it and they just don’t get it. If you’ve never read this passage of scripture, you really should – Mark 3:20-35 – Because it is fascinating. And heartbreaking. Basically, Jesus comes to town and a huge crowd gathers to hear him. His family hears about it and are like “That can’t be right.” and posse up to go get him. Meanwhile, Jesus is facing off with the religious leaders, who are accusing him of casting out demons with the help of demons. Attributing the good they’ve all seen Him do to some undercover evil. So Jesus shares the “house divided cannot stand” parable which says… well, that a house divided cannot stand. And just as He finishes that and is told that his mother and brothers are outside, Jesus is like “My who?” 

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He refuses to go out to see them and says that the people with him are his family (#shade #noshade). And then the Bible just moves on to another story. We don’t get to see how his family reacted. We don’t get to hear the voicemails Mary left or see the subtweets his brothers hit him with. And just taking that moment when Jesus is like “Nah, this my family now.” we can tend to be a little hard on Jesus, like “Dang, Jesus. It’s like that?” Until you look at the whole picture and realize what kind of day Jesus was having.

I’m not sure at what point of his ministry this happened, but whenever it is, he’s got some momentum. He’s speaking, he’s healing, he’s casting out demons and people are picking up what he’s laying down. And then here comes religion to say You’re not doing it right. Yeah, it might look good on the surface, but we’ve never seen anything like this and we have all the answers, so you must be doing something wrong.” And just as Jesus has finished explaining why that’s dumb, he notices a murmur going through the crowd and someone tells him that his family would like to see him. Outside. Think about that – his family doesn’t even bother to come in. Yeah, the house was crowded, but do you really think people wouldn’t have made room for the mother of Jesus? Instead of squeezing in to get a closer look at what Jesus was doing with his life, they decided to stay outside. And try to call him out. Literally and figuratively.

And maybe Jesus knew why they were there just by virtue of being Jesus and knowing all things, or maybe he knew because they’d had the conversation before. And maybe Jesus was just tired. Because I don’t care who you are, it’s a hard thing when the people who you would think would be your biggest cheerleaders start to doubt you. And side with religion in accusing you. Especially, if you’re already questioning yourself.

One of the hardest/most annoying things about being single is constantly having to answer for it. Whether the question is well-meaning or meant to be cutting, “So why are you still single?” is never helpful. Because there is no answer. Singleness is not something wrong. It’s not something to be fixed. I KNOW that. And I still struggle sometimes. Because way too many of our systems (church included… church especially) automatically devalue and suspiciously view single people, so the leap between “you’re still single” and “there must be something wrong” isn’t even a leap. It’s a lazy-ass fall into the closest ditch. A ditch that is honestly easier to fall into than to stay out of. So we’ve all been there. Even though we know marriage is not a reward for the worthy (because we all know horrible people who have gotten married) we still wonder what what’s wrong with us. And it’s not just marriage, pretty much any dream that we have, whether it has to do with career, relationship, family, whatever, we always have a list of all the reasons why it can and will happen for everyone else, but probably shouldn’t and won’t for us.

And when I read this story, I wonder if Jesus had the same kind of list.

I wonder how often the fully God part of him had to wrestle with fully human doubts. If he was tempted in all the ways that we are, then he had to be tempted to worry that he wasn’t all he was cracked up to be. That he was failing. That his life didn’t look “normal” because he was somehow abnormally flawed. And maybe when Jesus was talking about a house divided, he was trying to tell us something about our souls. And our personal demons. And how they can’t be cast out by the things they bring with them. So whatever the thing is in your life that makes you feel anxious or abnormal, any action you would be driven to take because of fear or worry or condemnation, is probably not the answer. And any voices that are going to feed into those things… well… you might need to leave them outside.

And that can be really hard. To know that someone loves you and means well, but can’t be trusted inside some of the areas of your heart. Not at the moment. Like I said, we don’t know how his family reacted or how long they were estranged, but we do know that Mary was with him in his final hours and that she was with the apostles on the day of Pentecost, so she definitely came around at some point.  But the only reason she had someplace to come around to was because Jesus kept to his path, held to his convictions and followed the call of God on His life. And that’s all that any of us can do.

And in the meantime, don’t be afraid to lean on your crowd. To let yourself be bolstered by the belief that your friends have in you and to learn to be a friend to yourself. Because no, you’re not perfect, but even if you were (see: Jesus) people would still have questions and accusations. So if you’re feeling misunderstood, take it as a good sign. You’re in pretty good company.

Built For This

Built For This

President Donald Trump. Dear God. I still haven’t said the words out loud, just typing them there was more jarring than I properly know how to process right now. I just… I did not see that coming. I didn’t recognize America last night, because it looked nothing like the one I see everyday. I knew our country was divided and that hate was running rampant, but I underestimated it. And I was shocked last night. Stunned. Dumbfounded. Heartbroken. Afraid. And I’m still all of those things today, but also… I’m awake. I’m recalculating. I’m furious. And I am so very hopeful.

Listen, nothing about this election was clear-cut. There is no one to blame because EVERYTHING is to blame. My own personal journey took me from Bernie Babe, to reluctant Hillary supporter, to a fully integrated #PantsuitNation aficionado. I wasn’t supporting Hillary because she was the lesser of two evils, I was supporting her because she was the better of the two candidates. And as a feminist, I was ready for a woman president. I was annoyed at the blatantly uneven standards she was being held to, but impressed at the grace she showed under fire and I fully expected her to win. Honestly, I think we all did. It’s why we were so comfortable being so flippant. Because Hillary was going to win and nothing was going to change. And all the racism, sexism, jingoism and misogyny that had been brought to the surface would learn a valuable after-school-special lesson and go back to sleep with a few less teeth. And we’d go back to sleep too…

But we’re wide awake now. To America as it actually is. And I don’t like it. America… you are raggedy. You are hateful, you are selfish, you are entitled, ignorant, arrogant… you are Donald Trump. You don’t read. You think you have all the best ideas. You don’t apologize. You don’t think you need forgiveness. And you use God to justify your ugliness.

Listen, I don’t know what you saw in your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter feed, I can only speak to what I saw and I think the most disheartening thing in all of this was how many Christians so easily aligned themselves with someone so hateful, hurtful and dismissive to so many segments of humanity. Who so easily shrugged off the slings and arrows being aimed at “other” brothers and sisters to forward their own agenda. Who could so easily claim the gospel while denying the very essence of it: sacrificial love for the least of these.

But you know what? It’s fine. Because it turns out they were right. God did it. God heard the cries of his people and answered. Their prayers for a Republican president. And our prayers for a revolution. We wanted this. We wanted to break the system, to confront the past, to see real, tangible and radical change… but we wanted it comfortably. And comfort and change just don’t mix.

jesus took the wheel

We lost a battle on Election Day, but I truly believe it’s because God knows we can win the war.

This whole presidential campaign has been opening wounds, opening conversations and opening our eyes to each other. It has been revealing people in a way I have NEVER experienced before. Think about it. You have recategorized your friendships in 2016. You have people who you genuinely love but who you know can’t see their bias, some who can’t see past it and on the farthest extremes, people who you blocked/unfollowed in the final and following hours of the election. And then you have allies. People who have chosen to understand that they might not understand, but who are committed to trying. And some you’ve known for years, but some have been legitimate surprises to you. They are the reason last night left you so gobsmacked because THEY are the America you know. But with them, you’ve been reading the advance copy of what America could be. And now we have to fight to make sure it becomes the actual story of our nation.

How? I don’t know. We’ll figure that out. But for today, I just want to say to everyone who is afraid, who is hurt and who is worried – I hear you. I’m with you. And God is with us. Yes, He’s been in all of this in the same way He’s in all things because: omnipresence. But if you’re trying to pin His pleasure to a particular political party line…

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YA BRAIN BROKE

We’ve made God so small. So American. So conservative. So white. But He isn’t any of those things.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.   

John 15:16-18

For all the people who prayed for God’s will to be done in this election, who declared it in the name of His son Jesus, please remember that He walked this earth as an oppressed, disenfranchised, Middle Eastern man. And died at the hand of religious leaders who were afraid of an influencer who didn’t fit their mold, didn’t covet their company, didn’t share their prejudices and wouldn’t stop healing, accepting and loving the broken, the oppressed and the outcast. Please remember how the religious rejoiced the day He died. And how darkness fell. And then remember how He rose and how He rallied His allies. And how they turned the world upside down.  And then tell me who should really be nervous right now.

Look, we’ve got a fight on our hands. But what did we think we were finding our allies for?

What happened is not okay, but it’s okay. (We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.)  We’ve been built for this.


So… how you doing?